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Why Kate Middleton’s Natural Childbirth Should Inspire Us All

grid-cell-11924-1373657822-26Kate had natural childbirth!

Kate had natural childbirth!

Kate had natural childbirth!

I’m not sure how reliable the reporting on Access Hollywood is, but I flipped on the TV last night to get the latest royal baby update and heard that Kate had natural childbirth.

After a Google search I quickly learned that Princess Kate was taking steps to prepare herself for a drug-free experience; and if Mario Lopez’s man on the scene is correct, doulas, midwives, and natural childbirth advocates around the United States are jumping for joy.

The US ranks among the countries with the highest rates of epidural use and Cesarian section. It’s hard to decipher exact numbers as some hospitals report childbirth stats and some don’t, but on average well over 60% of vaginal births in America employ an epidural. Some hospitals report 95% epidural use for vaginal births. 32% of births overall are Cesarian, many of which are scheduled and elective.

We Americans tend to learn lessons the hard way. We think we can create answers to life’s problems and pains by outdoing Mother Nature. (Ahem, GMOs, ahem.) And then we spend generations trying to figure out how to dig ourselves out of the holes we’ve trenched. I place childbirth in this category.

We’ve created a “new normal” in America. Over the past several decades, there’s been a shift from using chemical pain relief only when labor is not progressing to using chemical pain relief before active labor has even started. This is not the case in the rest of the world. This the numbing of America. How deep will we get before having to dig out from this one?

I’m a mom of three naturally born babies. I get it completely. Birth is painful, it’s challenging, it pushes us to our limits – the perfect introduction to motherhood. From a spiritual perspective natural childbirth is an incredible opportunity to awaken. From a confidence perspective, it’s downright empowering.

After I had my first baby, there was a procession of nurses stopping by my recovery room to congratulate me on nixing the epi. I was like a celebrity that evening. One nurse even stopped in and told me she heard me growling and screaming down the hall and felt a thrill.

Really? Just for having a baby like billions of women have before me? Really really?

I can’t count how many birth stories I’ve heard over the past 10 years. The number of natural stories are far and few, but a surprisingly high number of friends have opted for the epidural and not benefited from its effects, still feeling the intensity of labor and the pain of delivery. The epidural is not always a ticket out of the torment.

That said, I encourage OBs to encourage patients to at least try a drug-free experience. The anesthesiologist will be lingering nearby in case she needs to needle up. What I always suggest to pregnant ladies who ask for advice is this – Keep the pain in perspective. It won’t last forever. Focus on the breaks between the contractions. And just when you think you can’t take another minute of pain, have the nurse check you. You’re probably fully dilated and ready to push. Pushing will hurt, but it will be way faster without the epi.

But don’t take my word for it. There are a gazillion moms out there who have forgone that big fat needle in the spine and lived to tell about it. We need more high profile examples like Kate Middleton to let women know that natural is the norm worldwide and to inspire American women to look at the anesthesiologist and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

In the end, the most important part of childbirth is healthy baby, healthy Momma.  Modern medicine is a blessing. And we are doubly blessed here in America to have top notch services to provide new mothers and infants with excellent care.

A woman needs to do what is best for her and her baby and take advantage of the resources available to her during this intense time.

That might include chemical pain relief, emergency C-section, or it might include a drug-free-screaming-banshee-spiritually-uplifting-celebrity-in-the-maternity-wing delivery. No matter how that baby comes out, he’s a miracle nonetheless. As is his Momma.


Image via Buzzfeed

The Royal Wedding: Celebrating Our Oneness

I stayed up and watched the royal wedding. Originally, I wasn’t planning to. I was just going to TiVo it, which I did, but as I turned on the TiVo I witnessed "the sea of people," as one of the commentators described it. I wanted to be a part of that sea of people. I was moved about what was taking place: 2 billion people coming together at the same time to witness love.

At a time of such global turmoil and national disasters, with earthquakes and wars, uprisings against oppressive governments and tsunamis, the royal wedding became a symbol for all of us to believe that we can still celebrate hope and love. We were all gathering to watch the wedding, but more than that, we were looking for some kind of healing. The pain we have all felt in our collective human experience from witnessing so much pain, destruction and loss of life needed a balm.

So, why not sacrifice a few hours of sleep to witness the union of two people who obviously love one another and commemorate our union as a whole?

Thirty years ago, we watched Lady Diana marry her prince in an arranged marriage, hoping that it would grow into true love, only to see it fall apart, filled with hurt and betrayal. Thirteen years ago, we all gathered to mourn the tragic loss of Princess Di. We all needed closure and healing. On the morning of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, we witnessed the good that came out Prince Charles and Lady Di’s personal sacrifice.

One of my favorite moments was listening to the Lord Bishop of London’s speech when he quoted St. Catherine of Siena: "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." In those words was the message of acceptance, and we could all see Kate radiating her confidence, more calm and composed in her own skin than perhaps even the Royals themselves. She is even more the people’s princess, because she is of the people. The people who were a part of her life from her village were invited to her wedding in a touching gesture.

James Middleton, Kate’s younger brother, read a beautiful passage from the Bible that touched upon the phrases, "Let love be genuine, hold fast to what is good," "Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering," and "Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly." The reading enhanced the warm and openhearted spirit of the wedding ceremony.

In the midst of all the affluence, glamor and ritual, there was a spirit of generosity. Kate and Prince William asked for no presents, and the proceeds from the wedding’s broadcast (nearing $250,000) will be donated to The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry, which helps charities across the world. These gestures set the tone for the newlywed couple’s values. The whole ceremony revealed a foundation upon which they can build a life of love and goodness. I heard that even the Queen said the ceremony was amazing. Now that’s a breakthrough!

Watching the ceremony, I felt the spirit of all of us who want to believe that love is real and still alive, despite all the global disasters. We celebrated the experience, the beauty and our oneness. And we gathered, all of us from around the world, to be a part of that rekindling of hope.

Prince William and Kate stood as a living symbol of healing and unity. A gentle reminder that we can still celebrate. A reminder that no matter where you are from, how old you are or what generation you belong to, we all want to believe in the existence of love. Yes, we want the fairy tale, but we also want more than that. We want to experience the celebration of goodness and unity in the world. We need hope so that we can keep going in the midst of disaster and suffering, so we can still believe that love and happiness exist somewhere in the world.

When I finally woke up after drifting in and out, I had that feeling that I had been part of some wonderful celebration. The spirit of the occasion, of 2 billion people coming together, stayed with me, and my heart felt full, pulsing with love. Our hearts need to know that we are a part of the global human experience, that when we can enrich each other’s lives with our different cultures, the things that separate us disappear. It is in those moments when we come together that we remember that we are not alone.

"We are all like islands in the sea, separated on the surface, but connected in the deep."
–William James

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Defence Images

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