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"Nature never intended that parents would have such information, pregnancy as a time of unconditional attachment is severely disrupted by the technology available today." ~Anne Frye
Birth led by nature is more than just have a natural birth, whatever that really means today - I have heard so many definitions the last few months, I doesn't even sound like a word any more! Birth lead by nature is more than avoiding interventions, in fact it has very little to do with these things, but it has everything to do with the intentionality of life.
In today's article I thought I would share some thoughts that might go against what is commonly accepted today, in the hopes that we will continue to break through the status quo, go beyond the regular definitions, right on past the routine, and see birth and life through new lenses and fresh perspectives.
Today I will share some ideas and probably ramble a bit about some ideas of natural pregnancy, natural birth, and the impact of technology in prenatal care and birth.
Today we have become quite separate from nature, we don't really understand what is necessary for life, or how to live in a way that is harmonious with the rhythms of the earth and the sun and moon. And so we are easily lost and confused, led astray, and we are disillusioned by the miracle of technology, we think that technology can reveal everything we need to see, like ultrasounds, hearing everything we need to hear with the doppler, or knowing everything we need to know thorough lab work.
But what happens when it's inconclusive or when it's wrong? What happens when your baby's ultrasound shows something that may be serious? And now you have to make an impossible decision? A decision that was not supposed to be on your shoulders, but we can look, so we do look. Because we think we will be reassured. But when we don't trust, when we go against nature, against life and we trade unconditional love for information, that information may lead us to ask big questions.
And on top of what we might get wrong, what do we know about the harms of some of these tests to babies? We assume these things are benign because they have become so routine, ultrasounds every month? Why not get some early baby pictures? Doppler every couple weeks? Why not make sure baby's heart sounds good?
What do we know about the effects on DNA from these technologies? Well, we know it has effects, we know it breaks DNA strands apart, whether doppler radiation from listening to your baby's heart or an ultrasound to see your baby's form. These sound waves do affect DNA, the evidence is clear. It may not cause significant or even apparent damage most of the time, but we are seeing more babies with hearing loss, and we know ultrasound can be responsible for that (in fact, technicians are advised to avoid baby's ears, even though we don't think they can hear the frequency of doppler or ultrasound, there is evidence of damage to hearing when aimed directly at the ear of a developing fetus). We seem to be seeing changes in learning and cognition, and this has been linked to excessive use of ultrasound and doppler.
We can't easily make a one to one correlation with these things because it takes so long to develop the symptom and often so many other interventions have been applied, and there are probably several contributing factors to these conditions, which leads me to question, why add anything that isn't going to answer a specific concern in the moment?
It's hard for us to have this discussion about the harms of modern technology without comparing it to the past and saying we've improved pregnancy health and birth outcomes, we've improved infant and maternal mortality with all of the advancements we have today, and that's true, but much of that is due to hygiene, heat and electricity, indoor plumbing, better food and nutrition, clean water, learning how to treat and control the rates of dangerous sexually transmitted infections that affected many, many mother's and babies in history.
Technology has a place, but it's not here to replace inner knowing or intuition and it's not here just because routine is normal. Technology's most valuable and insightful place is when we have a reasonable suspicion to use it, otherwise we increase the risk of mother's and babies unnecessarily, whether it's exposing them to unnecessary procedures that carry a risk, like ultrasound or dopplers, or whether it's screenings that expose them to unnecessary fears or concerns.
When used judiciously and with a clear purpose, technology can be an important part of prenatal care, or birth, or newborn care, but today we use it always and for nothing, no clear purpose, but just because we think it may help identify a problem before it arises. But in most cases, if there is a problem, and a mother is empowered to be in touch with her own body and her own baby, she knows if she needs something. Because, as humans, we have the capacity to know, if we really get clear with ourselves, which is extremely hard in today's world, I will acknowledge that, especially during pregnancy when we are pulled in so many directions and flooded with so much information, sometimes so much different information, and counter arguments. But if you can find time everyday to tune it out and focus on yourself, check in with yourself and your baby, you will find that you know if a problem warrants further investigation with technology or testing of some sort. Then you can have a rational conversation about it with your care team.
With where we are in the birth world in 2020, most people will never experience this type of inner knowing about their pregnancy, which is one of the saddest things I can imagine, most women don't believe this is possible, but I myself have never had an ultrasound, not once, but I have been pregnant twice and had two healthy babies.
Time and time again when I was pregnant, people would ask how I knew everything was ok if I didn't have an ultrasound. And all I could tell them was that I just knew, the chances of something not being ok that would be found on an ultrasound is so minimal for a healthy woman, I had no reason to suspect any problems and no reason to create one where there wasn't one. Because I hear stories all the time of problems seen on an ultrasound, a heart anomaly, a kidney malformation, an oddity in the umbilical cord, or the fetal measurements, or amniotic fluid level index markers, and time and time again, these are all transient, or never existed at all. Yet these mom's are set up to battle stress, fear, worry that something is wrong with their baby and that changes so much physiology, so many emotions, and can change how a woman feels about her baby. Where there should be unconditional attachment, where a mother's intuition should already be forming with her baby, there is now questions.
Like Anne Frye said in the quote I shared at the opening of this article:
"Nature never intended that parents would have such information, pregnancy as a time of unconditional attachment is severely disrupted by the technology available today."
What does it mean to have that unconditional attachment and unconditional love questioned? Can that questioning lead to complications in labor and birth? I can't answer these questions for anyone, you have to answer these for yourself. For me the answer was to avoid ultrasounds, it meant I opted out of the standard screening tests when I knew they wouldn't reveal anything of use to my health or my baby's health. These choices won't be the same for everyone, they have to be choices you make because they are right for you, not because they are routine.
Technology has a place, but not where it's not needed. In order to have a birth that is led by nature, that flows according to the rhythms of life, you need to be able to turn inward and tune into your own body and your own baby. Too much technology means more women today are disconnected from their body, their babies, and the rhythms that guide labor and birth in the realms of birth.
So don't accept anything because it's routine. Ask questions, make choices. Trust yourself, learn what your body needs, what your baby needs, and from there the choices will be clear. You are never alone, you can always reach out at info @ naturalbirthcompass.com.
So that wraps up this article on nature-led birth and the disruptions of technology on having a nature-led birth. I hope it gives you some insight into making choices for your health and your baby's health and I'll see you again in 2021!
Wishing you a wonderful journey to birth.
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