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Dispelling the "perfect birth theory" - Page 4

post #61 of 178

nm

post #62 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

This thread is about a lot of things...one of which is how our expectations shape our birth experience.

 

And I think it's really important to understand that a woman who is processing her birth (no matter how it went) and/or coping with a trauma has a really different relationship to expectations than a woman who is preparing for a birth (especially a first birth). Birth is such a big unknown, and so for the woman preparing to birth, it makes sense to do a lot of research, learn about all the possible things that might happen during birth, understand what options will be available to her in different scenarios, etc. Putting birth in a cultural context, having a theory about how to make it the best possible birth...these are important tasks for the soon-to-be-birthing woman. It's a nice idea that we can all do this work & preparation while at the same time letting go of all expectations, but in reality I think only a few enlightened souls really have that capacity... 

 

To praise or blame ourselves or other women for our expectations & hopes is to give them a power that they don't have. Yes, there is a body-mind connection and yes how we think about birth matters. But that doesn't mean that our expectations and hopes have the power to determine the outcomes of our births. Our expectations & hopes are important because they are pieces of our stories and our stories matter. But our birth experiences are not narratives to be written by our minds.

 

As I've been processing my birth experience, I have found that the most healing and beneficial thing is just have space to tell it like it was, and to feel that my story is heard & valued. And for some reason, this is a very difficult thing for us to do in community, especially when it comes to difficult experiences.


clap.gif This is the heart of the matter.  Before my birth, I read many books on hypno and other strategies, took classes, spoke with women in my family and was overall VERY confident in my ability to control pain (I have a high tolerance anyway, practice yoga, etc.) and give birth naturally - expecting not a pain-free experience, but a natural and positive one.  I believed that my body was made to do this, that this type of birth was critical to my son's future health and development, that I had to be on my toes because the medical community was out to get me, etc. etc.  

 

I was in labor for 40+ hours.  I delayed going to the hospital for about a day and a half, staying in communication with my OB-GYN.  I was a newbie and GBS+ so when my water did break, I waited several hours and then decided to go in at the urging of my doc.

 

DH was essential in dealing with the medical staff and the onslaught of procedures/meds/etc. pushed on me.  I wanted natural - I brought my own ball, my zen music, my birth plan.  Yet I had been in labor so long without sleep that I was a little delirious.  My cervix wasn't dilating.  They broke the bag in a lower spot (my first concession) to release more fluid and try to "jumpstart" dilation.  Well, that dropped the entire baby on a shut cervix that couldn't budge and sent my pain level through the roof.  

 

I was exhausted, and this new level of pain just felt wrong.  Enter epidural (second).  Then, they said I needed pitocin (third).  THEN they finally realized it was scar tissue from my previous cervical surgeries that was halting dilation, and "broke" my cervix manually (this I would have required an epidural for anyway).  Jumped to 6 cm from 3 cm!  Enter pitocin...and more pitocin...and more (they were freaked out about the 24 hour mark - like it was the strike of midnight in Cinderella uhoh3.gif).

 

Eventually, after two tears (2nd and 3rd degree) my son arrived.  It took a long time for us to really bond.  There was no real stars-in-the-eyes, super lovey dovey moment right then.  And there were alot of tears shed during my labor, and more grief than disappointment.  I was really very upset about the whole experience for a long time.  I felt I had let myself down -  I had let my husband down - I had let my son down.  


That is my story - everyone should be encouraged to share theirs, to deal with it in their own time and their own way.  It is what it is.  Everyone deals with things differently - everyone makes some choices they like, some they regret.  We process some things quickly, others slowly.  That is life in general.  Why should birth, the very act of introducing new life, be any different?  We needn't chastise ourselves or blame others for our hopes and expectations, but we shouldn't tolerate condescension or discrimination either.  Can't we just respond with a listening ear, with kindness and respect, instead of judgment?  

 

post #63 of 178

One last note:  in the final phase as I was pushing, my contractions slowed to 7 or 8 minutes apart - which the doctors had never seen before and thought was totally weird.  Just saying, birth is as individual an experience as a fingerprint.

post #64 of 178

@DoubleDouble (can't quote the quote):  "if evolution and Mother Nature cared that much for birth success, the first menstruation would come after the age of 20, when the bones stop growing (actually pelvic bones keep growing and spreading till old age.)"

