The Child-birthing Revolution
Now that I am 25 weeks pregnant, I’ve been reflecting on and processing the ways in which women are giving birth today. I am realizing more and more each day that we have a serious worldwide childbirthing dilemma. Especially for women of color, who are at a higher risk of having complications in hospitals. Whether you are someone who wholeheartedly knows that you want to give birth in a hospital or if you are someone like myself, who has questioned the medical system and is actively looking for more natural + organic alternatives, I welcome you here. I am sharing this blog in hopes to motivate and remind women of who they are and what they are capable of in terms of pregnancy and childbirth. I am also writing this piece because the interventions that go into childbirth at hospitals are by far outrageous and need to be completely discarded. We give large institutions power over us every time we depend on them. If we collectively started having natural births, the real childbirthing revolution would begin.
I was blessed with the news of being pregnant soon after the new year. My life has taken endless turns in planning for the arrival of a new baby as well as my transition into motherhood. My partner and I agreed that we wanted to start a family outside of New York, as well as my desire for a tropical pregnancy and birth. So we spontaneously decided that Puerto Rico would be our new home for the time being until our next chapter comes along. Finding a midwife here was incredibly easy and if I’m being honest, she fell right on our lap. Our midwife, who goes by Mumu, has birthed over 400 babies and studied for years with Indigenous Mexican birth workers and healers. In one of our most recent conversations, Mumu informed me that midwifery in Puerto Rico is illegal and I would not be able to have a midwife at my birth if I do not have an assigned doctor who I visit regularly. This was frustrating (to say the least) and for many reasons that I won’t get into. Mostly because I couldn’t believe how unsupportive the system is of natural births. Mumu also mentioned that if I do not have an assigned OB doctor by the time of my labor, and need to visit a hospital for whatever reason, they could call child services on me for my “lack of responsibility”. Therefore, my option of having a free/unassisted/midwife birth in Puerto Rico has become a challenging choice for us to make. It’s mind-blowing that women are told how to navigate a natural process like pregnancy and childbirth and if we disobey we are penalized.
Majority of women today have lost trust in their bodies and their ability to create and sustain life. We have become so dependent on “health professionals” to tell us what to do and how to do it. For eons, women have been birthing babies and yet, we do not feel capable of successfully growing new life in our womb without frequent ultrasound visits and medical interventions. I completely understand the need for reassurance throughout pregnancy to confirm that everything is okay, but most of the time, as intuitive moms in the making, we would know if something isn’t right. Either way, if something was wrong, our only two options are aborting or keeping the baby. Ultrasound scans are a new technology that began in the 1950s, prior to this women did not have or need tools to look inside the uterus to check up on the baby. We don’t go to the doctor when we’re perfectly fine and healthy, so why do we visit a doctor regularly during pregnancy? As if something is wrong with us… In terms of childbirth itself, some of the current issues I have a problem with are the inducing of labor, epidural medication, IV fluids, cesarean sections, counterproductive laboring positions such as laying flat on your back and the list goes on. All of these go against the natural birthing process and could all actually lead to complications. Sometimes what’s best for a patient is not what doctors learned in medical school. (Please note: I am aware that some women do experience complications during pregnancy and therefore need medical assistance for safety purposes, however this type of assistance should only be required if there is a real issue at hand). The reality is that hospitals make more money when more medical resources are involved and therefore they look for any opportunity to push these things onto us.
Inducing labor is an issue because it goes against the baby’s natural rhythm and cycle. Not allowing them to arrive when they are ready, rather projecting onto them when we or doctors feel that they need to arrive. Medication such as epidural anesthesia does not guarantee complete pain relief and it is known to cause possible long term back problems. What many women do not realize is that yes the epidural may numb the labor experience but it may also numb the joy and ecstasy that comes from holding your newborn baby. Numbing you on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. We already have two pain relieving hormones that are released during childbirth, Oxytocin and Endorphins. These hormones leave the mother energized and happy after the delivery. Oxytocin is well known as the love hormone. It also helps prevent post pregnancy depression. With that being said, our body already contains what is necessary to support us throughout labor and birth. We are also given IV fluids at the hospital to “nourish us” and yet we are not permitted to eat or drink anything throughout the process. Do we really need fluids through a tube? Something about unnaturally diluting our blood stream with fluids doesn’t sit well with me. How did women in previous lifetimes stay nourished during labor? I think they did just fine considering we’ve made it this far. Some hospitals require that mothers pay an extra fee to hold their newborn for an extended period of time. The first few hours of human life should consist of complete uninterrupted connection between mother and child. This pure skin-to-skin contact between a newborn and their mother is called The Golden Hour, and is known to have many benefits. Unfortunately, most medical professionals overlook the importance of this and return the baby completely swaddled.
