Daddy's Coming Honey!

Birth, naturally

“It was good to be young,
to be close to the earth;
and to stand by your wife

at the moment of birth.”

-“The Green Leaves of Summer”

We were in the natural foods store shopping for some primrose oil and raspberry leaf tea, which is supposed to help induce labor when the time comes. I thought about the stereotype reinforced by the industrialized processed foods industry that “organic”,”local”,”natural”, and “sustainable” are all code words for smelly hippies who give you tasteless, unclean food from strange countries injected with green slime that makes you puke while they hug trees and worship “mother earth”. I also thought how “Green” tokenism does give these wholesome principles a bad name, when anything at the supermarket can be labeled “organic” and people will buy it thinking they’re “doing the right thing”. I also thought about how Carrie and I are in no way excellent spokespersons for good eating, though compared to the average American we’ve done very well. Eventually, our goal is to wean ourselves off of the broken grocery fascism imposed by Wal-Mart, but until then the cheap prices—made possible by making quality-less “Great Value” products, treating employees with even less value, and sucking the value out of communities by putting local stores out of business—are all too easy for us, because we are weak and lazy. But I will say we’ve been consistent about pursuing this whole birth thing without giving in to the system. Soon we’ll find out how successful we can be.

My wife should be writing this one. But in lieu of that, I’m writing what she would otherwise do if she was confident in her writing. I’ve dropped hints here and there that we’re doing a natural child birth. People be like, “what’s that?” And I’ll explain.

If you’re not familiar with the typical modern birth scene, it looks something like this:

The Modern Birth

However, unlike Monty Python’s brave caricature, most Hollywood birth scenes promote the typical modern birth as a piece of cake thanks to the “marvels of modern medicine”. In contrast, natural births are made up to look something like this:
Water Birth Exaggerated

And sometimes they get real dirty, depicting a natural birth as something like this:

Hippo Birth

If you take hospital “obedience” classes, you can just roll in and have a designer birth, complete with all the chems and slicing you’ll ever need. Your baby will be ready in just a few short hours.

So a lot of couples toss around the line, “oh, we’re gonna try for a natural birth,” and then suddenly get hit with the reality of what birth is like and the nurses roll their eyes as they prepare for the epidural they know she’ll be asking for any minute.

A natural birth is way more than just saying, “no meds please.” In fact, if you walk in and say that, any woman could tell you more than I could this is a recipe for disaster. Natural birth involves a number of steps, most of which are accomplished well before labor even begins.

Let’s go over some ground rules about natural child birth, according to the Bradley school, of which Carrie and I are now distinguished graduates:

1.The husband is the coach. I’m the coach, so I get to talk about this stuff because I’m involved in the process. If there is no husband, a sister or mother or best friend can be a coach. I’m standing in the corner of the ring with water and a sponge the whole time.

2. Have you ever had a dog give birth? They sneak away and the next thing you know they have a litter. They didn’t whelp at all. These dogs go to a comfortable place and take their time with the birth. If a dog can do it, a human can do it. So what you have to do is make the delivery room seem more like home. Dim the lights. Bring some of those electric candle-emulators. Have some Yoga music. Bring your own pillows. I don’t recommend toting furniture from your house. Let’s not get carried away.

3. No delivery drug has been proven safe. Most of them administered to either ease the pain or spur the birth process, but nearly all of them complicate the actual process and potentially harm both mother and baby. Every hospital drug can go through the placenta to the baby. Americans overmedicate themselves by default. Don’t be an American: American children are medicated brats. And since your child is likely to try marijuana at least once in life, it’s best if they weren’t introduced to harder drugs at birth, so they won’t seek them as a replacement after the harmless “gateway drug” just doesn’t cut it for them.

4. If the mama holds the baby close to her chest immediately after birth and begins to breastfeed him soon after, he tends to turn out better than if he’s placed in a plastic bed-thing for a while after a nurse frantically tries to rub the goo off of him (which, if it was dangerous, would have hurt him before he came out with it all over him). There’s also a decrease in attachment issues later in life, and Carrie can tell you all about those. There is no medical reason that under normal birthing circumstances a baby has to be immediately removed from its mother and studied for an hour. That can happen later.

5. C-sectioned mothers have 3x the risk of death. Back in 2006, the US was 13th place in the world in mothers dying from childbirth. You’d think we’d be 1st with all our allegedly amazing technology and healthcare. But no, doctors in a hurry to get to their golf game need to cut that baby out before the mother overstays her welcome, and many of our “modern marvels” are just as dangerous, if not moreso, than those “sketchy old wives’ homeopathic cures”.

6. You have to eat well and exercise up to the birth. It’s like training for a marathon. Like, Carrie is going to be walking laps during her labor.

7. But during contractions, you lie still and meditate and relax. You breathe in deeply and slowly, not like a panting dog on crack. The womb is moving automatically. This helps the process and also prevents a lot of pain. With this and the joyful endorphins, many mothers doing natural birth have reported only feeling severe burning at the moment the baby’s head peaked.

8. Whatever you do, don’t give birth on your back.

9. Like Dr. Bradley told me, “the act of emptying the uterus is mechanically identical to emptying the rectum.” It turns out my brother’s college roommate Abram Pryor was more correct than we thought he was in his theory of childbirth. We don’t give him enough credit. So, you wouldn’t pant on the toilet pushing out a big one. You breathe deeply and take your time. Read a magazine or two. Yes, this is more like pooping a watermelon, but the tactics are similar.

10. If you deny the right of the father to be in the birthing room, your institution should immediately be deprived of any public funding you are receiving.

11. If you’re an OB and you’re always in a hurry, it’s time to quit and do something you might actually be good at for once in your life.

12. If you are not interested in the natural method, I do not judge you. I don’t expect you to judge me either.

After planning the birth of our child, I really believe that a birth should be treated as a conscious gift from God that mothers (and fathers) are invited to participate in with effort, not an idle gift from some man-made “stork”. With all respect to doctors, they serve a role that is vital, yet minimal, considering pregnancy itself is not an illness, but a part of life that can arrive with its share of dangers. Only when complications occur is a doctor absolutely needed. If our baby breaches then we would have no choice, and we would regretfully welcome our doctor’s insistence no doing whatever was necessary. If complications arise, what must be done must be done.

No, we’re not yet very good candidates for endorsing natural birth, as we have yet to experience it. But learning about was enough to convince us. Carrie wants to remember the birth by having pictures of it and lucid memories to go with them, not forget about it because she was doped. If you were a mother of a child and you were doped, we’re not judging you. The fact that you raised your child more than covers for the understandable blunders we make in a world where the modern medicine complex has fractured and hijacked traditional maternity rites. If all goes well, our child may be the post-child for the natural way.

Plus I hear crushed, sun-dried placenta capsules are really good for your health.


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