 

I have to disagree there. While I think 12 is too young for birth success in most women, it's not necessary to be as old as 20. I've known multiple women who have had their first baby at 17 (and a couple at 16), and they have, by and large, some of the best/easiest birth stories I've ever come across. And, I don't think that first menstruation is a prime time to get pregnant, anyway. That may be a biological flaw, but I still think it's true. Most women I've ever talked to had at least a few irregular cycles in the early days, and everything took a while to settle in. That doesn't suggest to me that we're really biologically meant to conceive right at puberty, yk?

 

That said, I don't think the idea that patriarchy and conditioning is the cause of childbirth pain makes any sense at all. Whenever I hear this, I can't help but wonder, if childbirth pain is all about conditioning, then how did that conditioning every get started? I do think conditioning and horror stories can make it worse (aside from anything else, people tend to tense up when they're worried, afraid, etc. and that will make the pain worse, all by itself). I do think external forces (from little things like light levels or discomfort, to induction, all the way to the extreme forms of FGM) can make also make the pain worse. But, I'm not on board with the belief some people seem to have that birth/labour pain is some kind of mental construct. (I've heard the same about menstrual cramps - mostly from men, unlike the labour pain thing, which I mostly hear from women - and it's bullshit, too.)

 

I think it's great that some people have pain-free labours. But, that doesn't mean that every woman could have one if she tried hard enough, or wanted it badly enough. (FWIW, I've only had significant amounts of labour with two of my five babies. It hurt. It hurt quite a lot. But, I don't think it was the worst pain I've ever felt and it didn't really bother me very much...except that I was exhausted with one of them, and couldn't sleep. That doesn't mean other women don't have more significant, unbearable levels of pain to deal with.)

post #65 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post


And I also wanted to say that I think it's really hypocritical that some here are insisting that women be allowed to heal from birth issues in their own way but are angered about how some have gone about doing just that. Everyone has their own way of coming to grips with things.  The OP and others have had to find their way through this mess and are just expressing what they needed to do to get past it.  For pete's sake just let them. It's not like the OP thread crashed in the birth trauma forum and told people they were being ridiculous. 

 

I just went back and re-read the OP. It wasn't about her way through the mess, or what she needed to do to get past it. It was about how other women should feel about their experiences. She was slamming her relatives for being upset about their cesareans, and then basically telling other women how to feel about their births. She touches on the fact that she has a 17 month old, and doesn't otherwise mention her birth at all.

post #66 of 178

     Quote:

Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

This thread is about a lot of things...one of which is how our expectations shape our birth experience.

 

And I think it's really important to understand that a woman who is processing her birth (no matter how it went) and/or coping with a trauma has a really different relationship to expectations than a woman who is preparing for a birth (especially a first birth). Birth is such a big unknown, and so for the woman preparing to birth, it makes sense to do a lot of research, learn about all the possible things that might happen during birth, understand what options will be available to her in different scenarios, etc. Putting birth in a cultural context, having a theory about how to make it the best possible birth...these are important tasks for the soon-to-be-birthing woman. It's a nice idea that we can all do this work & preparation while at the same time letting go of all expectations, but in reality I think only a few enlightened souls really have that capacity. We enter our labors with expectations & with hopes. That's just how it is.

 

But for many of us, perhaps most of us, birth is going to present things that we don't expect, and that's why we also have to put our faith in something, because there are unknowns and the only tool we have to face the unknown is faith. We put our faith in our caregivers or a system of care, or in our bodies, or in our belief in something bigger than ourselves to carry us through.

 

And then the birth happens. And sometimes our expectations are met & our hopes are realized & our faith appears to be rewarded. And sometimes, there is disappointment, trauma, and betrayal of faith. Sometimes we're happy, sometimes we're not. Many of us have an experience that is a jumbled up mix of things that don't necessarily make logical sense. But whatever expectations we had, they are in the past now. The birth is no longer a theoretical future thing, it is a known past thing. Our expectations ring true or they ring false. Our faith is strengthened or it is betrayed. Our relationship to those expectations has shifted, and the conversation has to shift, too.

 

To praise or blame ourselves or other women for our expectations & hopes is to give them a power that they don't have. Yes, there is a body-mind connection and yes how we think about birth matters. But that doesn't mean that our expectations and hopes have the power to determine the outcomes of our births. Our expectations & hopes are important because they are pieces of our stories and our stories matter. But our birth experiences are not narratives to be written by our minds.


