Sometimes when you talk about planning for a natural, drug-free labor, people will protest and tell you, “You don’t get a medal for having natural childbirth, you know.” The underlying message is that going drug-free is some social power play, motivated by a need to feel superior.
While it is fun to wow people with what a badass I am for having had natural childbirth, the thought of one-upping other moms was the farthest thing from my mind when I was deciding where and how to give birth. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of pointed questions (one midwife took me aside at a tour and asked if I was a nurse). I decided on natural childbirth outside a hospital, not for a medal, but for:
- Faster labor
- Lower risk of episiotomy
- Lower risk of instrument-assisted delivery
- Lower risk of breastfeeding problems
- No possibility of life-threatening epidural side-effects such as seizure, drop in blood pressure, or difficulty breathing
- Radically reduced risk of Cesarean Section
- Lower risk of infection
- No routine IV
- No chance of being denied food and water during labor
- Perhaps most importantly, the assurance that I would be treated with respect and care, and not as a hysterical idiot whose desires and even consent to treatment are irrelevant
My births were not exactly fun or easy. I didn’t have any powerful spiritual experiences, and I don’t feel the pain was necessarily a rite of passage. But I felt safe. I felt my babies and I had the best chance for health and wellbeing, and I trusted that if an intervention was suggested, it would be truly necessary and prudent, not just procedure or an aid to the convenience of the medical staff. I felt very secure that my care was both philosophically respectful of me as a person, and based on the best available evidence.
Who needs a medal when you’ve got that?
(Picture credit: Moms Deserve Medals, which produces medals for all mothers, regardless of birth circumstancs.)