Why are fertility control and delayed childbearing okay for “natural” mothers?

There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

Honestly, are there any bigger hypocrites than natural mothering advocates?

Their philosophy is based on the belief that childbirth and breastfeeding evolved to be perfect. They tell themselves and each other that women are perfectly “designed” (or evolved, if you prefer) to give birth vaginally without pain medication and therefore that must be best. Women are perfectly “designed” (or evolved, if you prefer) to breastfeed exclusively and for years at a time, so that must also be best. In nature, women co-slept with their babies, so — regardless of the demonstrated increased risk of death to babies — co-sleeping must be best. After all, anything that promotes breastfeeding is, by their definition, best for babies even if it kills them.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Why aren’t women who advocate slavish devotion to what “nature intended” for childbirth and breastfeeding equally insistent on early and frequent pregnancies?[/pullquote]

But fertility and child spacing were also “designed” by nature (or evolution, if you prefer). Here’s what natural fertility and child spacing looked like:

  • Menarche was age 16 or so
  • Childbearing began in the late teens
  • Women could not control fertility
  • The average woman experienced 8-10 pregnancies
  • Life expectancy was 35 years

So why aren’t women who advocate slavish devotion to what “nature intended” for childbirth, breastfeeding and co-sleeping equally insistent on early and frequent pregnancies?

Shouldn’t every woman become sexually active within a year or so of menarche?

When sexually active, shouldn’t every woman eschew fertility control of any kind?

Shouldn’t childbearing start in the late teens?

Shouldn’t women be perpetually pregnant or nursing, only rarely having menstrual periods?

Shouldn’t every woman have 8-10 pregnancies or more?

Wait, what? That’s not convenient/desirable/compatible with contemporary lifestyles?

So? If convenience/desire/compatibility with contemporary lifestyle aren’t justifications for epidurals, formula feeding and infants sleeping in cribs, how can they be justifications for women to control fertility, delay childbearing and limit the number of children they have?

Isn’t there something fundamentally unnatural about any women who delays childbirth until her late twenties or even late thirties?

If it’s “selfish” to have an epidural or formula feed, isn’t it equally selfish to delay childbirth until you’ve found your soulmate?

Delaying childbearing for a career? There were no careers in nature.

Early and frequent pregnancies are harmful to women’s health? How could that be if women are “perfectly designed” to have early and frequent pregnancies?

Tell us, natural mothering advocates, if women are supposed to “trust” birth and breastfeeding, why shouldn’t they trust unhindered fertility and frequent childbearing?

Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Marie

    This has always bothered me a bit about the “natural is best” crowd. There’s nothing natural about having one or two children in your thirties spaced several years apart. It’s also completely unnatural for a woman to be a “full time mom” with nothing to do but focus on raising those kids for 15-20 years of her life. Childrearing was what you used to do on the side while working full time at keeping yourself alive. You had a year or two, if you were lucky, to focus on the latest baby before another one came along and after infancy much of the childrearing duties went to older siblings or great grannies. My mother was the 10th child of 14 and says that her oldest sisters spent much more time rearing her than her mother. All the sisters in her family found birth control as soon as it was available and had small families.

    Now there are a few of those modern earth mother types here and there who really do walk the full walk. Half a dozen or more kids, nursing or pregnant for decades on end. It all looks so exhausting to me, especially when you look into the dead eyes of the oldest daughter. We modern moms control the size of our families for a reason; what is natural isn’t always what’s best for our kids.

  • MaineJen

    Hell, it used to be natural to “lose one tooth for every child.” Doesn’t that sound great?

  • critter8875

    My maternal grandmother had a second child while nursing the first (1913). She later used all the birth control available at the time and had one more child and several abortions.

  • Griffin

    Hahaha love it! I shall be using this argument the next time someone tells me breastfeeding for >2 years is natcheral.

  • Beth Presswood

    When you barely scratch the surface of natural and crunchy groups, Fertility Awareness (secular NFP) and fear-mongering about the pill/IUDs etc is right there. It’s not even hidden

    • That actually kind of bolsters Dr. Tuteur’s assertion. These women are still trying to avoid birth, but they’re fooling themselves that they’re doing it in a “natural” way (that involves data charting, often on apps), which makes it okay.