Dispelling the "perfect birth theory" - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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#121 of 178 Old 03-09-2012, 12:38 PM
 
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This comment really set me off, but hopefully, I can be reasonable. First of all..."to me"...so what? If it's your birth you're talking about, then your idea of an ideal birth is relevant. If it's not your birth, then it's not. Four of my five "births" ended with a living mom and a living baby, and they were as far from anything resembling an ideal as it gets. (The fifth left a living mom, who wished she'd died - it wasn't ideal, either.)

 

 

 

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

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

 

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#122 of 178 Old 03-09-2012, 01:41 PM
 
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When women would post stories of how their hypnosis "failed" them, the manager of the email list would frequently say it was because they didn't listen to their cds often enough, or they had unresolved subconscious issues, or they didn't do X or Y. It sort of felt like her responses were there to preserve the power of the all-mighty method by sort of playing blame-game with these women. I emailed this woman and said that I had done everything I was supposed to do and STILL had a c-section, and I was asked if I had considered that there is a mind-body connection, and that perhaps I had subconscious fears about childbirth that led to my baby being unable to make the final turn to a transverse instead of posterior position.

 

 


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

 

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

 


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#123 of 178 Old 03-10-2012, 04:49 AM
 
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This is the kind of thing that sets me off! Why do so-called "care providers" lay these crazy trips on women who have clearly had a hard time and need support?!?! I mean, I thought that the natural birth community was where people understood that the context in which women give birth matters....and to me this points to a really toxic situation, which is totally dismissive of women, and places some kind of bogus expertise as superior to the reality of women's experiences. There's just something very arrogant about assuming that you know what a woman's deepest subconscious fears are, based on something that happened during her birth.

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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#124 of 178 Old 03-10-2012, 12:20 PM
 
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I have appreciated reading this dialogue and ironically, this very subject is the reason I haven't been to MDC in awhile.  I saw the subject in a email from MDC and thought I'd give it a chance.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


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#125 of 178 Old 03-10-2012, 04:17 PM
 
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Serial posting, sorry.  But I just wanted to mention that what I was talking about with all the researching and information and media leading to some possibly unrealistic expectations is indeed a "first world" problem.  I'm not sure that's how the PP who brought that issue up meant it, but I think it's a legitimate issue to look at critically. So many women seem to be having such a hard time dealing with having a less than supposedly perfect birth, and I personally think at least sometimes that is due to external pressures. I hear so many mothers at playgroups and the park and wherever trying to justify to themselves and others why they had a c-section or Pitocin whatever as if they had committed a crime. It's sad. I don't mean that in a judgmental way like they shouldn't feel bad and should just be happy their baby is alive.  I mean it's sad that such a culture has been created where women feel bad about their births because they didn't fit some ideal that wasn't necessarily even hers to begin with.  I think in other parts of the world, a live mama and baby is enough and there might be something worth learning from that. And that doesn't mean we should all just accept the status quo or women who are unhappy should be shamed into keeping quite.  Women can have whatever feelings they like about their births. I'd just like to see a world where those feelings were always truly her own.  


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

 

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

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#126 of 178 Old 03-12-2012, 07:43 AM
 
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I do agree that expectations probably have a lot to do with how "perfect" we feel our births turn out. After the experience of my first birth I had very different expectations for my second birth. I expected a very long labor, it turned out to only be 9 hours. (we never even got to eat any of the wonderful treats we had filled our fridge with.) I chose birth preparation material that did not assume that there is only one way to birth. It was recommended by a friend who had used it to prepare for her own first VBAC and it focused on learning skills that would help for any kind of birth. I had a CNM who was not restricted to time limits like the LM of my first birth. I expected pain. I expected it to be work. I had no expectations at all for the pushing phase, as I never got to that point last time, and I was very surprised by what did happen when my body did the pushing by itself. Through out my birth I just focused on trying to keep my inner pelvic muscles relaxed (as learned in the prep materials) and let everything else just happen. Staying relaxed and controlling my breathing were the two things I could and did control during the labor and birth. These are the two things I will focus on again in any future births. The rest is just what happens FOR ME.

