Monday, March 10, 2014

Celebrating natural birth in the Upstate

I am a firm believer in natural birth; I think that somewhere in the last fifty years America has lost its collective mind allowing the Cesarean rate to climb to over thirty percent. That the US has a higher maternal mortality rate than at least 40 other countries should be setting off alarms left and right that something is wrong – especially since we spend more money, per capita, than any other country on maternity care. From personal experience I know that a normal, healthy pregnancy can end in C-section due to bullying from primary caregivers, but I also know that VBACs are not only possible, but empowering.

I mentioned in a previous post that the Joyful Birth and Breastfeeding Expo came to Spartanburg this past weekend, and internationally known midwife, speaker and author Ina May Gaskin was the featured speaker. In Ina May natural birth has found a champion and a teacher. Founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center in Summertown, TN, Ina May is the author of several books well-known in the natural birth community including “Guide to Childbirth,” “Guide to Breastfeeding” and “Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta.”

She spoke about delivering breech babies, twins, and “big babies.” Anecdotes about midwives she had met from all over the world provided colorful commentary, but the take home message was clear; women need to have faith in their bodies, and their caregivers have to support them and their choices. Yes, medicine has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go… and the health of mothers and babies across the US depends on information being available and accessible for pregnant women and their partners.


I think the 4th annual Joyful Birth and Breastfeeding Expo was an exciting success. Motivational to mothers like me who have experienced natural birth and wish to help friends who are considering their options; informative about the local businesses here in Greenville/Spartanburg that provide services to new moms; a powerful reminder that as a woman who wishes she could turn back time before that first Cesarean and be better informed, that I am not alone. Thank you to the organizers for their work in bringing natural birth awareness to the Upstate, thank you to Ina May Gaskin for an inspiring talk (and happy birthday!) and I hope to attend the Joyful Birth and Breastfeeding Expo again in 2015!


  1. What a great expo! I consider myself lucky that I had both my boys in France. The level of care I received was amazing and I never felt like I was being "pushed" out of my decisions.

  2. Comment via email: "Agree with you about natural childbirth etc. Almost 35 years ago, a midwife delivered our firstborn in the birthing center @ IL Masonic Hospital. 19 months later son Dainis was delivered by same midwife, in same room! Father, mother and newborn spent 1st nite together in that same bed! Both times went home the next day. Nothing could be more natural than that, except if it was at home. Our 3rd and last child was delivered by a different midwife but again, same room, same bed. I can't say enough about the care I received and the naturalness of it all. We were very lucky that there were no complications, but had there been, docs and OR were on same floor. Thanks for writing about this Liene. Too many women are influenced by the trends being "pushed" these days." -Vēsma


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