Every now and then an article comes along that just pushes buttons. That’s what it’s designed for. The writer knows it will push buttons. That’s why they write it – if it pushes buttons people will read it. Generally it is an article which suggests one group of women are “wrong” or that they are “making others feel bad”. They call it the “mummy wars”, and I wonder if they would even exist without mainstream media? Probably not.
The latest article to do this (in my circles anyhow…) was one that suggested that women should not be bragging about their positive experiences. Telling people you had a natural birth is bad. Posting photos of your positive breastfeeding journey is bad. As a colleague said I feel like I really need to provide an “antidote” to these types of articles, which is why I respond to them. There are a few points I really feel the need to address from this article.
1). There seems to be a deep rooted cultural belief that the “best” way to birth is medically. As long as you have medical assistance of some kind (pain relief, intervention, c/section) then you are all good to share your story (as long as you don’t share any feelings of emotional trauma – that’s “bad”). You get extra points if you add a thank you to your “amazing doctor for his awesome work” at the end of your birth announcement. No-one wants to hear “I did it myself”! Because that isn’t how birth is “supposed” to be done. We can’t have women believing they don’t need medical help to birth…heavens, just think of all those poor OBs who’d go out of business!!
2) I announced both my births by stating that bub was born by emergency caesarean. Only one person actually replied to my message with an “OMG – emerg C-section?! Are you and bub okay?” I had a few comments of “all that matters is a healthy baby”, but mostly people just ignored the birth altogether and moved straight to the baby. Because another deep rooted cultural belief is that birth doesn’t matter. And neither do mothers. Just babies. Why is that okay?
3) The article goes on to state the stats on caesareans and intervention without adding that many jurisdictions are actually putting policies in place to reduce these. Yes “the majority of women end up with intervention” however there is ongoing speculation as to whether ALL of those cases are “needed”. There’s no acknowledgement that organisations like ACOG are actually starting to state that the caesarean rate is too high and have put out a statement on reducing unnecessary caesareans. Closer to home NSW health department has recently put out a statement and started implementing policies aimed at reducing caesarean and birth intervention rates.
4) The writer says we need to show the tricky times as well as the good. I stopped showing the tricky times when I realised that the advice I was getting didn’t work for me. If I mention my birth trauma I’m told “all that matters is a healthy baby”; If I say I’m having trouble with breastfeeding I’m told to “just put the baby on formula”; Baby won’t sleep? “Just leave them to cry it out”. There wasn’t really any empathy or bonding, just “do it this way, it won’t hurt your baby”. So I stopped sharing the “tricky stuff” and decided I would only share the positive.
I think it is really important that women hear more stories of positive vaginal births. That they hear more stories that say “I did it!!” Women need to know that birth can be a totally normal life event. Women need to know that childbirth can be amazing!! It is possible to have a completely natural birth. It is possible to feel positive about a caesarean section. I don’t care so much HOW you birth – but I do care that you feel positive about it. After having two traumatic experiences, I feel a huge mix of emotions when I read positive birth stories a mixture of jealousy and hope. The “why couldn’t I” combined with the “I can in future”.
All in all this article seems to just be another spin on the healthy baby lie…Designed to make women feel bad if they want more than just for them and the baby to be alive at the end of it all. I’ve written on that topic before and it is NOT okay to tell women that their own expectations and experiences don’t matter. How you feel about your birth can have far reaching implications – for your health, your family’s wellbeing and future birth experiences.
As a colleague said in her own blog: “I have a wish, a simple wish. I wish that ALL women felt like bragging about their birth”! I could not agree with that more – regardless of how you birth, I hope you feel like bragging about just how awesome YOU are!
Feel free to brag about your birth in the comments! I’d love to hear your story. Brag about your 50 hour drug free home water birth and your beautiful elective caesarean. Brag about your kind and compassionate care givers. Brag about the vbac you rocked with an epidural in. Brag about your empowering emergency caesarean. Brag about your induced labour or your spontaneous labour. Brag about breastfeeding your five year old and brag about successfully formula feeding. Brag about your baby who slept through the night in their own room from birth and brag about still co-sleeping with a three year old who wakes approximately 5, 762, 998 times per night. Brag about making the BEST choices for your family – because that IS brag worthy!!