 

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

 

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

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#127 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 08:06 AM
 
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This seems so on point to the discussion, I can't help but post it:

 

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

 

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

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#128 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 08:54 AM
 
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Thus, critics like Kukla suggest, while the natural childbirth movement styles itself as concerned with empowering laboring women, its establishment of a normative ideal of birth is, ultimately, disciplinary and punitive."

 

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

 

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Originally Posted by Lynann View Post

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

I think you stated this very well. yeahthat.gif
 

 

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#129 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 09:53 AM
 
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Read a wonderful article today that really gets at the heart of some of what we've been discussing. http://www.mamaeve.com/natural-childbirth/our-strength-is-tenacity-not-perfection/#comment-3415

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#130 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 12:53 PM
 
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I think that portion of the article is pretty clear -- critics say that by creating a rigorous and unbending definition of what "normal" childbirth SHOULD be, the natural childbirth movement is being punitive towards all the women whose births do not match that definition.

 

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

 

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


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#131 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 02:04 PM
 
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The childbirth educaiton method I chose was also very laced with this language. It was hypnosis-based, and promised a pain-free birth for most mamas who use it. I was on an email list for people using this method, and when a mother would post a less than ideal birth story that included pain in childbirth, she had to post a warning in the subject line. Why? Because moms who were "in training" weren't supposed to read any birth stories that featured negative things like pain or interventions because it could cause their hypnosis training to not work, and could cause them to have something less than a perfect birth. In the literature with this method, it even discussed how you as a pregnant mom should put up your hand and say "STOP" when someone was telling a birth story that involved pain or a c-section or other interventions. You were to block out all this information because the idea was that believing childbirth could be painful or difficult would cause it to be so. It was called the fear-pain cycle. The method claimed that most women experience pain in childbirth because they expect it to hurt, because our society says it will be painful and difficult. If a woman can free herself from this idea, childbirth is easy and painless.

 

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


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

 

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#132 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 02:19 PM
 
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I just can't get this out of my head. (Disclaimer: just my opinion) Such "method" sounds like a perfect hybrid of a cult and a scam. Kind of like Scientology. "We take your money, we mess with your psyche."

Interesting. We took Bradley classes and I felt that it taught hubby and me to be good consumers and to know our rights as patients. There were some women in our birthing class that didn't go natural but they weren't made to feel guilty or inferior at the reunions.
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#133 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 02:46 PM
 
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This is an interesting post.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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#134 of 178 Old 03-13-2012, 08:28 PM
 
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The more I read about natural childbirth and even attachment parenting, the less and less feminist I find them.


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

 

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

 

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

 

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#135 of 178 Old 03-14-2012, 08:30 AM
 
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Looking back the method I chose obviously had its faults. BUT, I will say that I have met, in person, many women for whom this method was a godsend. So I'm not sure what to think. I will say it should do a better job of preparing women for ALL OUTCOMES, which it did not.

 

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

 

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

 

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


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#136 of 178 Old 03-14-2012, 08:40 AM
 
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But I think it sums up the point.  Having a C-Section isn't a failure!  It can be a medically necessary surgery.  While I believe our country does too many unnecessary c/s, I would never feel that a mom should be grilled to explain why her was.  That is the failure if you ask me.

 

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

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#137 of 178 Old 03-14-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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Thanks, Youngfrankenstein. :)

 

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

 

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


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#138 of 178 Old 03-23-2012, 07:52 PM
 
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It wasn't that I didn't hear about complications that could arise in labor. It's that the sources I read had an answer for everything. Failure to progress? That should be called "failure to wait." It's caused by OBs who don't want to be late to their golf game. Stalled labor? Wouldn't happen if women were just given the freedom to move as they wished, unhampered by fetal monitors, IVs, etc. Fetal heart decelerations? Avoid pitocin.  Malpositioned baby? Prenatal yoga takes care of that. Maternal exhaustion? Eat and drink during labor, and sleep when you need it. Problem solved. For everything else, the presence of a good doula and/or midwife is key.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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


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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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#141 of 178 Old 03-24-2012, 09:38 AM
 
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I find this interesting because I have never gotten this impression from "natural birth" sources-- or only rarely, or only as shorthand.  Instead, what I get is, "iatrogenic complications are usually/often the cause of such-and-so complication" or "if you do XYZ no-/low-intervention thing, then you will improve your chances of having an uncomplicated birth."  No guarantees.  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


I really appreciate this response to my post because it gets me thinking again. I don't take this as condescending. I actually agree with you on pretty much everything. There are no guarantees. The best we can do is improve our odds.

