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the mommyhood memos: dear natural birth club, P.S.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

dear natural birth club, P.S.



A while back I wrote a post called Dear Natural Birth Club. To date it’s one of my most-clicked, most-forwarded posts.

Probably because it’s a little controversial. And it's also a little sarcastic. (It was never intended to be a serious dig… just a stir-the-pot-and-get-you-thinking sort of post.)

And probably because it touches something close to the heart of every mother – childbirth.

I got some wonderful and insightful comments from this post and wanted to share some of them with you to keep the conversation going.

A tiny bit of background in case you haven't read my original letter: I had planned to have a water birth without medication, but ended up with a C-section because my little munchkin was an undetected breech. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Sure, I had to deal with some feelings of disappointment and the emotions that come with unmet expectations, but I really was over-the-moon about the birth of my firstborn and the fact that it was a low-stress, smooth birth (all things considering). Because of course I knew that a birth plan is just that: a birth plan... And things don't always go according to plan, now do they? {grin}

And yet in the months after my birth, I kept feeling as if I was hearing so much negativity about births like mine. Not mine specifically; just those like mine. And well, that made me... a little ticked off. 

Because we all know that a healthy birth is a successful one. (God knows, many women aren't as lucky as we are to have the care and expertise that we are offered in our hospitals and birthing centers.) 


Who are we to judge each others' choices and experiences?

So the hot topic: To give birth with drugs and interventions... or to give birth naturally? 

It is a sensitive issue isn't it? And one we don't always have a choice about.

Of course it’s not the only parenting hot topic. There’s also breastfeeding, sleep training, discipline methods, staying home or working outside the home, and so many other parenting preferences and choices! Ohmygoodness.

If you haven’t read Dear Natural Birth Club, you may want to visit first here. But even if you don’t, the comments below speak for themselves. (Please note that this is only a selection of the comments from that original post. Although I greatly appreciate all comments, these are the ones I thought relevant to a follow-up post.)

Thanks to my readers for some wonderful contributions to the discussion.... I love your insight, expertise, opinions, and thoughtfulness.


Hannah said...
LOL, I am so going to join your group. I also had every intention of joining the "pushed", even though I did push for four hours with my first. I didn't get to join with either of my boys, they too had their own plans on how they were coming into this world.
Livy said...
I did have a sorta-natural birth. If you count pitocin + no pain meds. I just did it that way because I was more scared of an epidural than pain. I don't tell everyone. Only if they ask.

It doesn't really matter how our children got here, only that they DID get here and safely at that.

I am learning more and more as I go how many different clubs there are in mommyhood. We can never do everything "right." I am trying to not care and just do things the way I feel.

Mandy said...
I know how you feel!! I was one of those that intended to join the natural childbirth club as well. And although I was able to deliver vaginally, my son had plan to make it a bit harder and almost impossible to do so. One thing I've learned about childbirth, is that it rarely goes according to our plan. It's unpredictable and all we can do is be proud of ourselves, regardless of the way it went. We have our beautiful babies to show for it, right?

Amy Sullivan said...
As an unintentional member of the Natural Birth Club (way, way fast birth...didn't even make it to the hospital), I'd like to say it's not as fab as everyone claims.
I totally feel ya on this one! I am a card toting organic lifestyle person. I have been living green long before it was cool. However, never once did I ever think I wanted to have a natural birth. It grossed me out and I cannot understand why people would intentionally put themselves through pain. I have heard all the arguments and I STILL don't get it. I have an inherent problem with the argument that it is a rite of passage. You have got to be kidding me! Like pregnancy, birth, 10, 12, 2, 4, & 6am feedings, spit up, uncontrollable crying, hormones, and all the other "joys" of motherhood isn't rite of passage enough. I do not understand why people make this all such a big deal. We are all moms, thats all that really matters. Thanks for sharing. It sure is a hot subject.

Maryline said...
I know exactly where you are coming from, a girlfriend of mine felt so disappointed she had a C-section when she really wanted to push. But today? She's the same happy mommy she would have been.

Truth is it does not matter. It's like the natural birth club -- who hands out the medals again? Now come on, give yourself a pat on the shoulder and go on. Good work momma.

