This phrase gets used a lot, and its definition seems to vary depending on who is using it and in what context. What is natural birth?
I’m going to back up and first explore the word “natural” in a more general sense.
Here’s what the American Heritage Dictionary says…
As a believer, I also think of nature as CREATION. God designed and created the natural world with intelligence and purpose and called it very good. Nature is His creation. And all of it functions to declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1).
In all areas of life, then, I default to a pretty high degree of trust in the natural order of things. Not because I’m worshipping nature as the pagans do, but because my God made it, and he made it to be GOOD.
I don’t feel that I have to improve upon His design.
In fact, we can point to so many instances in history when humans’ attempts to “tweak” or “improve” nature have backfired. Here are a couple of non-birth examples:
When humans start to think they know better than their creator, they can count on a humbling coming their way, it seems. I’m reminded of what the Lord spoke back to Job as Job wrestled with God’s ways toward him:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?Job 38:4-7 (read the whole chapter)
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?”
So when it comes to my health and my body, I feel it safe to take cues from nature – God’s good creation.
This leads me to:
There is so much of God’s wisdom embedded into creation, and if we will position ourselves to be taught by it, we get to experience God’s attentive care in new ways. We will stand in even deeper awe and appreciation of His magnificence.
We are made of earth and spirit, are we not?
Ok, so what about birth then?
The underlying assumption from which I begin to make all of my pregnancy and birth-related decisions is this:
“How has God designed this process to work and how can I stay out of its way so that it can unfold in the way He has designed it?”
If an opportunity for any kind of intervention, test, monitoring, etc. comes up, I filter it through questions like these:
Because sometimes adding things onto something that is already good just makes it less….good. It creates problems by trying to solve problems that don’t yet exist. And then one problem-creating intervention creates the need for another, and another and another… we call this the Cascade of Interventions. And it can happen at home births sometimes, too, not only in hospitals.
So while the most common definition of “natural birth” might be something like “a birth which happens vaginally and without drugs”, I think that’s setting the bar perhaps a bit too low.
Which is one reason I’ve gravitated in recent years to using phrases like “physiological birth” and “undisturbed birth.” To me, these words more closely describe my own commitment to honoring God through my trust in what He has created my body to do.
I should add a disclaimer: creation also groans and awaits redemption because it too is subject to the effects of the fall (Romans 8:22). There are times then, when nature will fail us, will not behave in the way that we would expect or hope, and in those times we freely seek corrective measures, surely.
But let’s not begin with the assumption of nature’s failing.
Let’s begin with the assumption that God’s design is brilliant and we needn’t try to improve upon it (90% of the time).
If this resonates with you, then you’ll also feel right at home with the community of NATURAL Christian women who are learning and growing together through their childbearing year inside Embrace Birth Journey membership. Click here to learn more and to join us.
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