Dispelling the "perfect birth theory" - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 178 Old 02-19-2012, 10:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by DoubleDouble View Post

 

Some complaints I've seen are quite an eye-opener - for example, complaining that the pain in childbirth was awful, even though she did the Hypnobabies class. There wasn't supposed to be any pain, not with Hypnobabies! I just don't get it. Another story mentioned how the future mother was so sure that she could birth her baby, naturally, she hasn't been more sure about anything in here life - and then she needed a cesarean. I know people tend to be optimistic when it comes to their health and safety, but how can anyone have such 100% certainty, far in advance, that they can birth a baby on their own?

 

 


I completely agree that some people perpetuate an unrealistic idea of childbirth, creating a disappointment for women who don't have the 'perfect' birth. I'd like to say that in the case of someone who took a Hypnobabies class and expected a completely pain free birth, they had the wrong idea about Hypnobabies.  Hypnobabies does NOT promise a painless perfect birth.  Some women do have that experience using Hypnobabies hypnosis but Hypnobabies instructors and the Home Study materials are VERY clear that is not the goal.  The idea is to have an enjoyable, comfortable birth and to be educated enough to make the best decisions for your family before, during, and after your birthing.


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#32 of 178 Old 02-19-2012, 10:13 AM
 
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My grandmother burst my "perfect birth" bubble.  She told me that even though I expected it to be perfect and wonderful... prepare for swearing, fear, anger and extreme pain.  Thanks granny.  But she was honest and she was right.  All the other moms I knew that told me what a beautiful experience it would and even colored breastfeeding like it was the easiest thing on the planet.  They were quick to point out I was messing it all up when I got mastitis within two weeks and happy to tell me to get over it.  It's been years and I'm still pissed at the one friend who chastised me for my problems with DD1. 

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#33 of 178 Old 02-20-2012, 06:04 AM
 
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I'm pregnant now and this discussion has been helpful.  I really appreciate reading people's stories.  So maybe we should say birth is part luck and part accomplishment?  Some well-prepared, well-read people with lots of inner strength aren't able to have a "natural" birth without luck... some of these women have not-the-greatest luck during birth and still manage to soldier on, stay determined, and get their natural birth (what an amazing accomplishment!).  And without doing the advance reading, classes, healthy lifestyle, and inner work, some otherwise lucky people may not be prepared enough to go all the way though a natural birth... but some do (what amazing luck!).  Just because luck plays such an important role, doesn't mean we shouldn't hope for a "perfect birth" (whatever that might mean to you) or work hard preparing, reading, taking classes, being healthy, finding the best birth team, and doing the inner work to get it. 

 

Someone mentioned that it's not wise to set your expectations so high that you'll set yourself up for deep disappointment.  And I agree - it's not healthy to have ridiculous expectations, ignoring the many possibilities that things won't go your way.  But it's equally unhealthy to work toward and hope for something, and then when it doesn't happen, dismiss it without feeling disappointment or going through a healing process.  I think both of these situations are unhealthy.

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#34 of 178 Old 02-20-2012, 07:55 AM
 
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I think that birth can still be 'perfect' although it was imperfect.

 

My last two births - UC's - one was a 42 hour labor w/ a posterior baby. One was a 41 hour labor w/ a nearly 10 lb baby.  They were HARD and I definitely would have preferred not to have such lengthy labors, and positioning issues, but I still consider them perfect, even in their imperfection.

 

If YOU are happy w/ your birth, excellent!  And if you weren't, that's ok too.  Do what you need to do to be at peace.


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#35 of 178 Old 02-20-2012, 02:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DoubleDouble View Post
Perfect birth is such a lofty goal, such a high pedestal, and falling down from it will surely be painful! Why are people setting themselves up for such disappointment?

 



OK, I know that you are asking this as a rhetorical question, but I thought I'd answer for myself.

 

I don't feel like I was one of those who expected a perfect birth...in fact, there were plenty of reasons to believe that my birth wouldn't be perfect. I was an "old" mom who had had trouble conceiving, and I was planning a hospital birth, which I didn't consider "ideal" but it was what was do-able for me...so I expected that perhaps some interventions might be necessary, and I had an idea that a c-section wasn't out of the question. I just knew that I would give everything I had to a natural labor, and I figured that would sort of innoculate me against disappointment if I had a c-section...I would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I "tried my best."

 

What I learned is that being prepared for "less than perfect" in the abstract is one thing; having a long, grueling labor is another. I had no way to know what it would feel like to spend hour after hour with painful contractions and vomiting, but no progress in my labor. I had no way to prepare myself for the surreal feeling of beginning my second night in labor and still not really knowing what was going on that was making things so difficult and taking so long. And I certainly had no concept that by "giving it all" to my labor, I would have nothing left for my recovery.

 

My physical recovery was in many ways worse than the labor & c-section. I was so exhausted & depleted...I didn't really recognize myself. All my coping mechanisms were completely exhausted. I really could handle very, very little. My support network would have been just fine if I'd had a "normal" labor & delivery; it was completely inadequate to handle the degree of dependence that I experienced after my birth. And I was joyful that my daughter had arrived, but I almost didn't have the physical capacity to express that joy. It was more of a conceptual joy. I don't really know how to explain it.

 

What I discovered in my recovery was that trying to find a perfect zen "acceptance" of my situation was just another impossible ideal that I couldn't live up to. I really felt like s**t and it felt more honest and more healing to just say, "this sucks & I feel like s**t" than to berate myself for not being more "at peace" with my disappointment. In fact, a recurring theme for me during the past 3 years is giving up on the notion that there is one perfect way to do this...and by "this" I mean, birth, parenting, and integrating a tough experience into my life. My labor had it's own time frame and it's own trajectory, and my recovery is the same. I might wish that things would progress faster and look more pleasant from the outside, but the real healing seems to happen in the moments when I can be honest about things, even when they are ugly & unpleasant.

 

And I've also had to forgive myself for not knowing more than I know when I know it. I wasn't trying to set myself up for a train wreck, but a train wreck is what I got. I have to forgive myself for that every day.

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#36 of 178 Old 02-21-2012, 10:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Babydoll1285 View Post


I completely agree that some people perpetuate an unrealistic idea of childbirth, creating a disappointment for women who don't have the 'perfect' birth. I'd like to say that in the case of someone who took a Hypnobabies class and expected a completely pain free birth, they had the wrong idea about Hypnobabies.  Hypnobabies does NOT promise a painless perfect birth.  Some women do have that experience using Hypnobabies hypnosis but Hypnobabies instructors and the Home Study materials are VERY clear that is not the goal.  The idea is to have an enjoyable, comfortable birth and to be educated enough to make the best decisions for your family before, during, and after your birthing.