 

I think where I'm coming from is trying to figure out how we support and help women who've had traumatic births. And the message "there are no guarantees, all you can do is improve your odds" is just not helping me move through my trauma. I am a bit stuck in endless second guessing about my experience, especially since I don't know exactly what went wrong with my labor or what would prevent the same disaster were I to try again (not that I'm going to). Did I really do my best and give myself the best odds? Did I really give natural birth every possible chance to succeed? And if I didn't, what does that say about me? Did I deserve what I got? If I really understood that there were no guarantees, then why do I feel so traumatized? And why am I still trying to sort this out more than 3 years later?

 

Which brings me back to something I posted far upstream...the prevailing views of birth trauma. Either I am:

1) Neurotic and need to get over myself.

or

2) I went with the wrong provider/care/method and/or didn't make the right choices and I need to just take responsibility for that and move on.

or

3) Something else, to be determined.

 

What I wish for is a birth conversation context that would not only help women prepare for their best possible birth, but help them move through trauma when it occurs. It seems like the "there are no guarantees, just give yourself the best odds" message would be enough to innoculate women against disappointment and trauma when things don't go well. But that's not what I have experienced.

 

Sorry, I'm not sure I'm explaining myself very well.

 

 

 


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Thanks, Youngfrankenstein. :)

 

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

 

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

Just curious...did you ever get a response?
 

 


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


OK, I'm not trying to take over this thread, but I have had a little more time to think & I want to respond to this.

 

I have come to believe that determining "the odds" of how a particular birth will turn out is almost impossibly difficult. When we think about "odds", we usually turn to statistical research that presents those odds in a variety of ways. The stats that are out there tend to focus on maternal & infant mortality. There may be stats that indicate risks for particular interventions (or lack of intervention) or methods of care, but they don't necessarily tell you your likelihood that you'll need that intervention or whether that method of care is right for you. Knowing how a risk factor impacts an entire population isn't the same is knowing how it will impact you.

 

Based on what I've seen on MDC and elsewhere, I believe that most of us form a world view about birth and birth care, and then we select & interpret stats that support that view. Pretty much very stat about birth I've ever seen has been highly contested and debated. Safety of homebirth, safety of epidurals, you name it. Depending on your world view, the research is either helpful and useful information that all pregnant women should use in their decision making, or it's flawed and skewed to scare women away from things in their best interest. The only stat I've ever seen somewhat "universal" agreement on is that the c-section rate in the US is too high (though no one seems to agree on what it "should" be...topic for another thread perhaps).

 

I believe that our expectations about birth and birth care is not really shaped by facts and statistics as much as by stories, experiences, faith, political views, personality, and all of the personal things that make up our world view. And our world view is also what shapes our sense of belonging in community and our feeling of ownership over our own stories.

 

Some births seriously challenge this carefully constructed world view, and that can be incredibly painful and disorienting. It can feel like we're not just losing "a birth" but we're losing our faith, our community, and our right to have authority over our own stories. At least, that is partly what it felt like to me. In my longer term experience, it can also be humbling (in a good way) and freeing.

 

Anyway, I'm not sure I'm arguing with you over anything, buko, but your post made me think about all this so I wanted to share.


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I really appreciate this response to my post because it gets me thinking again. I don't take this as condescending. I actually agree with you on pretty much everything. There are no guarantees. The best we can do is improve our odds.

