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Cat to Kittens graphic
Cow and birthed calf
Swan carries Baby
Birth Easily - Animals as Teachers
The protocols in the world of animal husbandry to protect an offspring at the time of birth—no strangers, dimmed lights, freedom of movement, familiar environment, unlimited nourishment, respectful quiet, no disruptions—are done without hesitation because to do otherwise invites “unexplained distress” or sudden demise of the offspring. These thoughtful conditions are the norm, along with careful observation to determine when to use the technological expertise in true emergencies. When we have veterinarians in our childbirth education classes, they always start to smile and nod when I tell this story. In fact, what did your mom tell you when you found the cat birthing kittens in the drawer? “Shhhhhhh!” And why? Because she MIGHT STOP GIVING BIRTH (AND move the kittens!). These are givens—instinctive givens, even, for animals of all descriptions! Yet what are the “givens” for the human who births not in a barn, but in a “modern and advanced” hospital? In many cases, 100% the opposite!
(Beth Barbeau, Safer Birth in a Barn?, Midwifery Today #83, 2007, accessed online 14 September 2018)
I am a farmer and these days the only babies I watch over are my calves — the moms handle everything just fine on their own, no birthing problems. This is considered unusual for cows. If you read about calving a lot, you will learn that people are always pulling the calves out. (Birgit Johanson, former midwife, Midwifery Today E-News 29 April 2009)
Leah lived on a farm. She had seen lots of babies of all sorts come into this world. She watched from the shadows while horses instinctively did what we call “the birth dance,” prancing back and forth in rhythm with their contractions. They knew instinctively to lick their foals, to get them on their feet, and to nudge them toward their teats. Leah knew cats and dogs usually preferred a dark corner—in a closet, under the porch, in the barn. Cows and goats often go to a far corner of the pasture, if allowed. Privacy is their priority—not running for help, unless they need help. If an animal has trouble birthing, it will get loud so help can be found—but not during a normal birth. Animals seem to instinctively know the rare times when help is needed and will let you know.
Leah had seen these scenarios play out many times in her life. One of her earliest experiences on the farm was when a lamb got stuck. The farmer had the vet on the phone, telling her what to do, but it wasn’t working. She called Leah in to help. Without any formal training, she just followed her instincts. Without fear, she reached up into the sheep and helped the baby turn so it could get out. A few years, and many animal births later, Leah was pregnant with her first baby. It seemed normal to her to birth in the relative privacy of her own home. After only a 10-hour labor, on her due date, she birthed her daughter in her bathtub. She thought labor was not as hard as the pregnancy itself. (Marlene Waechter, dated 1987-2018, accessed 13 September 2018)
Birth Easily Quotes