This is a good point. I think perhaps the confusion comes from how we each interpret "enjoyable, comfortable" birth. If I had invested in a method that I believed was going to lead to a "enjoyable, comfortable" birth, I would assume that while there might be pain, even significant pain, I wouldn't expect excruciating pain, so I might be surprised if that's what I got. And "education to make the best decisions" would seem to me to be incongruous with "a feeling of total loss of control of my body and the laboring process." So yes, I would be surprised if I expected to have an enjoyable, comfortable experience where I would be empowered to make good decisions, and instead got an experience where I experienced mind-boggling pain and a feeling of total loss of control.

 

Obviously, if a woman expects her Hypnobabies training to lead to an entirely pain-free birth, she's misinterpreted the program and is setting herself up for disappointment. But she might have a completely reasonable expectation and still be surprised/disappointed. Some births are just like that.

 


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#37 of 178 Old 02-22-2012, 08:43 AM
 
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I don't understand this 'enjoyable, comfortable birth' thing. I've been exceedingly lucky and had 'quick, easy' no complication homebirths. While I will admit they were quick, easy they were not! Stuff coming out of both ends that's not a baby, horrible burning, cramping, churning, turning you inside out pains, being torn in two from the inside out, screaming, people making stupid (to me at the time) comments, hyperventilating, etc. What's ideal about that? Birth is painful, exhausting and would be humiliating if you weren't so dang tired, preoccupied and in pain you didn't care. I have to psych myself up, every time before getting pregnant and I go into every labor with extreme trepidation.

 

I have a small farm and see plenty of 'natural' births. They don't always go well and I've never seen a painless one. This thing about our bodies being made to give birth annoys me no end. Yes we were, but we were also made to walk, breathe, the heart to beat, etc. Sometimes those things don't work right. You don't see most people telling someone to man up and have faith in their body during a heart attack

 

To me, an ideal birth is one where mother and baby both come out the other end, no matter how they get there.

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#38 of 178 Old 02-22-2012, 08:02 PM
 
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I have had 3 very different births, all resulting in delightfully healthy babies and mom.

 

After each experience, there is one thing I recognize that lets me be at peace with them.....owning the decisions made regarding my birth, and feeling like I had the knowledge to be confident in those decisions. 

 

My first birth was spontaneous, no pain meds, no augmentation, nothing. I was 20 yr old and not nearly as educated as I am not. While I was pushing, my OB mutter "going to make a little cut and help you out" as I was in my own world, but an episiotomy without further discussion and I had a handful of stitches, and that was that. 

 

My second was 8 yr later. I had a great OB that was very pro natural birth and supported me. I was GBS+, water broken, almost 36 hr later I had no contractions.  After much research, that was my comfort level to go time stamp myself at the hospital.   OB had us do every natural induction method possible. FInally she gave me the option of trying a little pit to see if we can get my body going, keep waiting, knowing if we hit 24 hr and nothing happened we may look at csec. We ended up with pit, still took 9 hr to start contraction, and I pushed out my 9lb baby without pain meds of other intervention.

 

My third was a walk in the park. Went to hospital at 8cm, pushed her out, no anything, home next day.

 

In hind sight, although my 2nd labor had more intervention, I was happy with that because I felt like I owned every decision I made. I had the knowledge and did what I was comfortable with.  My first, which was intervention free other than the episiotomy, I felt robbed and bitter, because I didn't have a say and felt kind of out of control.

 

Everyone is different, but I think when women are empowered with knowledge to make decisions and ask the questions to their care providers that they need to, in order to feel like they own the decisions, then there tends to me less mourning the "perfect birth experience" if it doesn't happen.

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#39 of 178 Old 02-27-2012, 08:30 AM
 
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ITA.  I think the sense of a loss of control can be one of the greatest harbingers of disappointment about the birth, regardless of how everything ultimately turns out or what was planned for or idealized.


dizzy.gif DS1: 10/89 - DD1: 06/94 - DD2: 02/97 - DS2: 12/05 - DS3: 12/08 - DC6: ETA 04/26/12

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#40 of 178 Old 02-27-2012, 12:56 PM
 
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The only type of perfect birth to me is the one that end with healthy mom and baby.  The rest is cherry on top. The rest is the privilege of First World  spoiled citizens.


 

While I see what you're saying and I too agree that the healthy mom and baby is paramount, I think that the birth experience is still more than just the cherry on top. The "birth trauma is a first world problem" argument doesn't work for me. Obesity is a first world problem. Does that mean it doesn't still cause disability, disease, and sometimes crushing depression due to social pressures? No. Just because people in the first world have the privilege of not having to worry about starving to death in the next famine doesn't mean that they don't have real problems due to a messed up food culture. In the same way, first world women have the privilege of having a very small likelihood of dying in childbirth; this doesn't mean that they do not have problems that arise due to a messed up birth culture. If anything, I think it is appalling that, with all of the resources available in the first world, so many women still feel so strongly that they were violated or disrespected in their births. While some of that comes from inflated, unrealistic expectations of natural birth, I have also read many, many stories from women who went into birth with no expectations, only to have terrible experiences under hospital care that later led them to question the prevalent hospital birth norms. There is no excuse for this, given the resources that we are so privileged to have. And those women are part of the reason why things have improved a lot in many hospitals in respect to how women are treated.

 

I personally had a long, mild labor of 37 hours. I called the hospital twice during that time; they asked if the baby was moving (she was), and told me to come in when I couldn't manage with the pain any longer. Well, I realized in transition that if we didn't leave immediately we wouldn't make it. I got to the hospital fully dilated and pushed the baby out easily standing by the bed. I had a couple small tears. I wouldn't say this was due to luck - after all, the majority of young, healthy women with low-risk pregnancies do have uneventful vaginal births - nor do I chalk it up to virtue on my part, for the same reason. 