 

I think where I'm coming from is trying to figure out how we support and help women who've had traumatic births. And the message "there are no guarantees, all you can do is improve your odds" is just not helping me move through my trauma. I am a bit stuck in endless second guessing about my experience, especially since I don't know exactly what went wrong with my labor or what would prevent the same disaster were I to try again (not that I'm going to). Did I really do my best and give myself the best odds? Did I really give natural birth every possible chance to succeed? And if I didn't, what does that say about me? Did I deserve what I got? If I really understood that there were no guarantees, then why do I feel so traumatized? And why am I still trying to sort this out more than 3 years later?

 

Which brings me back to something I posted far upstream...the prevailing views of birth trauma. Either I am:

1) Neurotic and need to get over myself.

or

2) I went with the wrong provider/care/method and/or didn't make the right choices and I need to just take responsibility for that and move on.

or

3) Something else, to be determined.

 

What I wish for is a birth conversation context that would not only help women prepare for their best possible birth, but help them move through trauma when it occurs. It seems like the "there are no guarantees, just give yourself the best odds" message would be enough to innoculate women against disappointment and trauma when things don't go well. But that's not what I have experienced.

 

Sorry, I'm not sure I'm explaining myself very well.

 


I get your point, but I am personally clueless as to the answer. I guess we all are... especially because there is so much difference between individuals and births.

 

...but, we discussed for a long time in this thread that it is wrong for natural birth community to send the message "do a, b, and c and you will have perfect birth... oh you had bad outcome? obviously you didn't do l,m,n,o,p right... and maybe not enough x,y,z"

Now it sounds like you are saying that even if the general rhetoric were more (or is), "do a, b, c and you can improve your chances but anything can happen in birth/life" it is still not good enough.

 

I don't think there is a way to "innoculate" humans against diasppointments. I have not had a traumatic birth, but I have had lots of other crap happen to me in life, some of which I am not over yet either. Maybe it is more that we should be discovering ways to deal with it after instead of trying to "innoculate" before. Birth trauma has long been ignored or downplayed (ie neurotic, or you get what you deserve because of your choices, or the whole spoiled 1st world woman thing). I think even if you go into birth with the best possible mindset/preparation/etc there is always going to be possibility for disappointment, and, there is the possibility for some very, very bad outcomes, I think it would be a bigger problem if one weren't upset about some things.

 

ETA: oops, you posted last reply while I was working on this... didn't read it before typing this...

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Quote:


I get your point, but I am personally clueless as to the answer. I guess we all are... especially because there is so much difference between individuals and births.

 

...but, we discussed for a long time in this thread that it is wrong for natural birth community to send the message "do a, b, and c and you will have perfect birth... oh you had bad outcome? obviously you didn't do l,m,n,o,p right... and maybe not enough x,y,z"

Now it sounds like you are saying that even if the general rhetoric were more (or is), "do a, b, c and you can improve your chances but anything can happen in birth/life" it is still not good enough.

 

I don't think there is a way to "innoculate" humans against diasppointments. I have not had a traumatic birth, but I have had lots of other crap happen to me in life, some of which I am not over yet either. Maybe it is more that we should be discovering ways to deal with it after instead of trying to "innoculate" before. Birth trauma has long been ignored or downplayed (ie neurotic or the whole spoiled 1st world woman thing). I think even if you go into birth with the best possible mindset/preparation/etc there is always going to be possibility for disappointment, and, there is the possibility for some very, very bad outcomes, I think it would be a bigger problem if one weren't upset about some things.

 

ETA: oops, you posted last reply while I was working on this... didn't read it before typing this


Ha, ha, what are we both doing sitting at our computers on a Saturday night? smile.gif

 

I think you are really onto something here. Maybe its more about figuring out how to not ignore & downplay the hard stories, how to make space for them. I don't know. Sometimes the more I think about this, the more I get confused. But it's more helpful to think about it out here on MDC than in the echo chamber of my own mind.

 


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#146 of 178 Old 03-24-2012, 04:25 PM
 
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Ha, ha, what are we both doing sitting at our computers on a Saturday night? smile.gif

 

haha, smile.gif yeah, big saturday night!

 

I think this is really important, what you said in last response, (not sure for everyone, but sounds like for you personally, and I can totally see it applying to most people, when I think about big disappointments in my life that have really affected me, I would say yes, they changed/destroyed my worldview at the time, which is really traumatic on many levels).

