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What if you knew something nobody else seemed to know?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
Can you give me some of your thoughts on this analogy I thought of the other day?

First off I want to start with a disclaimer. This is not meant to disparage any mother who had any complications in labor and needed to have interventions in her birth. This is also nothing against mothers who choose drugs in labor for one reason or another. Women should give birth how they feel is right for them. This is only a commentary on society's views about birth.

Here goes:
What if sex were like birth? You could only do it a handful of times in your life. Everyone who had ever done it told you that it was the most excruciating thing ever and the only way to do it was to be numb from the waist down and to leave everything up to the care of "professionals". As a virgin you lived in fear of the big event. But you trusted your "professionals". You made an appointment to have it done, you and your partner showed up. He was also in fear. What if something went wrong and you felt pain or bled? What if the epidural didn't work? When things didn't progress as nature intended with all the professional watching. Drugs were pumped into both of you to speed the progress. The deed would be done but you would never feel anything from it and be glad the ordeal was over.

Birth is like that in our society. Something to be endured, but not rejoiced. What if in the above situation there were no professionals involved. But just the two partners. No fear, no pain, only pleasure and satisfaction. You wanted to tell everyone what happened. But nobody wanted to hear what you had to say. That was something that was kept behind closed doors and no one wanted to know that you felt anything other than agony and fear.

I kind of feel like that regarding birth. After giving birth I feel like a goddess. I could do anything. Birth itself isn't something to be endured but something I enjoyed doing. Nobody believes me or think I'm some sort of masochist. Childbirth virgins live in fear of what will happen to them and these fears are encouraged by the ones who have endured it. Positive stories are actively discouraged.
How many times have you heard these phrases:
Quote:
"There's no medal for natural childbirth"
"It doesn't make you a better mother"
"No need to make yourself a martyr"
"Natural childbirth makes as much sense as natural dentistry"
(by a first time mom) "I want my epidural in the eighth month of pregnancy"
These things make me sad. Not that interventions are available. I'm glad that we have such tools available for mothers who need them. But that there is such a fear of birth that no one can trust the instincts that are already there.

Thoughts?
post #2 of 53
I feel likewise. I don't know anyone else who is pleased with their birth story. I tend to keep mine to myself, unless asked specifically or it is someone I have come to trust and I know they are interested. To random pregant strangers, if it comes up in conversation, I tend to share how I had a doula and that helped immensely.

I think it's sad how birth is viewed. I think it's partly because it is such a private, taboo subject in some ways. There isn't much support for it and it is uncommon to be raised with a positive view on it. I think there is a lack of training and support, like if it were a right of passage that women who have been there mentor the younger ones. In some ways, I feel that is my role.
post #3 of 53
I'm not sure what you mean exactly. I don't find people where I live actively talking about the great sex they had last night. Or how they feel empowered by sex. I would say talking about it is just as private and taboo as you're claiming talking about childbirth is.

And maybe it's b/c I live in crunchy granola Vermont but I don't see anyone ashamed of telling their positive birth stories or sharing their not so positive birth stories. Both are used to help other women I know about to give birth for the first time.
post #4 of 53
I understand what you are saying entirely, Belle. I'm also getting tired of hearing "you are so brave!" when I tell people I'm planning a home birth. I'm not really brave at all. I just trust that my body knows how to birth this baby the same way it knows how to grow him. But I was really lucky because my mom had myself and my 4 younger brother at home, so for me growing up, natural birth was the norm in a way it never is for other women. And it makes me really sad that my mom really had to balk the system to have her first home birth a quarter century ago, and it really hasn't been any easier for me to make those same choices now that I am having my own baby. And you are right, this is a cultural thing. Other people in other countries don't have this same view and other cultures do celebrate the birth of a child, and more importantly, the birth of a family, in ways Americans don't even realize. I guess all that we can really hope is that we can teach our daughters (and our sons!) a new standard and hope it gets better with the next generation. But I hear ya, Mama!
post #5 of 53
i like that a lot... and i agree completely. all people hear is how hard and painful and nearly impossible labor is. followed by don't be a hero (my mother and my aunt both told me this... and yet neither of them had any interventions.. my mom had us at a birth center and my aunt had the worlds fastest labor and delivery. my bro and my cousin were over 10 lbs.. my mom was over 30yrs old and my aunt was over 40) me 20 yrs old with my first baby wants a natural birth and those two tell me not to be a hero.

my grandmother told me my mother was stupid to have us in a birth center. and everyone told me to listen to the doctor despite the fact that i totally disagreed with him. finally i gave in ... notice the nice ribbon in my sig.

so yeah i totally hear ya.
post #6 of 53
I have some random, disconnected comments, just thinking out loud.

