.....Maybe. I dislike speaking in absolutes, but I do realize the value of a catchy title!
So, why on earth would I say that? Chickens don't even "give birth". They lay eggs. Very true.
Also true is that I've only had chickens for a week and a half now. But, even in that amount of time, they have reminded me of principles that apply to birthing women and those of us who support them.
Let me go back a few weeks....
I knew that I wanted chickens. But, realizing that our budget for materials for a chicken coop was very tight, instead of building a nice coop, I found and purchased a large cage that a family had been using for their rabbits. I then asked my (reluctantly) handy husband to retrofit it for chickens, and went to pick up my birds.
A very smelly, loud car-ride later and I arrived with 2 chickens and 3 ducks. I set up the nesting boxes with soft, comfy pine shavings, filled the feeders and watering containers, and confidently assumed that my birds had everything that they would need for egg laying happiness, and waited (im)patiently for eggs.
The ducks, who strike me as not quite as smart as the chickens, will lay an egg ANYWHERE. Not even kidding. The chickens, however, seem to be a little more discerning. Two days, then three days, then FOUR DAYS later I had no eggs from 2 chickens that I knew had been regularly laying before I brought them home. Surely I had provided them everything that they NEEDED?
Apparently what I was lacking was....atmosphere. I realized this when one escape artist chicken repeatedly left the (fenced-in) yard, the first day that I let them out of the coop, for our neighbor's yard. What could she want with their yard? There were no soft, comfy nesting boxes, no food, and no roosts. But, apparently there was the atmosphere that she was looking for. Here is where I found her:
.....and a mere 5 minutes later she left this egg and left as if nothing had happened.
I was happy that I finally had an egg, and that she was happy, even as I chased her around in the 90 degree heat to get her back into the safety of the yard.
Here's what I didn't do. I didn't tell her that she was a bad, uncooperative chicken for refusing to lay an egg in her coop. I didn't lock her in there to force her to lay in the coop, removing all of her other options. I also didn't think, 'well's it's time to cut that egg out, because it's never coming out on it's own". (Also, although it's possible that her fellow chicken felt she was taking a big risk from venturing outside the safety of the yard, I'm fairly certain that she wasn't berated for her choice. I could be wrong about that, because I don't speak chicken.)
Let me recap.
I provide chicken with everything that I THINK she needs to lay an egg.
Chicken refuses to lay an egg for 5 days.
Immediately upon being let out, chicken finds HER PERFECT SPOT and lays an egg in record time.
What's My Point?
I'm sure you've figured it out already. Even if humans aren't chickens, some of the same behaviors are all over the animal kingdom in relation to giving birth. Most animals want a safe, dark, private area to lay eggs or give birth to offspring. Guess what chickens like over their nesting boxes? Curtains. Yes, curtains. I'm sure they don't care how pretty they are, but they seem to like the privacy that the fabric provides. (The curtains also help to keep them from eating their eggs....so we're going to stop with "privacy" as the key analogy...).
What if we treated laboring women as well as a good farmer treats their chickens? Instead of a hospital room boasting everything that we ASSUME should make a mother happy...
....And instead we let HER CHOOSE what makes HER feel safe? Maybe that is the hospital with it's machines, nurses, and adjustable beds. Maybe it's not. Maybe it's in the tub at a birth center. Maybe it's her own home, with privacy, dim lighting (during the ENTIRE birth, even pushing!), and no strangers. Evidence proves that each of these options can be safe. So let's focus on empowering mothers to make the best choice for her instead of forcing her into the option that her doctor, or midwife, or friends prefer.
Brown Chicken would be proud.
I look at birth from the perspective that our bodies are wonderfully made, and if we really believe that and work with the birth process and nourish our bodies properly, they will function optimally, most of the time!