My expectations absolutely affected the outcome of my births.  They did have power.  They affected decisions I made, and they affected the way I felt after.  I'm not blaming myself or other women for them.  I just think it's sad that there is this cult of ideal birth out there that gets perpetuated and that there is this cultural obsession with pregnancy and birth as made evident by all the books, TV shows, magazines, websites, seminars, classes, etc that are out there.  Of course there are financial reasons in the form of advertising revenue, book sales, fees, and so fourth to perpetuate all of this. It's hard not to get caught up in it. But not all that long ago, women had few expectations about birth and did little in the way of preparation.  There was no nine months of researching every single detail. I'm not saying I wish things would go back to the good ol' days of little to no information, but I think the pendulum has swung a bit far in the other direction.  

post #67 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

I just went back and re-read the OP. It wasn't about her way through the mess, or what she needed to do to get past it. It was about how other women should feel about their experiences. She was slamming her relatives for being upset about their cesareans, and then basically telling other women how to feel about their births. She touches on the fact that she has a 17 month old, and doesn't otherwise mention her birth at all.



Slamming?  Really?  That is not how I read it at all.  I guess we all have our own perception of things.  I thought she felt they had been sold a bill of goods and felt empathy for them. Maybe that's because that's how I feel though.  

post #68 of 178

And the OP said she had an emergency c-section. 

post #69 of 178

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.  

post #70 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post

     Quote:


My expectations absolutely affected the outcome of my births.  They did have power.  They affected decisions I made, and they affected the way I felt after.  I'm not blaming myself or other women for them.  I just think it's sad that there is this cult of ideal birth out there that gets perpetuated and that there is this cultural obsession with pregnancy and birth as made evident by all the books, TV shows, magazines, websites, seminars, classes, etc that are out there.  Of course there are financial reasons in the form of advertising revenue, book sales, fees, and so fourth to perpetuate all of this. It's hard not to get caught up in it. But not all that long ago, women had few expectations about birth and did little in the way of preparation.  There was no nine months of researching every single detail. I'm not saying I wish things would go back to the good ol' days of little to no information, but I think the pendulum has swung a bit far in the other direction.  

 

Thank you for this comment, as it makes me think more carefully about my previous statement. Like you, I feel that my decisions during labor and my recovery afterwards were very shaped by my expectations. I was sure that interventions would be the kiss of death for my labor, and so I held off for many exhausting, unproductive hours before agreeing to pitocin. And my cervix didn't open until I got an epidural, which was well past 24 hours after my labor started. I have often wondered if I had come into labor with a different mindset if I would have accepted interventions sooner and had a better shot at a vaginal birth, since I would have still had some energy left by the time I got to the pushing stage.

 

When I said earlier that our minds can't write the stories of our births, I was thinking more about the mindset that we should be able to use our brains to create specific physiological results in our bodies, something I thought I was seeing in previous posts, and I have certainly seen elsewhere on MDC. For example, the idea that by thinking in a positive way, a woman can make her cervix open or make her baby reposition itself. In a similar vein, I have seen it suggested that women should banish all negative thoughts and emotions prior to labor and should focus only on "positive" stories about birth, since the presence of "negative" thoughts (such as imagining the possibility of anything other than a peaceful vaginal birth) is enough to trick our bodies into doing something less than perfect.

 

I bought into this a bit myself. I did a lot of chanting during my labor, saying things like "I'm helping my baby" and "I can do this" over and over again. During several hours of pitocin labor with no pain medication, I chanted these positive affirmations over and over again. I think the act of making tones and modulating my breath was moderately helpful. But honestly, if I had intoned "goddam motherfucking cocksucker" I doubt the outcome would have been any different than it was. After several hours, the pain was completely unmanageable, and my body still was not responding the way that I expected it to. 

 

So, I think my views are actually not that different from yours, but I appreciate that we can keep this conversation going to move towards greater clarity.

 

I also want to add that I realize there's always the risk when talking about birth that our own personal experiences will seem universally applicable. Since I had a difficult labor and many of the strategies for achieving a natural birth didn't work for me, I am a skeptic that these are magic bullets for anyone. But perhaps it is a norm that women can control their cervixes through positive visualization and I am an outlier? Perhaps the only honest thing we can say is "we don't know." The woman whose positive birth experience seems to flow from her preparation may indeed have simply prepared better than the woman who had a rough time. But I guess my inclination is to say, "we can't know for sure."