I think you (OP) are touching on a more philisophical question, the answers to which are a very individual matter: Is "birth" primarily a means to an end (the process) or is it an end in and of itself (the arrival of the child)? or perhaps both, but then to what extent for each?

FWIW, this is just a guess from reading these boards, but even among those who have had positive natural birth experiences, not everyone would necessarily say that it was something they enjoyed doing.

And this is just my personal opinion with which a lot of you may differ, but while pain-free birth with only pleasure and satisfaction is obviously possible for some people, I highly doubt it's some sort of natural result that would occur for the vast majority of people if only they would try natural birth without the interference of societal views, fears and expectations. To me, that would sound as wrong as saying menstrual cramps are in one's head.

In my own experience, sure natural birth can be empowering, much like running a marathon or climbing a mountain, but not every individual seeks that.
post #7 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowmom5 View Post
And this is just my personal opinion with which a lot of you may differ, but while pain-free birth with only pleasure and satisfaction is obviously possible for some people, I highly doubt it's some sort of natural result that would occur for the vast majority of people if only they would try natural birth without the interference of societal views, fears and expectations. To me, that would sound as wrong as saying menstrual cramps are in one's head.
I didn't have a pain free birth either. But it was my pain. and I wouldn't have been able to feel the good without the bad. Again, I don't want to downplay or diminish another's experiences but for some reason it is okay for others to tell me every detail of their elective induction gone wrong, but for me to mention that I had a positive experience is quickly ignored or I'm dismissed as some kind of weird hippie. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Quote:
In my own experience, sure natural birth can be empowering, much like running a marathon or climbing a mountain, but not every individual seeks that.
Yes, and that's perfectly fine, but the empowerment is downplayed and the deity-like status placed on certain birth professionals is frustrating for those of us who know that things can be different.
post #8 of 53
it doesn't occur to most people that birth can be empowering. i'm not sure why though... you have spent the last nine months growing a person inside of you... now your body is bringing it into the world.. where you will then continue to grow a baby with your boobies. not particularly poetic (sry i'm tired) but it is definitely empowering

many medicalized births make women feel powerless... so powerless that we return to them again and again b/c we are afraid to do it w/o them.
post #9 of 53
If sex were like birth I wouldn't have any children, I can tell you that.
post #10 of 53
So, my mom had two kids, me and my older brother. She had absolutely, stunningly great labor and delivery. No need for drugs with either of us, and for me (second born) she barely had time to get to the hospital. She was up and walking around the next day. Actually, she gave birth in army hospitals, so the day after she had my brother she was up changing her own sheets on her hospital bed.

All through my first pregnancy, I was confident; I KNEW I could do this childbirth thing. My mom kept telling me how great it was and I knew she'd had such an easy time. I expected I'd be the same--easy labor, no need for drugs, trusting my body to do what it needed to do.

My birth experience with DD SUCKED. It was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life. It was the most pain I have ever experienced, and my body absolutely did not do what it was supposed to do in any sort of easy or natural manner.

My horrible experience didn't occur because I expected it to go that way. It wasn't because I was afraid or had been brainwashed to think it would be awful. I hadn't planned on needing the epidural I ended up begging to have. No message from other moms or society in general caused this agony. It just WAS. Sometimes it's like that.

I'm delighted to hear that others have had really positive, manageably painful, empowering natural childbirth experiences. But expecting one and hoping for one doesn't always cause one to occur.
post #11 of 53

I was through your whole post
and again, I

Yup. Exactly.

And, I glanced down & saw quotes and thought, "She MUST have the '' quote in there!" Sure enough, there it was! So, yes, I've heard it!

So sad.

