What April The Giraffe Taught Us

When April the giraffe went live, humans went AWOL. April just did her giraffey thing though.

What April The Giraffe Taught Us

Giraffe babies have to be one of the most adorable creatures on the planet. It comes as no surprise that, when given the opportunity to watch the live stream of a giraffe giving birth, humans lost their proverbial. After months on high alert, April the Giraffe welcomed her baby at long last. The internet had been watching her pad about her birth space since February, and collectively losing it’s mind. Examining the birth of this baby giraffe can tell us an awful lot about the beliefs we hold on pregnancy and birth.

People think birth is gross:

In 2017, people still actually think birth is disgusting. Adults, think this, not five year olds. Grown men! Actual grown men were falling over themselves to make vulgar comments about a giraffe who was giving birth. Egging each other on with strange fart jokes, querying what it felt like to have hooves protruding from “your bum” (HINT: no animal gives birth with their “bum” you bunch of babies!?!?) Exclaiming about how she was doing droppings as she pushed, whilst filling the live comment stream with typed droppings. I find it hard to believe that grownups could be so juvenile, but I suppose that’s often the nature of internet trolling isn’t it.

Birth makes everyone panic:

Ok, not everyone, but a lot of people. There was mass hysteria over the length of time April remained pregnant without an induction. Then they all panicked about how long the teeny hooves were visible, before the rest of the baby emerged. They panicked when no one checked the baby whose hooves were emerging, they panicked when April stood still, when she moved, when the same section of baby giraffe hoof was visible for over an hour, when she didn’t lie down. There was just panic oozing from every corner. Except from the vets who were actually monitoring the birth from well out of her line of sight. One has to assume they were calm, because we didn’t see them rushing in on the advice of the panicked viewers.

Everyone is an expert on birth:

There was an impressive line up of comments from people who had attended the births of farm animals, and pulled the baby out of its mother by protruding legs. They were imploring the vets who were watching April to do the same. I bet April is glad she got the vets she did and not the back seat drivers who were panicking all over the internet. Everyone seemed to know what needed to be done to save April from the terrible ordeal of birth. And yet April looked pretty calm to me.

A birth just happened:

The number of people who were visibly upset about the lack of intervention, suggesting everything from induction to physically pulling the calf out, and more ….. very telling! We modern humans literally can not fathom that, without intense intervention and monitoring, a birth would “just happen”. April proved that it does. It’s often said that birth in humans is dangerous because of the way our pelvises are shaped, but judging from April’s pelvis, and the weird shape (no offence intended to giraffes) of her baby and the way giraffe babies come out? I reckon humans have the better end of the stick.

Things that are in labour move:

I was actually totally astonished by this one. People were suggesting that the giraffe should be made to lie down. They really were. Meanwhile April ignored them all, and just paced about her birth space, flicking her tail nonchalantly, and giving her baby the occasional lick and sniff as it gradually emerged. It isn’t normal for an animal – and humans ARE animals – to be totally still or prone in labour. Birth is an intense physical event, and moving around to get comfortable is actually one of the ways that humans manage to do it without pain relief.

Sometimes labour takes a long time:

The hooves of April’s baby were poking out for a very long time before the rest of the baby came. People were quivering with rage at her vets for not running in and intervening. But April’s vets sat tight, and watched April do her thing. They watched it for a very long time, without intervening in any way that the viewer could discern. The comments about long labour and the interventions that human women undergo, the expectation that April would have the same intervention? Weird! It’s true that, in humans, a prolonged labour can lead to complications, but a long labour in itself isn’t a problem. Thank you for driving this home to the humans, in your own very giraffey way, April. You pushed that spotty little baby out like a champion!

Mother knows best:

April didn’t need to be told how or when to push, she didn’t need to be confined to a bed, she didn’t need to be monitored or induced, or poked and prodded, and neither did her baby. They did it all by themselves. Medical back up was available, but it wasn’t used. April looked after herself, the placenta, the umbilical cord, and her teeny (for a giraffe) baby as well. All without any input from he vets. Magnificent! Humans do that too, it’s a very well kept secret. Medical back up is fantastic, when it’s just back up, but as the first port of call? It’s left ninety-five percent the human race absolutely batty over birth!

April has no idea she’s a runaway internet success today. I imagine she’s just happy to not be pregnant anymore, and that she has a gorgeous little baby following her around. But if I could say anything to April, it would be THANK YOU! Thank you for showing us mere humans, that mammals are actually very good at giving birth, even from a great height. And a further thanks to her vets, whose faces I have never seen. You watched a birth happen, and you shared it with a lot of very nervous spectators!

FOR FURTHER READING 

Surviving birth, surviving modern obstetrics.

Do you need to induce yourself?

Is slow labour an emergency?

Maternity mythology debunked for the modern woman

No more due dates!

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