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Your idea of a normal birth is not normal

Common sense tells us that birth and labour is a natural and healthy event, therefore any healthy mother with a healthy pregnancy should have a normal healthy labour and birth. Have you ever been surprised to find a cat with her new litter of kittens in a box under the flight of stairs at your apartment block? Animals in the wild give birth all the time, even monkeys with their human-like small hips…. without a doctor in sight. Birth happens without assistance in nature.

What does having a natural normal birth mean to you?

Did you see births growing up?

Gone are the times when women would labour amongst a community of other women who provide simple and helpful support. Women practically had a bunch of doulas — except they were not called doulas. (Doula is actually a derogatory term of woman’s servant but now accepted to mean support.)

I found it interesting that breastfeeding was taught to an orphaned Orang Utan who had never seen another female raise a baby. You can read that interesting story here. A newly mother zookeeper decided to breastfed her baby in front of the orang utan, in hopes of teaching the primate, who then managed to breastfeed her own newborn orang utan in less than 24 hours later. Breastfeeding is also a completely natural event….but like birth, is something that needs to be seen and mimicked and learned as the norm.

This makes me wonder if the ‘cover up’ policy is hurting the mums in our society — in our abilities to nurse. I was very lucky to have watched my auntie breastfeeding openly at a time when it was considered a little more taboo in conservative Singapore.

I digress.

In the past, kids might have grown up watching real births maybe even being part of their sibling’s entry into the world. When I was growing up, all I knew about birth was from screaming women in emergency situations on TV. I thought a natural birth just meant a vaginal birth and I wondered why on EARTH would anyone want to pull a baby out of that tiny opening and that ripping from front to back is totally what happens. No one ever associated birth with pleasure or happiness.

In Singapore, it is rare to find a birth story that is completely free of intervention. I would say, observationally, for every 10 women I have spoken to, 5 would be induced, 8 would have had an epidural of some sort. 1 woman would have had pain relief free births and there might be the rare woman who had an intervention free birth — from start to the birth of the placenta. If most women have had intervention, then has this become The Normal Birth?

If I could say there was a reason for this huge increase in elective c-sections, inductions and other interventions, the following reasons are what comes up a lot:

  1. I just did what the doctor told me to and on hindsight, I regret it.

  2. I was scared of the pain.

  3. I was pressured into the intervention even though my instincts told me otherwise.

So what is normal?

Being a birth doula and talking to many other doulas, I can tell you that I have seen variations of normal natural births. Our contractions vary, our babies mature at different stages, our babies position different based on our bodies and our bodies just generally vary so much.

And you know what? It is usually okay! What most people don’t know is that different doctors have different practices. Why don’t you get a caregiver who has the practice that matches your birth wishes?

We need confidence in what is happening and hold on to the power of making decisions and asking questions. This is why I encourage mums and dads-to-be to get a good natural childbirth education. Fear and uncertainty is the very thing that will stop labour or cause tremendous pain.

I believe most women are able to birth naturally….sometimes, this is not available. There are certain circumstances when medical assistance is appreciated. When routinely applied however, it causes more harm than help.

More important than a fully natural birth is one where women are allowed to birth instinctively, have her birth wishes respected and if things go sideways, have full control over her choices. This is how you prevent a traumatic birth.

What’s so great about having a natural normal birth? You’re not getting a medal for it.

Absolutely no medal. This is really not about the ego. My husband asked me this question when I decided on a natural birth with my second. At that time, I did pause for a minute and wonder if….my goals were about proving something.

Don’t get me wrong. I felt pretty proud of myself when I did it. As most of my clients do. Its called labour for a reason. It feels like you just ran a marathon and more.

It is however important to protect the hormonal process of labour and birth that allows you to mother. I’m not just talking about the amazing bonding breastfeeding prolactins that kick in while you labour. Or the bonding and protective mama-bear mechanism of oxytocin. Or the rewarding euphoria that the endorphins in natural childbirth brings. Or the oxytocin (again) that continues as you breastfeed to do the long mundane days of baby caring. These hormones work together along with many others to bring up your mothering instincts, to know what your child needs and to know what you need to do. (Along with these, it is also important to have functional, respectful support post partum.)

It was deemed a dysfunction when animal mothers refuse to care of their babies. Many of the interventions in modern birth have led to unsatisfactory labour and birth — so many women are suffering from post partum depression and told to deny their feelings. To just be happy their babies are safe and alive.

This is not doing anyone a service. (Mentally and emotionally) Healthy mothers raise (mentally and emotionally) healthy children… who, guess what? makes up our future world. I have learned via Hypnotherapy that adults carry emotional wounds from their birth, newbornhood and childhood — and it manifests in hurtful patterns as adults. No baby thrives without connection.

You are literally changing the future, mums-to-be. We need every one of you to be present with your babies.


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