Over the past few months, I have had several conversations with friends that have left me really disappointed in the ‘natural birth’ circle. You see, I have many friends in the medical profession, including several who work in hospital labor and delivery departments. Though I am making an informed choice to birth in a freestanding birth center with a midwife, I love my friends and I have the utmost respect for the hard work that they put in for the mamas that they see- I would trust them with my life, and the life of my baby. It seems, however, that many people do not share that same respect.
I think that, in the natural-minded birth world, there is an inherent attitude that mainstream birth professionals are lazy, don’t understand birth or breastfeeding or labor or women in general, and that they should be virtually ignored and written off in terms of what they can bring to the table for a natural birth. Do these ignorant people exist? Yes. Have people had very negative birth experiences because of the lack of knowledge or patience of some birth professionals? Yes, and if you recognize that you are under one’s care, get out- it’s never too late to switch care providers. However, being responsible isn’t the same as being rude. I think that we are doing many hardworking, kind people a great disservice by giving them the blanket disrespect that we often do simply because of their profession.
Each time I have a conversation with one of my L&D friends, I learn something- whether it’s a tip they have about labor, or a crazy story about a natural birth they have staffed, or about what is and isn’t allowed in their L&D department. This past weekend, a friend told me about how she deliberately made choices to make an induction patient more comfortable during the night, even though they weren’t exactly ‘allowed’. Isn’t this the kind of support we want during labor- women who are on our side, and the side of our babies?
And yet, my friends have told me countless stories of how they are spoken to disrespectfully, both in public by perhaps well-meaning friends and actually in their job on the L&D floor. Stories of doulas, family members, and mothers talking down to them, ignoring them, talking about them negatively in front of them and being downright rude when all they are trying to do is do their job. These stories break my heart for my friends, who I know work their tails off to help moms have the birth that they want- but also have to maintain certain protocols because of the nature of the hospital setting.
I’m not saying that we all need to switch to hospital births and OBs and the like- far from it. I just think we need to treat mainstream birth professionals with respect until they have personally proved that they deserve otherwise. Writing someone off as ignorant or having another agenda when they simply are working in a different environment than you are used to isn’t showing grace or kindness, it’s being judgmental and exclusive.
If you are choosing to have a hospital birth, be kind to those around you! If you end up in a hospital because of transfer, pray that the Lord would soften your heart and that you would be able to show grace and love even though you’re probably disappointed. Finally, be careful of blanket statements. Speak kindly of others and always strive to be graceful in your interactions. Reflect the heart of Christ, even in trying times- or even if you don’t agree.! That’s what building the Kingdom is all about- showing His love even when it’s difficult.