I am a midwife, childbirth educator, lecturer, doula, and natural mother of eight children. This is not a medical reference; I do not proclaim to give medical advice. Anything stated here is from personal experience, research, study, and opinion. Each woman has the responsibility to do her own research, consult with her own medical team, and make her own decisions about pregnancy and birth.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Do doctors have a different interpretaion of "natural birth?"

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Having good communication with your birth attendant is imperative to ensuring you enjoy the birth experience of your dreams.  In childbirth classes I teach we discuss the importance of preparing a written birth plan.  Preparing a birth plan serves two purposes.  First, it gets you and your partner thinking about your options and discussing what you want for your birth.  Second, it provides a written request for your doctor and others on your birth team to ensure that your wishes are known.  The following story is a perfect example of why this is so important...

I hope that what happened in this next story never happens to you.  Let me know if you have a birth plan you'd like to share.  Now on to the story...Do doctors have a different interpretation of "natural birth?"...

When I was lecturing about natural birth classes in Egypt, I met an expectant mother from abroad.  She was in her ninth month with her second child.  She was very interested in the childbirth classes, however was too late in her pregnancy to attend.

I offered to meet with her and her husband and go over the highlights of the material.  I also offered to attend her birth as a labor doula.  She declined both services and waited out her pregnancy.

Later, she told me that she was devastated.  She had a natural birth with her first child in her home country and had told her doctor in Egypt that she wanted a "natural birth."  She said everything was going fine in her labor and suddenly she found her self waking up to the sound of her baby crying.

She was dazed and confused.  Her mind was hazy from the narcotic drugs given to "knock her out."  She couldn't understand what had happened.

Apparently her doctor decided it was merciful to "put her under" for the second stage (pushing and delivery) of her labor.  Without the patient's consent, she injected a medication into her I.V. line that rendered her unconscious.  She proceeded to perform an episitomy (incision in the tissue between the vagina and anus) to widen the natural vaginal opening and then inserted a vacuum extractor into her vagina.  At which point the vacuum extractor was attached to the baby's scalp by powerful suction and the doctor used this tool to drag the baby out of her (because obviously, she was unable to push her baby out while unconscious).

This mother was so upset.  She couldn't understand why this had happened.  She asked the doctor if there was some medical emergency that occurred and required such intervention.  The doctor couldn't understand her despair, after all, she had "saved" her the pain of birth.

The mother asked the doctor, "Don't you remember that I told you I wanted NATURAL birth?"

To this the doctor replied, "The baby came out your vagina, that is natural!"

What a sad story this is.  Unfortunately, especially in Egypt, to be rendered unconscious for second stage labor is all too common.  Sadly it's a medical practice that is considered "normal," even though it is totally unnecessary.

This mother felt robbed of her birth experience.  She was cut and stitched, when had she been awake and participating in her birth, she may have been left in tact.  She lost the first few moments with her newborn daughter and felt sad that she wasn't immediately able to make the call to prayer for her infant.  She felt drugged and nauseous from the medication, at a time she should of been feeling exuberant and full of excitement.  She found it difficult to take care of her baby in this state and feels she lost out on the first opportunities to bond.

Unfortunately, many doctors feel it's their job to interfere in the natural process of birth.  Most do not sit patiently and allow nature to takes its course.  Many mothers who choose to cope with their labor and birth without the use of medication find that their doctors are not supportive or in agreement with their choice.  Some doctors feel it's their duty to do "something" to relieve the pain of labor and birth.  Sadly, they fail to realize that the pain of their intervention is often worse and longer lasting the the pain of birth itself.  A mother who has prepared herself physically, mentally, and emotionally can usually cope with the discomforts of birth and feels great immediately after.

In this case, had the mother had a written birth plan and insisted on voicing her birth vision, this may not have happened.  The doctor did not act with mal intent, she simply had a different understanding of "natural birth" and did what she, sadly, considers "normal."


  1. What matter?!!
    What a world we are living?
    What an age we are created in?
    What a society we are developing?

    Darwin created the evolution theory with no scientific evidence, and then we found the Darwinists all around the world adopted the materialist ideology.
    Materials are evaluated with money, so thus it is a natural evolution for every thing in our world to become money.

    How many babies the one doctor help delivering every day?
    How much the doctor will make every day?
    That is the matter. (For the doctor)

    Fire: goes into three stages to reach the maximum power.
    Red which is the flame we know.
    White which is the mass-destruction weapons we also know.
    BLACK is the last stage we do not know.
    The west had fallen into many problems like the one you have mentioned above, and naturally developed to the white stage. It is not as good as you think. It is silly to think white is pretty when it is about fire.

    Good services – good communications: are with no doubt things supposed to exist in our human societies unconditioned. But unfortunately the school teachers (the west) are already saturated in many misleading ideologies. The students (Egypt and many others) are amazed by how the white is pretty.
    HOW PETTY???!!!!!!

    Bad things do not have good outcome even it is looks so!!!

    Interpretations, normal are two expressions we use in making up subjects when we talk about different cultures.
    All human are the same. Not because the American amendments said so, and defiantly not because it was discovered by the Darwinists at the end of the past millennium.
    Human beings are the same because we are created the same.
    They are bad, they are good. The difference is the choice a person makes.

