I realized I have used the term “normal birth” several times without explaining what I mean. First, I wish to be clear that there is no value judgment in the phrase normal birth–it simply refers to the physiologically normal process of birth. It is birth as it is biologically programmed to happen and allowed to unfold without interference in a physiologically normal way. This is “normal birth”–birth that is unhindered, undisturbed, and not interfered with. Approximately 90-95% of births would be normal births if left undisturbed. The other 5-10% benefit from the presence of (or access to) a skilled birth attendant.
Birth is physiological and biological in nature, but is influenced and shaped by personal, social, cultural, and historical factors.
Normal birth is sadly a rarity in our present birth culture in the U.S. What we have come as a society to view as “normal” parts of birth are often actually things that impair or interfere with the normal process and the natural unfolding of this exquisite biological event.