 

Quote:
Some births seriously challenge this carefully constructed world view, and that can be incredibly painful and disorienting. It can feel like we're not just losing "a birth" but we're losing our faith, our community, and our right to have authority over our own stories. At least, that is partly what it felt like to me. In my longer term experience, it can also be humbling (in a good way) and freeing.

 

It makes it even harder in some ways, I think, for others to interact with someone going through this, since it may not just be the one, straight and clear issue that the person is upset about, it goes into levels others have no way to even know about. Thinking about some of my own issues, I would get mad and frustrated at people trying to comfort me when they just didn't *get* it, they would address like 1 thing when I was upset about like 80. Personally, I have found some freedom because of some "world view" destruction, but it took a really long time, and well, I'm still confused about that "freedom" too.

 

The only thing I know for sure, is that people who have had some major disappointment or trauma, one thing that certainly does not help is dismissing them, blaming them, or downplaying their feelings/experiences.

 

 

 

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#147 of 178 Old 03-24-2012, 11:45 PM
 
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This is a really interesting thread - I've read the whole thing in a few dif't sittings and it's brought out a whole range of emotions/thoughts in me personally.  Maybe I can contribute something to the conversation.  First off - I have been on MDC for a few years, and having basically become a mother abroad (I live in China) - it's been a tremendous resource for me.  Also, since I do tend to be on the crunchier-ish side, it's a great support when many people in real life don't really support/relate to some of my parenting choices (no spanking, for example - and I have a really spirited little boy).  It's been invaluable and confidence building as well as just a nice place where I find some other moms to chat with.  I may not be on the boards enough or post enough to feel judged about much of anything - so overall, for me, MDC has been a godsend.  

 

A caveat: I have had two births thus far - both homebirths, one midwife-assisted, and one unassisted.  Both were empowering experiences for me - very challenging, very difficult (31 hour first labor - very slow slow dilation - it was exhausting - 2 sleepless nights!) - but empowering and beautiful.  Especially because of all the work/study that went into preparing for my second, unassisted birth, I consider myself fairly well-versed in the natural childbirth literature.  I have never really felt that they speak in outright guarantees about childbirth outcomes - as in, "If you do x,y, and z, then you are guaranteed a perfect natural childbirth."  And for what it's worth - I don't really think any birth is 'perfect' - birth is hard, demanding, exhausting, and fraught with challenges - challenges that I believe, whatever form they take, can transform us into better and stronger people.  Life is hard, parenthood is even harder :).  Although I have had two natural births, I got mastitis with my first two weeks post partum.  After my second child's natural, uncomplicated birth, I got Bell's Palsy (for the second time in 3 months - which is statistically really rare, lucky lucky me) that lasted for a month (it's a half-facial paralysis - totally not fun).  Pregnancy and birth are physically, emotionally, and spiritually demanding and not without risks.  I think we all do the best we can to prepare and to cope with whatever happens.  I may not have torn with either of my births, but I had to nurse through 3 days of 104 degree fevers, and I had to live with paralysis for a month while caring for a toddler and a newborn.  Nobody gets off scott free; as my friend said once, "The pregnancy fairies visit everyone, one way or another."  

 

That said, I feel very blessed in my birthing experiences - I'm glad that I was able to birth naturally, and that was my goal from the start.  I never thought of it as a 'right' or a 'guarantee' - but I did try to do everything in my power to push the odds in my favor.   And so, when people in my life cluck at my birth choices and just chalk it all up to "luck" - I do, I admit, become rather indignant.  I worked hard, I studied hard, I met and spoke with every midwifery practice in my area and visited every hospital with a long list of questions, interviewed references, read 14 childbirth books and spoke to my doctors - that led me to choose a homebirth for my first birth - which I believe was a smart, informed choice for me. It wasn't all luck.  Same with my second birth - I took all the knowledge from my first birth and built on it with more study, more preparation, and very careful prenatal care.  Again, it wasn't all luck.  

