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post #41 of 106
Let's please focus on the OP's intent: to discuss the term vaginal vs. normal. We're not debating a c/s being birth.

Please be sensitive to others and kindly consider the words we post before pressing reply in an effort to avoid further hurt feelings. Thanks so much

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post #42 of 106
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Let's please focus on the OP's intent: to discuss the term vaginal vs. normal. We're not debating a c/s being birth.
With respect, I think it follows unavoidably. If vaginal birth = "normal" birth, what is a CS?
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Originally Posted by nurturedbirth View Post
From a statistical perspective, "normal" is whatever falls within a range around the middle of the bell curve.
That's the very issue that a lot of childbirth writers and activists have tried to deal with, making the distinction between "normal" and "typical." In some communities, this would mean that a CS is a normal birth, because it's the most usual.

I feel that calling vaginal birth "normal birth" is a kind of political statement. It's in direct opposition to doctors who refer to "birth from below" and "birth from above" as if women were made to give birth from two possible exit routes, neither one more natural than the other. I don't think we should buy into that line of thinking, verbally or otherwise. What sense does it make to say things like "birth is a normal physiological function" if the definition of birth includes major surgery? Is a coronary bypass one of the normal functions of the circulatory system?
We need to use terminology that encourages the idea that pregnancy and birth are normal functions of the female body.
post #43 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
We need to use terminology that encourages the idea that pregnancy and birth are normal functions of the female body.
YES!

In thinking more about this, it's a bit like the lactivist movement to relanguage how we refer to breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding. For many years, it was "breast is best." The inference many people made was "but formula is fine." And people are OK with being fine, and an entire generation of babies were fed formula. By referring to breastfeeding as "normal," you by default make formula "sub-par" or "inferior."

I think this thread has touched a nerve: C-section mamas don't want to feel inferior, and by using the term "normal birth" it creates the idea that C-birth is sub-par. Please do not think that by talking about this I am bashing mamas who've had C-sections. I know they are sometimes necessary.

But they are not necessary 30% of the time. I wonder if there were a shift in language, instead of calling it "vaginal" (which people don't even like to say in mixed company) we called it "normal" -- I wonder if it would shift the perception of the general public.
post #44 of 106
What is with this whole "my experience far surpasses your experience which scarcely deserves to be even called an experience" tone here?


Look throughout the MDC community and you will find parents and families striving to treat their children gently, with dignity and respect. "Celebrate diversity", we say, "We are all unique!" Why does the sme standard not apply when communicating with each other?

My child would not have survived BIRTH without medical intervention. I guess the natural, normal thing to do would have been to allow him to succomb? Not gonna happen. So he was born with assistance, unnaturally alive, not naturally dead.

You see, the thing is that I wanted a child more than a "natural" birth. Nature isn't the be all and end all of everything. It doesn't always work out the way we want. I would rather be paying my medical bills and thanking the staff who undertook these unnatural procedures than visiting my child's grave.

Maybe you've never thought about it like that before. Be gentle and respectful with your opinions because real live people are at the other end of your key strokes.

My child was born.

My son's birth was the most moving experience of my life to that point. It wasn't the way I thought it was going to be, but it was nothing short of amazing.
post #45 of 106
I asked, gently, that we not debate whether or not a c/s is a birth. It's hurtful and offensive to many members of this community, and we don't wish to go any further debating the issue on this thread.
post #46 of 106
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Originally Posted by mumto2 View Post
Ummm... if a baby is born, it's a birth.

Sure, a c/s may be a surgical procedure to deliver a baby, but it's still a birth of a child.

So my dd was not born, she was ...... surgicalated???
Gah! Gimme a break!
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Originally Posted by felix23 View Post
Wow: So, my dd wasn't born? Should we start having surgery days instead of birthdays?! I gave birth, even if it was with the help of a c-section.
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Originally Posted by intorainbowz View Post
I know some people who had c/s do not call them "births". That is fine for them, as that is their experience they are describing and they are entitled to use whatever language they choose.

For me, and MANY mothers who gave BIRTH by c/s, we do consider it a birth. I find the implication that a c/s is not a birth offensive and dismissive of my life experience. Not to mention what that means for my baby if people don't consider her having been "birthed".

