I am not a big fan of the term "natural childbirth." It implies that other births are what? Not natural? Synthetic? Artificial? I think the term needs rebranding so that it doesn't have that tinge of moral superiority. How about old-school birth? It's fresh, it's hip hop and kids these days will love it. Just think, you don't even have to give birth in a yurt while your midwife does a pagan ceremonial moon dance as she adorns you with eagle feathers and journey-seed crystals to have one.
I'm not one of those women who says childbirth is painless -- like my mom. When I was pregnant she told me, "Toni, it is really no big deal. Your father and I stopped to make photocopies along the way to the hospital." Either my mom is a big fat liar or a greedy pig who didn't pass on those birthing hips, because I definitely felt like I was going to die. But I still wanted the human experience of giving birth old-school to not only know what it was like, but also to feel morally superior.
In order to make the decision to have an old-school birthing experience, you have to substitute fear for curiosity. I am sure the curious cat had a much more exhilarating life than the apathetic dog, before it got killed, that is. For me to conquer my fears, I looked up unassisted births on YouTube. Let me tell you, after watching enough chicks do it alone in a Wal-Mart inflatable tub with some inept husband barely able to work a camera, I knew I was going to be OK.
Once you have made the decision to have an old-school birth, here are four key strategies to help you through.
- Commitment: You have to be really committed. I suggest bringing a birth plan that makes clear that no one to is offer any drugs or pain medication. During my birth, if someone had asked me if I wanted to take the pain away, I would have said, "Forget the needle and pack that epidural into a crack pipe. In fact, why don't you bunny over to the street corner and score me some black tar heroin to inject into my eyeball."
- Understanding: It is important to educate yourself so you don't feel at the mercy of the medical institution. The more you know, the more empowered you will feel. Although you will experience pain, it is not the type of pain that is indicating something is wrong. Your brain creates the necessary endorphins to manage and sustain the discomfort. Of course, there are circumstances where you would prioritize the health of both you and your baby by taking a different route, but the more you understand, the more comfortable you will be with the decisions you make.
- Now: Giving birth is the one time in life where you are fully present and living in the now. Like the enlightening experience of meditation, you are not distracted by your inner monologue. For once in your life you are free of the excess baggage of mental disruption. Just think, yogis spend a lifetime in search for this type of clarity. After having the baby, it is pretty much impossible to maintain this total immersion in the now. I guarantee after the initial bliss wears off you will be text messaging while breast feeding, or checking Facebook while preparing a bottle. Point is, birth is a moment in life that is so intense and requires so much concentration, that you will not be wondering whether you switched the laundry into the dryer.
- Trust: Trust is probably the most important element for an old school birth. Trusting that your baby is going to come out. Trusting that your body knows what to do. Trusting that the baby knows what to do. Trusting that you are partners in this birth with the same magnificent agenda; to finally meet each other.
Even though you will hit many walls during labor, you will break through all of them. Just when you think you can't go any further, you can, and you will. And when your baby is born, you will both be awake and alert. This way you can stare into their eyes and assert your authority. Or rather, you both can experience the natural high of birth, which is by far the most intense, magical highs of your life. So there you have it. Commitment, Understanding, Now, and Trust. I am sure that is an acronym you can remember.