Monday, November 19, 2007

What "Natural" Means

A dear friend of mine recently gave birth to her second child via c-section. Her first child was born this way after a long and unproductive labor, and she dearly wanted an HBAC (HomeBirth After Cesarean). She found a midwife who had experience with HBACs, who was a master herbalist and able to supply her with herbs that would help tone and prepare her body to labor better this time: but after 32 hours of labor and only minimal dialation, they realized that a second surgical birth was the only option. She is an advocate for homebirth and natural birth, so this has been a major blow to her.

A year ago another friend of mine gave birth to her second child. Her first birth experience had been traumatic, and she ended up not being able to breastfeed her child. The subsequent years left her feeling that her failure to breastfeed stemmed from lack of education and lack of support, and she was determined to not repeat those things. She studied extensively, and when birth time came she surrounded herself with lactation consultants and experienced breastfeeders. In the first hours after birth, the baby struggled to nurse. In subsequent days, my friend pumped to try to bring in her milk and boost her supply, friends tried nursing the baby to help her (the baby) learn proper technique, and my friend referred to everything she had learned in her her studies. By a couple of weeks old, the baby was losing weight and becoming sick, so my friend finally relented and began to feed her baby formula. Many of us donated breastmilk to her, but that baby has hever been able to really breastfeed.

Are these mothers failures? NO! Are they less natural than the mother who has a successful homebirth or who breastfeeds for 3 years? NO! Because occasionally (very occasionally) nature doesn't allow 'natural' to happen. So one of my friends nurses her baby with a bottle...she holds her little one close, rocks her, talks to her, looks in her eyes, bonds with her...and feeds her the best things she can via a bottle. My other friend chose a hospital that would support co-sleeping and skin-to-skin contact, had a spinal rather than a general so that she could be awake to see her daughter immediately when she was born, and nursed her soon thereafter. These mothers are not any less 'natural mothers' than the uber-crunchy hippie moms who give birth unattended in the woods or breastfeed two or three kids at a time. They are mothers who have been dealt a harder hand, but who are still doing everything they can for their kids, based on what they've got to work with.

My hat goes off to you ladies, Alisa and Chandelle. It's a hard thing to take, but you are handling it beautifully. I hope I can continue to support you however I can.

2 comments:

cathryn said...

Awesome post, Jenni. I tried to write something similar to this in a comment on Alisa's blog, but it was entirely too late and nothing was coming out right and I think I ended up just deleting the whole thing. So I'm glad you did it!

Jessica said...

These are the instances in which we can be grateful for technology and advances in medicine that give us options and our babies life.

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