busca's thoughts on natural childbirth

i am so excited to have a guest post on this blog by "busca," author of the blog birth faith. it is one of my favorite birth blogs - she has so much great information and insight on her blog...it's been a great resource for me as i have delved into the realm of natural childbirth.

i asked busca to share some of her thoughts on natural childbirth, so without further ado...here they are:

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Why I Chose Natural Childbirth

First, I did not choose to give birth without drugs because

* I wanted people to call me their "hero."
* I wanted to prove something.
* I wanted a reason to feel superior to other women.

In fact, I don't know a single woman who chose natural childbirth for the reasons listed above. All of the women I know who have actively pursued a drug-less birth have done so because they recognize the many benefits. It may be controversial to say it, but I really do believe that the best way for most babies to be brought into this world--and for new mothers to be born--is through natural childbirth.  I know that the birth process was designed as it was for our benefit.

When I was a newlywed, I didn't even know people still had babies without drugs. The only experience I had with anything like that was the "crazy lady" who lived behind my grandma's house who had her babies at home. I didn't become interested in drug-free birthing until an acquaintance told me she was planning a natural childbirth and mentioned that there were benefits to avoiding drugs. It was the benefits that piqued my interest. After much research and pondering, I went on to have two unmedicated hospital births followed by a home birth (like that "crazy lady"!) last April.

So I'd like to list some of the benefits I have experienced through my attempts to give birth as God and nature intended.

Choosing to give birth without drugs makes sense because...

* It reduces risks to both mother and baby. All of the drugs available for pain relief have very real (sometimes severe, sometimes long-term) side effects. Often one intervention leads to many (and more invasive) interventions. I know several women who traded the temporary pain of childbirth for long-term daily back pain after their epidurals.

* It enables a woman to be more aware of her instincts and urges. Pain in childbirth serves a physiological purpose. When a woman feels her labor, she can allow it to prompt her movements and changes of position. Women who can be mobile in labor will almost always move their bodies and adopt positions that will facilitate and speed-up the birth process.

* It facilitates the release of hormones which prime mother and baby for smoother delivery, bonding, and breastfeeding.

* It instills confidence and self-worth in a woman. Women who have given birth without drugs often describe the experience as life-changing. I believe God knew that new mothers would benefit from the trial of labor because it would allow them to see the strength and power within them. What better way to begin motherhood than on a springboard of power and strength?

Now I realize that this last reason may appear similar to "proving something to the world." But I believe there is a clear distinction between 1) Choosing to take a difficult path because you believe it will be beneficial to you and teach you important things about yourself AND 2) Choosing to inflict pain on yourself for future bragging rights.

I chose to accept the birth process and the possibility of intense pain because I knew it was best for me and my babies. But I think it's impossible to come out the other end of natural childbirth without feeling the euphoria of achieving something beautiful. Childbirth is one of the most physically and emotionally difficult challenges many women face. How could a woman not feel enormously fulfilled and proud of herself for her labor of love and endurance?

I do hold my children's births in my heart as some of my greatest accomplishments. Does that make me prideful, macho (but in a female way), or full of myself? I don't think so. Just like I don't fault my husband for the joy he feels in completing a marathon or anyone who tackles something difficult and feels gratified upon overcoming it. Aren't those kinds of achievements the makings of our heroes? Is it not in our witnessing of human strength and endurance that we find our own desire to reach higher and push further and grow stronger?

I didn't pursue natural childbirth so people would call me their hero. But people have. I feel honored that my experiences have inspired other people because I believe wholeheartedly that the same strength I drew upon to birth my children lies within all of us. We are all strong. We are all heroes-in-the-making. We all have opportunities to discover our strength. Childbirth just happens to be where I discovered mine.

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i echo busca's thoughts, in that childbirth was also an opportunity for me to draw upon the inner strength that i did not fully realize i had. some find that strength in running or accomplishing something very difficult, and i found that strength through birthing naturally, which has transformed me and made me a better, stronger, more confident person.

thank you so much for sharing busca!