Yes, people think I'm kinda nuts & they don't want to hear my positive natural-birth story. I'm a fitness instructor & pretty tough (briefly trained to learn the olympic-style weight lifts & compete). People assume I could do it only because I'm unusual. (And, I admit, I don't think I'm typical. ) They think that for "normal" women... all the rest applies (it's excruciating, makes as much sense as natural dentistry etc. etc.) Meg simply MUST be a bizarre exception.

So sad.

The thing is, I want to try to educate women on:
1. That birth is fabulous (even though, yes, it does hurt for most women.)
BUT....

Even if you chose the epidural, you DON"T necessarily have to go the fully medically managed route!!!!!! ya know? FIND OUT that maternity care in the US is NOT evidence-based and try to get evidence-based care!

(unless there is true good cause, do NOT let these things be done:
  • tell you you can't drink & give you IV fluids for no reason
  • BE INDUCED without cause
  • have cEFM
  • go to the hospital in early labor
  • let them brake your water
  • give you pitocin (again, without cause)
  • push in lithotomy
  • let them yell at you & 'purple push' (hold breath longer than comfortable)
  • take baby away
  • prematurely clamp cord
  • manually extract placenta or pull on cord
etc. etc.

I so badly want women to not not only that birth can be joyful, but that they simply CANNOT just blindly trust their OBs - because, all too often, they will NOT get good care. Since American OBs aren't providing evidence-based care.
post #12 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaLaLaLa View Post
I'm delighted to hear that others have had really positive, manageably painful, empowering natural childbirth experiences. But expecting one and hoping for one doesn't always cause one to occur.
Totally in agreement!

Just the way that being stressed out over going nearly post-dates doesn't NECESSARILY cause labor to NOT start. If my doula told me one more time to not get stressed out because the stress can inhibit labor starting, I was going to strangle her! So now you're BLAMING ME for it?! I know the point she was trying to make - but still - it's not ALL about Mom's state-of-mind. KWIM? That's my point. Our mental state does contribute to, but does not exclusively control the onset of labor, nor the level of labor pain.

Anyway, the problem comes when natural birth is seen as bizarre and, worst of all POINTLESS! When epidurals are viewed as having NO RISK and going natural is viewed as utterly senseless & stupid.

Women who decide in advance of any labor that they want an epidural... I have to wonder:
1. How truly educated are they on the risks of epidural & the risks of the cascade of interventions it often leads to?
But more so:
2. Have they opened their mind to the concept of a natural, empowering birth?

They must think that the concept of a natural birth that is painful, but is still wonderful & empowering is just impossible?? Why else would they not even TRY to experience it & ride the labor ride?

Seriously, I don't get it. I can't see any other reason BUT that they really think that natural birth 'makes as much sense as natural dentistry' - in other words - natural birth is STUPID & pointless & there is simply NO VALUE in feeling birth?

THAT is what I find so sad.
post #13 of 53
This is a really interesting discussion, and a lot of great points have been made.... I agree that our culture in general has come to view childbirth as a terribly painful process. And, you know, in most instances, pain is an indicator that something is wrong, something is broken, something is not functioning correctly, that you are sick. And when you are sick, the typical thing to do for most people is to go to the doctor, who will cure them, right? Also , since the majority of women (in the US, at least) have never experienced any major physical pain in their lives, the fear of pain is tremendous. So for many women, the most logical thing to do may seem like counting on their care provider to keep them safe and to eliminate the pain that they fear. Which make sense on the surface.

Of course, we know that there are serious repercussions to much of standard obstetrical care, which, ironically , is all about managing risk. But many, if not most women, don't do the research, don't see any reason not to trust their care providers, or to go the standard route for care during their pregnancy and birth. And those who do see the value of avoiding medications and other interventions, are sometimes overwhelmed by the intensity of the experience and end up havng interventions they really didn't want.

So, I guess my point is, that, yeah, maybe people think we're crazy and/or weird when we talk about how amazing and empowering our births were, but I still think it's important to share and offer up an alternative view of birth. Now that said, I've certainly learned to temper my approach over the years. It's still really difficult to sit in a baby shower, for instance and hear all the birth horror stories being told.... and you know it happens! So what I try to do, in that situation is wait for a lull in the conversation, or even seek out the expecting mom alone for a moment and tell her directly. "Hey, don't let all those horror stories scare you....Birth can be an amazing and empowering exprience.... I loved giving birth and I'd love to talk with you about it more when we have time. Can I call you tomorrow?" And then I follow up. If the mom is open to the discussion I really encourage her and give her lots of info and if she's not, I can usually tell, and I try to be accepting (it's not my birth after all) and wish her the best of luck, sincerely.

