It happens over and over again. Women walk away from their births stunned, shell-shocked and traumatized. Whether it was an induction they didn’t want and still feel was unnecessary, they felt bullied into an epidural when they really wanted to do it or they just had a major abdominal surgery that they are sure wasn’t medically necessary. It’s often not what’s expected. Even if you were expecting a purely medical birth, maybe the staff was ignoring the laboring couple to talk about their plans for the weekend. What’s the big deal? They’re doing their job, aren’t they?
So the birth is over and mom goes home with a newborn in her arms and an experience to process that was far from what she expected. But they’re unsure of their birth. Which makes them unsure about themselves. And now they are mothers.
Telling a mom that the experience shouldn’t matter is unbelievable to me. ‘ As long as you’re healthy and the baby is healthy”, right? Here’s the thing about that. They keep using these words. I do not think it means what they think it means! (did you read that with a Spanish accent, like Inigo in Princess Bride? If you didn’t go back and read it again. It’s essential.) Now, I realize that people feel uncomfortable with the mother’s pain, but this phrase is as useless as Vincini’s constant statement of ‘inconceivable’. The experience matters. And I want to tell you why..
I just read a letter to the editor of the New York Times, regarding their recent article on ACOG’s new guidelines for allowing VBAC’s. This man had the audacity to call us ‘natural birth fetishists’. Yeah I KNOW!!!! I have spent the last few hours just yearning for a few minutes with the mental genius. I actually googled his name and city/state. If he is who he says he is, I could possibly get a hold of him. He has obviously thought it all through! I mean, clearly wanting the experience of birth is a fetish!
So, I’ll tell you what. Let’s agree with him. Let’s say that women who want to go through the intensity of pain, sensation, physical and emotional excursion of natural labor do so because they have a fetish and enjoy the process. And in this being a fetish we would assume that it is a rare desire and completely unnecessary for the majority of people, right? We have obstetricians and surgery rooms everywhere that make vaginal birth really unnecessary. He’s right. Everyone could have a c-section.
But in agreeing with him, I really think we have to take this a step further. Because, you see birth isn’t all. Clearly, it began somewhere else. I mean, I’m assuming with how much he knows, someone has told him about… well, ya know… s.e.x? It’s the physical act that typically starts this whole, ummm.. predicament we find ourselves discussing. Because sex is intense, there are sometimes moments that it’s painful. Sometimes sweaty, sometimes messy and embarrassing it also requires a good bit of physical and emotional excursion, don’t you think? Actually, modern medicine could make sexual intercourse completely obsolete as well. Think about it. We have IVF. We have test tube babies. We have no. need. for. sex.
So why do we ‘do it’? Maybe because it’s the experience. Maybe because it is the spiritual connection that binds you to your partner in a way that nothing else can. Maybe it’s the shedding of embarrassment over nakedness, bodily fluids, making noises that are primal and instinctual, things that require trust to do together. Maybe it’s the work that brings you to a climax and release that your body uses to make you feel that every thing is ok. Feel confident. Feel love. Feeling God in us and around us, binding our hearts together in a way like nothing else. The whole thing seems vaguely familiar and reminds me of…. oh! That’s it! Natural Birth!
I’m reminded of stories from many generation past when women weren’t supposed to ‘like sex’. It was something you did to submit to your husbands. You endured it as a wifely duty. Heartbreaking!! Can you imagine? A whole generation of these women walking around feeling used. And worse, not feeling the release of an orgasm intended by sex, because it wasn’t important??? In a similar way we are telling women that they aren’t supposed to care about their birth experience. Like a good wife in the past would endure, moms now are told to endure whatever interventions are offered, necessary or not, because that’s what being a good mother IS. I’m here writing at midnight to tell you, that it is NOT.
The problem is that we forget something. Having attended dozens of births, natural and not. I’ve seen it. There is a marked difference in the confidence of a mother and father who walk out of the hospital knowing that they made decisions and were involved in how their birth played out, as opposed to the couples who are told to just ‘be good’ or try to be. Because being unsure of your birth goes beyond the birth, it affects the beginning of the relationship with that child, and the confidence with which these couples are capable of parenting. When you’ve just had that -earthy-birthy-crunchy experience that made you feel like you can conquer the world, you are ready to! And you need to be. Because after these mothers have a baby, THEY HAVE A BABY! And they deserve to be set up with confidence from the beginning. And that means a confident birth.
And just to be clear, I am not saying that an induction or a c-section can not be confident. I’ve had an amazing and empowering c-section myself. It can happen, under the right care. I’m saying that if we weren’t doing them 33% of the time, they wouldn’t have to be. So if you wouldn’t walk in on a couple having sex and ruin their experience, short of someone having a heart attach or needing medical help, think this through. Leave women alone to experience their births!
Two other blogger’s thoughts on Mr Paul P. Rooney, from Glen Ridge, N.J