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Natural childbirth is a euphemism for vaginal delivery (or, in simple terms, pushing a baby out of one's hoo-hoo), specifically sans drugs. Of course, this is the way that women have been delivering babies for millions of years, but that does not automatically mean that medically-assisted childbirth is "bad." The pain women typically experience during vaginal childbirth is simply a byproduct of the fact that the size of the human pelvis has not quite caught up to the recent evolutionary explosion in the size of the fetal cranium.
Nonetheless, proponents of nature woo and Eve's Curse insist that long, painful labour is a kind of rite of passage into motherhood, arguing that any technology designed to alleviate that pain (e.g., epidurals) wrongly deprives women of an essential life experience. Although both maternal and infant mortality have declined significantly since the advent of surgical interventions like forceps, caesarean section, and ventouse, mothers who are forced by high-risk pregnancies to undergo these procedures (or who, God forbid, choose to do so) are still made to feel as if they have in some way failed.
Discussion of this topic tends to focus on the means of birth rather than on the infinitely more important ends (a healthy mother and baby). It also tends to neglect the fact that a few minutes, hours, or days spent in labour is only a very small component of the entire lifetime experience of parenthood.
Some feminists have argued that it also reinforces the whole "woman as animal," "woman as nature," "woman as mother" stereotype suggesting that if a woman says, "Fricking hell, no way am I going to hurt for this brat that will then suck me dry for 6 months," she is both ungrateful and does not understand the needs of the child and her role as "woman" (or, alternatively, that she is just a horrible person). The stereotype is also supposed to reinforce the "motherhood is all there is in life" idea by saying that the "experience" is more than the sum of its parts.
It has been suggested that kidney stones are a "natural" part of life, and that we should encourage all people with stones to "experience all aspects of life" and pass the stone without pain killers.
 Home birth
A home birth refers to when a woman consciously chooses to give birth in her own home (usually under the supervision of a midwife), as opposed to in a hospital, clinic, birthing center, or other medical setting.
Proponents of home birth characterize hospital birth as an impersonal or even traumatic experience. Which it frequently is, with many hospitals, midwives and obstetricians happy to treat a pregnant woman as a sort of processed cheese slice with the brain of a pea. They point out that "birth is not a medical condition," though hopefully with awareness that it can lead to them, and that shitting watermelons has historically led to a hideous death rate. It is quite popular in the UK, as the hospitals are perceived as festering plague pits, and midwives are highly aware of when to call for medical help.
Anyone feeling intrepid enough to watch Ricki Lake giving birth in a bathtub might be interested in The Business of Being Born, a pro-home birth documentary, which received limited release in early 2008.
 One more thing...
Humans are part of nature, therefore everything we do is by default natural.
Beavers build dams, birds build nest, we build clinics. Just because our constructs are more complex doesn't make them any less expressions of nature. We are part of nature, everything inside the natural universe is, and we are fully part of (and more importantly: products of) this planet's organic ecosystem. If our stuff looks shinier, that's simply because we are very good at making shiny stuff. That's a skill, not something to be ashamed of.
As a result of this, the entire term "natural birth" is meaningless. Births given in the woods are natural, births given in the home are natural, and births given in the most advanced clinic are also natural. Whether you scream your lungs out in a bacteria infested bathroom or you are pumped full of morphine in a sparkling clinic while watching an OLED TV on the ceiling and think birth is the happiest time of your life ever, both are equally natural. Instead what is going on is that people are comparing one form of natural birth to another.
The "natural birth" movement then should be seen not as increasing the "naturalness" of births, rather making human births more primitive.
- Skeptical OB: A critical blog written by an actual OB-GYN.
- ↑ Sagan, Carl. (1977). The Dragons of Eden, Chapter IV.
- ↑ Indeed, those who defend a woman who, ante partum, refers to her child as a "brat" would probably whistle a different tune if she had been their mother...
- ↑ Because, as we all know, everything can be reduced to the sum of its parts, including ducks. 
- ↑ O'Hehir, Andrew. (January 10, 2008). "Beyond the Multiplex." Salon.com
- ↑ Careful there, you might get supernatural.