 

Then 15 minutes later my placenta came out and I hemorrhaged. Since part of the bleeding was coming from my cervix, they had to put me under general anesthesia for a couple hours so they could stitch it up. I left DD with DH, in a big hurry. I did not feel traumatized in the least by this experience, because all of the very competent medical staff were talking to me, telling me what was going on and asking for my consent for various things the whole time between when I started hemorrhaging and when they put me under. Had they ignored me and whisked me off without explanation or engaging with me, well, I would still be alive and I would be grateful for that, but I am positive that the experience would have been overall highly traumatic. In fact, the only thing about the birth that left a bad taste in my mouth was when the midwife lied and manipulated me to get me to go along with her postpartum routine (this was before I there was any sign that I would bleed) rather than engaging with me and respecting my wishes as a rational adult in a non-emergent situation. The point of all this is that medical procedures themselves are not traumatic; it is how they are applied, how the staff treats you when they are carrying them out. Human dignity is a real thing, and respecting it is paramount, even (or particularly) during sensitive, life-and-death events like childbirth. I think many of the women who experience trauma from their births feel that they were not listened to or respected. And, from my own experience with a serious complication requiring urgent care, it is perfectly possible to respect and engage the woman at the same time as carrying out lifesaving procedures.

 

I think it's sad that a respectful, positive birth experience is considered a privilege by many. Obviously birth cannot be planned, it isn't a comfortable thing, and many women hate it. That doesn't mean that there aren't things that can increase the likelihood (NOT guarantee) of a more positive birth experience. No woman should be made to feel bad about how she birthed, or how she felt about it. And yes, in the end, the birth is but a tiny moment in your life as a parent relating to your child. But women who do feel bad about what happened in their births should not be silenced with the "oh, you spoiled westerner, why aren't you just happy that your baby is alive?" line. In the same way, most people would agree that first world women are justified in complaining about workplace discrimination, even though women in many parts of the world have no legal rights whatsoever and are clearly much worse off. Depression from a birth experience perceived as traumatic is real, and has real consequences for the parent-child relationship. Women who experience that should be allowed to talk about their personal experience in public, including sharing things that they think would help prevent such traumatic experiences, without being accused of making other people feel like their birth wasn't good enough.

 

We aren't confined to the massively inadequate resources that result in so much preventable tragedy in the third world. We have no excuse to content ourselves with the bottom line, which is life for the mother and baby. We have overwhelmingly achieved that goal in the first world. "Sucking it up" and repressing real hurts while labeling them as self-indulgent or whiny does nothing to help the women suffering in poorer countries. There is absolutely room for women to evaluate and sometimes mourn their birth experiences *if that is how they feel*. For some women, that comes with a rejection of the natural birth paradigm; for others, it comes with a rejection of the medicalized birth paradigm. We are lucky enough to have the space to be able to do that, and we should not feel guilty about taking full advantage of this glorious, unprecedented luxury which is relative safety through life events like birth.


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#41 of 178 Old 02-28-2012, 12:39 PM
 
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I'm joining the discussion late, but there are a few things that concern me.

 

The OP mentioned watching reality tv birthing shows as contributing to her thought that the perfect birth isn't possible. I've watched some of these same programs recently, and I am horrified at the way the show birth. Every single woman I saw was made to birth on her back, even with 2 separate cases of shoulder dystocia. Also those who did manage to birth without pain meds were made out to have some kind of super woman complex, rather than being concerned about the effect of those drugs on their baby. There are very real reasons for wanting to avoid interventions, but this is never portrayed on these programs. Watching them with give a very distorted view of what birth can be.

 

It makes me sad that everyone seems to feel so defensive about their birth choices and not just allow each of us to own our own feelings about our births no matter the method or outcome.

 

My first birth was definitely less than ideal. I read and prepared well, or so I thought at the time. I was using a LM who encouraged me to educate myself. However I was also one of the 10% who had my water break before labor started. What I later found out by experience was that choosing a LM rather than a CNM put a time limit on how long I could labor at home after the breaking of water. After 24 hours I had to be transferred to the hospital because it was State Law, not for any real medical reason (I had no infection nor showed any signs of infection or distress of baby). I was then under the care of the on-call OB, a complete stranger. Even when I informed the nurses & OB that I had difficult to reach veins I was ignored and instead treated as dehydrated, which then caused my body to swell up from the IV fluids they forced on me. After another 12 hours and only at 8cm I was told I had arrested dilation and the baby would need to come out by c/s. My son was then treated to all sorts of invasive tests as they were still obsessing about infection that wasn't there. He was very traumatized and never managed to successfully latch while we were still in the hospital. The long term effect was that nursing only lasted 12 weeks because of issues that started with how he was born and how he was treated during that first hour (away from me.)

 

With my second birth I only had 2 choices. I could have a hospital birth with an OB, but it would be a scheduled c/s, as none of the local hospitals did VBACs. Or I could try to find a CNM who would do a HBAC. Fortunately I found a wonderful CNM and she gave me a lot more info than I previously had, including how to avoid another early rupture of membranes (vit c from week 20.) She respected me as a mother and as a woman, and was content to stay as hands off as I wanted. I also found ways to work with my body during labor from The Pink Kit. My HBAC birth was 9 hours total with only 20 minutes of pushing. My HBAC baby was 9lb 8oz and had a nucal arm so the quick pushing phase was truly amazing. It wasn't just luck. I learned the right info about internal relaxtion during labor. I prepared for a long labor and was surprised that it went as quickly as I did. I did get a minor tear and a few skid marks thanks to the nucal arm, and my water didn't break until the pushing started. Recovery was harder 2nd time around because of one particular skid mark at the front. Yet this second birth was perfect. It wasn't just luck. It was many different things. It was the right birth attendants. It was the right education before birth. It was the right diet during pregnancy. It was the support of my husband. It was letting my body do what it was designed to do. And mostly it was accepting that each birth is different, not just woman to woman, but child to child for the same woman.

 

I've had the birth that didn't go as I thought it would, and I've had the birth that did. I don't think it was good or bad luck. I also don't think it was all me either. It was a complex mixture in both cases that made the difference. I will always regret some of the things that happened with DS1 even though I have been successful with DS2 in those same areas. It doesn't make me bad, unhealthy or someone who had deep seated issues. It just makes me human.

 

The perfect birth is possible even for those who did not like how a previous birth happened. I would however recommend switching off those awful reality tv birth shows and spend the time doing something/anything else instead.


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#42 of 178 Old 02-28-2012, 02:35 PM
 
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To me, an ideal birth is one where mother and baby both come out the other end, no matter how they get there.


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.)

 

 

 

Other random comments:

 

People in this thead seem to be using the words "disappointed/disappointment" to describe women who have been traumatized. That's really dismissive. You don't have to understand the trauma to understand that it exists. I've been disappointed many times in my life, but my feelings after each of my children arrived were so far beyond disappointment that I don't even have the words to describe the difference. Disappointment was barely on the radar. Pain, anger, fear, despair, extreme frustration...those were all there to a significant degree. Disappointment...not so much.

