The Skeptic's Guide to

Natural Birth and the Use of Midwives

so, you’re not too sure about natural birth and midwives.

Maybe you’re the partner of an expectant mom who just read an Ina May book and she’s bringing up birth stories during dinner. Maybe the reader is the expectant mom herself who is a little worried about what her family and friends might think about giving birth at a birthing center. We totally get it. There are a lot of misconceptions around natural birth. 

From the outset, we want to make it clear that Inanna doesn't demonize hospitals, their staff, or women who have given birth at a hospital. In fact, we are extremely grateful to the wonderful physician and local hospital personnel that we use to help us if complications were to arise during a birth. Hospitals and the people who work there are extremely qualified to handle emergency complications and specialty care during birth with the use of specialty technology and medicine. 

However, it is our contention that giving birth is a completely normal event until proven otherwise. Birth shouldn’t be treated as an emergency unless it becomes an emergency. We don’t want to make it seem like birth is easy, but the vast majority of births do not experience major complications. There is no emergency. At Inanna, we monitor the baby before, during, and after the birth to ensure that the baby and the mom are experiencing normal conditions. Our Certified Nurse Midwives’ schooling and long history of experience give them the ability to recognize what is normal and what needs to be treated as an emergency.

There is, currently, a popular conception that birth is a medical procedure. As the thinking goes, birth must take place in a hospital because only a hospital is prepared for complications that might come about during birth. However, with statistics showing that over a third of babies are born by cesarean section, there is something innately wrong about viewing birth as a medical procedure and thinking that babies can only be born in hospitals. 

You have to ask yourself why has a surgical option for birth become so mainstream when it increases recovery time and infection rates? Both the induction of labor and cesarean section were methods originally intended to be used in emergencies only where complications with birth prohibited a natural birth. Is there a benefit to these methods being so common now?

The maternal mortality ratio is a metric used globally to gauge the overall “health” of a country’s healthcare system. Of all the countries on the planet, the US ranks in 56th place and has a maternal death rate of 19 per 100,000 births. 

The United States is the richest country in the world with some of the highest levels of specialized healthcare technology available in the world. So why such devastating statistics?  The answer is the overuse of technology and the loss of trust we have for our body’s natural capacity. Abraham Maslow had a saying that “if the only tool you have is a hammer, you will treat everything as if it were a nail.” Nothing could be more true than this in the world of obstetrics today. 

Women’s bodies haven’t undergone a sudden and historic change that prevents them from natural birth. It’s the thinking surrounding birth that has changed.

These ideas surrounding birth might have changed, but the woman’s body itself has not. Natural birth without the use of drugs or invasive procedures used to be standard practice. Now, natural birth is seen as something unnecessarily risky. In just a few generations’ time, most people now only ever consider a hospital birth and have never looked into the alternatives. 

"We view birth as a natural process"

We, on the other hand, view birth as a natural process rather than a medical procedure. The latter only applies when an outlier complication occurs. Serious complications are very rare, but we are trained to see these signs and recognize the need for a transfer of care if needed. In most cases, birthing needs little to no intervention. What a woman does need for birth is safe, supportive, certified midwives and assistants that can professionally guide a mom through the process.

In our experience, where a mom feels safe to give birth is where her birth will most likely go smoothly. If that is not at a birth center, we wouldn’t want an insecure mom trying to give birth where she doesn’t want to be. We want moms to do their research and make the best decision for their circumstances. We are here to answer questions and to educate. We welcome anyone inquiring about if birthing at Inanna is right for them.

If the need ever arises that medical intervention is necessary for the health and safety of the baby and/or mother, we transfer care to a hospital.  We are Certified Nurse Midwives and our top priority is your safety. Our role as healthcare professionals prioritizes safety over our values about birth. 

When we transport a woman to the hospital, it is, statistically, 99% of the time due to the baby not coming out because of a dysfunctional labor. When this happens, medical intervention is needed to deliver the baby. In these cases, there is no urgency. It’s simply a matter of getting you to the hospital. When a woman is transported to the hospital, the midwife has already contacted our physician and he alerts the Labor and Delivery staff at the hospital. Then the midwife and the couple drive to the hospital, which is less than 10 minutes away.  From then on the nurses at the hospital and our physician take over. Our midwives will follow up with your care after you have given birth. 

In all the years that we have been open we have only had three true emergency transfers. In each case, both mother and baby were just fine. In emergency cases, an ambulance is called to ensure safety during transport. 

We want to stress that true emergencies during birth are extremely rare. We are, however, prepared for such contingencies. 

Consider talking to the Certified Nurse Midwives at Inanna. A natural birth can seem scary if you’ve only ever been exposed to the dramatic TV version of what birth is like. Ensure that your ideas surrounding birth are based in fact rather than popular conception or artistic license. It’s entirely possible that a natural birth isn’t the right choice for you due to your situation or underlying health conditions. Our medical professionals can help you make that determination. We, however, welcome you to learn more about the amazing natural capabilities that a woman’s body has to offer.

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