What Louis CK can teach us about natural childbirth

A Louis CK clip has been making the rounds the last couple days in a clip from Conan. The clip is about cell phone use, but it actually can teach us a LOT about what all the hype is regarding natural childbirth.

Stick with me here, this is important! Watch the whole clip below and then keep reading:

Louis makes some pretty profound observations in this clip. He talks about how, in our attempt to avoid sadness and loneliness, we actually miss out on an important human experience, and hold ourselves back from experiencing the beauty of allowing ourselves to feel the depth of our emotions and from the incredible joy we can feel on the other side.

He talks about a time where he ignored the impulse to reach for his phone to avoid a moment of sadness. He says, “I was grateful to feel sad, and then I met it with true, profound happiness. It was such a trip. And because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away…. [and so] we never feel completely sad or completely happy.” In essence, we are ripping ourselves off by trying to avoid our fear of having a completely natural and important human experience.

Although it’s tempting in the short-term to reach for ways to avoid what we think might be “negative” emotions or sensations, the truth is that these experiences are a part of what makes us human. They allow us to experience the best in human emotion and sensation as well.

And this is one of the biggest reasons behind the importance of natural childbirth. Can birth be physically challenging? Can it have moments where you might feel scared or uncertain? It doesn’t have to, but it definitely can.  But the real experience comes from allowing yourself to feel the physical and emotional sensations of birth, moving through them towards the biggest natural high you will ever, ever get.

The epidural is like Louis C.K.’s cell phone. It can seem like a quick fix to protect you the things you might fear about birth: that it will be too painful, that it will get too hard. Many of us are tempted to reach for it despite what we know about it’s serious risks (just like we know how dangerous it is to text and drive, as he mentions in the clip!) because we are so afraid to really feel the depth of our experiences. But doing so, reaching for a way out of fear, limits our basic, beautiful, human experience and holds us back from one of the most amazing experiences you could hope for: the rush of pulling up your baby on to your skin after an un-medicated birth, feeling as strong, powerful, and amazed as you could ever feel, saying to yourself “I just DID that!”

Please leave your comments below.

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  17 comments for “What Louis CK can teach us about natural childbirth

  1. Heather
    November 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I do agree with the comparison, absolutely. I myself had a natural birth, however, I think when we talk in such absolutes we risk placing a large amount of guilt in women who do choose to have epidurals. I come from the perspective of an OB nurse. In my practice (and all of my co-workers as well) I encourage women to labour as naturally as possible, using water therapy, movement, massage, visualization. Lots of women intend on delivering naturally, however, at some point may choose an epidural. I feel that as a woman, mother, and practitioner it is collectively not our place to burden such a decision (to have an epidural) with judgement . Some people choose to birth naturally and some do not, and all should be respected for their decision.

    • November 27, 2013 at 9:22 am

      Thanks for your comment. I completely agree, and there is nothing in this article that says women do not have the right to choose an epidural or that they should be judged for doing so. Glad to hear you encourage and support women planning to birth naturally, that’s fantastic. Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. November 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    What an awesome comparison! And this analogy extends beyond childbirth as well. Thanks for reminding me that “negative” emotions or sensations in life help us to truly experience the amazing aspects of life as well. I will be sharing this on my Facebook page :)

  3. Mary Sinclair
    October 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Great analogy! There’s a lot of apprehension around natural childbirth but with good preparation (I took a great online course) and with help and support of those around you (plus a good doula if you can find one) its a truly wonderful experience.

  4. Philip Clement
    September 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Just like one can’t fairly BLAME the kids for obsessing with cell phone use – one can’t blame women for thinking a medicated birth is the “best” option: – the media, the medical model, pharmacopeia, “life in the age of technology”, the lack of emotional maturity in North American culture ( ie people saying “I’m sorry” when they choke up with emotion, ugh -) all conspire to brainwash all of us to see life through technology that is once, twice and three times removed from our actual experience. Jessica I agree 100% with your call for birthing mothers to the power of embracing rather than rejecting one’s own emotion:– but my own personal reaction to the piece was to feel for the woman ‘in fear’ who has nothing in her past to help her resonate with your message – and needs as it were, an in depth discussion about where that dependency on the cell phone/epidural comes from BEFORE being able to hear/see the possibility of life/birth without it.

    • September 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      I’m a bit confused about your comment…. there’s nothing in here about blaming people who use cell phones or use epidurals, it’s simply a perspective on why it’s tempting to, and why it might be worth considering not doing so. Hopefully this piece alone will help many women look at birth and it’s sensations a little bit differently by comparing it to a life situation most of us can relate to (cell phone escapism!) :-)

      • Philip Clement
        September 24, 2013 at 9:50 am

        Jessica: I was making the distinction why *some* people, upon hearing a good idea–still do not ‘get’ the obvious, Common sense, undeniable proof, and passion is not enough [for some] because they don’t have the ‘listening’ yet to hear the good message. For example, routine circumcision is the most counter intuitive utterly unnecessary invasive and RIDICULOUS idea Misguided Man has ever come up with, yet saying that with passion, and evidence is not enough for *some* people because they are still embedded in their old [unconscious] beliefs, and until their (misguided) conditioning is decoded for them, they will perceive the new information as a negative. We all do it. ie A person who doesn’t know they’re in prison will perceive their liberator as a threat. For those people — before I try to liberate them — I have to succeed in demonstrating that what they think are trees are actually prison bars. THEN they can hear the message about better alternatives.

        Otherwise said: You aren’t blaming anybody and I should have explained myself better: – I meant BECAUSE people are NOT to blame for the societal belief systems embedded all around them, and which they grew up into, a call to abandon their beliefs will not always be perceived the way intended. I could imagine a woman, without ever having the experience of safely expressing emotions 100% fully and freely and without shame, could read your piece (which I agree with!) and feel inadequate, more fear, and perhaps shame that she’s not up for what intuitively knows is right.

        I am implying taking into consideration those women who need some stepping stones before crossing over the rapids of the “medicalised way of birth” and hearing your wise woman’s way of birth.

  5. Sazi Valair
    September 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Wow, what a great parallel! I was struck by the beauty and profundity of this clip when I saw it a few days ago, especially since Louis CK’s stuff has been kinda dark and nihilistic in the past. It really makes a great metaphor for birth. Good job!

  6. Jen
    September 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Love this. Great comparison!

  7. September 21, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Jess :)

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