While pregnant last year, I became obsessed with the subject of birth, particularly natural birth. I did as much reading as I could on the subject, because I was hoping that the information I gathered would provide me with a mental analgesic when the going got tough. I was determined to make it through my labor without using drugs of any kind – which thank God I did.
Proponents of natural birth tend to have a counterculture-ish skepticism of the medical establishment. In other areas of their lives these hippie holdovers might hold no objection to immodest behaviors. But when it comes to birth, all advocate modesty in the delivery room. The reason is simple. Women labor better when they feel most comfortable, and women are more likely to feel comfortable in the presence of other women, when their bodies are not on display – even in that clinical, gynecological way- for male consumption. Studies have shown that women who chose a female midwife as their attendant, or employ the services of doula (female labor assistant) are less likely to need drugs, and are even less likely to tear or need episiotomies. (All of course, without compromising their health or the health of their babies)
I bring this up not to get into the debates of doctors versus midwifes, or hospital versus home births, but rather to refute those who claim that modesty is unnatural for women. If in birth, the most challenging physiological event in a woman’s life, and certainly the one event that confers above all else a woman’s very femininity – modesty helps a woman’s body work the way it should- then perhaps modesty is natural for women. Perhaps it is the most natural thing of all.