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Why Some Women Suffer During Normal Birth


Birth wasn't meant to be traumatic. Nature is not malicious, and our bodies are evolved to birth without distress. Yes, the process of birth is painful and demanding, and an incredibly huge sacrifice. Yet it is also for many women fulfilling, empowering, even euphoric.


We preach in the Intentional Birth course that birth is like climbing a mountain --- it's very hard work (sometimes to the point of wishing you hadn't come) and it's joyful and wonderfully satisfying work. We preach that normal birth should not be excruciating.


But for many women, it is.


Why does birth become what it was not meant to be? Anyone who has attended even a handful of births knows there is a difference between pain and suffering. Some women "cope well" with the sensations of birth, while others pass into a state of suffering.


So even during normal, physiologic birth, some women do suffer. These are the most common reasons why:

  • Their environment or their care team is undermining their positive natural hormone process, and their instinctive response.

  • They do not have continuous compassionate support.

  • They had expectations of the birth experience that are not being met (pain, length, interventions, human relationships, etc.)

  • Birth brings past trauma to the surface (this is not inevitable for everyone who has a history of trauma).

  • Others intervene in their birth process against their wishes, or after using coercive tactics to obtain "consent."

Any of these factors could result in a woman feeling like birth is something that is happening to her. She is more likely to experience suffering. Most of the time it is preventable.


Give a woman real support, an oxytocin-friendly environment, respectful care that honors her autonomy, knowledge about the birth process, and affirmation of her own power (her decision-making power and her physical power), and she is more likely to feel like birth is something she is doing, something she can even exult in the way an athlete exults in the run, or the game, or the climb.


Join us in the Intentional Birth program, to learn how to align your birth plan with your goal of a joyful, empowering birth.


Photo by Paige Driscoll, at Full Moon Birth Center

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