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!)

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