If you think that birth is a medical emergency, consider that the world has been repopulating for centuries without much interference.
Without a doubt, there can be high-risk pregnancies and birth emergencies where medical interventions are highly necessary. Although overall, birth is not the medical emergency that the Western culture makes it out to be. The Western view of birth tells a lot about the way the culture views life in general. Birth is a normal physiologic process that all other mammals undertake, mostly without intervention. Instead, this culture treats it as a process to be highly monitored, planned, and micromanaged with drugs, shots, inductions, preplanned births, ultrasounds, screenings, and tests.
The United States spends more on health care than any other country and more on maternal health than any other type of hospital care. However, it is ranked 50 in maternal mortality and 41 in neonatal mortality worldwide.4 These rankings put us behind such countries as the Czech Republic and Cuba.
Currently, about one-third of all American babies are delivered surgically via C–sections. This number is extremely high with the World Health Organization, which reports that the optimal C–section rate for a country is between 5 and 10 percent. Rising C–section rates are linked to a variety of causes, including the health of the mother and baby, convenience for the doctor and mother, fear of malpractice suits, and other interventions, such as planned inductions and epidurals. The cultural perception of birth needs to change to reflect that birth is a normal physiological process, and intervention with that process does not always equal health for the mother or the baby.
“Birth is not an emergency. It is simply an emergence.”
– Jeannine Parvati Baker
Fresh Ideas to Extend Your Expiration Date
Evidence in support of the safety of planned home births for healthy, lowrisk women continues to grow.5 Shift your perception about the process of birth. Educate yourself and the people in your life on what natural birth can look like. Before pregnancy, educate yourself with resources about midwives, doulas, birthing centers, and home birth. Know that you have other options that may lie outside the cultural “normal.”
The documentary, The Business of Being Born, is an insightful look into the medicalization of birth and other birthing options besides the hospital route.
Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally, by Janet Balaskas, and The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year, by Megan McGrory Massaro and Miriam J. Katz, give balanced, holistic childbirth advice.