International Childbirth Education Awareness Day is sponsored by the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), a professional organization whose mission is to “support educators and health care professionals who believe in freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in family-centered maternity and newborn care.” Many expectant parents feel that the American healthcare system has turned birthing into a business. The number of induced labors and elective caesarean sections in the U.S. have skyrocketed during the past decade, with labor and delivery sometimes being compared to an impersonal “drive thru” service. July 22nd has been set aside as a day for people to become familiar with the abundant alternatives available through various childbirth educators, facilities, and organizations. With their aid, expactant families can learn about pregnancy, labor, birthing techniques, breastfeeding, and caring for a new baby.
It’s no secret that Chris and I are thinking about expanding our family. As if four dogs, four chinchillas, and a pond full of fish aren’t enough, we’re going to start trying to conceive when we return from our annual vacation in October. For the longest time I always imagined having my baby in a hospital under an epidural, just like most women do. It just seemed like the safest, easiest option. But as I’ve grown older and my maternal clock has started to tick faster, I find myself wondering if that’s really the best way for us personally to bring a child into the world. Over the past few years a couple of women I’ve known have delivered babies without any drugs and they’re still alive to tell the story. Maybe I can do that too? And after watching thought-provoking movies like Pregnant In America and The Business of Being Born, I started thinking…maybe I should.