 

There's also an underlying vibe, in both the OP and subsequent posts, that women who have birth trauma feel that way, because other people have trained them to expect a "perfect birth". I never expected a perfect birth with my oldest. I'd never even come across the concept of a perfect birth at that time. I expected it to hurt ,and it did. I expected it to be exhausting, and it was. I expected labour to be scary, but it wasn't (I was a little nervous at first, but it was mostly exhilirating). I didn't expect to have a c-section forced on me, with minimal explanation, after I verbally refused consent. I never expected perfect. I also never expected medical assault. And, no - I didn't want a c-section. I grew up looking at a c-section scar (vertical incision, with keloids) and it scared the crap out of me...way, way more than all the birth horror stories in the world. None of that means I expected perfection.

 

Then, there's the control thing. I think people use "control" differently, but I never, ever, ever expected to be able to control birth. The only control I ever thought I'd have - and I didn't even think about it consciously - was that other people wouldn't do things to me, unless there was an actual life and death emergency situation, without my permission or after I'd said "no". Surgery itself is traumatizing (at least for me). Surgery performed after I said, "no", goes to a whole other level. To this day, I've never had a good explanation for why my son was taken by c-section, or why said c-section was done on such a panic basis, or why I was loaded up with so many drugs afterwards, or anything else. They just decided to do it, and to hell with me. I don't give a crap about "ideal" or "perfect" (and that's not uncommon - I know several other women irl who had unexpected c-sections, who weren't swayed by any natural birth community, and weren't expecting "perfect"...and they still had a hell of a time dealing with it). I just wanted "not abusive" and, preferably, not surgical.

 

And...Getting over it. I'm slowly getting over the c-section thing, at least to some extent. But, people overlook the fact that it's not as simple as whether one baby arrives via c-section or vaginally, if one is planning to have more kids. I had secondary infertility, and then a couple of miscarriages, after ds1. No medical explanation was ever found. I'll never know if my primary c-section had anything to do with it...or if that c-section had anything to do with the pelvic pain (also no diagnosis ever found) that bothered me for years...and is back, after my last c-section. There can be significant long-term effects from c-sections, even "uncomplicated" c-sections like mine. It's hard to get over something when you were coerced into it, and then it has long-term and/or permanent consequences. I had several people tell me I needed to "get over it" when I was trying to process my third c-section...but most of those people failed to realize that one doesn't get over something until it's over. Now that I've had a tubal, and wll never have another c-section, I can get them into some kind of perspective, and "get over" the experience. I couldn't do that while I was still facing more c-sections.

 

Oh - and I don't recall the exact comment upthread, but...yeah...I'll probably go to my grave wondering what it's like to actually give birth (in the biological sense - I don't feel up to the fight about whether having someone anesthetize me and cut me open is giving birth or not). It was something I looked forward to for a long time, and I never experienced it. That part is disappointing, but it's pretty minor, in the overall scheme of emotional upheaval related to being legally assaulted by doctors.

 


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#43 of 178 Old 02-28-2012, 05:13 PM
 
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Oh, wow.  I couldn’t disagree more with the entire premise of this thread. 

 

OP, you’re at peace with your cesarean, and that’s wonderful.  You are qualified to judge only one woman—yourself—and one set of lived experiences—your own.  And on those grounds, other women have no business judging you.  I think I share a lot of peoples’ sentiments when I say that I’m tired of childbirth—and pretty much every parenting event thereafter—turning into a pissing contest among women.    

 

But it’s when you start in on your SIL and friends who’ve had cesareans where you lose me.  You are not these women, you will never know the fully story of their births, and you are therefore not in a position to pass judgement on their experiences or how they perceive them.  So what if they feel robbed?  It’s their right.  Just as it’s your right to feel reconciled with your own cesarean. 

 

The underlying assumption seems to be that if women feel trapped and betrayed within the confines of our obstetric system, if they question routine and invasive (but anti-evidence) interventions, or if they feel that they were manipulated, scared, and maybe even bullied into their cesareans or other interventions……they were just a bunch of shallow, spoiled little ninnies who wanted The Perfect Birth.

 

Alenushka’s rant about First World women not understanding poor women does nothing for me, either.  There’s already a parallel thread about this in the Vaccinations forum.  This line of thinking didn’t work when I was in grade school and the cafeteria ladies tried to guilt me into eating my vegetables by mentioning the famine in East Africa.  It doesn’t work when somebody is trying to guilt me into consenting to some or all vaccinations.  And it certainly won’t convince me to lie back, spread my legs, and give obstetricians carte blanche to do whatever they please with my body and my baby.  The latter may indeed be the goal.  But exploiting the sufferings of Third World women to make this point is unacceptable.     

 

 

We don’t have to dispel the theory of the Perfect Birth.  Every one of us posting here knows that there’s no such thing.  Let’s work instead on debunking the myth of women demanding the Perfect Birth.   


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#44 of 178 Old 02-28-2012, 05:25 PM
 
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Oh, wow.  I couldn’t disagree more with the entire premise of this thread. 

 

OP, you’re at peace with your cesarean, and that’s wonderful.  You are qualified to judge only one woman—yourself—and one set of lived experiences—your own.  And on those grounds, other women have no business judging you.  I think I share a lot of peoples’ sentiments when I say that I’m tired of childbirth—and pretty much every parenting event thereafter—turning into a pissing contest among women.    

 

But it’s when you start in on your SIL and friends who’ve had cesareans where you lose me.  You are not these women, you will never know the fully story of their births, and you are therefore not in a position to pass judgement on their experiences or how they perceive them.  So what if they feel robbed?  It’s their right.  Just as it’s your right to feel reconciled with your own cesarean. 

 

The underlying assumption seems to be that if women feel trapped and betrayed within the confines of our obstetric system, if they question routine and invasive (but anti-evidence) interventions, or if they feel that they were manipulated, scared, and maybe even bullied into their cesareans or other interventions……they were just a bunch of shallow, spoiled little ninnies who wanted The Perfect Birth.

