9 Birth Lessons Learned Watching a Giraffe Being Born (VIDEO)


newborn giraffeThe inspiring Ina May Gaskin's book Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta has got me thinking about the beauty of animals giving birth. She mentions the elephant birth I wrote about in 2009 and it's been making me think more and more about how we, as a society, have grown to not trust our bodies to birth without medical intervention. In some ways, it isn't our fault -- it's what has become the norm -- synthetic oxytocin, numbing epidurals, c-sections prescribed. We've become a nation of women who aren't believing in our own abilities.

I know it's a touchy topic. I think about my own heavily medicated, magnesium sulfate c-section birth of my twins after having pre-eclampsia/HELLP syndrome and one twin IUGR all the time. Many women do need c-sections. Thank goodness we have skilled doctors to perform them. But barring major health issues, we are also extremely skilled to birth on our own. We can learn a lot from watching a giraffe give birth. Don't believe me? Watch it and see ...

What we can learn from seeing a giraffe give birth. Things that might make you go hmmmmmm ....

  1. The birth of a mammal can be natural, beautiful, and intervention free. Giraffes are mammals. Humans are mammals.
  2. Comfort is important. The sand on the ground is great to cushion baby giraffe when born, but it's also soft for mother. Where are you most comfortable? Is the answer, hospital?
  3. Standing or squatting on all fours is a great position to labor and deliver a baby.
  4. Giraffes are herd animals and like company, so a "midwife" giraffe was there to make her feel at ease. Husbands, doulas, and midwives -- people who aren't there to hook you up to monitors and are just there to support and encourage can really help women as well.
  5. This giraffe birthed in three hours. So did Sarah, when she had her unassisted home birth.
  6. The first touch the newborn giraffe felt was that of his mother. This facilitates great bonding. There wasn't a nurse there to take baby away, put goo in his eyes, weigh him, foot- and fingerprint him, and then give him to mom.
  7. Giraffes do not seem to fear birth. But so many women do. Perhaps if we take away some of the fear, it will take away some of the pain as well.
  8. The giraffe doesn't seem to be in extreme pain, yet birth is so often depicted on television and perpetuated by many as being very painful. Is this because we are often too quick to medicate and we can't handle pain in any form?
  9. Giraffes must be superior to humans when it comes to birth because this intervention-free birth is a far cry from most American births today. (Read with sarcasm.)

Does seeing another mammal give birth change your thoughts about the way we give birth?

delivery, labor, labor & delivery


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Lynette Lynette

my first child I wanted an all natural birth, but the pain overwhelmed me and I got an EPI, it wore off, very painful.  W/ my 2nd I was so afraid of pain that I had an EPI right away.  But my 3rd pregnancy came along and I still wanted that natural birth, I ended up choosing a homebirth.  As for the pain I still was afraid so I looked at my options and I did Hypnobabies(google it), it uses self hypnosis to feel the pain as pressure, instead of pain.  And I had a water birth.  It was amazing I felt so clam and in control the whole time even w/ my short labor(4 1/2 hrs).  It was intense but not painful like my first sons birth.  I learned that birth is about making mom feel safe and in control whenever possible.

bsawy... bsawyer84

If you actually think about it, your idea of "natural" birth is actually unnatural. We as a society have evolved beyond animals in this regard so it's only natural to take advantage of what society has to offer. If that giraffe could understand the concept of pain meds she would probably jump on them so fast! And yes, she is in pain.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

Very cool!  I definitely trust in my body and in birth. I had an out of hospital, natural birth with my son.  Will do the same with future babies.

CoolR... CoolRelax

I keep hearing this buzz phrase that "women just don't trust their bodies".  Well ok, I'm sure that's the case for some.  But for some of us it's not a matter of trust - I trust my body just fine.  I know for a fact that - epi or no epi - I was gonna birth some twins, lol.  I had one IUGR and one LGA and I knew in my gut that I would make it past 34 weeks (my docs were a little nervous but they were hopeful) and I would deliver my girls vaginally. And I would  have an epidural.  Because I wanted one. The only thing I didn't count on was that my girls would decide to come into the world the day before we planned on getting married, lol.

sunny... sunnybunny5us

I learned a lot about giving birth by watching dogs and cats. It helped me a lot.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

I've watched numerous animals give birth. I think they've got the right idea.

nonmember avatar Cynthia

Animals definitely have the right ideas when it comes to birth! I believe pain is a relative thing and every one feels it differently so I can't say my births were less painful than someone else's, I just may experience the pain differently. I think being up and walking and moving as most animals do, and allowing the "instant" bond of mom being the first to contact baby makes a huge difference also. I do not believe "natural" birth is unnatural as someone has suggested just because we're an evolved society. The human body was created and designed to do this job of growing and delivering and nurturing a baby without interventions, and it might not be a bad idea to go back to more of this as a society.

Jasmine Harmon

@bsawyer84- If you REALLY think about it, your idea of a "natural" birth, is completely unnatural. Before humanity evolved into what we are today, they didnt have pain meds, or doctors. ALL the women in the old days gave home births. Women would spent hours, even days or weeks in labor with out anything to take the pain away. THAT is a natural birth.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I totally think people need to look a lot more into the way that birth is done WITHOUT hospitals (and not just with humans) to realize how unnatural we've made birth. And not just meds, but EVERYTHING, like you said -- not making the mom comfortable, etc. Cats hide somewhere safe to birth and their labor can STALL if they feel threatened -- is it shocking that scared moms in hospitals "stall" in labor? Not so much. Your body is designed to not birth with a predator there, which is gauged by mom's stress.

There is a lot to be learned if you look at how it's done without everything we THINK is necessary now.

lan050 lan050

The video "The Business of Being Born" is all about this, and very eye opening! I'm pregnant with my first, but the video definitely made me look at birth in a whole new light. I would highly recommend it!
I watched it here: http://www.sockshare.com/file/CC92PQ0EX9W8K40#

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