There is a vicious, silent battle raging in the birthing world. Many feel that their way is the way, and those that do not subscribe are lost souls that need to be shown the light. The judgments that result from this birth battle often throw birthing women into shame, defense mode, or depression.
Instead of feeling like a badass for birthing a human, many women feel like traitors for not making the same decisions the women in their Mommy and Me class peddle.
I call bullshit. Every woman that births a baby deserves to feel, and be treated, like a goddess, regardless of the drugs, machines, or specialists that may have been involved.
I recently had a friend admit, after six months of touting a natural birth, that she had an epidural. The reverberating gossip was astonishing; people cared so much.
“She lied about a natural birth?! I had a natural birth, how dare she make the claim without feeling the pain.”
“I bet she actually had a c-section but is too ashamed to admit it.”
“I don’t think I can read her baby’s star chart now, the epidural likely tainted the time of birth.” I actually heard someone say that.
I didn’t really care that she had had an epidural. I wouldn’t have cared if her son came out with two heads, so long as they both were healthy.
But I did care about the fact that she felt so embarrassed about her decision to have an epidural that she had felt compelled to lie about it.
When I talked to her, my heart broke. She had been smacked with so much pressure from our community to have not only a natural birth, but a home birth as well, that she felt she had committed sacrilege by having a drugged hospital birth.
She reported making the decision to have an epidural long before she went into labor, feeling that it was the right decision for her. But she knew our community wouldn’t back her up. Our town is big on have-your-baby-naked-in-the-creek-while-your-guru-does-a-birth-goddess-chant.
I have another friend who lives in a much different community, who was ostracized by her “mom group” for having a natural home birth, go figure. This birthing community coveted the best birthing suites in the local hospital and hoped to obtain the most skilled anesthesiologist when their time came.
What’s the deal? Who do we care so much about the decisions of other women?
Opinions are like armpits; everybody’s got two, and they often stink. What would happen if we took the energy it takes to conjure opinions and used it to encourage pregnant women to tune in to their unique intuition and decide what they want for their birth?
We might just create a community of birthing women who feel supported and excited about their upcoming birth, regardless of the decisions that have been made, or will need to be made.
If the woman who chooses to have an epidural feels supported in that decision, she may relax enough to shave a few hours off her labor.
If the woman who chooses to have a home birth feels supported in that decision, she may feel free enough to have an orgasmic birth. Hey, it’s happened.
If the woman who chooses to have a planned c-section to deliver her breech baby, because the thought of a breech vaginal birth scares her, she may have a quicker post-surgery recovery time.
Thankfully, we are all beautifully unique, so why can’t our birthing decisions be unique?
As a childbirth educator and birth doula, who had a natural hospital birth, I’ve witnessed and experienced a colorful array of birthing decisions.
The women who had the best outcomes were those who felt empowered to follow their own instincts and stood up for the resulting decisions.
Some were in-the-creek-orgasm births, some were epidural-stat births, and some were let’s-schedule-the-birth-for-Tuesday-because-I-have-a-ceramics-class-on-Monday births. What they all had in common was an inherent belief that they were making the decisions that felt best for them, based on their unique life experiences and knowledge.
My wish is that all women can proudly own their honest birth experiences and be met with support, love, and “You’re an awesome rock star goddess” from fellow mamas, and that people with stinky pits keep that stank to themselves.
Related post: My Birth Plan, Dammit