 

Alenushka’s rant about First World women not understanding poor women does nothing for me, either.  There’s already a parallel thread about this in the Vaccinations forum.  This line of thinking didn’t work when I was in grade school and the cafeteria ladies tried to guilt me into eating my vegetables by mentioning the famine in East Africa.  It doesn’t work when somebody is trying to guilt me into consenting to some or all vaccinations.  And it certainly won’t convince me to lie back, spread my legs, and give obstetricians carte blanche to do whatever they please with my body and my baby.  The latter may indeed be the goal.  But exploiting the sufferings of Third World women to make this point is unacceptable.     

 

 

We don’t have to dispel the theory of the Perfect Birth.  Every one of us posting here knows that there’s no such thing.  Let’s work instead on debunking the myth of women demanding the Perfect Birth.   


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#45 of 178 Old 02-28-2012, 06:33 PM
 
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Thank you, Turquesa, you've said so much that I wanted to say, in a very clear and eloquent way. clap.gif

 

I would add the following:

 

In my opinion (after years of research on this whole birth thing), it is not at all unreasonable for women to demand or expect that their basic human rights to bodily autonomy over their own physiological process will be respected. Sadly, this is not the case with birth under the medical model, where pregnancy and childbirth are treated as near-pathological conditions which need to be intervened with in order to 'protect' women and babies from the risks of such conditions.  Of course nearly all of these interventions are at odds with the physiological process of birth and the conditions it needs to take place optimally. Just being in a hospital environment can easily disrupt the flow of hormones which guide the birth process and enable women to birth their babies in the most efficient and manageable way possible. Do other mammals respond well to being forced out of their 'safe place/nest/den' while giving birth? Of course not, it can cause their labor to stop and most people are aware of this. Yet we expect women to be able to birth naturally in the most unnatural of environments with so many interruptions and disturbances.

 

I'm not saying that staying at home will guarantee an easier or smoother birth for anyone. There are so many factors involved, mental, physical, and emotional, not only within the birthing woman herself, but also with respect to the support people around her. But it's a good start.

There are no guarantees in life. There is no magic formula or list of things to do (or not do) that can ensure that absolutely nothing will go wrong during birth. That is why we have medical facilities available, but just because they exist doesn't mean that giving birth is so inherently dangerous as to justify the outrageous amount of intervention that most women are subject to.  Anyone who attempts to birth at home but has had to transfer to hospital for a medically indicated reason shouldn't be judged (or judge herself) for 'failing' at natural birth or on the other hand having unrealistic expectations of a 'perfect' birth experience.

 

I don't agree that women who have pleasant, straightforward births are simply 'lucky' - this should be the norm. In an unhindered physiological birth, naturally occurring complications are extremely rare.  Unfortunately the entire maternity system is stacked against us having normal, physiological births. And yet, women are conned into believing they can have a 'perfect birth' within this system, without understanding the forces they are up against or the conditions necessary for the physiological process to proceed smoothly. It doesn't help society in general perpetuates so many unhelpful images and beliefs about how childbirth is a horrible, painful experience that is only worth enduring because you get a baby out of it in the end.

I agree that there's no such thing as a 'perfect' birth, but we should acknowledge that birth is a normal physiological process which is seldom given the chance to unfold as nature intended it. Women are strong and our bodies are evolved/created to do this.

 

 


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People in this thead seem to be using the words "disappointed/disappointment" to describe women who have been traumatized. That's really dismissive. You don't have to understand the trauma to understand that it exists. I've been disappointed many times in my life, but my feelings after each of my children arrived were so far beyond disappointment that I don't even have the words to describe the difference. Disappointment was barely on the radar. Pain, anger, fear, despair, extreme frustration...those were all there to a significant degree. Disappointment...not so much.

 


This is such an excellent point. One of the things that I wish fervently is that birth trauma could be better understood and better treatments and responses to traumatized women could be developed. No matter where I look, I seem to see 2 prevailing views of birth trauma:

 

1) Birth trauma exists in the heads of neurotic women who need to get over themselves.

2) Birth trauma exists because mainstream medical care and its emphasis on "unnecessary interventions" of course causes trauma. So steer clear of "mainstream medical" and you should be fine.

 

My problem with 1) is that this is misogynist and cruel and frankly compounds the trauma by telling the traumatized woman with the feeling that she must be a basket case. 

 

My problem with 2) is that it lets both the medical community and the natural birth community off the hook. Medical community is just assumed to be brutal and horrible (and presumably beyond reform, so just avoid it like the plague), and the natural birth community can just revert to 1) when women experience trauma during their HB/UC/or whatever. 

 

And neither of these views leaves any room for understanding or empathy or compassion for the woman who has experienced trauma. In fact, she as an individual is not valued at all. Let alone trying to frame what kind of care and support could actually move her through her trauma. There's no room in either of these stances to understand privilege and its role in birth care and outcomes. And there's no room at all for women who enter their labors perfect healthy & sane and perfectly prepared to have a non-traumatic experience, but end up with trauma anyway.

 


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Reading this thread makes me see red.

 

I do believe it's about control.  CONTROL of women.  Drink a glass of wine in the 3rd trimester?  BAD DRUNKEN MOTHER.  REFUSE to give baby a 2nd-hand dose of morphine the dr prescribed RIGHT before it has to learn to breathe?  BAD HIPPY MOTHER.

 

Lie down and do as your told, that is the medicalisation of birth culture.  Seeking to avoid that is NOT about a women seeking a perfect birth, it's about trying to maintain sovereignty over her own body and it's functions it's about wanting to make one's OWN decisions about what needs to be done.  In the 19th century women were accused of wanting unreasonable/irrational things if they complained of their husbands raping them.  Women were having a baby every 14 months, often stillborn or damaged due to the lack of food during pregnancy and their weakened state of health, but they were to feel "grateful" for their "blessings".  Women would refer to having "a good husband" - this was a husband who DIDN'T rape and allowed some spacing between children!  This is no different.  This is just one more thing women are told not to want, not to seek, not to feel bitter about having kept from them.

 

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Reading this thread makes me see red.

 

I do believe it's about control.  CONTROL of women.  Drink a glass of wine in the 3rd trimester?  BAD DRUNKEN MOTHER.  REFUSE to give baby a 2nd-hand dose of morphine the dr prescribed RIGHT before it has to learn to breathe?  BAD HIPPY MOTHER.

 

Lie down and do as your told, that is the medicalisation of birth culture.  Seeking to avoid that is NOT about a women seeking a perfect birth, it's about trying to maintain sovereignty over her own body and it's functions it's about wanting to make one's OWN decisions about what needs to be done.  In the 19th century women were accused of wanting unreasonable/irrational things if they complained of their husbands raping them.  Women were having a baby every 14 months, often stillborn or damaged due to the lack of food during pregnancy and their weakened state of health, but they were to feel "grateful" for their "blessings".  Women would refer to having "a good husband" - this was a husband who DIDN'T rape and allowed some spacing between children!  This is no different.  This is just one more thing women are told not to want, not to seek, not to feel bitter about having kept from them.