I gave birth. Life came from my body. Period.

So if we are watching our language, please remember that for most women and society as a whole, a c/s is a BIRTH first and formost.
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Originally Posted by chinaKat View Post
Sigh. I'm really starting to hate MDC.

Those of you who sit around smugly thinking that an unmedicated birth that took place outside of a hospital was somehow more normal or natural than my unmedicated birth that took place in a hospital, I hope you feel good about yourselves for belittling my birth. Really, I do.

And those of you who actually announce that a c-section isn't a birth at all, well, you really ought to be proud of yourselves. That thought, as unwelcome as it is, will surely be in my mind in the next few weeks as I undergo my non-elective c-section. Can't wait for that warm and fuzzy feeling.

You are creating a closed community here that does not feel welcoming at all. I hope you and your Vastly Superior Births enjoy it.

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Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
With respect, I think it follows unavoidably. If vaginal birth = "normal" birth, what is a CS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mumto2 View Post
What is with this whole "my experience far surpasses your experience which scarcely deserves to be even called an experience" tone here?


Look throughout the MDC community and you will find parents and families striving to treat their children gently, with dignity and respect. "Celebrate diversity", we say, "We are all unique!" Why does the sme standard not apply when communicating with each other?

My child would not have survived BIRTH without medical intervention. I guess the natural, normal thing to do would have been to allow him to succomb? Not gonna happen. So he was born with assistance, unnaturally alive, not naturally dead.

You see, the thing is that I wanted a child more than a "natural" birth. Nature isn't the be all and end all of everything. It doesn't always work out the way we want. I would rather be paying my medical bills and thanking the staff who undertook these unnatural procedures than visiting my child's grave.

Maybe you've never thought about it like that before. Be gentle and respectful with your opinions because real live people are at the other end of your key strokes.

My child was born.

My son's birth was the most moving experience of my life to that point. It wasn't the way I thought it was going to be, but it was nothing short of amazing.
big ditto to all of the above.
i think the very questioning of whether vaginal births should be called "normal" posits an underlying assumption that those of us who've had c/sections face all the time here, that we are somehow "lesser" members/mothers because our vaginas weren't the final exit location of our children. why can't it just be a birth? do we really need to add an offensive label to an already loaded word?
post #47 of 106
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Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
I understand what you're saying, and of course I don't think any differently of DS#2 because he was delivered by CS, and of course we celebrate his birthday, not his "surgery day." I don't mean to dismiss anyone's experience. Still, it seems to me that categorizing Cesarean surgery as "birth" is buying into the medical attitude that there's no difference between the process of birth and a surgical procedure.
I went through labour and birth for my first two children. My third couldn't be born without very likely dying in the process. The surgery was done in order to bypass birth. It probably saved his life, and I'm grateful for it, but the operation wasn't a birth, according to any reasonable definition I can think of. To equate them seems extremely disrepectful of the nature of birth itself.

I believe that the insistence upon referring to a c-section as a "birth" somewhat subverts medical attitudes. I have never heard a "mainstream" doctor or nurse call a c-section a birth of any kind; in my experience it is MOTHERS who insist upon claiming their birthing experience. To equate THAT with "buying into the medical attitude" is incredibly disrespectful.
post #48 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
Although I use "vaginal birth" I'm not entirely happy with it. It implies that there's another kind of birth that's not vaginal. To me, "birth" means the baby comes out the vagina. Otherwise, it's not birth, it's a surgical procedure.
My son was born. A surgical procedure was involved, but he was born as surely as anyone is. This kind of "it's not a birth" statement applied to one of his most significant life experiences just chaps me up and down. No one has a right to take the name of that experience from him.
post #49 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sophiekat View Post


i think the very questioning of whether vaginal births should be called "normal" posits an underlying assumption that those of us who've had c/sections face all the time here, that we are somehow "lesser" members/mothers because our vaginas weren't the final exit location of our children. why can't it just be a birth? do we really need to add an offensive label to an already loaded word?
For me, it's not about being a lesser person or a lesser mother. I've tried to make it clear that I don't feel that way. I do understand that C-sections are sometimes necessary, and everything should be done to make that experience empowering and wonderful for mothers. I know many mothers thank God C-sections are available.

