The Best and Worst Places to Give Birth
For her book, Childbirth Across Cultures, my mother set out to see if other countries had figured out a better way to give birth. Instead she found that many countries have either adopted Western, medicalized births, or continue dangerous customs. It turns out a good birth is hard to find. Plus: Read about sweet and shocking birth traditions from around the world
The Best Births: Choices in Childbirth
This isn’t to say that there aren’t exceptions to the rules, or that there aren’t countries and cultures where childbirth is both safe and celebrated. The best places to give birth are those where attendants honor the pain and help women through it, giving them the opportunity to have the kind of birth they want.
The Navajos have a beautiful, if rare, tradition of home birth, where the mother and father labor together while a traditional healer performs blessings. Western Europe tends to have lower c-section rates and higher breastfeeding rates, and childbirth is usually attended by a midwife—doctors are called in only if there are true medical complications. Hospitals are mother-friendly, with labor lounges and room for family to aide the mother as she progresses.
Where does my mother recommend giving birth? Your best bet, she says, is Sweden, which has homey hospitals, midwife attendants and happy mothers. In Sweden, she says, “they try not to treat childbirth like a disease.”