 

 

What I see on these forums, pretty often by the way, is the attitude "I sought the perfect birth, I had it, and if you didn't, that's because you didn't work hard enough for it, and you are an epic fail because of that". Not nice. And it's also a form of control. And that's what (I think) is the topic of this thread.

 

Birth was over-medicalized for a long while, and now the push in the opposite direction is starting. Which is great, and normal - every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and it's healthy in general, but it has a potential to turn nasty in its own way and push a bit too far. I'll give examples below.

 

What makes *me* see red is the insinuations that non-perfect births are somehow a woman's fault. And the gloating that the perfect births are all due to the perfect poster's diligence (and very few admit to just pure luck, such as not having pre-e and not needing an emergency c-section at 31 weeks.) Humility and "Here but for the grace of God go I" is often conspicuously absent from these forums. I've seen it so many times here, it's tiresome.

 

Same for cesareans - I've always felt this vibe here (not from all members of course, but it's very pronounced nonetheless), that people look down on those who have c-sections. This thread about a cesarean forum was very educational. In fact, the cesarean forum didn't even exist a few months ago - as if women who had it didn't exist either!

 

And now that whole thing with the orgasm during birth - why thanks, let's raise the plank a little higher still! I've seen a woman ask about it, in full seriousness, about how to do that during birth. Some described their nice experiences that came pretty close to that, others were nice enough to explain that it was just a function of that particular person's neurology and while possible, it's not a requirement (yet, thank God) for everyone to have a "When Harry met Sally" moment during birth.

 

Another example is that people can's even say they were unable to breastfeed, without humbly apologizing fifty five times that they had the nerve to bleed severely and to have Sheehan's syndrome. That atmosphere is not supportive. Yes we know breastfeeding is best, everyone on these forums knows, so if she said she couldn't, just lay off.

 

Anyways... *some people* manage to turn the healthiest, most natural ideas into mommy wars and "I'm better ("stronger", crunchier etc) than you" games. That's what I thought this thread was all about.

 

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My problem with 1) is that this is misogynist and cruel and frankly compounds the trauma by telling the traumatized woman with the feeling that she must be a basket case. 

 

Agreed. The "just get over it", "don't wallow", "you're over-reacting", etc. etc. mindset is very prevalent, and it makes it worse. It's very hard to work through things when every attempt to process is shut down by someone telling you that you don't have anything to process. I actually think my almost ten years of barely ever even mentioning my first section contributed, in a major way, to my difficulties coping with my subsequent ones. I never really processed the first one, because people basically said, "it's not such a big deal", or "you're lucky you didn't have to push a baby out of there".

 

My problem with 2) is that it lets both the medical community and the natural birth community off the hook. Medical community is just assumed to be brutal and horrible (and presumably beyond reform, so just avoid it like the plague), and the natural birth community can just revert to 1) when women experience trauma during their HB/UC/or whatever. 

 

This is a really good point. I tend to fall into the "natural birth and the natural birth community are all awesome" camp, simply because my homebirth midwife was amazing (yes - despite the bad outcome), and my OBs...not so much (although my last one was a major improvement over any of the others). Intellectually, I know that the medical community aren't all horrible, and I know that homebirth midwives and the natural birth community, in general, also run the gamut. It's just that my own experience colours things a lot, and my experiences have been pretty solidly on the "medical community = abusive/natural birth community = amazing" side of things.

 

And neither of these views leaves any room for understanding or empathy or compassion for the woman who has experienced trauma. In fact, she as an individual is not valued at all. Let alone trying to frame what kind of care and support could actually move her through her trauma. There's no room in either of these stances to understand privilege and its role in birth care and outcomes. And there's no room at all for women who enter their labors perfect healthy & sane and perfectly prepared to have a non-traumatic experience, but end up with trauma anyway.

 

Well said. I have some thoughts on this, but just noticed the time, and I need to hustle to get my kids out for a field trip - we're going to the museum to see a blue whale skeleton.



 


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It doesn't help society in general perpetuates so many unhelpful images and beliefs about how childbirth is a horrible, painful experience that is only worth enduring because you get a baby out of it in the end.


Well, I'd suggest that the reason for the perpetuation of these 'beliefs' is that many (perhaps most?) women *do* experience childbirth as horrible, painful, and only worth enduring because you get a baby out of it.  (Good Lord, would anyone here choose to go through labor if *not* for the baby?!)  Certainly this has been my experience in two rapid, straightforward, 'natural' labors.  Best of luck to you for something different, but I'd be wary of assuming that the 'horrible, painful' bit experienced by many is merely a result of suboptimal delivery environments.

 

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I agree that there's no such thing as a 'perfect' birth, but we should acknowledge that birth is a normal physiological process which is seldom given the chance to unfold as nature intended it. Women are strong and our bodies are evolved/created to do this.

 

Right, because normal labor and delivery 'as nature intended it' is freaking painful, at least IME and in the experience of most mothers I've spoken to.  Evolution doesn't care about anyone's subjective experience.

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#51 of 178 Old 02-29-2012, 11:39 PM
 
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Mambera -  I wasn't trying to imply that giving birth wasn't horribly painful for some, many, or most women. The point was that for our entire lives we're conditioned to expect it to be this horribly painful emergency situation, so it's not surprising that most women experience it that way, regardless of the environment they give birth in (although I argue that this can make a big difference).

 

However, I wouldn't say that's a universal human experience to have horrible, painful birth, just as 'orgasmic birth' isn't something that every woman experiences. My own mother describes giving birth to me (her first and only child, delivered naturally in a hospital) as 'blissful' and not at all painful. Intense, yes, but not painful. At the time she was heavily involved in personal development seminars that promoted the idea that we are powerful and create our own reality, so I suppose she envisioned the experience she wanted to have and made it happen by actively de-programming herself from the mainstream expectations of birth as horrible and painful. I don't think she was just 'lucky' - her doctor was completely surprised that she had such an easy labor as he was anticipating she would need a c-section due to being a tiny woman.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all we need do is visualize our perfect birth and everything will go according to plan - as I've said before, there are no guarantees in life. But there's no denying that the mind-body connection exists and that expectations can make a difference.  My personal plan for my upcoming birth is to do as much as possible to create the right external and internal conditions to enable the physiological birth process, but also to let go of any expectations about how easy/hard, painful/not painful it will be. Instead I will focus on the knowledge that my body knows what to do and the best thing I can do is relax and let it do its thing. I won't be surprised if it's bloody hard work but I have total confidence that I can do it.

