Debunking the myth of a "natural birth"

March 17 |
Photo by Calima Portraits
Photo by Calima Portraits

If you're a longtime reader, you may have noticed that we've consciously made a decision to move away from using language such as "natural" to describe childbirth. In fact, it's been a huge mission of mine to make sure all our birth stories are told in a way that is supportive and positive. This is partly because of Offbeat Families' values, and partly because of my own.

Instead of perpetuating the "natural" versus "unnatural" birth drama, we opted to change the terminology used on Offbeat Families to "unmedicated" and "medicated" childbirth. We did so for a few reasons, one of which is that describing one kind of birth as "natural" and another as otherwise is inherently divisive.

I delivered my son Jasper in a hospital with an epidural administered in the last few hours. It didn't take affect, but it was still in my system — does this mean my birth was less natural because medicine was involved? As you might recall, Ariel's son Tavi was born via cesarean section — is that birth any less wondrous because it wasn't vaginal?

Our answer? Nope. Not a bit.

Does this mean that the choices you make before, during, and after giving birth don't matter? Of course not. Does this mean that we're trying to strip you of the power and wholly awesome experience you had birthing your child at home without any medication? Hell no. If there's one thing I've learned from you guys (and believe me, I have learned WAY more than I ever thought I would), it's that each parenting experience, from conception (if you consider yourself a parent at that point) all the way to wherever you are right now, is unique, powerful, and important. It all matters.

So here are my questions for everyone: who started this whole debate? Who deemed one birth "natural" and another "unnatural?" Who decided to pit woman against woman, mother against mother? More importantly: why do we, as women, as mothers, allow these terms to continue to define our experiences and allows us to look down on one another?

I don't have the answers to those, but I do have a solution: let's change it.

So, you had a "natural birth," right? Awesome, because so did I.