 

So when people say to me, "Gosh you were just lucky." I feel deflated and completely misunderstood.  I worked so very hard, and you chalk it up to luck?  Sure, in part, YES, it was luck - and I mean this next statement in a completely un-self-righteous way - but I did a heck of a lot of homework and other grunt work to hedge my bets for a natural childbirth - don't you dare chalk that up to simple coincidence and dismiss me or my decision-making process so easily.  A lot of people who say this are women who've had a birth not go exactly as they had planned, and in conversation with them - I never even try to play the role of armchair quarterback (unless the individual opens the door to that) because I know that in my position I could easily be misunderstood as being judgmental and I have no such intentions - but sometimes I end up feeling judged.  And I try to just swallow that and let it go, because I really don't feel like women need to feel so awful about a c-section, an epidural, or whatever.  I feel like I wish more women knew they could have greater control over their births if they so wished or if they had the confidence to strike out against the grain, but I also really believe, that bottom line, women should be supported in their opinions and in their circumstances - regardless of the type of birth they had.  

 

And yes, some women do all that homework/preparation and it doesn't go their way - I really do get that - and realize in all humility that my birth outcomes are a combination of things (blessing, hard work, luck, whatever you want to call it).  

 

I don't think though, that negates the goodness of the natural childbirth movement, nor does it excuse the mainstream childbirth system as it stands from the need to reform in many areas.  

 

 


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How about we try a few other scenarios, starting from here:
 

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And so, when people in my life cluck at my birth choices and just chalk it all up to "luck" - I do, I admit, become rather indignant.  I worked hard, I studied hard, I met and spoke with every midwifery practice in my area and visited every hospital with a long list of questions, interviewed references, read 14 childbirth books and spoke to my doctors 

 

AND THEN got pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, emergency surgery; 

 

OR got placenta previa, C-section

 

OR 50 hour birth, fetal distress, C-section

 

OR... any other scenario. Use your knowledge from books here.

 

 

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So when people say to me, "Gosh you were just lucky." I feel deflated and completely misunderstood.  I worked so very hard, and you chalk it up to luck?  Sure, in part, YES, it was luck - and I mean this next statement in a completely un-self-righteous way - but I did a heck of a lot of homework and other grunt work to hedge my bets for a natural childbirth - don't you dare chalk that up to simple coincidence and dismiss me or my decision-making process so easily.

 

Gosh, like nobody else does homework or reads anything. It's not rocket surgery, you know.

 

 

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And yes, some women do all that homework/preparation and it doesn't go their way - I really do get that

 

No, not really. Sorry you just don't. The privilege of only nice experiences shows through.

 

I think your post is a perfect illustration for what is discussed in this thread.

 

It's not all about studying, talking to midwives, and reading 14 books.

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How about we try a few other scenarios, starting from here:
 

 

AND THEN got pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, emergency surgery; 

 

OR got placenta previa, C-section

 

OR 50 hour birth, fetal distress, C-section

 

OR... any other scenario. Use your knowledge from books here.

 

 

 

Gosh, like nobody else does homework or reads anything. It's not rocket surgery, you know.

 

 

 

No, not really. Sorry you just don't. The privilege of only nice experiences shows through.

 

I think your post is a perfect illustration for what is discussed in this thread.

 

It's not all about studying, talking to midwives, and reading 14 books.

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Originally Posted by slmommy View Post

The only thing I know for sure, is that people who have had some major disappointment or trauma, one thing that certainly does not help is dismissing them, blaming them, or downplaying their feelings/experiences.

 

 

I think Lizbiz was trying to say she doesn't want her "good" experience dismissed or downplayed either.

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#150 of 178 Old 03-25-2012, 07:02 AM
 
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I get that. Now let's imagine, a few women read the same books, talked to the same midwives, rented the same kind of birthing pool, etc. And for some, things still went wrong. For those who had a great outcome, would it be ok to say "It's not luck, I did everything right, I did a lot of homework". - "Really? Well so did I!" It takes a lot of nerve to be that condescending to others.

 

By golly, I'm going to read 28 books, and talk to 14 midwives, and if things do go well, oh I'm going to lord that over everyone else! (Ok, after I figure out if it's the number of books or the hours of homework that is crucial for success.)

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