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?