Friday, September 6, 2013

Birthing Habits

So I shared my recent birthing experience in the last blog post. Some would say that my experience, midwife-assisted delivery with no medications or surgical interventions, is the ideal birth. Some would claim that I did it the "right" way. Some would call it "empowering." Some would call anything other than natural delivery to be "failure".

I've read posts on my local mommy network from women who don't have unmedicated natural births and become depressed and anxious, because they consider themselves to be failures. Sure, they have healthy babies. Sure, their physical recovery has been fine. But their c-section means their successful delivery of a healthy child was a failure. 


Maybe it's because I've never had a c-section that I don't understand. But to me, a birth that requires a c-section = a birth that had a potentially bad outcome without a c-section. So a c-section = successfully avoiding a bad outcome for your baby = success. Not failure. 

Perhaps I should take full credit for my unmedicated natural birth. Yes, I got my baby to turn head down all by myself. Yes, I got her to stabilize her vital signs. Yes, I got my cervix to dilate at the right time, and got my contractions to progress in a timely manner. Yes, I grew my baby to just the perfect size to pass through my pelvis. I did it all by myself. I am a really good mom. 


I had no control over any of this. The conditions were right for a natural birth. I didn't make it happen. I just let it happen. 

So if I didn't make my natural birth happen, how did the others have a role in their c-sections? Ok, so there are some women who schedule their c-section for convenience sake. And there are the ones that are possibly done for the convenience of the delivery team when the birth isn't progressing very quickly. I'm not talking about those women. They aren't the ones calling themselves failures. It's the ones looking for empowerment and fulfillment through childbirth that are calling themselves failures. And this makes me sad.

Are we really "empowered" if we feel we can "fail" at childbirth? A century ago, a mother would have thanked God for a surgical procedure that could save her life and that of her child. Now it's considered failure? Is this a cultural or social advancement for women?

The history of childbirth through the 1900's does involve some medical protocols that we would consider obscene now:  strapping a mother to the bed with her legs in stirrups, anesthetizing her and manually pushing/pulling the baby out, forced routine episiotomies. I'm glad the pendulum is swinging the other direction towards less medical intervention. And I realize that it takes a significant amount of lobbying to make this kind of shift.

But are we really helping the situation if we make mothers feel "less than" or not a "real" mother if she takes advantage of the modern interventions available? Is this progress?

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