For me it's kind of a delicate balance, because I'm a CBE and a doula, and I don't want to appear to be prospecting for clients. At the same time, I'm always up for a great conversation about birth, and the teacher in me can really get soapbox-y. ( as you can tell by the length of this post ) Again, I try to be sensitive to that.
post #14 of 53
Our society does not serve women the way it should when it comes to birth. It is not an us vs. them dichotomy that so many want it to be (and sometimes is). It should be evidence based and I should be able to trust my care provider.

As with so many other women's health issues any "problems" are all in our head.

Each woman should be given good information on which to base her decisions. Doctors that want to run the show should learn to step back and be there to provide the care they are being paid to provide - they aren't the directors of the show but they are the hired help to provide expert opinions from which the mom can base her decisions. Same for midwives - women should be supported and not bullied into the notion of a "perfect" birth for every woman. There should be options and levels of decisions made. We need better birth support for the majority of birthing moms and we need good surgeons when things don't work out the way we expect and babies need to be born by c-sec.

I've had all levels of care during my three pregnancies. My first birth was spontaneous in a hospital with a midwife. My second birth was induced in a hospital with a midwife and during the last 30 minutes it turned into my worst nightmare resulting in the death of my son 12 hours after his birth. With this third pregnancy my birth will be with an OB in a hospital. I'm planning a natural birth but I also just want my daughter to be safe. If I had given birth to my second son at home, as I had strongly considered doing, he would not have lived even 12 hours - at least he had a chance. Through all of this I've also found that the medical community and society in general are not prepared for infant loss. It just isn't talked about, either.

Our society doesn't support women the way it should. As you say, it scares them instead of telling them this is your decision and you will find the support you need.

I don't think more positive birth stories need to be circulating (it would be nice but it's not going to fix it)- I think the whole notion of what birth is needs to change. It is a process, the climax (no pun intended) of your pregnancy, the point where your body begins to move into another stage of motherhood. It should be celebrated and women should have better support and know that births of all kinds happen and we don't have to be afraid of it because we have the best medical support our great medical system can provide. I know this is part fantasy right now but it can be better - we just have to demand more. The big change will happen when our doc's are better educated about birth and not just all the bad things that can happen.

When all you learn in medical school is what can go wrong and all you see is what can go wrong then you base your practice on trying to prevent that. When you learn the natural process first and learn to respect what nature can do then you learn what can go wrong in that process and what you can do to correct it then our docs will do their best work.
post #15 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by MegBoz View Post

Even if you chose the epidural, you DON"T necessarily have to go the fully medically managed route!!!!!! ya know? FIND OUT that maternity care in the US is NOT evidence-based and try to get evidence-based care!

(unless there is true good cause, do NOT let these things be done:
  • tell you you can't drink & give you IV fluids for no reason
  • BE INDUCED without cause
  • have cEFM
  • go to the hospital in early labor
  • let them brake your water
  • give you pitocin (again, without cause)
  • push in lithotomy
  • let them yell at you & 'purple push' (hold breath longer than comfortable)
  • take baby away
  • prematurely clamp cord
  • manually extract placenta or pull on cord
etc. etc.
This is the problem with bad education about these things. If some has an epidural, they need to have IV fluids, they need to have cEFM, they are most likely going to have to push in the lithotomy position. You're going to look worse than foolish asking for an epidural but trying to refuse the IV and monitors that come along with it.
post #16 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaLaLaLa View Post
S...All through my first pregnancy, I was confident; I KNEW I could do this childbirth thing. My mom kept telling me how great it was and I knew she'd had such an easy time. I expected I'd be the same--easy labor, no need for drugs, trusting my body to do what it needed to do.

My birth experience with DD SUCKED. It was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life. It was the most pain I have ever experienced, and my body absolutely did not do what it was supposed to do in any sort of easy or natural manner.

