Thursday, September 21, 2006

What's the point of natural childbirth?

If, as seems pretty clear, the conventional ideas about natural childbirth evinced by its supporters are either not true, or relatively recent inventions (by men), what is the point of natural childbirth?

Unmedicated childbirth is not an achievement. Any woman can do it, and 99% of the women who ever lived have done it. Medicated childbirth is not a health risk. Almost all the health claims made by the natural childbirth movement are false. No one can even quantify the supposed risks of interventions or if they can, they are substantially less common than death at homebirth. The attack on the modern medical system as depriving women of the "authentic" experience of childbirth is misguided, since natural childbirth bears little if any resemblence to childbirth in nature. The philosophical underpinnings of the movement were invented in the 1930's by a man who sought to put women "in their place", and represented racists notions of what "primitive" women felt as compared to modern, European women.

So, if natural childbirth is not an achievement, if the risks associated with it are less than the risks of homebirth, if there was never a mythical "authentic" childbirth experience, and if no one ever considered childbirth to be pleasurable and empowering until a bunch of men told them that is what they should feel, what is the point of natural childbirth? Why should it be anyone's goal? If you want pain medication, that's fine, and if you don't want it, that's fine too, but why should anyone care? Most importantly, why should anyone try to convince anyone else that one way is superior to another?


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