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Dispelling the "perfect birth theory" - Page 7

post #121 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 


This comment really set me off, but hopefully, I can be reasonable. First of all..."to me"...so what? If it's your birth you're talking about, then your idea of an ideal birth is relevant. If it's not your birth, then it's not. Four of my five "births" ended with a living mom and a living baby, and they were as far from anything resembling an ideal as it gets. (The fifth left a living mom, who wished she'd died - it wasn't ideal, either.)

 

 

 

I don't know how to get the quote that you quoted included in there, but...The first two words that I said, "To me" imply opinion. The first two definitions of opinion in an online dictionary are:

1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
 
Of course my opinion isn't valid for anybody else, no more than yours is. Water is wet and we live on the third planet from the sun.  Mine is based on my life experiences. My stepmother died giving birth to my little brother. It shaped a lot about how I see the world. Your life has obviously left you with a different view. It ain't a one size fits all world, as one can see by reading on this forum.bigeyes.gif

 

post #122 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Partaria View Post


 

When women would post stories of how their hypnosis "failed" them, the manager of the email list would frequently say it was because they didn't listen to their cds often enough, or they had unresolved subconscious issues, or they didn't do X or Y. It sort of felt like her responses were there to preserve the power of the all-mighty method by sort of playing blame-game with these women. I emailed this woman and said that I had done everything I was supposed to do and STILL had a c-section, and I was asked if I had considered that there is a mind-body connection, and that perhaps I had subconscious fears about childbirth that led to my baby being unable to make the final turn to a transverse instead of posterior position.

 

 


This is the kind of thing that sets me off! Why do so-called "care providers" lay these crazy trips on women who have clearly had a hard time and need support?!?! I mean, I thought that the natural birth community was where people understood that the context in which women give birth matters....and to me this points to a really toxic situation, which is totally dismissive of women, and places some kind of bogus expertise as superior to the reality of women's experiences. There's just something very arrogant about assuming that you know what a woman's deepest subconscious fears are, based on something that happened during her birth.

 

I think it is very irresponsible of providers of these "methods" to add to the suffering of women who have already been through a rough time. Leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

 

post #123 of 178

Quote:

Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

This is the kind of thing that sets me off! Why do so-called "care providers" lay these crazy trips on women who have clearly had a hard time and need support?!?! I mean, I thought that the natural birth community was where people understood that the context in which women give birth matters....and to me this points to a really toxic situation, which is totally dismissive of women, and places some kind of bogus expertise as superior to the reality of women's experiences. There's just something very arrogant about assuming that you know what a woman's deepest subconscious fears are, based on something that happened during her birth.

 

I think it is very irresponsible of providers of these "methods" to add to the suffering of women who have already been through a rough time. Leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.


I am normally pretty defensive about natural/homebirth/uc, what have you, but I have to 100% agree with you here, that is toxic and ridiculous. Just as there are good and bad obs/hospitals there are good and bad mws/cb educators. 

 

How do you think women can better avoid this type of thing? Run from anyone peddling absolutes? Watch out for care providers putting too much of their own agendas on you? (for example I got really turned off from a mw who required me to keep a journal and thought all births involve some sort of psychological crisis/trauma/release -- you know, telling me how my birth would be for me emotionally 20 weeks before birth!). The "victim blaming"/dismissing experiences really really bothers me.

 

ETA - I think it was partaria who mentioned maybe women shouldn't be soo cautioned against mws with higher transfer rates? When I was looking into hb, that was a pretty standard recommendation, go with low/lowest transfer rate! 

 

 

 


Edited by slmommy - 3/10/12 at 8:37am
post #124 of 178

I have appreciated reading this dialogue and ironically, this very subject is the reason I haven't been to MDC in awhile.  I saw the subject in a email from MDC and thought I'd give it a chance.

 

I had my 2nd baby almost 8 months ago and despite having an unmedicated birth I still had aspects at the end (uncontrolled pushing that lead to significant tearing) that made me feel like a failure.  I felt like I failed hypnobabies since I didn't get around to the pushing stage tracks, believing that if I had my outcome would have been different.  I also felt like I let down the entire unmedicated birth movement by being the typical screaming, out of control birthing woman when the Dr entered the room.  Oh how I lamented that she hadn't seen me in my controlled and calm state all the way up to pushing. ;)  Of course her comments about how if I'd just had an epidural all of the repair would have not been necessary or at least not as difficult (time consuming for her since she had to take the time to numb me several times).