 

 

GoBecGo - ITA with everything you are saying. It makes me so sad/angry to hear people say to a woman who has gone through a birthing ordeal (usually, but not always at a hospital), "at least you have a healthy baby."  Shouldn't we aspire to a bit more than that rather than just accepting that because this is the new 'norm' that it's the way it always has been and always will be?

 

I don't blame individual women if they have such crappy birth experiences. As mentioned above, it is largely a result of patriarchal control over women's bodies which defines our maternity system. It's not the fault of individual women but it's certainly our collective responsibility to reclaim our bodily autonomy.

 

I daresay that way, way back (and perhaps in the few matriarchal societies left today) when pregnancy and childbirth were regarded as 'strictly women's business' and were the provenance of multigenerational communities of women sharing collective wisdom, they were simply regarded as a normal events in a woman's life rather than 'the most dangerous thing a woman will do in her lifetime'. Even just a few generations ago most women would have had first-hand experience of attending births, learning from women breastfeeding in the community, and taking care of infants while growing up - while sadly today we need to read stacks of books, attend classes and hire experts to teach us these essential skills of womanhood. 

 

 

 


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I daresay that way, way back (and perhaps in the few matriarchal societies left today) when pregnancy and childbirth were regarded as 'strictly women's business' and were the provenance of multigenerational communities of women sharing collective wisdom, they were simply regarded as a normal events in a woman's life rather than 'the most dangerous thing a woman will do in her lifetime'. Even just a few generations ago most women would have had first-hand experience of attending births, learning from women breastfeeding in the community, and taking care of infants while growing up - while sadly today we need to read stacks of books, attend classes and hire experts to teach us these essential skills of womanhood. 

 

Hmm.  I rather think that childbirth was, until recently, quite the most dangerous thing most women would do in their lifetimes.  There was a piece in the NY Times recently by a Western woman who became pregnant and gave birth in Somalia.  Apparently they have a saying about pregnant women there: "The mouth of your grave is open."

 

 

Quote:
My own mother describes giving birth to me (her first and only child, delivered naturally in a hospital) as 'blissful' and not at all painful.

 

Actually my mother also said she didn't find childbirth particularly painful, although she is the only woman I've ever heard say that.  (She's the reason I put 'most' and not 'all' in my previous post.)  But it's definitely her birth stories that shaped my initial thoughts/expectations about childbirth.  Before I had my first I was hoping I'd gotten whichever gene was responsible for the painless childbirth; sadly it doesn't seem to have worked out that way.  I wouldn't say I was *expecting* horrible pain, although I was aware it was a possibility.  I certainly would *not* say that I had been 'conditioned' to believe it would be a horribly painful experience.  Nonetheless, fbow, horrible pain is what I got, and what lots of other women get too regardless of how much preparation they've done or how optimal their birthing environments.

 

This idea that bad childbirth experiences are "largely a result of patriarchal control over women's bodies" is just not right.  Maybe *some* of them are, but many others are traumatic just all on their own.
 

 


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... At the time she was heavily involved in personal development seminars that promoted the idea that we are powerful and create our own reality, so I suppose she envisioned the experience she wanted to have and made it happen by actively de-programming herself from the mainstream expectations of birth as horrible and painful. I don't think she was just 'lucky'

 

My mom fully expected birth to be awful and painful, and she said pain wasn't a big deal. When she started having regular contractions and was sure is was birth time, she *walked* to the hospital (didn't want to call the ambulance). To use her words about the pain of childbirth, "it's nothing you can't put up with for an hour". That gives an idea about the level of pain and the duration of it, doesn't it? (My mom is a very realistic, sound-sense, skeptical person that doesn't believe in creating alternate realities, Universe hearing our thoughts, etc.) And she fully admits she was lucky.

 


 

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I don't blame individual women if they have such crappy birth experiences. As mentioned above, it is largely a result of patriarchal control over women's bodies which defines our maternity system. It's not the fault of individual women but it's certainly our collective responsibility to reclaim our bodily autonomy.

 

I daresay that way, way back (and perhaps in the few matriarchal societies left today) when pregnancy and childbirth were regarded as 'strictly women's business' and were the provenance of multigenerational communities of women sharing collective wisdom, they were simply regarded as a normal events in a woman's life rather than 'the most dangerous thing a woman will do in her lifetime'. Even just a few generations ago most women would have had first-hand experience of attending births, learning from women breastfeeding in the community, and taking care of infants while growing up - while sadly today we need to read stacks of books, attend classes and hire experts to teach us these essential skills of womanhood. 


The lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 out of 16 in sub-Saharan Africa, for childbirth and pregnancy related complications (compared to 1 out of 4000 risk here in the patriarchy). I don't know what most women there learn about childbirth, but I'm willing to bet some of that knowledge is "she was in awful pain, and she's now dead, because no one could help her. I hope I survive." Seriously, if every 16th woman I know died in childbirth, I wouldn't feel like a powerful earth goddess, I'd be scared.

 

The figure for Afghanistan is 1 out of 8. 

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This idea that bad childbirth experiences are "largely a result of patriarchal control over women's bodies" is just not right.  Maybe *some* of them are, but many others are traumatic just all on their own.
 

 

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The lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 out of 16 in sub-Saharan Africa, for childbirth and pregnancy related complications (compared to 1 out of 4000 risk here in the patriarchy). I don't know what most women there learn about childbirth, but I'm willing to bet some of that knowledge is "she was in awful pain, and she's now dead, because no one could help her. I hope I survive." Seriously, if every 16th woman I know died in childbirth, I wouldn't feel like a powerful earth goddess, I'd be scared.

 

The figure for Afghanistan is 1 out of 8. 


I'm sorry, I realize you are two different posters, but I think this should be pointed out in regards to "This idea that bad childbirth experiences are "largely a result of patriarchal control over women's bodies" is just not right."

 

These two countries, in addition to poverty and bad healthcare access, etc. have HORRIBLE patriarchal control over women's bodies - FGM in Somalia, in Afghanistan, childbrides are having their first babies very young, domestic abuse/rape are huge issues.