    You gently said “what a sad story this is” and I do have a comment on this wisely chosen expression;
    What a sad life you are living?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The glass is half full or half empty. It is your choice ………1

    You also said “especially in Egypt” what make Egypt different for you from any where else?
    Why you love Egypt and shocked unexpectedly that Egypt might have this corruption?
    Think of the reasons that you based this sentence on and remember.
    Who wants to live this life forever? .........................2

    It seemed from your writing that you are sensitive caring person who are highly educated with a fare share of wisdom. Evaluate – understand – evaluate – test the understanding – evaluate – fix the understanding – evaluate.
    If it is personally fixable --- fix it.
    If it is socially attended --- participate in fixing.
    If it is not recognised --- alert the person in charge directly in office.
    The philosophy of criticising or the ideology of criticising is a pure wisdom if fixing is by the tip of my finger and absolute waste of my emotions if it is untouchable.
    Why the anger? …………………..3

    My understanding is that the baby is good.
    So nothing else matter

    Appreciate and thank the creator for that. Look forward better arrangement with the next child.
    Be angry – criticise – go public and be a Darwinist. It is your choice.

    I have spent my own time reading and responding to your words, I hope it is not a wasted time. And it will not if you read my next sentence very carefully and though about for one day.

  2. Asalam Alaikum, Thank you for commenting. I couldn't follow how some of the comments are relative. However, I value your opinion and will respond as best I can.

    How does Darwin realte? I recently found primary school text books dispeling the theory. I was surprised, as it used to be taught as "scientific fact." Alhadulelah for some recogntion of this grave error!

    How much money a doctor will make, unfortunately, can influence his or her use of interventions. I feel strongly that birth is a natural event that USUALLY needs no intervention. I am grateful that medical inerventions exist for cases where they become life-saving, however, they are too often used when there is no real need, simply to benefit the schedule or pocketbook of the doctor.

    I'm sorry, I have no idea how the colors of fire relate.

    I agree, misleading ideologies are accepted, taught, and perpetuatd the world over. Obstetrics is full of them. Doctors are of the best intent, I'm sure, but in the case of childbirth they are trained mosty in abnormality and interveniton. To sit back and patiently wait for nature to unfold just isn't in their creedo. Doctors and interventions have their rightful place in the process, but in most cases, are better left as spectators.

    I totally agree, Allah created all humans equal; we are set apart only by our choices and deeds. However, I don't understand how this relates.

    My post is too long so I'll resond to respond to your numbered comments in the next comment box.


  3. Continued from previous comment...

    Below are my responses to your numbered comments:

    1-Very true, the person's perspective defines their happiness. With submission to Allah comes the acceptance that what happened is for our best interest. SubhanAllah and alhamdulelah for everything.

    2-I commented about Egypt because, first, this happened in Egypt. Second, in this woman's home country (NOT USA), "natural birth" is commonly known to be vaginal, without interventions or being rendered unconcious. When she asked for "natural birth" she didn't realize that she had to be more explicit in her desires. Third, in other countries (west and east of Egypt) there is "informed consent." It simply doesn't exist in Egypt. If this had happened in another country the doctor would be sued for not having the patient's consent before putting her "under" and performing unneccasary interventions. Unless it was a life-saving emergency, you wouldn't expect to be "put under" without your consent in most other developed nations. In fact, in most developed countries you wouldn't be "put under" even for a c-section surgery! The practice of being unconcious for birth was something of the 1950s in most other countries, a long ago abandoned practice. I happen to love Egypt very much, but I realize that medical practices are not what I would expect elsewhere and I know that I would have to be very explicit to ensure that my desires for a natural birth were understood and respected. Nothing against Egypt or its doctors, just a realization that "NORMAL" medical practices in Egypt are not what I consider "natural childbirth."

    3-Good Islamic advice about fixing things and at the end of that spectrum is to let your voice stand against it if there is nothing else we can do personally. Anger? I'm not angry. I simply want to point out that there is a difference in my interrepraion of "natural childbirth" and that of SOME doctors (many doctors if we are speaking of Egypt). My goal is for others to take this story into account when discussing their desires for their own birth experience and ensure that their wishes and desires are clearly stated and UNDERSTOOD by the people who will have the most control of the situation (doctors/nurses).

    Good point, the mother and baby are healthy, alhamdulelah! Thanks for that reminder. No matter what the birth experience, this is truly the most important fact! That does not, however, justify the loss this mother feels nor does it mean that her desire for a naural childbirth was petty or unimportant. Every mother and baby deserves the best start in life and a mother deserves to have her wishes for non-medicated, natural birth with no unneccesary interventions to be resepected.

    I truly am thankful to Allah for the health and safety of this mother and baby. Of course she will look for a better experence if/when she has another child. I am not angry and neither is she. However, by sharing her story it is our goal to save another mother and baby this same experience. Going public serves to educate and prepare others so that they are aware of their own resonsiblity to communicate clearly with their doctors.

    Your statement of "be a Darwinist" made no sense to me. I have no idea what you are talking about. My intention is only to point out how important it is to have a birth plan and make sure that the medical team clearly understands it. I don't think this has anything to do with Darwin.

    Your last statement was a little confusing to me as well. This is a personal blog and of course I am writing from my personal perspective. My comments and my opinions are what I have to offer. I am a believer in natual birth and my desire is to share that belief with others.

    Thanks for your time.

    -Aisha, Natural Mom