 

In processing my birth with friends in the months since then I've had the realization that my expectations for a "perfect" and prepared birth are what let me down, not my actual birth experience.  I found myself wishing I hadn't spent so much time on MDC or reading all the different birth books, watching films, etc.  

 

I digress.  The only women I know who do not have regrets or disappointment are the ones who had very little expectation going in.  They were also the ones who don't go to online forums or feel strongly about any particular way to birth.  I am very intentional now when talking to my pregnant friends about birth.  I used to be more pro-natural/unmedicated births and would push that way as the "right" one when at all possible.  I now focus more on encouraging them to be prepared, to research different relaxation options.  But more importantly to know that there are many different ways to birth and that having support and a willingness to do whatever is necessary should be a priority.  

 

I actually liked what saritap said about re-framing her birth story.  I don't think this will apply in all cases, but it can with me.  If I can focus on the many beautiful parts of the birth instead of what I wish had changed I think this will be beneficial for me and also for my daughter someday.  However, when she is an adult I will tell her as much reality as she wants to hear. ;)  
 

 

 

post #125 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post

Serial posting, sorry.  But I just wanted to mention that what I was talking about with all the researching and information and media leading to some possibly unrealistic expectations is indeed a "first world" problem.  I'm not sure that's how the PP who brought that issue up meant it, but I think it's a legitimate issue to look at critically. So many women seem to be having such a hard time dealing with having a less than supposedly perfect birth, and I personally think at least sometimes that is due to external pressures. I hear so many mothers at playgroups and the park and wherever trying to justify to themselves and others why they had a c-section or Pitocin whatever as if they had committed a crime. It's sad. I don't mean that in a judgmental way like they shouldn't feel bad and should just be happy their baby is alive.  I mean it's sad that such a culture has been created where women feel bad about their births because they didn't fit some ideal that wasn't necessarily even hers to begin with.  I think in other parts of the world, a live mama and baby is enough and there might be something worth learning from that. And that doesn't mean we should all just accept the status quo or women who are unhappy should be shamed into keeping quite.  Women can have whatever feelings they like about their births. I'd just like to see a world where those feelings were always truly her own.  


I haven't read past this, but I think if you read my post, you can see that I agree with what you're saying here. What I do not agree with is the way in which other posters like to talk about issues surrounding birth as "first world problems". If you search around on the internet, you'll find that those words are thrown around quite a bit, always by people who are denigrating women for daring to seek out choices in childbirth. It's not about education or processing. It's about a woman daring to disagree with her doctor, or daring to be upset that she was pressured into interventions she truly knows she didn't need. It's essentially about a woman daring to feel that she ought to have control over her own body, even during childbirth. When other people use that term, it's generally used right alongside discussions about how women in third world countries would LOVE to have access to interventions that some of us are trying to avoid, and therefore that somehow means that we aren't supposed to try to avoid them. You aren't using it like them.

 

I also want to mention seeing a very interesting dichotomy in one of the blog comments sections where I've read other people use the "first world problems" attack against women seeking natural childbirth. In the comments of that blog, where women who felt traumatized or even just sad about interventions used during their babies' births were being discussed, those women (the ones who were upset about not getting an intervention-free, vaginal birth) were mocked and accused of complaining about "first world problems",  and it was generally agreed that they had no right to feel that way. However, a commenter who said she was happy with her cesarean and glad she hadn't had to experience a vaginal birth was told that she had every right to feel that way. It's just a given that, in general, when people use that term in these sorts of conversations, they aren't using it nicely. They're using it hypocritically. They're using it to say that it's totally not a first world problem to want to avoid a vaginal birth: Your hooha might get stretched out! You might tear! Your husband might not enjoy sex as much afterwards! Those aren't "first world problems". Being upset that your doctor rushed to a c-section when you didn't think it was necessary? That is a "first world problem". Really. Read around. You'll see the bias and hypocrisy. It's impossible to miss.