Anna said...
I am not a part of that club as well. Disappointing. Yes. Felt like a failure in my first job as a mom. However, on the flip side, I now have 3 healthy children all delivered via the zipper. They are turning out very well, so I have succeeded in many other areas. 

cooperl788 said...
Getting the baby out, however way it happens, is hard work and not something to feel superior about
It is so very true, we all give birth...it may not always turn out as planned, but no one way is better than others. I can certainly understand your disappointment and heartache having planned and dreamed this day for 9 months.

I like your club: The Mamas Who Gave Birth and I think it was clever and well written...Congratulations and I think you're an amazing Mama!

I don't understand why we have to belong to a club at all *shrug* But if we have to, I'm a member of both. The natural birth club x3 (does that make me president?) and the line across my belly club x 1. I can safely say (since I go to both meetings) that with the exception of the vocal minority (which ALWAYS try to speak for the entire group), both clubs are greatly misunderstood by each other. And I can also confidently say that unless you are a part of both clubs, you will never fully understand the other side. My suggestion is to assume positive intent and move on. In fact I think I shall resign my membership to both and just be me....

Amy said...
I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes moms can make each other feel bad for not doing this or that...without meaning to. I feel confident that what I did/do is OK. I am a wimp, so I went for the epidural the 1st time. Second time? Baby came WAY too fast and I had no choice but to go au natural. Both times all that mattered was the cute little guy who came out of it.

LauraCYMFT said...
Tsk! Can't stand there are so called clubs like these! Does it really matter how baby is born so long as both baby and mother are healthy and well afterwards?!

~Lisa~ said...
I was a breeched baby and I tell you what, it is harder to have a c-section than a natural birth.
hannah said...
Congratulations and welcome to the C-Section Club! You've expressed some things I have felt too as a c-section mommy (placenta previa for me instead of breach).

I have felt many of the same things you've expressed, although it's definitely from my own judgment of myself rather than that of others. Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to be the perfect mom because I feel like I couldn't do the first thing I should have as a mom--just get him out. Remember that giving birth, having major surgery, and the combination of the two are things you have to recover from mentally and emotionally as well as physically!
Laura Elliott said...
I've never really thought about myself as part of a club, I'm just me.

I wanted a natural birth without drugs, I got the natural part in the sense that I didn't need a c section but I had every drug I could - pethidine, gas, epidural. In the end all that mattered was that we were both healthy.

I tried breastfeeding but it drove me and my daughter to tears. Probably should have stuck it out longer but I was struggling so much. I swapped to formula and from there it all got a whole lot easier.

I stayed at home for a while but I felt like I had cabin fever. Sometimes I feel guilty because I didn't cut it as a stay at home mum. I loved going back to work and I now work four days per week.

There are so many choices. Everyone has their own unique story. At the end of the day a baby is born and that is a wonderful and beautiful thing.

Thanks for the post as it got me thinking and it has reminded me to be careful to not put people into categories and make them feel like they don't fit in.

KimD said...
From the first day I found out I was prego (on my birthday) I knew that 1. no breastfeeding 2. oh heck yeah pain meds 3. I'm not giving up coffee for 9 months. Ooh some heads are spinning now!!!!) I went to the hospital the night before my scheduled induction to make sure I wouldn't miss that epidural window of opportunity! 
Justine said...
Hi Adriel, I didn't realize there was such a divide between the two camps of mamas. I am not even sure why there would be one. But I guess life is like high school over and over again regardless of where you are in life. Cliques, groups, haves, have-nots - we do the best we can to navigate around these I suppose. 
Lynda said...
Thank you Adriel. After what happened with my births and my chronic low supply, I say eff all the clubs. I don't want to be a member, even honorary, of any of them. I have some amazingly supportive, like-minded friends. I think that's all that matters.

Enjoy Birth said...
I love your post. It helps remind us moms to be less judgmental of each other! Each birth is unique and special.  I am sorry you didn't get a chance to have the birth you hoped and planned for, but so happy that you are glad about your birth. You actually helped me remember it is mom and baby who help shape a birth.
Jill L said...
Hey, the fact that you had a baby makes you a supermom :) I pushed Eva out, but had to get an epidural just about one or two hours before the pushing began, I have a very low threshold for pain and pass out because of it (I actually have a medical condition related to this, neurocardiogenic syncope). Actually, by the grace of God, I didn't pass out during labor, but when I started to get very close to it, I decided drugs were better than me passing out all the time which would just complicate things. So, I to did not have Eva "naturally", however, for my body make up, I think I actually am a superwoman. I'm quite proud of myself for how long I did make it naturally with labor.