My horrible experience didn't occur because I expected it to go that way. It wasn't because I was afraid or had been brainwashed to think it would be awful. I hadn't planned on needing the epidural I ended up begging to have. No message from other moms or society in general caused this agony. It just WAS. Sometimes it's like that.

I'm delighted to hear that others have had really positive, manageably painful, empowering natural childbirth experiences. But expecting one and hoping for one doesn't always cause one to occur.
Thank you for sharing that. I'm sorry your birth didn't go as you anticipated.

However, given the experience that you've been through, some part of you still knows that the rest of us who were lucky enough to have positive empowering experiences are not lying about it. You know that the potential is there. I don't think that we should go into labor expecting nothing but an orgasmic birth, but going into birthing with nothing but terror is going to guarantee that such a birth cannot happen. again
Quote:
Yes, people think I'm kinda nuts & they don't want to hear my positive natural-birth story. I'm a fitness instructor & pretty tough (briefly trained to learn the olympic-style weight lifts & compete). People assume I could do it only because I'm unusual. (And, I admit, I don't think I'm typical. ) They think that for "normal" women... all the rest applies (it's excruciating, makes as much sense as natural dentistry etc. etc.) Meg simply MUST be a bizarre exception.
Quote:
Our society doesn't support women the way it should. As you say, it scares them instead of telling them this is your decision and you will find the support you need.

Quote:
It's still really difficult to sit in a baby shower, for instance and hear all the birth horror stories being told.... and you know it happens! So what I try to do, in that situation is wait for a lull in the conversation, or even seek out the expecting mom alone for a moment and tell her directly. "Hey, don't let all those horror stories scare you....Birth can be an amazing and empowering exprience.... I loved giving birth and I'd love to talk with you about it more when we have time. Can I call you tomorrow?"
Part of me was holding off on even bringing up this topic here. Even in this thread there have been some tales of traumatic births and tragedy. I have been thinking about it for weeks though and tried to broach the topic in a way that wouldn't offend or hurt anyone whose births didn't go like mine. No one is saying all births are great. But when we are afraid to speak up and mothers only hear negative things we are doing others a disservice.
post #17 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delicateflower View Post
This is the problem with bad education about these things. If some has an epidural, they need to have IV fluids, they need to have cEFM, they are most likely going to have to push in the lithotomy position. You're going to look worse than foolish asking for an epidural but trying to refuse the IV and monitors that come along with it.
i thought they did not want you to eat or drink in case a c section becomes necessary. this is what the CNM who worked with my OB told me anyway. and they required every woman to do the EFM for 15 minutes of every hour. if you got an epidural you had to stay in bed (as they do not have walking epidurals) so they just leave the monitor on. this hospital has a 48% c section rate.
post #18 of 53
I think it's important to separate "birth" from "labour".

I did not enjoy my labours. They did not empower me. They hurt. I endured them.

Unmedicated birth was all of those things: awesome, empowering, wonderful. The part where I had the urge to push, gave into it and let my body take over. That part, I loved. The moment when their heads emerged and then the rest of their body slipped from my body...well, there really aren't words that are big enough to describe how awesome that was.

Hearing about the mechanics of birth are pretty horrifying for those who have no frame of reference.

IME: Labour sucks. Birth rocks.
post #19 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1littlebit View Post
I thought they did not want you to eat or drink in case a c section becomes necessary. This hospital has a 48% c section rate.
This used to be the standard of care, but is incredibly outdated. It stems from when general anesthesia was during c-sections and there was concern about the mother vomiting and aspirating her stomach contents. Almost all c/s are preformed with an epidural now, which does not carry this same risk. Any hospital still requiring a mother to not eat or drink in labor is not practicing evidence based medicine and mothers fair much better when they are allowed to eat and stay hydrated by mouth as they want.
post #20 of 53
i agree with ya there. my aunt went under general anesthesia for her C section.. i think because she was panicking. the OB offered it to me as an option b/c i have a spinal fusion but when i asked the anesthesiologist he said i could get it if i wanted to but direct quote "that would be really stupid" the second anesthesiologist agreed. i had an anesthesiologist party during my c section.. 4 of them i think.. one head of pediatric anesthesiology and one head of general.. i don't know why... maybe they were all bored?
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