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Prepared for “Natural Childbirth?”

April 20, 2016

A couple at birthsmall percentage of women out there want to have a “natural childbirth.”  The wikipedia definition is full of references and this article explores what “natural childbirth” means for men:

The term “natural childbirth” was coined by obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read upon publication of his book Natural Childbirth in the 1930s. In 1942 Grantly Dick-Read published Revelation of Childbirth (which was later retitled Childbirth without Fear), advocating natural childbirth, which became an intern
ational bestseller. The
Lamaze method of natural childbirth gained popularity in the United States after Marjorie Karmel wrote about her experiences in her 1959 book Thank You, Dr. Lamaze, and with the formation of the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (currently Lamaze International) by Marjorie Karmel and Elisabeth Bing. Later, physicians Michel Odent and Frederick Leboyer and midwives such as Ina May Gaskin promoted birthing centers, water birth, and homebirth as alternatives to the hospital model. The Bradley method of natural childbirth (also known as “husband-coached childbirth”), a method of natural childbirth developed in 1947 by Robert A. Bradley, M.D., was popularized by his book Husband-Coached Childbirth, first published in 1965.

Often when one woman says “natural childbirth” she means vaginal birth and not c-section.  But this term is not truly decided upon in the world of women for the most part.  Some women, who are up on women’s health and nutrition, natural and organic foods, often want to live “natural” lives have one meaning for “natural childbirth” that differs from just having a baby come out of the birth canal.  They make it a sacred life event. They will do anything to avoid a medical-focused birth.

birthing naturally in a hospitalSo men you are not sure what you are getting into once those words part her lips.  Most men are completely ill-equipped for a “natural childbirth,” and the challenges women face in obtaining this precious style of birth.

If a guy wants to be supportive of their mate’s pregnancy and childbirth ideas, they may have to gain an understanding or what the natural course of childbirth is, and not the medical model version where the doctors use technology to manipulate the woman’s body.  Modern medicine is all about using what ever technological tools available.  They have drugs, they cause inductions, they surgically deliver one third of births today, though in the 1960’s C-sections were a mere 6% of births.

Some women want all interventions and will still say they want a natural childbirth, so you see there is quite a distance between two women’s ideas on what natural is.

As a man it really isn’t in your place to tell a woman how to birth, you really have little say, and you may have divergent feelings related to how a birth should occur based on your experiences and social upbringing.  If you have a medical background or have been raised by someone who works in the medical field then a medical model birth may be your expectation for all women, and you may thing that women who want to birth without medical interventions is crude, stupid or crazy.

medical versus midwifery model

If you were raised by more holistic models of thinking, then you may have the exact opposite thinking.

Yet what really matters is how you support your mate. Ask questions and learn what she means when she says “natural childbirth.”   Does she only mean having a hospital birth with all the drugs, induction methods, pit and pain killers, but with the use of her birth canal and not surgery?  Then she is ripe for the standard hospital birth.

If she talks about doulas or midwives in attendance at a hospital birth, she may be a fence sitter where she wants her “natural childbirth” and wants the “safest” place to have the birth — though I’d strongly differ with that thinking.  Often bringing a “natural mindset to a medical model birth environment requires a struggle, and conflict is the “enemy” to an already stressful event.

In the USA, a small but growing number of women seek to avoid aggressive medical techniques like induced labor, epidural blocks and Caesarean sections, but they will find few friends or family who support a non-medical style of birth in this highly medical-model minded world.

If you want to so what is best for your mate, than just provide moral support regardless of what you believe, and if she really means non-medical, then you may need to find a lot of support from a community that believes in “natural childbirth.”  Finding a support group is different than going to a hospital’s childbirth training, where everything is already set up and paid for.

Frequently, doctors are thrown off guard when a woman demands a natural childbirth, with no medications, epidural blocks, inductions and Caesarean sections.  So doctors are not going to be a simple route to find that support.  You may feel like she is  having to go underground.  And in some states, homebirth is outlawed, so finding a birth location that supports natural childbirth may seem to take a great deal of effort.  “Homebirth” is another decisive word that means “Forget the frickin hospital, I don’t want it!”

If she wants to use a doctor to attend the birth, then ask around until you find one that actual supports natural childbirth, if that is what she wants.  Often you may want to step away from the ob-gyns and find a family doctor or and OD who has a different prospective on childbirth.  But most women who are serious about natural childbirth won’t even consider a birth in the hospital without a midwife, if the have hospital privileges, which most do if the are Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs).

babykissMany women consider natural birth empowering. There is a big mysterious deal about hormones that are released through a birth process that is natural.  Unless you have a degree in Chemistry, you may not understand all that.  However studies show that skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her newborn immediately after birth is beneficial for both mother and baby. A review done by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that personal bodily contact between mothers and babies after birth reduces crying, improves mother-infant interaction, and helps mothers to breastfeed successfully. It is known that chemically this form of bonding helps create chemicals that are directly related to love. WHO recommends that newborns be allowed to bond with the mother during their first two hours after birth, the period that they tend to be more alert than in the following hours of early life.  In hospitals they often take babies away from their mothers for long stretches of time, interfering with this natural process.

There is a history of conflict between people over that issues of safety in childbirth practices today.  Try to avoid saying to much, as you don’t want to walk into the crosshairs.  People get pretty ridiculous and emotional over what type of birth methods are best.  Remember your job is support, you are the wingman.  Fly straight and avoid unnecessary emotional conflicts.regalia 2 with bluish background

Articles Referenced

Wikipedia definition:

Additional Resources:

Birth Navigators Book: Men at Birth

Preparing for Natural Childbirth

Experience Project

Scientific Midwifery with Obstetric Backup – a Unique Collaborative Model in Maternity Care from Healthy Mother




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