How you feel about your labor experience is how I feel about my breastfeeding experience. I still find myself sometimes struggling with the fact that I had to give it up.

Anonymous said...
You ALL belong to a club I wanted to join and couldn't . . . I am an infertile mom and now proud adoptive mother of FIVE, all girls (25, 20, 13, and 6 year old twins) . . . there were many times I felt like I had been black-balled from YOUR club. Not so much anymore, but please respect that we are ALL moms: those who foster children, those who adopt, those grandparents who raise their grandkids. We all need to stick together!!!


{In closing.} 

Isn’t this a great variety of perspectives? And really, when you boil it right down... we all have the same message: have your baby in a healthy way, don't judge others or be exclusive, and don't be insecure about the way your own birth(s) unfolded. Of course I’m totally oversimplifying here... but you get what I'm saying.

And this is why clubs are dangerous: they make it “us and them” when really there is nothing more unifying than having a shared experience like childbirth anyway. Or to take that a step even further: to have the shared experience of parenthood full stop.

Dear friends, isn’t this a hot topic?! Would you care to add to the conversation about your experience becoming a mom... whether it be with or without drugs, or with or without pushing? Or even with or without giving birth?

grateful to have given birth at all,
simply grateful to be a mom,
 




adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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16 Comments:

At November 20, 2010 at 1:06 AM , Blogger And then there was Anna... said...

I'm late! Just now reading your first post and I love it!!! I was planning for a natural birth also, took a a lamaze class & labored for 12+ hours on my own and then had to have an emergency c-section!I really hated the feeling of dissapointment and feeling judged by others, but i am finally at a point - 7 months later - whrer like you I am proud of where we are today and happy he is here, alive & healthy!

 
At November 20, 2010 at 2:39 AM , Blogger Chelsea Pearl said...

While natural childbirth is great it has pros and cons just like medicated births do. I mean having a baby is very dangerous in general for mommy and baby so however it happens as long as mommy and baby are healthy and safe we should rejoice!
My son came into this world naturally...yet after he was born I still ended up getting an epidural and almost ended up with a blood transfusion AFTER he was born. It was so very scary and was NOT in my "birthing plan".
This next baby will be here by induction. I'm scared out of my mind. I could never judge another women for her choices because I'm not yet done having kids.....there is always a chance for complications. What I judge another woman for now could end up happening to ME later.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 2:50 AM , Anonymous Suchada @ Mama Eve said...

This is a really interesting post (and comments from your previous post). I'm not a fan of mommy "clubs" -- for birth, for feeding choices, etc, etc.

But I just have to say I think the way we birth DOES matter. Not in the sense that if you haven't done something according to the way you want to, you've failed, but in the sense that the United States has an abysmal maternal safety record, and informed choice regarding birth options is a joke.

I don't like the "clubs" because the feelings of judgment discourages women from telling their stories, and their feelings, and what they wanted, and experienced, and what they learned. Of course the most important thing is a healthy child, but that doesn't mean we as mothers shouldn't be informed, and empowered, and understand what our bodies are truly capable of.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 3:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is adopting. The circumstances surrounding their situation make the arguments about pushing vs section, natural vs pitocin, epidural vs helluvalotta pain seem trivial. She is arriving at mommyhood on a completely different, yet no less difficult or 'controversial' path. I wish mamas would quit trying to 'one up' one another and celebrate each other for our unique and beautiful experiences.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 4:40 AM , Anonymous Stephanie said...

