Natural Birth- No Dreadlocks Required

There was a time when breastfeeding your baby was pretty fringe.  People who did it were either living on a commune or were Amish.  Today there are posters, bumper stickers, even billboards promoting the benefits of breastfeeding.  It has come to the point where formula companies must place a warning on their containers mentioning that breast milk is actually better. 

Breastfeeding has effectively become mainstream.  One of the biggest indicators of if a woman will breastfeed or not isn't if she ever birthed at the Farm with Ina May but her level of education. 

But when it comes to natural birth we seem to hang on to the idea that it is for people who are counter culture, hippie, crazy, reckless or live on a commune.  In fact I am part of a natural birth education company that is different simply because it appears pretty mainstream.  The founder (gasp!) bleaches her hair.  There are no dreadlocks anywhere near by.  There are even vague military references in our materials.  Why?  Because natural birth isn't the unique property of people who know what hash is or have once owned a bong.  You are allowed to be "mainstream" and birth naturally.

Natural birth is for EVERYBODY.  Natural birth is simply good for babies.  Natural birth is good for moms.  Natural birth is good for dad and it is good for FAMILIES. 

I have had many people in my natural birth classes who have in fact HAD dreadlocks.  I have also had people in class who are from foreign countries, who go to church every week, who stay home with their kids, who go back to work six weeks postpartum, who have tattoos, who bleach their hair, who birth in hospitals, birth centers or at home and who when it comes right down to it- DON'T FIT IN ANY ONE MOLD.  They are just families who have come to realize that natural birth is best for their baby and for them.

Sometimes I look around and I think that the biggest thing holding back natural birth from becoming more acceptable and mainstream is the people who promote it.  We talk all the time about how labor and birth doesn't fit a simple textbook plan.  But then we act like IF you want to have a natural birth or be accepted into the natural birth community then there is a lengthy checklist of things that you must also do. 

You must practice attachment parenting.  You must breastfeed for a minimum of one year (but really- that will get you a frowny face if you stop then).  You shouldn't vaccinate and you sure as heck can't circumcise.  Hospital birth?  (Sharp intake of breath!)  Probably not a good idea.  Public school is kind of a no-no as is eating conventional food. 

It's kind of sad because I know for a fact that all kinds of women birth naturally or want to.  They don't fit into any mold just like birthing women shouldn't all be expected to spit out a baby in 12 hours on their due date.  (With a minimum of two hours of pushing in a first time mom.)

We have accepted that women birth differently when left alone- but we have yet to accept that naturally birthing women actually LIVE differently and choose differently for their families. 

It think it is time we woke up and opened our eyes and read the writing on the wall.  I'll tell you what it says:

It says that all kinds of women want a great birth experience.  They want to VBAC.  They want to feel good about their birth.  And if we keep acting like natural birth requires a long list of other accomplishments to be done, then we are hurting ourselves and we are hurting the natural birth community as a whole.  In fact, we are effectively keeping natural birth "fringe" and making it less accessible. 

Natural birth- no dreadlocks required.


dia-a-dia said…
Absolutely right.Your post reminds me of this one:


melissa v. said…

Preach it, sister. Amen.
LOVE this post!!! Donna is far from "hippie." I know before we took her classes, I didn't know any one in real life that was a natural birth advocate, other than my mom. I know when we were searching for a natural birth educator, Donna was so appealing to us, because she didn't fit the stereotypical natural birth advocate. After her classes and meeting with other birth professionals in the area, I no longer have that image, but it is funny when I hear other people make references about natural birthers being "hippie."
Sarah V said…
Thank you! I think the most important thing to be said is that "a Woman must feel GOOD about her birth". We all birth best when we are comfortable. For some that is a hospital, for some that is their home. It is about education and options :) Cheers to you for spreading the word.