Edited by Plummeting - 3/10/12 at 4:35pm
post #126 of 178

I do agree that expectations probably have a lot to do with how "perfect" we feel our births turn out. After the experience of my first birth I had very different expectations for my second birth. I expected a very long labor, it turned out to only be 9 hours. (we never even got to eat any of the wonderful treats we had filled our fridge with.) I chose birth preparation material that did not assume that there is only one way to birth. It was recommended by a friend who had used it to prepare for her own first VBAC and it focused on learning skills that would help for any kind of birth. I had a CNM who was not restricted to time limits like the LM of my first birth. I expected pain. I expected it to be work. I had no expectations at all for the pushing phase, as I never got to that point last time, and I was very surprised by what did happen when my body did the pushing by itself. Through out my birth I just focused on trying to keep my inner pelvic muscles relaxed (as learned in the prep materials) and let everything else just happen. Staying relaxed and controlling my breathing were the two things I could and did control during the labor and birth. These are the two things I will focus on again in any future births. The rest is just what happens FOR ME.

 

I do think it is awful that child birth educators would try to make any woman feel that they did something wrong if the chosen method didn't work for them. Like personality types, labor coping methods work differently for different people. Because self hypnosis works for some does not mean it will work for all. Some women will respond better to other types of coping methods. I'm a doer. Using a method where I could focus on doing something physical (relaxing those inner muscles) worked for me. It might not work for someone else (a reason I haven't named the method here) but it doesn't mean that woman did it wrong or learned it wrong or didn't practice enough. It just isn't a fit for her. There is no one size fits all solutions to getting through labor. There is no one size fits all perfect birth either. There is just what fits each one of us individually, and there is just as much individuality in how we define perfection in birth too.

 

There is much we can learn from each other, but I think it becomes problematic when any one person becomes dogmatic about any given aspect of child birth. Instead we should be celebrating the diversity around birth and encouraging each other to find that unique combination that will suit each of us. For me that seems to be the only way to increase how many women can then say they had their "perfect" birth.

post #127 of 178

This seems so on point to the discussion, I can't help but post it:

 

"For Kukla, the alternative birth movement's encouragement of such strategies as childbirth classes and birth plans, while originally laudable in intent, is responsible for establishing “completely unrealistic expectations concerning how much control one can possibly have over the laboring process.” As a consequence, the movement is implicated in “setting women up for feelings of failure, lack of confidence, disappointment, and maternal inadequacy when things do not go according to plan, even when mother and baby end up healthy”. Thus, critics like Kukla suggest, while the natural childbirth movement styles itself as concerned with empowering laboring women, its establishment of a normative ideal of birth is, ultimately, disciplinary and punitive."

 

From Jean Clare Jones' "Idealized and Industrialized Labor: Anatomy of a Feminist Controversy", from Volume 27, Issue 1 of the Journal "Hypatia"

post #128 of 178

Quote:

Originally Posted by Buzzbuzz View Post

 

Thus, critics like Kukla suggest, while the natural childbirth movement styles itself as concerned with empowering laboring women, its establishment of a normative ideal of birth is, ultimately, disciplinary and punitive."

 

I'm not really sure about the context of the whole article, and while it is clear that there are plenty of problems in the NCB community, I hope this article is not suggesting that women not pursue their interest in having a natural childbirth/homebirth, etc. I would say a lot of the practices in medical childbirth are as well disciplinary and punitive. Clearly this is not a black and white issue.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lynann View Post

There is much we can learn from each other, but I think it becomes problematic when any one person becomes dogmatic about any given aspect of child birth. Instead we should be celebrating the diversity around birth and encouraging each other to find that unique combination that will suit each of us. For me that seems to be the only way to increase how many women can then say they had their "perfect" birth.

I think you stated this very well. yeahthat.gif
 

 

post #129 of 178

Read a wonderful article today that really gets at the heart of some of what we've been discussing. http://www.mamaeve.com/natural-childbirth/our-strength-is-tenacity-not-perfection/#comment-3415

post #130 of 178

I think that portion of the article is pretty clear -- critics say that by creating a rigorous and unbending definition of what "normal" childbirth SHOULD be, the natural childbirth movement is being punitive towards all the women whose births do not match that definition.

