Natural childbirth is fascinating to me. Even before getting married and starting a family, someone recommended that I watch the documentary The Business of Being Born. I found it very compelling, and it inspired to me to look at women's bodies (and my own) in a new way. Of course I'm so grateful for modern medicine and good doctors to intervene when things go wrong. But I loved the idea that women were designed to give birth and that healthy, low risk pregnancies and births are natural processes and not medical events. Ever since, I've been interested to read about natural childbirth, watch birth videos, and listen to stories of women who've experienced it. I was even blessed enough to experience unmedicated births myself, one of which was a peaceful home water birth.
What is it that some of us find so appealing about natural childbirth? Why do we put ourselves through the pain (and sometimes ridicule!) that comes along with choosing to have a baby with little to no medical intervention?
I recently asked a group of natural birth enthusiasts this question, and here are some of their responses:
"It's empowering to have faith in your body."
"I love feeling the contractions and letting my body do what it knows to do."
"I believe women are made for natural birth, perfectly designed to bring our babies into the world with no need to intervene (in most cases)."
" After a very traumatic first birth, I knew there was something better. I began reading and researching natural birth, and it blossomed into a passion for all women to experience the beauty of it."
"Having a natural birth seemed to be in line with my other life choices- to do things that promote health, confidence, joy, and a respect of nature and my own instinct."
As I read through their responses, I'm struck that a lot of the reasons that couples are passionate about natural childbirth are the same reasons that draw couples to practice natural family planning (NFP). NFP really stands on the philosophy that a woman's body and fertility is a purposeful, elegant design, and does not need to be altered or suppressed with drugs, procedures or devices in order for a woman to thrive. Like women who choose natural birth, NFP users often balk at the idea of using medical intervention to interrupt a perfectly functioning aspect of female biology. With both natural childbirth and NFP, the intention is to learn about the body's natural processes for the purpose of cooperation and support, rather than to manipulate or control.
Frankly, neither natural childbirth nor natural family planning are easy. Both require patience, perseverance, flexibility and stamina. If you are looking for something quick and easy, you probably wouldn't choose either. But the rewards of simply letting your body be are great. In my own life, I've gained enormous self-confidence by experiencing natural childbirth and practicing natural family planning. Both have been healing for me. Both have given me a greater respect of women's capabilities and the genius of our Designer. Both have positively influenced my relationships with my husband and children. Both have given me the opportunity to investigate, question, and challenge societal norms and cultural expectations.
Maybe this kind of talk excites and inspires you. Or maybe you find the idea of unmedicated birth or NFP to be utterly repulsive, and that's okay. Though these choices certainly don't suit everybody, I encourage everyone to educate themselves about their options so they can make informed and empowered decisions about their reproductive health. You'll be glad you did.