Wish I could say the same. I'm not okay with my c-sec even though I know in my heart I didn't have one unnecessarily. I look at other birth stories that end with c-sec and you can often see a reason that could have been avoided (induction, pitocin, positioning, unfamiliar environment, etc) I am still, after 1 1/2 years ashamed of my c-sec. I can't ever shower, go to the bathroom, have sex, get undressed etc without seeing the scar that, in my mind ruined my otherwise normal body (never had a stitch, broken bone or been hospitalized ever, etc) I'm a part a 'club' I didn't want to join. I planned a home birth with my home birth midwife. I was in labor for 3 days, dilated to almost 10 cm and then finally realized that he was in face presentation (nose and lips coming down first, with his head flexed backwards onto his spine). Not a pretty picture and not the way he was going to come out...against all my will and planning our midwife recommended transferring to the hospital for a c-sec. (Some babies have been born in this very unusual face presentation however, after 3 days of labor my midwife really thought that if he was going to come that way he would have already. Plus, these babies usually have trauma to their neck and spine). At home, I had no other people their but my very supportive, reputable midwife and husband. I had my water pool set up, I could roam my home freely, I was healthy and strong, I got in every position imaginable, had taken all the natural childbirth classes and yet was still robbed of my experience and my son of his. It's not just about my experience but also his and it was not his preferred way to enter the world (bright lights, no skin to skin, unfamiliar smells and noises, etc). I'm pregnant again and planning another home birth. I think, I hope, it brings me the healing I'm looking for. Of course, I'm thankful for a healthy child and I made the right decision given the circumstances; however, for me anyways, the way I birth DOES matter. It is as intimate as making a baby for me and so I desire to be surrounded only by those I know and have no unnecessary interventions. I don't judge other moms but to say that they way you birth doesn't matter isn't correct for all...especially not me. The 'birth' of the mother is important too.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 4:41 AM , Anonymous Stephanie said...

Wish I could say the same. I'm not okay with my c-sec even though I know in my heart I didn't have one unnecessarily. I look at other birth stories that end with c-sec and you can often see a reason that could have been avoided (induction, pitocin, positioning, unfamiliar environment, etc) I am still, after 1 1/2 years ashamed of my c-sec. I can't ever shower, go to the bathroom, have sex, get undressed etc without seeing the scar that, in my mind ruined my otherwise normal body (never had a stitch, broken bone or been hospitalized ever, etc) I'm a part a 'club' I didn't want to join. I planned a home birth with my home birth midwife. I was in labor for 3 days, dilated to almost 10 cm and then finally realized that he was in face presentation (nose and lips coming down first, with his head flexed backwards onto his spine). Not a pretty picture and not the way he was going to come out...against all my will and planning our midwife recommended transferring to the hospital for a c-sec. (Some babies have been born in this very unusual face presentation however, after 3 days of labor my midwife really thought that if he was going to come that way he would have already. Plus, these babies usually have trauma to their neck and spine). At home, I had no other people their but my very supportive, reputable midwife and husband. I had my water pool set up, I could roam my home freely, I was healthy and strong, I got in every position imaginable, had taken all the natural childbirth classes and yet was still robbed of my experience and my son of his. It's not just about my experience but also his and it was not his preferred way to enter the world (bright lights, no skin to skin, unfamiliar smells and noises, etc). I'm pregnant again and planning another home birth. I think, I hope, it brings me the healing I'm looking for. Of course, I'm thankful for a healthy child and I made the right decision given the circumstances; however, for me anyways, the way I birth DOES matter. It is as intimate as making a baby for me and so I desire to be surrounded only by those I know and have no unnecessary interventions. I don't judge other moms but to say that they way you birth doesn't matter isn't correct for all...especially not me. The 'birth' of the mother is important too.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 4:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wish I could say the same. I'm not okay with my c-sec even though I know in my heart I didn't have one unnecessarily. I look at other birth stories that end with c-sec and you can often see a reason that could have been avoided (induction, pitocin, positioning, unfamiliar environment, etc) I am still, after 1 1/2 years ashamed of my c-sec. I can't ever shower, go to the bathroom, have sex, get undressed etc without seeing the scar that, in my mind ruined my otherwise normal body (never had a stitch, broken bone or been hospitalized ever, etc) I'm a part a 'club' I didn't want to join. I planned a home birth with my home birth midwife. I was in labor for 3 days, dilated to almost 10 cm and then finally realized that he was in face presentation (nose and lips coming down first, with his head flexed backwards onto his spine). Not a pretty picture and not the way he was going to come out...against all my will and planning our midwife recommended transferring to the hospital for a c-sec. (Some babies have been born in this very unusual face presentation however, after 3 days of labor my midwife really thought that if he was going to come that way he would have already. Plus, these babies usually have trauma to their neck and spine). At home, I had no other people their but my very supportive, reputable midwife and husband. I had my water pool set up, I could roam my home freely, I was healthy and strong, I got in every position imaginable, had taken all the natural childbirth classes and yet was still robbed of my experience and my son of his. It's not just about my experience but also his and it was not his preferred way to enter the world (bright lights, no skin to skin, unfamiliar smells and noises, etc). I'm pregnant again and planning another home birth. I think, I hope, it brings me the healing I'm looking for. Of course, I'm thankful for a healthy child and I made the right decision given the circumstances; however, for me anyways, the way I birth DOES matter. It is as intimate as making a baby for me and so I desire to be surrounded only by those I know and have no unnecessary interventions. I don't judge other moms but to say that they way you birth doesn't matter isn't correct for all...especially not me. The 'birth' of the mother is important too.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 4:52 AM , Blogger cooperl788 said...

