Trust Birth or Don’t?

I can’t resist.  You would think that since I am new to homebirth and haven’t had a VBAC yet that I wouldn’t bother myself with polemics regarding homebirth.  I’m obviously not that bright.  My homebirth google alert today included a post about the power of positive thinking and the homebirth movement.  I had to check it out. 

I won’t link to this weblog out of principle, but if you search for the quote using your favorite search engine, you’ll find it easily enough . . .

“. . . if you ‘trust’ birth, and refuse to accept the fact that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

I’d like to play with the words a bit:

“If you refuse to trust birth and insist that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

Some people, practitioners and women, simply refuse to trust birth.  Some will insist that birth is inherently dangerous.  They will likely achieve the birth experience that they desire, and it will likely be overly-managed, overly-medicated, potentially surgical, and definitely exorbitantly expensive.

“If you don’t trust birth and accept the fact that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

And somewhat similarly:

“If you don’t trust birth even though you don’t believe that birth is inherently dangerous, you will likely have trouble achieving the birth experience that you desire.”

Some people don’t trust birth and have accepted the “fact” that birth is inherently dangerous.  They will likely create that reality in their birth experiences.  If women engage practitioners with this guiding philosophy, they will likely lose faith in the natural processes of life and end up dissatisfied with their birth experience even if the outcome is positive.

Some women know that birth isn’t dangerous most of the time but lack the trust needed to achieve particular outcomes.  Perhaps this was me once upon a time.  I never really considered that birth might be dangerous.  Why would I be created for a particular skill if it were inherently dangerous to me or my offspring?  However, I’m not sure that I trusted myself enough last time.  I didn’t trust my body.  I didn’t trust my instincts.  That’s probably the worst part of it . . . I didn’t listen to my inner voice.

“If you trust birth and acknowledge that birth is inherently natural to our species, you will likely achieve the birth experience that you desire.”

If you trust birth you are fortunate enough to understand that certain life events are natural and far less risky than some of the every day activities in which we engage.  Things like riding in cars.  That single activity is far more risky (statistically speaking) than giving birth.  If you trust birth you may not be “rewarded” with a particular birth outcome but understand that complications and poor outcomes are possible.  Trusting birth is not about sticking your head in the sand.  It’s about understanding that most of the time women can achieve normal birth when given appropriate support, time, and space.

Going back to the original quote:
“. . . if you ‘trust’ birth, and refuse to accept the fact that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

“Trust” – in the original text, the blogger puts the word “trust” in quotes; this diminishes the validity of “trust” in relation to childbirth
“Refuse to accept” – ultimatum . . . polemic
“Inherently dangerous” – emotional scare tactic
“Reward” – as if there’s a prize involved???
“Desire” – as if all that matters for homebirthers is what the woman desires

Do you see yourself anywhere in my “play on words” section?  Where do you want to be?  Do you want to be afraid to be pregnant?  Do you really want to go into labor and delivery afraid?  Do you really want to go into labor and delivery lacking trust?  What is positive and proactive about being fearful and lacking trust?  What do you as a pregnant and/or laboring woman gain from that perspective?  I would say nothing.  You have lost your power and are no longer an active participant in your care when you are afraid and can’t trust.  Perhaps you (and your birth experience) are more manageable that way.  How do you feel about that?  Do you want to be managed?

I can’t really define homebirth for you.  Everyone comes to homebirth from different paths.  Some women always know that they’ll have their babies at home.  Some women are involved in social structures that are more inclined to promote homebirth, homeschool, extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and the like.  Some women are disgruntled consumers.  Some women aren’t given the choice to have a vaginal hospital birth and turn to homebirth as their only choice.  Some women who give birth at home don’t fall into any of these generalized categories.

For me homebirth is about safety, sanctity, Faith, Trust, natural life processes, achieving physiologic birth, what’s best for me and baby, avoiding an unnecessary cut, vaginal birth after cesarean, comfort, family, community, and a whole host of other things that I haven’t even discovered yet!


7 thoughts on “Trust Birth or Don’t?

  1. Bravo!

    I couldn’t resist commenting even though I should be in bed!

    My choice to homebirth had many reasons that evolved over time that is for sure … likely very similar to your own process. One of them though was that I was not ever going to birth with strangers again unless I had need to request their special knowledge… birth is intimate … our rec room full might not have seemed like an intimate seen, but it was. It was. And when I doubted myself as women/people do, I could look into their eyes and know that they did not doubt and I could trust them.

  2. I approach birth like this: I see it as innocent unless proven guilty. I have an immense respect for the complex, intricate physiological processes that bring a baby into the world, and I assume that everything that happens–even if we don’t know why or how it does–has a wise purpose. So my default is to allow the body to do its work without undue interference. I don’t like the “sloganization” of birth because it inevitably dumbs down and oversimplifies a very complex process.

  3. I have faith and trust in my body…at least I tell myself that everyday and to be honest, every waking moment. I am always telling myself that my body was amazingly created to deliver a wee one. I am a mom of 2 and am planning a HBA2C with a great midwife. I have been keeping my appointments with my O.B., that was until today. I went in for my 36 week appointment and told how unsafe this decision is. The funny thing about it…I never saw my O.B. today, I saw the C.N.M and my O.B. nurse. The nurse asked me how I could make such an unsafe decision. She asked me if I would get on a plane if I knew there was a chance it would crash. What a crazy question? The C.N.M. wanted to make sure that I knew that midwifes should never take a risk with someone like myself. Well, why not? There is no where else for me to deliver but in the safety of my own home, in the safety of Almighty’s wings, and in the arms of my husband. I am so happy that there are those that believe in me and trust the process of birth.

  4. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. Brandi, I am glad that you have found a better “way” to birth. I wish you the best in your upcoming HB!! Rixa, I totally “get” what you’re saying regarding the “sloganization” of birth. It’s sad to see so much evidence of that out there in the popular press and blogs. Tami & Amy, I appreciate your support!

  5. Unfortunately my trust of my body was betrayed. I went into pregnancy in the shape of a trained athlete. Literally. I was working out 6 days a week, teaching fitness classes, had cut out caffeine…I was taking immaculate care of my body and my pregnancy. Sometimes life hands you something that can’t be overcome by trust in your body. I got Class I HELLP syndrome at 28 weeks and had to have my son delivered prematurely at 1.5 lbs. I had no choice. My body had made it impossible for my son or myself to survive if I stayed pregnant. You see, I had a clotting disorder I was unaware of until my 26th week of pregnancy. It was choking off nutrients to the placenta. Most women become aware of the clotting disorder through recurrent miscarriage. Somehow my body managed to carry my son to viability.

    Any amount of trust or faith I have in my body is irrelevant to my particular situation. I absolutely needed medical intervention (a cesarean) or my son and I would both be dead.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think most births can be accomplished with no intervention, but it is really not accurate to say that just trusting your body will get it done. Sometimes it just doesn’t work that way.


  6. Lori, yes there are always caveats. Nothing is certain in life – except death and taxes, so they say. I’m sorry you feel like your trust was betrayed. I certainly can sympathize though in a very different way.

    Best wishes,

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