- the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning:”we shall allow ourintuition to guide us”
- an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli:”birds have aninstinct to build nests”
- a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity: “had an instinctfor the right word”
- a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason
- behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level
- imbued or filled with (a quality, especially a desirable one):”these canvases are instinct with passion”
- existing in, belonging to, or determined by factors present in an individual from birth : “innate behavior”
synonyms: native, inborn
- belonging to the essential nature of something
- originating in or derived from the mind or the constitution of the intellect rather than from experience
Have you ever watched a baby learn to crawl or walk? Have you ever seen videos of horses or cow’s birth and the calf or colt just gets up and walks? Have you seen these same animals search and start nursing? Do we have to tell a baby they can crawl and eventually walk? If you put a baby on it’s mothers chest, he/she will search out his mother’s breast and begin to breast feed. We have innate abilities that do not need to be taught to us. We will breast feed, crawl, walk, vocalize and eventually talk. We have instincts to preserve ourselves and intuition to immediately understand our environment without conscious knowledge. Why then, do women question themselves about birth?
When women find out I am a midwife, I often hear one of several things:
“Oh my, I could never give birth without an epidural.”
“I am not strong enough.”
“My hips are too narrow so I had to have a cesarean.”
“My babies are too big so I had to have a cesarean.”
“Why would you not want an epidural?” (This one I get from doctors.)
The list goes on and on, but the biggest one I find disturbing is “I just can’t do it”.
Of course you can do it! You can do anything, especially give birth. Women are designed to carry, labor and birth a baby. So, why do so many women feel this is overwhelming and beyond their innate abilities.
One time I was attending a woman in labor, and the spouse was extremely scared and worried about his wife, as sometimes spouses can be. After all, they can’t take over, and they can’t fix it, and they can’t make it better. However, she was actually doing great. It was a long labor, and everyone was understandably tired, but he was so scared that his fear transferred over to her. Because of that, she believed she couldn’t do it, she believed she was too tired to push, and she doubted her own body’s ability. She ended up getting a cesarean.
My personal client cesarean rate is three percent. However, half of these I feel are due to a client losing faith in themselves, as well as their support systems losing faith. The other half I believe really needed the cesarean section.
Women have an innate ability to birth. This is not in question. This is how we keep the human race alive and moving forward. Why, then, is it a question to anyone that a woman can’t do this? I’m confused as to how we have built a world in the United States that has convinced the majority of the population that woman can’t give birth unmedicated.
Whether you believe it is a God-given ability or evolution, a woman’s body is meant to get pregnant and give birth. Every animal species on the planet does it without difficulties, and so can we. In his book Childbirth Without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read tells a story of a woman in the projects of London. He is called to attend her birth at her small, run-down apartment on the third floor. When she refuses his pain-management help of nitrous oxide, he is shocked. He witnesses his first unmedicated, natural birth and is amazed at how she instinctively and innately births her baby. When she is all settled in, he asks her why she refused the pain medicine and she asks him, “Was it supposed to hurt, doctor?”
Millions of women around the world give birth, safely and unmedicated. Is birth 100% safe? No, but what is? If our current medical model of care made it 100% safe, I would be all for it. But it doesn’t. In the United States, we have more maternal/fetal deaths than some third world countries. We have developed a system that has convinced women to distrust their own innate ability to labor and birth. Our society does not support trusting our own instincts and intuition.
I am not saying to throw the baby out with the bath water (pun intended). There are medical advances in childbirth that have been life-changing, like cesarean sections. Sometimes babies do get in a position they can’t get out of and need help. Sometimes women do develop problems like preeclampsia and need to have a baby quickly or they could die. There is a place for the medical side in birth; it’s just not the main feature. Every intervention has a consequence. The more we intervene with a normal process, the worse the consequences can become.
I ask you to go back and read the definitions at the beginning of this article. Think on them and what they mean to you. Women are incredibly strong and capable of birthing without medical intervention. We have an innate ability to conceive, carry, and birth. We have instincts and intuition to guide us. No one knows your body better than you.
I would love your thoughts and discussion on this topic. I challenge you to disagree, tell your story, and add on to it in more detail. We need to talk about it.
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