 

The article has a nice little vignette of good old Dr. Lamaze "grading" women on their labors based on how well they managed pain.  And of course, it was all those intellectual, "unnatural" women who asked too many questions who would get failing grades.

 

The more I read about natural childbirth and even attachment parenting, the less and less feminist I find them.

post #131 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Partaria View Post 

 

The childbirth educaiton method I chose was also very laced with this language. It was hypnosis-based, and promised a pain-free birth for most mamas who use it. I was on an email list for people using this method, and when a mother would post a less than ideal birth story that included pain in childbirth, she had to post a warning in the subject line. Why? Because moms who were "in training" weren't supposed to read any birth stories that featured negative things like pain or interventions because it could cause their hypnosis training to not work, and could cause them to have something less than a perfect birth. In the literature with this method, it even discussed how you as a pregnant mom should put up your hand and say "STOP" when someone was telling a birth story that involved pain or a c-section or other interventions. You were to block out all this information because the idea was that believing childbirth could be painful or difficult would cause it to be so. It was called the fear-pain cycle. The method claimed that most women experience pain in childbirth because they expect it to hurt, because our society says it will be painful and difficult. If a woman can free herself from this idea, childbirth is easy and painless.

 

When women would post stories of how their hypnosis "failed" them, the manager of the email list would frequently say it was because they didn't listen to their cds often enough, or they had unresolved subconscious issues, or they didn't do X or Y. It sort of felt like her responses were there to preserve the power of the all-mighty method by sort of playing blame-game with these women. I emailed this woman and said that I had done everything I was supposed to do and STILL had a c-section, and I was asked if I had considered that there is a mind-body connection, and that perhaps I had subconscious fears about childbirth that led to my baby being unable to make the final turn to a transverse instead of posterior position.


I just can't get this out of my head. (Disclaimer: just my opinion) Such "method" sounds like a perfect hybrid of a cult and a scam. Kind of like Scientology. "We take your money, we mess with your psyche."

 

post #132 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleDouble View Post



I just can't get this out of my head. (Disclaimer: just my opinion) Such "method" sounds like a perfect hybrid of a cult and a scam. Kind of like Scientology. "We take your money, we mess with your psyche."

Interesting. We took Bradley classes and I felt that it taught hubby and me to be good consumers and to know our rights as patients. There were some women in our birthing class that didn't go natural but they weren't made to feel guilty or inferior at the reunions.
post #133 of 178

This is an interesting post.

 

My husband and I saturated ourselves in learning for my first birth. We decided on a natural home birth. I loved my midwives and the nurturing care they provided from the start.

 

When my son was breech, we started the moxibustion, chiropractic, positioning, and prayer. Then we moved to the external version, but the perinatologist refused to do that, due to some contraindications.

 

My family was very concerned about my state of mind since I wanted a natural home birth so badly. Women on this board and ICAN asked if I had done x, y, or z to achieve vaginal birth. Everyone felt so badly for me; sending me their condolences for this disappointing turn of events. I read articles and boards written by women so angry about their cesarians. I didn't fit in any more.

 

I had a beautiful cesarian birth. I understand that it could have been vaginal if I were in Australia or The Farm, or if I trusted a renegade midwife. But in my time and place in the world, no physician or midwife would assist me. I could not control that. I accepted this.

 

I had only wanted an uncomplicated birth because I had an uncomplicated pregnancy. When things changed, I made peace with the new reality.

 

Many folks are judgemental around birth. Many women are talked into unneccessary cesarians. Most in the medical establishment have years of training that is not family-centered. Many families are tremendously uninformed about their birth options. We have so much work to do around this issue.

 

I don't know how I arrived at such a healthy place around my birth, but I wish this for all other women who are struggling.

post #134 of 178

Quote:

Originally Posted by Buzzbuzz View Post

The more I read about natural childbirth and even attachment parenting, the less and less feminist I find them.