 

 

post #71 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post



Slamming?  Really?  That is not how I read it at all.  I guess we all have our own perception of things.  I thought she felt they had been sold a bill of goods and felt empathy for them. Maybe that's because that's how I feel though.  


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lulu0910 View Post

After having my 17MO lately I've been on a "One born every minute" "baby story" don't know the name of it on Discover health about birth? kick.  In all of these and including myself (emergency C-section) all ask for the same thing drug free natural birth.  That is what we are trained to believe that we have to have.  After watching so many of these show the "perfect birth" theory just doesn't exist.  I watched my SIL and friends despair over having a c-section.  They all felt robbed of what??? Seriously what??  We are led to believe that c-sections are evil and that they are done 99 percent of the time because we have sadistic dr's that are knife happy.  So not true a doctor and a midwife are there for the baby.  Whatever way your baby comes doesn't take away from the happiness and joy you experience for the rest of your life.  Rather then push "perfect birth" push your baby will come out the way that suits him/her best. 

 

 



Maybe "slamming" is the wrong word, but I see no empathy here at all. She doesn't mention that her SIL or friends have ever mentioned wanting a perfect birth. She states as a fact that the way you have your baby doesn't take away from your happiness (ie. it didn't take away from hers), even though that's clearly not true of her SIL and friends. This is just one more person deciding that since she's okay with her c/s, and it was necessary, then everyone else should be okey, too, and that theirs were also necessary. "So not true"?? Seriously? what does that even mean? Her doctor/midwife was a good care provider, therefore every c/s that's done really is necessary? We've been "trained to believe" we have to have a perfect birth? Because....that's the only reason someone might be upset about a c-section???

 

My sister, who was, and is, all about the "epidural in the parking lot" flat out told me that she couldn't understand why I was so upset about having a c-section, and then having a second one. Then, a few weeks after dd1 was born, she had her twins, and her second one was a c-section. And, she told me it wasn't a big deal, and she still didn't understand why I was upset. And...a few months, or maybe a year, later, she told me she "wouldn't wish a c-section on my worst enemy". My mom, who had her first baby in 1963, when nobody was talking about "natural birth", and who fully expected that having a baby was going to hurt like hell, was devastated by her c/s.

 

Some people buy into the perfect birth thing, and then have a bad experience, and believing they could have a "perfect birth" makes that harder to take. I get that. That doesn't mean that's the case for everybody who has a negative birth experience.

 

Some people have c-sections that are absolutely necessary to save the baby's life, and, in some cases, the mother's life. I get that. That doesn't mean that every c-section that's done is necessary.

 

And, if having a c-section wasn't important to the OP, because the way the baby comes out doesn't take away her happiness, that's great. I get that. That doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to someone else.

 

Her entire viewpoint here is contradictory. She wanted a perfect birth, but is okay with her c-section, and the way her baby arrived doesn't take away from her happiness. So...the fact that her SIL and her friends are upset about their c-sections is because they expected perfect births? If expecting a perfect birth is the reason for being upset about a c-section, then why is the OP spouting out stuff like, "Whatever way your baby comes doesn't take away from the happiness and joy you experience for the rest of your life."? She wanted a perfect birth, and is okay...so obviously, whatever's going on with her SIL and her friends isn't just about having wanted a perfect birth, is it?

 

OP can feel whatever way she wants about it. If she wants to say, "whatever way my baby comes out doesn't take away from the happiness and joy I experience for the rest of my life", then she can have at it. Deciding why other women feel the way they feel is not even remotely a demonstration of empathy, and neither is assuming that their negative emotions are caused by the things she's assuming they're caused by.

post #72 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 disagree. A live mama and a live baby are a good goal. But, if a live mama and a live baby are "enough", then a care provider is entitled to do whatever he/she feels necessary to achieve that goal, no matter what damage it does to either the mama or the baby.

 

Mind you, I don't hear mothers trying to justify why they had a c-section. i read about it online, but I've never actually come across it in real life. The one person who went into detail about why she had her c-section, in my hearing, was a friend who had her baby 22 years ago. She was the first in our circle to have a baby, and none of us had ever really thought a lot about this stuff (me possibly more than average, simply because of my mom's scar, but even I hadn't given it much thought yet - I was a few years away from starting a family). She talked about it a lot, but she wasn't trying to justify it to anybody, because there was no pressure from anyone else about it. She was trying to cope with it, because she was devastated.

