Right now, all over the world, tens-of-thousands of women are giving birth. Laboring in their own homes, in community birthing facilities (birthing homes & birth centers), and in hospitals, the vast majority of mothers, outside the US, give birth without the use of drugs and with minimal medical technology. They walk around, eat & drink, and actively push their babies out: sitting up, squatting, on their hands & knees, even standing! They remain safe, giving birth to healthy babies.
Caught in the hands of midwives and given immediately to their mothers, babies suckle at the breast and gaze at the faces of their parents, rarely being separated. Having assisted throughout the labor & birth experience, the mothers’ partners share in the joy and work of birthing, often surrounded by other supportive family members and friends.
In the United States, however, birth has become a medical event, separating families from their homes and loved ones. The medical model of obstetric care involves many interventionary procedures and the routine use of technologies, even though they have been proven to cause more problems than they prevent.“Just-in-Case obstetrics has become the modern way of managing birth in U.S. hospitals. The legal ramifications of “not” using such methods, should a complication or problem occur, are too great to risk, in the minds of most OB/Gyn’s today. In the last 80 years, the natural, normal function of birth, in our culture, has been taken out of the home and out of the family’s life experience. More often than not, birth is seen by mainstream American society as an emergency (watch an episode of “Private Practice”,“Trauma” or “Deliver Me”).
The pain and discomfort of labor and birth is considered unacceptable by most medical professionals, having been trained to relieve pain, whenever possible. Women are told not to be “martyrs”... that they should not have to “endure” labor without drugs, as if birth were an excruciatingly, painful event. Many women insist on pain relief, most often through the use of epidurals, “as soon as possible” upon entering the hospital, often before hard, active labor has even commenced. The use of epidural anesthesia is at a record high today.
Women share their birth experiences with other women much like men tell war stories. Using phrases like, “It was the most terrible pain I’ve ever had.” or “It was the worst experience of my life.” or “I don’t ever want to do that again.” When was the last time you heard a women talk about her birth as a “lovely” or “a wonderful, powerfully emotional experience”? It doesn’t happen much.