 

Maybe this is why we shouldn't be comparing women birthing in US/Europe to women birthing in developing, war torn countries with terrible women's rights.

 

Honestly I don't know why women are telling other women how they should feel about their birth experiences. I realize it goes BOTH ways.

 

I think this ideal of "perfect birth" is silly, we don't apply that to anything else... is there a myth of "perfect marriage"? Do we tell women they shouldn't feel bad about their divorces? Or that if they had done x, y, z, everything would have been perfect and it's their fault? Ehh... if that happens, I guess I just haven't seen it. I guess I wouldn't be surprised though, it's fun to be judgey on the internet.... irked.gif

 

 

 

 

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I'm sorry, I realize you are two different posters, but I think this should be pointed out in regards to "This idea that bad childbirth experiences are "largely a result of patriarchal control over women's bodies" is just not right."

 

These two countries, in addition to poverty and bad healthcare access, etc. have HORRIBLE patriarchal control over women's bodies - FGM in Somalia, in Afghanistan, childbrides are having their first babies very young, domestic abuse/rape are huge issues.

 

It was in the reply to the idea that evolution, Mother Nature, and seeing other women give birth will somehow guarantee safer childbirth (the non-FGM part of Africa has bad childbirth safety statistics too.) Same for childbrides in Afghanistan - average age of menarche is 12, 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.)

 

 

Maybe this is why we shouldn't be comparing women birthing in US/Europe to women birthing in developing, war torn countries with terrible women's rights.

 

But that's exactly where Mother Nature has a chance to shine - no medicine, no intrusive hospital personnel, just the woman and her female relatives who has seen childbirth before and "had first-hand experience of attending births". So why does Mother Nature fail so miserably?

 

And before someone mentions nutrition, what does Mother Nature and evolution have to do with nutrition - if there is a drought and a famine, that's normal, that's how Nature operates!

 


 

Honestly I don't know why women are telling other women how they should feel about their birth experiences. I realize it goes BOTH ways.

 

I think this ideal of "perfect birth" is silly, we don't apply that to anything else... is there a myth of "perfect marriage"? Do we tell women they shouldn't feel bad about their divorces? Or that if they had done x, y, z, everything would have been perfect and it's their fault? Ehh... if that happens, I guess I just haven't seen it. I guess I wouldn't be surprised though, it's fun to be judgey on the internet.... irked.gif

 

Now this is pure genius! I haven't thought about it that way. Although "perfect marriage" was IT a few decades ago, and  women got blamed for failing to nourish the perfect marriage and getting divorced. Maybe the same cycle will happen to perfect birth, too?


 

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#56 of 178 Old 03-01-2012, 05:27 AM
 
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#57 of 178 Old 03-01-2012, 07:15 AM
 
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#58 of 178 Old 03-01-2012, 07:20 AM
 
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Double Double - 

 

 Ahh, ok, I totally agree that mother nature can be terribly cruel sometimes. I personally feel that she gets a lot of things right, a lot of the time... but there are no gaurantees or absolutes in life. haha maybe that is an absolute - no absolutes!!

 

I still think it is problematic to be using Somalia and Afghanistan to show what "natural birth" is. Abuse and FGM aside, we can say famine could be mother nature, but I'm pretty sure she didn't intend women to be covered in burqas = low vitamin D = rickets. There are just a lot of other social/political/cultural/economic factors going on that "mother nature" is not responsible for.

 

I agree that sometimes the rhetoric among the NCB community has gone too far. However, I think it was mostly in reaction/response to the standard medical rhetoric on childbirth which dominates. I know there is a backlash going on. Hopefully things can improve because the macro rhetoric/attitudes of both movements/systems does hurt a lot of women. I do not think anyone should be telling a woman how to view/feel about her birth experience. 

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#59 of 178 Old 03-01-2012, 08:13 AM
 
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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.

 

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.

 

 


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#60 of 178 Old 03-02-2012, 09:23 PM
 
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I share Turquesa's sentiment about this all being a "first world problem". That's something you say when someone complains about their smart phone being on the fritz, not something you say to women who are talking about the issues of bodily integrity and self-determination, which is generally what discussions about childbirth are about. If you want to say it applies equally to a woman's right to choose how to she gives birth, you might as well apply it to EVERYTHING. Wish your kid's cancer treatment didn't make her so ill? That's a first world problem. Some parents don't have any options for treating cancer at all. Upset about the idea of your employer not covering birth control? Pshaw! Such a first world problem - some women don't have access to any form of birth control. Fighting your employer to pay you for those 30 hours of overtime you worked last month? Really, you shouldn't complain. There are people in the world who would love to get paid $35/hr. What makes you think you deserve overtime, too? It's a pathetic argument used to shame women into keeping their thoughts to themselves.

 

It's funny to come across that argument on MDC, because where it's most usually thrown about as if it actually has any merit is on that blog, and after reading another nonsensical tirade over there, complete with nonsensical comments about what a "first world problem" wanting bodily integrity and the right to make one's own decisions in childbirth was, I was discussing it with my husband. It seems to me like it fits right into Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. No one in their right mind would say, about ANY OTHER TOPIC, that once you've got your basic physiologic needs met, you should just give up. It's absurd on the very face of it. And yet for some reason, many otherwise rational, intelligent people, will say it about childbirth. I think it has nothing to do with what one really thinks, and everything to do with supporting the idea that we aren't really entitled to seek out anything more than what we get. We should take it and shut up, because that's what's comfortable for certain people.

 

OP, I'm glad you had a satisfactory birth experience. Let your family members and friends process theirs however they want. It's not your place to tell them how they feel is wrong. I think it's terrible that women ever act like other women have failed when they require a c-section. I also think it's terrible that women ever act like other women have nothing to complain about if they have one that they are upset about. There IS a lot of luck in childbirth. There are some things that no amount of preparation can fix. You can read all you want and educate yourself as much as possible, but if that baby is transverse and isn't budging, you're getting a c-section, whether you like it or not. No shame in that, but certainly a woman has a right to be upset that she had to undergo surgery to give birth. I would feel that way - not because I felt like a failure (how the heck would it be my fault?) but because I don't WANT a c-section scar and I don't WANT the added risk that comes to me and my baby from having one and I don't WANT to be recovering for that long. There's nothing wrong with being upset over those things. There's something very, very wrong with telling a woman that if she is, it's because she went into it with the wrong mindset, just as there's something very, very wrong with telling a woman that if she had only done something better, she wouldn't have needed a cesarean.

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