 

I think the reason this topic gets to me so much is that it drives me nuts when people perpetuate the idea that someone who is upset about being cut into, sometimes against their will, is just some spoiled, First World brat mourning a "perfect birth". I hate surgery. I had cosmetic surgery to fix a lazy eye when i was 23, and swore I'd never have surgery again, unless it was a matter of life and death. And, not a year and a half later, I was cut open, after I refused consent, for reasons nobody has ever been able to explain to me (ds1 was frank breech, but our hospital had a vaginal breech birth protocol at that time). It's effing insulting to me, and to women like me, to spout off about how women only care about c-sections, because they're living in some kind of perfect birth La-La Land.

 

I agree with your last sentence, btw. I just don't think the OP does. Her first post certainly doesn't seem to be on board.

post #73 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.  



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post


I disagree. A live mama and a live baby are a good goal. But, if a live mama and a live baby are "enough", then a care provider is entitled to do whatever he/she feels necessary to achieve that goal, no matter what damage it does to either the mama or the baby.

 

 


Perhaps we need to distinguish between a perspective that might help a grieving mother understand her experience vs. one that would be used to shape birth care.

 

Now that I'm 3+ years out from my c-section, I do have moments when I think, "I'm here, DD's here, we're alive and life has moved on. That's good." And that's a comforting thought to me. Obviously, it's not going to be a comforting thought to everyone, but it's OK if a mama arrives at that conclusion on her own and finds that it works. It's something I would never say to a mother by way of solace.

 

And I 100% agree with Storm Bride that if the "live mama/live baby" goal is a minimum standard for birth care, with no regard for many other desirable outcomes, we are all in big trouble.

post #74 of 178

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

I disagree. A live mama and a live baby are a good goal. But, if a live mama and a live baby are "enough", then a care provider is entitled to do whatever he/she feels necessary to achieve that goal, no matter what damage it does to either the mama or the baby.

 

I'm talking about this on more of an individual level not a large scale healthcare kind of level. I don't think women trying to keep things in perspective allows caregivers to do anything they want. I'm not suggesting anyone just takes what she can get as long as everyone comes out alive.  

 

 

   

      Quote

Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

Mind you, I don't hear mothers trying to justify why they had a c-section. i read about it online, but I've never actually come across it in real life. The one person who went into detail about why she had her c-section, in my hearing, was a friend who had her baby 22 years ago. She was the first in our circle to have a baby, and none of us had ever really thought a lot about this stuff (me possibly more than average, simply because of my mom's scar, but even I hadn't given it much thought yet - I was a few years away from starting a family). She talked about it a lot, but she wasn't trying to justify it to anybody, because there was no pressure from anyone else about it. She was trying to cope with it, because she was devastated.

 

And that's perfectly understandable.  I'm not saying that women can't have their own feelings about their births. I'm saying that I do hear many mothers IRL beat themselves up for things they feel they didn't do right based on some ideal standard, and I think it's unfortunate that that's what things have come to. 

 

     

      Quote

Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

I think the reason this topic gets to me so much is that it drives me nuts when people perpetuate the idea that someone who is upset about being cut into, sometimes against their will, is just some spoiled, First World brat mourning a "perfect birth". I hate surgery. I had cosmetic surgery to fix a lazy eye when i was 23, and swore I'd never have surgery again, unless it was a matter of life and death. And, not a year and a half later, I was cut open, after I refused consent, for reasons nobody has ever been able to explain to me (ds1 was frank breech, but our hospital had a vaginal breech birth protocol at that time). It's effing insulting to me, and to women like me, to spout off about how women only care about c-sections, because they're living in some kind of perfect birth La-La Land.

 

That's certainly not what I'm suggesting.

 

 

 

     Quote

Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

I agree with your last sentence, btw. I just don't think the OP does. Her first post certainly doesn't seem to be on board.

 

I think we just have a different take on the OP based on our own experiences. I see frustration, and you see judgment.  Maybe we're both wrong or the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Who knows? But I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree.  