I really have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I find it absolutely feminist to demand/pursue your interests and desires, be it bodily autonomy - bfing, birth, health choices, etc. or lifestyle - sahm, wohm, wahm, homeschooling, babywearing, etc. 

 

At the same time, I think if one gets too wrapped up, you may be pressured into things you do not want... don't like bfing your toddler but will feel "vilifed" to wean? At certain points when DD was an infant, I felt really resentful towards mdc (pretty much my only crunchy exposure source), for putting stakes high on a lot of things that were difficult for me. At the same time, I am thankful to have somewhere to come and find people with similar interests, because I do not know many irl.

 

I think anything that is telling women explicitly what to do/how to act/how to feel/how to think is not feminist, or healthy for the woman. Guess this runs in NCB/AP as well as everywhere else... again, NO gaurantees in life... anywhere. 

 

post #135 of 178

Looking back the method I chose obviously had its faults. BUT, I will say that I have met, in person, many women for whom this method was a godsend. So I'm not sure what to think. I will say it should do a better job of preparing women for ALL OUTCOMES, which it did not.

 

But my method isn't the only thing to "blame" here. A good friend of mine did Bradley, and ended up with a c-section. When she went to her Bradley class reunion and said she'd had a C, her instructor looked at her with a cocked eyebrow and responded with, "And just who was your doula, again?" The intimation being that if my friend had only chosen the right doula, this would not have happened. What a bunch of baloney. My friend tried her butt off for a natural birth, and her doula was nothing but wonderful.

 

I just wish that when you have a less than storybook birth, people wouldn't immediately play armchair quarterback, trying to help you troubleshoot in retrospect. Why can't they just help you celebrate the birth you did have, instead of behaving as though it was a tragedy you could've avoided? I sometimes feel like this is done to women in order to help reassure everyone else that they will have the perfect birth becasue they won't make the "mistakes" that this mama in front of them must have.

 

Not saying everyone does this, but tons of people have had this reaction to my birth story, so I guess I'm just personalizing/venting.

post #136 of 178

But I think it sums up the point.  Having a C-Section isn't a failure!  It can be a medically necessary surgery.  While I believe our country does too many unnecessary c/s, I would never feel that a mom should be grilled to explain why her was.  That is the failure if you ask me.

 

I like to believe that MDC is becoming more evolved in these discussions.  It's a turn for the better.  Part of it is that I feel more of us are willing to speak up instead of stay quiet because we knew we'd get dumped on.

post #137 of 178

Thanks, Youngfrankenstein. :)

 

This thread has inspired me to do something that's been a long time coming. I've decided to finally contact the HB midwives in my area and ask them why they don't include transfer stories on their websites in the "birth stories" section. I didn't do it in a confrontational way at all. But I did ask them why they hadn't posted any of these stories, and pointed out that they are also part of the spectrum of homebirth. I also said that what makes homebirth a safe, viable option is the knowledge and skill of a midwife to know when she needs to reach out for more tools than she has on hand at home. That is also what makes a homebirth midwife worth her salt, and worth hiring.

 

We will see what they say. I don't even know if I really want them to put up these stories, but I want there to be more of a conversation about how transfers and c-sections and interventions do not mean a birth isn't worth crowing about.

post #138 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

 

It wasn't that I didn't hear about complications that could arise in labor. It's that the sources I read had an answer for everything. Failure to progress? That should be called "failure to wait." It's caused by OBs who don't want to be late to their golf game. Stalled labor? Wouldn't happen if women were just given the freedom to move as they wished, unhampered by fetal monitors, IVs, etc. Fetal heart decelerations? Avoid pitocin.  Malpositioned baby? Prenatal yoga takes care of that. Maternal exhaustion? Eat and drink during labor, and sleep when you need it. Problem solved. For everything else, the presence of a good doula and/or midwife is key.

 

 

I find this interesting because I have never gotten this impression from "natural birth" sources-- or only rarely, or only as shorthand.  Instead, what I get is, "iatrogenic complications are usually/often the cause of such-and-so complication" or "if you do XYZ no-/low-intervention thing, then you will improve your chances of having an uncomplicated birth."  No guarantees.  

