Letter to the Editor, July 2007 edition of Washington Family Magazine

Encourage Natural Childbirth

“Make the Labor and Delivery Checklist Part of Your Upfront Planning” by Dr. Steven Behram (May 2007) was an excellent article for those planning a hospital birth, but do women know that they have choices when it comes to giving birth?

The article assumed that one of the most important factors of the prenatal experience is hospital choice. Actually, women have many choices. I can think of at least four: hospital, birthing center, midwife-attended homebirth or unassisted homebirth.

Unassisted homebirth is an option with which I am very familiar, having given birth in the hospital four times and then twice at home, with just my husband present – no doctor or midwife. I don’t have time here to get into all of the reasons and issues surrounding the intentional way of giving birth without a doctor or midwife, but I encourage you to visit my website for a full discussion of this option (www.unassistedhomebirth.com).

Instead, I’d like to encourage women to strongly consider natural childbirth, mainly because it’s safer and more satisfying. I liked how Dr. Behram explained how hospital birth works, and I want to encourage those planning a hospital birth to investigate the various medications and interventions they may encounter – the potential harm and risks. Visit Ob/Gyn Dr. Sarah Buckley’s website for scientific evidence cautioning against the use of excessive ultrasounds, pitocin, epidurals and cytotec (www.gentlebirthgentlemothering.com). Women should seek medicated or surgical childbirth if it is ABSOLUTELY necessary, after exhausting all other options.

Do expectant parents know how much each ultrasound costs? How about an epidural (approximately $1000) or C-section (approximately $18,000)? Would you pay out-of-pocket for some of the truly unnecessary procedures performed in the delivery room? Or, do you not care since your insurance company is paying the bill?

California midwife Ronnie Falcao completed an apprentice program in El Paso, TX and of the 116 births she attended, only one needed a C-Section. The U.S. C-section rate is 30.2%, but researchers say that the true medical need for C-sections should be 5%. C-sections carry a 3-5 times risk compared to vaginal deliveries and are often performed because the woman “fails to progress.”

Ronnie wondered why the C-section rate could be so low, especially since most of the 116 patients were “at risk.” She concluded that the caregiver was willing to help women do whatever it took to ensure a successful vaginal delivery.

Some assume that it takes too much effort to have a natural birth. “Why be a hero?” and “Just give me an epidural,” are common attitudes among women. Our society boasts about “the best medicine has to offer,” and “state-of-the-art facilities,” but in reality, women with normal, uncomplicated pregnancies can forego all of the extraneous technology.

I’ve been researching childbirth since 1996 and decided to create a motivational childbirth CD titled Your Body, Your Birth: Secrets for a Satisfying and Successful Birth (August 2007) so that women can feel energized about birth, one of the most memorable experiences of their life.

Natural Childbirth makes sense economically, but more important, it upholds the dignity of women by giving them the pleasure of experiencing a key aspect of what it means to be a woman.

Lynn M. Griesemer
Fairfax, VA
Author of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love (1998) and Your Body, Your Birth: Secrets for a Satisfying and Successful Birth (2007)