Another issue we have normalized is how soon the umbilical cord gets cut after the child is born. In hospitals, it is common for the placenta to be removed soon after the baby arrives but this could actually cause an iron deficiency. After birth, the placenta is still providing the baby with plenty of blood and nutrients but for some reason the World Health Organization recommends cutting the umbilical cord 1-3 minutes after birth because it could “cause complications to the baby”. How could the very thing that has nourished the baby for most of its womb life all of a sudden cause complications? Allowing the baby to remain connected to the placenta for a longer period of time allows for more nourishment to flow. As far as for cesarean sections, many women receiving them do not need them. Babies born through a c-section are more prone to asthma, allergies and infections. Without a natural birth, babies miss out on good bacteria present in the mother’s body. This plays a major role in the immune system of the child. Doctors nowadays are finding any and every reason to schedule a c-section, how convenient as I am sure doctors are paid more since the birth has now become a surgical procedure. It also takes less time to perform a c-section than it does to be present during an entire natural labor and birth. Allowing the doctor to see more patients in less time. None of which have a mother’s best interest at heart.
We do not need someone to tell us when or how to push during labor. This is a natural wisdom that we, as women, are born with. We aren’t taught how to have a bowel movement, yet here we are. Your body naturally does what it needs to do, when it needs to do it. If we observe the animal kingdom, most species give birth alone. No assistance needed because their instincts intuitively kick in. Animals never lay on their backs to give birth and yet, hospitals advise us to lay on our backs to push our baby out. This is extremely counter intuitive and works against nature. Fun fact: Your pelvic floor is 28% wider when you are in a squatted position, allowing more space for the baby to pass through. Birthing on your back goes against physiology and gravity, which makes it a more painful position. This can cause infant distress as well, because the woman has to work even harder to push the baby out. Mothers in an upright position (standing, kneeling, hands-and-knees, squatting etc) have an easier, faster and less painful labor. Please note that giving birth at a hospital will not necessarily reduce your chances of having an issue during labor and birth. Complications can arise at home, at a birthing center or at a hospital.
What we need collectively now more than ever is to reclaim our strength and innate womb power. Pregnancy and childbirth are not medical conditions that need to be monitored or intervened with but natural, organic processes that can be handled gracefully using the voice of intuition. Right now in Puerto Rico, it is easier and more accepted for me to give birth at a hospital than it is to give birth in the comfort of my own home, the way women have been for thousands of years. The way we are being birthed into the world is a problem. Strangers (doctors/nurses) handle babies aggressively, taking them away from the family and swaddling them soon after they’re born, allowing no skin to skin with mother. The first thing we experience when we step in the world is disconnect. All because we have lost trust and faith in our ability to handle pregnancy and childbirth successfully. We have placed all of our trust on institutions and it’s time to redirect our trust back into our womb space. We are the divine cosmic mothers, we don’t need to be told how to do this. We don’t have to fear pregnancy and childbirth, our entire existence is designed to do this!
Benefits of Natural Childbirth:
- pushing when YOU feel ready and ability to change positions (squatting/standing) reducing the risk of vaginal tearing
- no risk of interventions such as surgery, inducing labor or fetal monitoring (doctors have a way of making you feel as though you don’t have a choice or the need of interventions are urgent)
- allowing the placenta is remain connected to the baby so that more nourishment and blood supply can flow
- endless skin-to-skin contact with baby providing a strong sense of contentment and affection between mother and child
- faster recovery + zero side effects of epidural medication
- allowing an unlimited number of people to be present at your birth ceremony
- natural birth is empowering and allows you to feel more connected to your womb and divine strength
Above all else, natural childbirths are not always an option for all women. If you have had complications throughout your pregnancy or have a history of health issues please be careful and make sure that you will not be putting yourself or your baby in danger. Educate yourself further and speak to someone who can help support you while making the decision that is best for you.
I encourage you to do your own research and educate yourself further on birth options available to you. Below I have listed some books and resources that have been very helpful for me during this time. I trust they will resonate with you as well.
- Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
- The Unassisted Baby by Anita Evensen
- Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Artwork by @spiritysol
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