But we're moving toward a point where 1/3 of women in North America give birth surgically. I think it's sad that so many women are viewing major surgery as the "normal" way to give birth. The stats are clear that mothers and babies are put at greater risk when babies are delivered via C-section. In some cases, the benefit outweighs that risk. In many, it does not. There are also many mothers here who view their C-sections as forced, unnecessary, scarring procedures.

Surgery is not a normal birth. Nature clearly intended another way, and I think it's time women reclaim that.

Please read my previous disclaimers before getting up in arms.
post #50 of 106
A baby born by c/s is still a baby, and is no different from a child who was born vaginally. Can you tell by looking? I can't.

I think it is a little silly to put ALL the weight on the last bit of the baby-creation experience. What makes a woman a mother is the WHOLE DEAL, including the whole pregnancy, every bit of birth, and all the years of caring for and raising the child. Why put so much emphasis on those few minutes?

Understandably, we want to talk about c/s with an eye to reducing unnecessary ones, because they are very traumatic and better avoided if possible. But the reason to avoid a c/s is not because "if i have a c/s i won't technically have born this baby and therefore I am not officially a mother." It is ridiculous to look at it that way when being a mother means so much more than just that little bit of the experience.
post #51 of 106
Thread Starter 
Leigh, can I ask what prompted your response? Was it something earlier in the thread? Because my last posts have very clearly stated that this is not about what makes someone a mother or whether or not C-sections are births. The mod has also asked that we get back to the topic at hand, which is about the word "normal" instead of "vaginal."
post #52 of 106
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Originally Posted by MsElle07 View Post
Leigh, can I ask what prompted your response? Was it something earlier in the thread? Because my last posts have very clearly stated that this is not about what makes someone a mother or whether or not C-sections are births. The mod has also asked that we get back to the topic at hand, which is about the word "normal" instead of "vaginal."
Ok, I'll give it a try.

"Natural" would identify more with the process of nature, while "normal" is identified by cultural standards.

Normal is a very subjective word, as the last three pages have clearly indicated. In the 1950's it was "normal" to be knocked unconscious while the father stood outside in the hallway waiting to see a nurse carrying his baby away to the nursery.
Today, women are asked to lie on their backs to labor and deliver, and I find that not only very uncomfortable (painful, let's be honest! I did this so I know!) but definitely not natural. Yet, it's considered normal.
I could insert here many examples of what a certain culture or society collectively finds normal that would generate myriad differing, emotional opinions.

SO -- It seems to me that with one-third to nearly half of all births resulting from c-section, there is a need to differentiate between the two methods. So, in that respect, I prefer the term "vaginal" to describe a birth during which the baby was born through the vaginal canal.

"Normal" is far too subjective. "Natural" has no clear definition any more. But since I've arrived at this, I would gently offer up that "natural" could mean unaided. Then again, unaided by what? Perhaps that demands another thread altogether.
post #53 of 106
Personally, if we are going to make "political" statements by using specific nomenclature to describe birth... I'd like to start with making the word VAGINAL a word we can all use proudly and comfortably in conversation... no matter the type of birth one has had.
post #54 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsElle07 View Post
Leigh, can I ask what prompted your response? Was it something earlier in the thread? Because my last posts have very clearly stated that this is not about what makes someone a mother or whether or not C-sections are births. The mod has also asked that we get back to the topic at hand, which is about the word "normal" instead of "vaginal."
I just don't like the idea of anyone feeling like they are less of a mother because they had a c/s. It is still such a wonderful and miraculous thing to have made a baby. It was really saddening me that there are so many women whose mothering experience is somehow contaminated by negative feelings about that one aspect.

I know the mod said to stop talking about it, but there were several posts after that where some were still expressing feeling bad about having a c/s, and I guess I was trying to be comforting. Sorry if i contributed to the off-topicness.

