Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Natural childbirth? Why should we?

Alice Miles' opinion piece in The Times of London Natural birth! Hello? This is the 21st century, Let’s have fewer pious midwives, not more:
A “normal” birth . . . birth without medical intervention: why? Why should we? This is an extraordinary conspiracy against women, a sort of quasi-religious belief in the virtue of pain, which Ms Hewitt is bafflingly encouraging. The more that modern medicine offers, in terms of pain relief and convenience, the more urgent the insistence of this weird sorority that a woman has to give birth "naturally".

Again, why? We are no longer expected these days to die naturally, without the operation that would remove the cancer or the pain relief to help us on our way. We are not expected to have our hips fixed naturally. We are not even expected to endure a mild headache without a paracetamol. Yet somehow the deeply painful and, for some, traumatic experience of giving birth is forced upon woman after woman in the name of some Earth Mother concept.
She concludes:
It is shocking that a feminist Secretary of State for Health in the 21st century should be colluding with the pious missionaries campaigning to keep women’s birth experiences in the 19th. We are modern now. And we are not in the Third World. We do not need to get behind a bush and squat. Let those who want to go natural, choose natural. But let those who don’t, choose drugs. Choose a Caesarean. Choose life — any way they want it.
In light of recent discussions on this blog, the point that I find most interesting is Miles' reference to a "quasi-religious belief in the virtue of pain". Why, exactly, do "natural" childbirth advocates feel that there is a virtue to pain?

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