Natural birth is described as childbirth free of interventions, augmentations, or medicines. Sadly, natural birth in the United States is next to unheard of; however, in most other countries, it is the norm. Equally astonishing is the incredibly high infant and maternal mortality rates in the United States when compared to the rest of the world. In the United States, the first day infant mortality rate is 11.3 per thousand births and the maternal mortality rate is 21 per thousand births– double the rate of the rest of the industrialized world.
The sad fact is that women in the United States research their appliances and cars more intently before purchasing them than they research their own birth options, and they make decisions largely based on fear and not fact. We watch the television shows, and movies, hear the horror stories from friends and family, and we are afraid of the birthing process. It’s as if we are conditioned to think our bodies cannot handle birth.
The truth is that our bodies were made to birth our children gently and naturally. When we begin to better understand our bodies and how they work, it is much easier to relax about the birthing process and allow your body to do what it was made to do.
To start, during the birthing process, our brains are releasing hormones. If we are afraid, the brain will secrete the stress hormones called catecholamines. These hormones cause your body to tense up, which causes pain, and causes unnecessary stress to you and your baby. When you are relaxed, when you trust your body to do what it does best, naturally, your brain secretes endorphins known as oxytocin. The brain cannot release both hormones at the same time, so beginning your birthing process in a calm, relaxed manner, and remaining calm and relaxed during the entire birthing process; your body cannot even recognize or process pain. In fact, when in this relaxed state, the birthing process typically goes much more quickly due to the oxytocin being released in such high amounts. Another fascinating trick the body performs during childbirth is once the baby is being birthed, the nerve endings (and there are thousands) in the vagina actually numb from the pressure of baby’s head. When you think about it, if you’ve seen a dog, a cat, maybe livestock of some sort have babies, are they howling in pain and thrashing about? Typically – no; they find a calm quiet place away from noise and distraction. They seem to work with their bodies to gently and easily birth their babies.
Natural birth has been gaining a lot more attention, and I am excited to see that many more women are actually taking part in their pregnancies and birthing processes. I encourage everyone, men and women of all ages to make decisions based on fact. If you choose to birth in a hospital, great! There are doctors around the West Michigan area that support natural birth.
There are also midwives that work at most of the hospitals in West Michigan who will oversee your pregnancy and birth, if you wish. Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont wants to be known as the premier natural birth hospital in West Michigan, and I work closely with them to offer relaxation techniques to women that want a pain free, med free birth. In fact, they will be installing a permanent birthing pool which is expected to be complete this fall.
If you want to birth at home, great! There are many fabulous midwives in West Michigan and a growing number of doulas able to manage your care. The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth. Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Many midwives perform the same services as a doula and the results are also beneficial for mother and child.
The important point is to know your options. Own your birthing choices and back up your decisions with facts. You owe it to yourself and your unborn child.
For more information, contact Morgan A. Barron at 231-268-0498 or go to www.thehealinglightllc.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Morgan offers relaxation techniques for childbirth and offers a sliding scale for women on Medicaid or without insurance. As a lifestyle engineer, Morgan facilitates rapid change and identifies and releases unresolved conflicts or factors beyond conscious awareness resulting in major improvements in health, self-confidence, pain relief and more.