The power of giving birth: An interview with Nancy Wainer Cohen

And the times did see a change with pioneers like Grantly Dick-Read, in the 1940s, and Fernand Lamaze in the 1950s whose ideas helped revive natural childbirth. Slowly, but surely natural birth again became more popular.

But technological advances during the 1970s and 80s brought a return to the medicalization of birth. Fetal monitors were touted as lifesavers, and cesarean sections had begun their dramatic increase, rising from 5.5 percent of all births in 1970 to 20 percent in 1982.

And it was around that time, 1983, when Nancy Wainer Cohen, a mother who had a cesarean followed by two VBACs, co-authored a hard-hitting book, "Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth after Cesarean." It became popularly known as the VBAC bible, and it took the birthing world by storm.

VBAC, pronounced "vee-back", stands for vaginal birth after cesarean. This term was coined by Nancy and is now used internationally.

A Talk with Nancy Wainer Cohen

What is your philosophy in regard to birth?

  • Birth is a normal physiological event. It does not require tools, tubes, chemicals, drugs, machines or doctors. In fact, any of these can confuse the woman's body and make it more difficult for her body to do what it instinctively and intuitively knows how to do.
  • Birth is not an illness. We have a generation of birthing women who are attached to the theory that gadgets equal safety. Using every gadget ever developed will not insure a totally safe environment. In fact, in many instances, the "gadgets" cause problems.
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