I just want every mother to have the opportunity to feel pure and uninterrupted joy about their baby!
post #55 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaKat View Post
Personally, if we are going to make "political" statements by using specific nomenclature to describe birth... I'd like to start with making the word VAGINAL a word we can all use proudly and comfortably in conversation... no matter the type of birth one has had.
AMEN sister!
post #56 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaKat View Post
Personally, if we are going to make "political" statements by using specific nomenclature to describe birth... I'd like to start with making the word VAGINAL a word we can all use proudly and comfortably in conversation... no matter the type of birth one has had.
I hear you. I don't agree that "normal" is a political term, but do think we should work to make "vaginal" a term people can use more freely.
post #57 of 106
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I just want every mother to have the opportunity to feel pure and uninterrupted joy about their baby!
Everyone does, I'm sure, but a lot of women are delighted with their babies and mad as hell about the way their birth was handled. There's no contradiction there. You aren't a bad mother just because you're furious about the huge episiotomy you didn't want but got anyway, or whatever.
Why does it keep coming back to "Are you saying I'm a bad mother because I gave birth such-and-such a way?" If we can't try to improve maternity care without all women taking it as a personal attack on their mothering skills, we might as well give up now.

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Originally Posted by AuntG View Post
Normal is a very subjective word
(SKIP)
I could insert here many examples of what a certain culture or society collectively finds normal that would generate myriad differing, emotional opinions.
I think "normal" could be used in a different way here, without referring to cultural practices. We're talking about a physical function - the way human beings reproduce. Everyone understands when we talk about normal kidney function, as opposed to being on a dialysis machine. That's because we accept that people have kidneys, they have a normal function, and we know when they are or are not doing what they're supposed to. There's no competition involved, and no moral judgements.
I think we don't talk about childbirth the same way simply because we, as a society, don't really believe that birth is normal.
post #58 of 106
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Originally Posted by nurturedbirth View Post
I don't think I ever use the terms natural or normal in reference to birth. From a statistical perspective, "normal" is whatever falls within a range around the middle of the bell curve. Colloquially, "normal" is that which is usual and most acceptable, and in birth, in our society, those two definitions seem mutually exclusive to me.
Agreed and it doesn't really have anything to do with vaginal either because technically from a birthing perspective c-sections could fall into the middle of the bell curve. Unless you seperate them out from vaginal births. If you do that then why make any distinction of normal at all from the word vaginal since vaginal would be assumed.

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"Natural" I don't like because it's vague, as people define it so differently so others probably wouldn't even know for sure what I'm talking about, and because even in it's most commonly-used form, i.e. without pain medication, I've seen a lot of births without pain meds that I do not feel were anything close to the way Nature (evolution, God for those who are inclined to faith, physiology, what have you) has built our bodies to birth.

Basically I think that both words do a poor job of explaining what the speaker (or writer) actually means, so I avoid using them altogether.
post #59 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaKat View Post
Personally, if we are going to make "political" statements by using specific nomenclature to describe birth... I'd like to start with making the word VAGINAL a word we can all use proudly and comfortably in conversation... no matter the type of birth one has had.
It is amazing the number of nick names we have for a body part because we feel uncomfortable calling it a vagina.
post #60 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
Everyone does, I'm sure, but a lot of women are delighted with their babies and mad as hell about the way their birth was handled. There's no contradiction there. You aren't a bad mother just because you're furious about the huge episiotomy you didn't want but got anyway, or whatever.
Why does it keep coming back to "Are you saying I'm a bad mother because I gave birth such-and-such a way?" If we can't try to improve maternity care without all women taking it as a personal attack on their mothering skills, we might as well give up now.


I think "normal" could be used in a different way here, without referring to cultural practices. We're talking about a physical function - the way human beings reproduce. Everyone understands when we talk about normal kidney function, as opposed to being on a dialysis machine. That's because we accept that people have kidneys, they have a normal function, and we know when they are or are not doing what they're supposed to. There's no competition involved, and no moral judgements.
I think we don't talk about childbirth the same way simply because we, as a society, don't really believe that birth is normal.
Yes. It is not a normal physiologic function to have surgery to give birth. Within Normal Limits (WNL) is an often used term in medicine and midwifery. There's nothing political about it.
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