 

 

 

edited to fix typos and add something 

 


Edited by AbbyGrant - 3/3/12 at 7:17pm
post #75 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

 

Thank you for this comment, as it makes me think more carefully about my previous statement. Like you, I feel that my decisions during labor and my recovery afterwards were very shaped by my expectations. I was sure that interventions would be the kiss of death for my labor, and so I held off for many exhausting, unproductive hours before agreeing to pitocin. And my cervix didn't open until I got an epidural, which was well past 24 hours after my labor started. I have often wondered if I had come into labor with a different mindset if I would have accepted interventions sooner and had a better shot at a vaginal birth, since I would have still had some energy left by the time I got to the pushing stage.

 

When I said earlier that our minds can't write the stories of our births, I was thinking more about the mindset that we should be able to use our brains to create specific physiological results in our bodies, something I thought I was seeing in previous posts, and I have certainly seen elsewhere on MDC. For example, the idea that by thinking in a positive way, a woman can make her cervix open or make her baby reposition itself. In a similar vein, I have seen it suggested that women should banish all negative thoughts and emotions prior to labor and should focus only on "positive" stories about birth, since the presence of "negative" thoughts (such as imagining the possibility of anything other than a peaceful vaginal birth) is enough to trick our bodies into doing something less than perfect.

 

I bought into this a bit myself. I did a lot of chanting during my labor, saying things like "I'm helping my baby" and "I can do this" over and over again. During several hours of pitocin labor with no pain medication, I chanted these positive affirmations over and over again. I think the act of making tones and modulating my breath was moderately helpful. But honestly, if I had intoned "goddam motherfucking cocksucker" I doubt the outcome would have been any different than it was. After several hours, the pain was completely unmanageable, and my body still was not responding the way that I expected it to. 

 

So, I think my views are actually not that different from yours, but I appreciate that we can keep this conversation going to move towards greater clarity.

 

I also want to add that I realize there's always the risk when talking about birth that our own personal experiences will seem universally applicable. Since I had a difficult labor and many of the strategies for achieving a natural birth didn't work for me, I am a skeptic that these are magic bullets for anyone. But perhaps it is a norm that women can control their cervixes through positive visualization and I am an outlier? Perhaps the only honest thing we can say is "we don't know." The woman whose positive birth experience seems to flow from her preparation may indeed have simply prepared better than the woman who had a rough time. But I guess my inclination is to say, "we can't know for sure."


Ah, I see where you're coming from now. Thanks for clarifying.  

 

 

 

post #76 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

When I said earlier that our minds can't write the stories of our births, I was thinking more about the mindset that we should be able to use our brains to create specific physiological results in our bodies, something I thought I was seeing in previous posts, and I have certainly seen elsewhere on MDC. For example, the idea that by thinking in a positive way, a woman can make her cervix open or make her baby reposition itself. In a similar vein, I have seen it suggested that women should banish all negative thoughts and emotions prior to labor and should focus only on "positive" stories about birth, since the presence of "negative" thoughts (such as imagining the possibility of anything other than a peaceful vaginal birth) is enough to trick our bodies into doing something less than perfect.


Absolutely yes.  I have seen this type of pressure fall also on cancer patients, where the 'power of positive thought' is supposed to be so healing that well, if you're not in remission, your thoughts must just not have been strong and positive enough.  What a burden of guilt to add to an already suffering person.

 

 

Quote:
But honestly, if I had intoned "goddam motherfucking cocksucker" I doubt the outcome would have been any different than it was.

 

Totally.  In my first birth I recall screaming "No," "I can't," "I'm not having a contraction" (I was), and "I changed my mind, I don't want a baby."  In my second I yelled "No no no!  Shit!" over and over again until she crowned, and then I screamed "Oh no, get back in there, that hurts!"  Yeah, not my proudest moments.  If birth outcomes depended on chanting positive, calming thoughts I'd be in trouble.
 

post #77 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

 

I bought into this a bit myself. I did a lot of chanting during my labor, saying things like "I'm helping my baby" and "I can do this" over and over again. During several hours of pitocin labor with no pain medication, I chanted these positive affirmations over and over again. I think the act of making tones and modulating my breath was moderately helpful. But honestly, if I had intoned "goddam motherfucking cocksucker" I doubt the outcome would have been any different than it was. After several hours, the pain was completely unmanageable, and my body still was not responding the way that I expected it to. 

 

I actually missed this the first time I read this post. I love it!

