How normal is normal birth?

When people say normal what they are implying is natural birth, which is so not the case, ninety-nine percent of the time. ‘Natural’ birth, as the word suggests, is how nature intended it. Which means your body tells you when it’s ready to give birth, and you do a series of things that make it comfortable for you to do it. Like squat, or take a sip of water or pace around restlessly, looking for a comfortable spot (like my cat did), and well, just do it! It is not a medicalised birth by any means. Sometimes, you might be helped by a midwife or a doula, but only in as much as making it smoother for you, and in no way terrorising you to push or breathe or whatever it is they normally tell you to do. Haven’t we all heard of women in the villages who disappear into the wilderness when they go into labour and squat to give birth? Well, that’s natural birth.
But even so, every woman thinks she is going to have a perfectly normal delivery especially if her pregnancy has been more or less stress-free. (C-sections are things that happen to someone else.) ‘Normal birth’ as it is commonly referred to, is an anomaly in itself. Normal is not being made to lie on a bed and put on a gown. Normal is not having a retinue of doctors and nurses shouting ‘Push, push!’ at you. Normal is not being refused water or candy when you want it.
But, in reality (and some of this might gross you out, but is good to know):
• Asking a woman to lie in a supine position when her body is almost defying gravity (a prerequisite for a natural birth) is considered normal.
• Withdrawing any form of food or drink from the woman about to give birth is considering normal. (Although the body’s natural response in times of stress is to chew or drink something.)
• Asking a woman to ‘push’ when her body tells her otherwise is considered normal.
• Giving her a synthetic oxytocin drip hours before her body is ready for labour, is considered normal. Although oxytocin (the hormone that induces contractions) is released by the body in adequate amounts at the onset of labour.
• Giving the woman an enema (which helps accelerate one of the routine bodily functions of egestion) is considered normal.
• Restricting the woman from any form of movement while all she is dying for is to pace up and down, is considered normal.
• Giving the woman a spinal anaesthetic or epidural, which immobilises her from waist downwards, and then asking her to push when she cannot feel a thing, is considered normal.
• Performing an episiotomy, which is a cut in the perineum (area between the vagina and the anus) for easy passage of the baby from the vagina, is considered normal. This, when the perineum is fully capable of tearing itself in adequate measure and healing the tear on its own.
• Shoving a suppository up the woman’s rear or dousing her with a laxative for weeks after birth to ease passage of stools is considered normal.
• Taking the baby away to be bathed and put under UV light immediately after birth while all it needs is skin-to-skin contact with the mother is considered normal.
(An excerpt from my book, I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!)

Watch the trailer here:


5 thoughts on “How normal is normal birth?

  1. and another thing that I still find hard to digest is that most of these procedures/interventions are done by women doctors and nurses who probably went through/will go through them >
    Dont they get the feeling of fucked -up-ness ? Doing stupid things just because its written inn some text book and treating a woman like dead meat ?

  2. Really? Are these practises still on? I thought obstetric community had moved on from those days! Don’t they have birth plans? Inductions, epidurals, episiotomies, lying supine should all be done if indicated only or if made as an informed decision. Wow

  3. It seems the “west” (as in sunny California at least) is catching up and hospitals are going more natural. For instance – meds only if mom asks for them, no cuts – only gentle assist with fingers which causes natural tear, epidural light and controlled enough that every contraction is felt minus the agonizing pain, skin to skin mother baby contact for an hr after birth without baby bathing or cleaning.

  4. Playing Devil’s A here as usual (as has become my role in the blogosphere !), but we should also be cognizant of the number of pregnancy complication related fatalities that used to be associated with “normal” births way back when they were the norm.
    They used to refer to having a baby as a second birth, that was mostly coz there wasn’t a guarantee moms would make it !
    So let’s not hurry and write off everything the medical community has done to make this process a lot safer (for both baby and mamma 🙂 )

  5. today i spent reading almost a year old published posts of yours. and this one in particular is so touching. i had a c section but i had gone through almost all the points you mentioned here and it wasn’t NORMAL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s