Plain and simple, a natural birth is one where the baby is delivered vaginally, as women have since the beginning of time. Ideally, this would also mean giving birth without labor stimulating drugs like Pitocin and medical procedures to relieve pain such as an epidural.
Advances in science and technology have made remarkable achievements in the ability to save the lives of mothers and babies that in past decades would have been lost. However along with this has come many sacrifices, a shift in balance that has not necessarily resulted in better statistics or safer outcomes.
The U.S., which spends more money and has the highest in technological standards, is not rated even in the top 10 of nations for mother and infant mortality at birth. In 2015, the U.S. dropped from number 31 to 33, out of 179 countries.*
Delivery by abdominal surgery or the cesarean section, once reserved for emergencies, has become over used. Many hospitals in the U.S. are delivering 30 percent or more babies by cesarean, and in countries like Brazil the numbers are over 60 percent. For some doctors around the world, their c-section rates are as high as 90 percent!
There are many reasons for this change, but one of the most obvious may be the male dominance of the medical profession, setting standards for a process where they have a clinical understanding, but no direct experience. Clearly it is time for a return to normalcy, and a greater understanding of the many factors at play that lead to a healthy, safe, natural birth.
*The State of the World’s Mothers 2015 report, a global index that ranks the best and worst places to be a mother based on the latest available data on indicators like political status, economics, education, children’s well-being and maternal health, ranks the U.S. at No. 33 of 179 surveyed countries—down two spots from last year.