 

Guarantees, as a rule, are neither scientific nor ethically supportable.

 

But I feel like I run into these sorts of arguments all the time (speaking generally now), and while I am FAR more intuitive than logical, they confuse and frustrate the logical part of my brain, such as it is.  Like in a business situation, I'll say, "well, studies show that X works 80% of the time, and here is why I think X is the best course of action, blah blah."  And people will respond, "Oh, so if I don't do X, then I'm stupid?" or "I had a friend who did X and it was a disaster for her!  There goes your theory!" And I'm kind of nonplussed.  Just because something usually works (if there's good reason to believe it does), does not mean that it always works, or works for everyone in every circumstance, or whatever.  And it certainly doesn't mean one should place all of his/her hopes on that thing, without considering how s/he will feel and what s/he will do if it doesn't work.  But on the other hand, just because there are no guarantees does not mean, to me, that it's not worthwhile to at least make an attempt to make the choice that carries the best odds.

 

I hope that doesn't sound condescending.  Just "thinking out loud."

 

I'm not suggesting anyone here "failed to take responsibility" in some way by buying into powerful ideas (societally-sanctioned or otherwise).  But I think it's been really, really important to me, personally, to see life as series of risks and rewards and decisions, none of which has a guaranteed outcome. 

post #139 of 178

Quote:

Originally Posted by buko View Post

 

I'm not suggesting anyone here "failed to take responsibility" in some way by buying into powerful ideas (societally-sanctioned or otherwise).  But I think it's been really, really important to me, personally, to see life as series of risks and rewards and decisions, none of which has a guaranteed outcome


That's the educated approach. Lots of people do not see things that way. "Well *I* did everything right (followed Brewer diet, ate fairy dust, did Hypnobabies) and things worked out well for me, so if *you* have an awful birth experience (problems breastfeeding, needy baby, etc), then it's because you didn't do the right thing".

 

It's the logic of the stupid, and there's a lot of it out there, trust me. And it's very obvious.


Edited by DoubleDouble - 3/24/12 at 11:25am
post #140 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by buko View Post

 

I find this interesting because I have never gotten this impression from "natural birth" sources-- or only rarely, or only as shorthand.  Instead, what I get is, "iatrogenic complications are usually/often the cause of such-and-so complication" or "if you do XYZ no-/low-intervention thing, then you will improve your chances of having an uncomplicated birth."  No guarantees.  

 

Guarantees, as a rule, are neither scientific nor ethically supportable.

 

But I feel like I run into these sorts of arguments all the time (speaking generally now), and while I am FAR more intuitive than logical, they confuse and frustrate the logical part of my brain, such as it is.  Like in a business situation, I'll say, "well, studies show that X works 80% of the time, and here is why I think X is the best course of action, blah blah."  And people will respond, "Oh, so if I don't do X, then I'm stupid?" or "I had a friend who did X and it was a disaster for her!  There goes your theory!" And I'm kind of nonplussed.  Just because something usually works (if there's good reason to believe it does), does not mean that it always works, or works for everyone in every circumstance, or whatever.  And it certainly doesn't mean one should place all of his/her hopes on that thing, without considering how s/he will feel and what s/he will do if it doesn't work.  But on the other hand, just because there are no guarantees does not mean, to me, that it's not worthwhile to at least make an attempt to make the choice that carries the best odds.

 

I hope that doesn't sound condescending.  Just "thinking out loud."

 

I'm not suggesting anyone here "failed to take responsibility" in some way by buying into powerful ideas (societally-sanctioned or otherwise).  But I think it's been really, really important to me, personally, to see life as series of risks and rewards and decisions, none of which has a guaranteed outcome. 


I guess I agree and disagree.  I disagree with your first paragraph because I have seen this type of language that CI Mama is putting out there all over the place.  

 

I do get as frustrated as you about the other side of your story.  I get tired of the "I breastfeed, why is my baby sick!?!?"  and have known were mad and a bit betrayed that their un-vaxed or breastfed babies got a cold.  I don't remember anyone guaranteeing that kids don't get sick in these circumstances.  It's bizarre to me, frankly, that someone could be so blinded by what they think was something they were promised.

 

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