 

I also want to add that I realize there's always the risk when talking about birth that our own personal experiences will seem universally applicable. Since I had a difficult labor and many of the strategies for achieving a natural birth didn't work for me, I am a skeptic that these are magic bullets for anyone. But perhaps it is a norm that women can control their cervixes through positive visualization and I am an outlier? Perhaps the only honest thing we can say is "we don't know." The woman whose positive birth experience seems to flow from her preparation may indeed have simply prepared better than the woman who had a rough time. But I guess my inclination is to say, "we can't know for sure."

 

The other thing that the positive thinking approach overlooks is that there are two people involved in a labour and birth. I was positive, excited, handling labour well, etc. etc. etc...but my little boy wasn't involved in all that. There really wasn't much my positive thinking was going to do about a vertex baby turning breech during labour, yk? (I'm not at all surprised he ended up doing gymnastics, since he as practicing before he was even born!) I don't know what was going on with him, but he very definitely wasn't going to stay head down, no matter how positive I was about labour and birth.



 

post #78 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

 

I also want to add that I realize there's always the risk when talking about birth that our own personal experiences will seem universally applicable. Since I had a difficult labor and many of the strategies for achieving a natural birth didn't work for me, I am a skeptic that these are magic bullets for anyone. But perhaps it is a norm that women can control their cervixes through positive visualization and I am an outlier? Perhaps the only honest thing we can say is "we don't know." The woman whose positive birth experience seems to flow from her preparation may indeed have simply prepared better than the woman who had a rough time. But I guess my inclination is to say, "we can't know for sure."


I think this is very honest and rings true.  I think the tone of this thread has turned into the "preparing for a positive, natural birth totally DOES work and works out beautifully" camp vs. "preparing for natural birth sets women up for failure and is an illusion" camp, and I think that is missing the point.  When we say one or the other, we are letting our personal experience cloud the conversation - in the EXACT same way the OP did, when she posted seeking consensus that she could rubber stamp all of her friends experiences in the same color as her own.


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

Some people buy into the perfect birth thing, and then have a bad experience, and believing they could have a "perfect birth" makes that harder to take. I get that. That doesn't mean that's the case for everybody who has a negative birth experience.

 

Some people have c-sections that are absolutely necessary to save the baby's life, and, in some cases, the mother's life. I get that. That doesn't mean that every c-section that's done is necessary.

 

And, if having a c-section wasn't important to the OP, because the way the baby comes out doesn't take away her happiness, that's great. I get that. That doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to someone else...

 

OP can feel whatever way she wants about it. If she wants to say, "whatever way my baby comes out doesn't take away from the happiness and joy I experience for the rest of my life", then she can have at it. Deciding why other women feel the way they feel is not even remotely a demonstration of empathy, and neither is assuming that their negative emotions are caused by the things she's assuming they're caused by.

 


Every woman is entitled to her own hopes and expectations, her own preparations, her own feelings after the fact, and an endless combination of reasons for them.  Making generalizations in order to validate your own experience (which is what I feel OP was doing) is impossibly misguided.  There is no need to stuff all the square pegs around you into a round hole, just because that's your shape.  We could learn alot more just by listening to each other, supporting each other, and celebrating the diversity of experiences (which we will realize could have easily been our own, if we take our ego out of it).

 

 

post #79 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

Mind you, I don't hear mothers trying to justify why they had a c-section. i read about it online, but I've never actually come across it in real life. The one person who went into detail about why she had her c-section, in my hearing, was a friend who had her baby 22 years ago. She was the first in our circle to have a baby, and none of us had ever really thought a lot about this stuff (me possibly more than average, simply because of my mom's scar, but even I hadn't given it much thought yet - I was a few years away from starting a family). She talked about it a lot, but she wasn't trying to justify it to anybody, because there was no pressure from anyone else about it. She was trying to cope with it, because she was devastated.


For example, I find this very interesting.  Personally, I have felt the impulse myself to justify every medical intervention in my labor, and have many friends who have done the same (for everything from c-sections to epidurals to pitocin).  Some of these were medically unavoidable, some were personal choices, for reasons such as pain relief.  And you're right, for me, part of that is coping with it and forgiving myself - but part of the reason I feel the need to forgive myself is from perceived pressure from the "how natural was YOUR birth" pissing contest - part of it is feeling like I didn't handle the situation to the best of my ability, part of it is any effect it may have had on my son, etc.  Just goes to show how differently women process things - like I said before, we need to respect the diversity instead of trying to pigeonhole everyone.

post #80 of 178
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Edited by AbbyGrant - 6/23/12 at 10:49am
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