My mother has always said that the three most amazing days of her life were the days that I and my two sisters were each born. Every year, on our birthdays, she would tell us our birth stories. To this day, she still recounts the details. Among them was her determination to give birth naturally and the pure joy she felt in doing so. Year after year of this retelling was one of the most amazing gifts she could ever give to us. She set the premise in our minds that birthing is a beautiful, natural and extraordinary experience that we wouldn’t want to miss! She repeated to us, time and again, that we are lucky to be girls because we get to have the babies!
Likewise, from a very young age, I have held the conviction that birthing naturally is beautifully awesome! Our bodies are expertly designed to grow and birth our babies without intervention. The entire process is natural! Fast forward thirty years to becoming pregnant myself, and it was hard for me to imagine birthing in a hospital environment where medical interventions are the norm. How could I create the birth experience that I wanted? Everyone’s pregnancy and birthing journey is their own. There is no “right way”. For me, however, I knew that the best place for me to birth my babies was at home, so that it would be as unencumbered of institutional rules and policies as possible. My husband and I agreed that with a Certified Nurse Midwife, a top rated hospital close by, and doula support, we would feel safer staying home than going to the hospital for childbirth. And so that’s what we did. If you ask my girls where they were born, they’ll say, “in the dining room”!
Now, I know that home birth is not for everyone. And that is ok. We all have to decide what is best for ourselves and our families. I do feel passionately, however, that our culture needs more examples of and strategies for pursuing natural childbirth in order for more of us to consider it a valid option. And so it is in that spirit that I share with you the following resources. Along the way, I’ve become a trained doula and prenatal yoga instructor, so these suggestions are favorites from my collection.
Want to learn more about natural childbirth and the reasons for pursuing it? Check out ‘Natural Childbirth Resources’ (below). Looking to build your toolkit of strategies for a healthy pregnancy and birth experience? Take a look at ‘Healthy Pregnancy and Childbirth Preparation Resources’, and click here for a FREE handout with relaxation techniques and instructions.
Natural Childbirth Resources
Disappointed by the hospital birth of her first child, Rikki Lake enlisted the help of film director and friend Abby Epstein to document the birth experiences of American women over time. Through interviews with midwives, obstetricians, mothers and other knowledgeable persons, Rikki and Abby chronicle the medicalization of birth in this country and its general acceptance by our culture. As evidenced by high cesarean rates, declining use of midwives as birth attendants and low incidence of home births, the birthing experience for American women has been systematically medicalized, leading them to question their innate ability to birth. This film speaks first and foremost for the use of midwives as Abund4nce birth attendants for “normal” pregnancies. It also strongly advocates for home and birth centers as attractive options for women-centered birthing environments.
The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library)
A wonderful guide to the various birthing options, philosophies and resources available to moms today as written by pediatrics specialists William and Martha Sears. As a Pediatrician, Nurse and parents of 8 children, they are uniquely positioned to provide great insight into birthing and parenting. They are also the leading proponents of the Attachment Parenting philosophy.
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May is the founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee. First published in 1976, Spiritual Midwifery introduced the idea of homebirth as a sane and safe choice. Now the classic home birth resource, it includes birth stories and updated information on the safety of natural childbirth and recent statistics of births managed by The Farm Midwives.