One of my top reasons for reading your blog is getting to read all of the wonderful people's comments on your posts! I remember that post well, and I love that you did a recap. (I loved seeing my AND my BFF's words up there too!) Please keep writing about hot topics - it's so neat to get to see all the other perspectives out there.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 5:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Birth is complicated... 2 stories: #1 I have a wonderful daughter who gave me the very thoughtful gift of following my natural birth plan to the letter (if only bf had been so easy!). story #2if not for my brave mother and her doctor's c-sec intervention neither my daughter or I would be here today (I never was very cooperative for my mom). We all enter the world in our own way!

 
At November 20, 2010 at 7:55 AM , Blogger Bri!!! said...

Wow, very interesting, but I DO think it's very important how the baby gets here for some women. Of course there are many benefits to being born vaginally, but I think for some (not all) women, birth can be a life changing experience. For me, I long to have the natural birth experience. I had a 40 hour labor with my first son and was devastated when after 16 hours I gave in to have the epidural. I think it's pretty ridiculous that I felt that way because it was a beautiful birth and so worth the outcome. However, I believe there will be much healing that will happen during my next birth (I'm planning a homebirth). But I think it's different for each woman. Some women are more than happy to have a c-section. My sister had 3 and thought it was wonderful. My other sister has birthed 4 babies naturally and thought it was wonderful. I do take issue with our C-section rate big time. I do think moms need to do research and know their options and doctors need to start practicing evidence based medicine. But like you said, ultimately in the end the healthy baby is the most important outcome.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 9:27 AM , Blogger Mama V said...

I haven't read other comments but here's my initial reaction: the "club" (ick!) is about intention, not results. It's not like you sauntered in there at 37 weeks requesting a C-section because you were uncomfortable or bored. You worked hard, prepared for the best, and nature had other plans. Sounds pretty normal to me! ;)

 
At November 20, 2010 at 4:10 PM , Blogger Megan said...

I hate it when one mom makes another feel bad about her experiences. More commonly, I see moms unable to face other moms' experiences because of how they already feel inside. And it is what each mother feels that I am truly interested in. I'm not out to judge another mom's birth experience. I remain open to hearing how a woman truly feels, to hold the space for her story. I'm not interested in clubs, I'm interested in supporting women. I want to hold up the kind of mirror that shows women their inner strength, not one that enlarges their blemishes. And I think that birth experience matters - as the woman herself defines her experience, not me. I wish to be heard the same way: to be able to share my birth stories - the traumatic story, the ecstatic story, and the middle-road story - and for women to listen with equal interest and without hearing judgment from me about whatever their births may have been like.

 
At November 20, 2010 at 4:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this post on another blog has an interesting perspective on some of the mom-to-mom talk that can leave moms feeling judged when the other mom didn't mean it that way. http://dailymomtra.com/2010/11/activism-isnt-about-being-better-than-you/

 
At November 21, 2010 at 3:08 AM , Blogger Becca said...

Thanks for posting all this. As a control freak in her first time pregnancy, it is so good for me to be reminded that I am not in control no matter how much I plan. The baby will come and hopefully it will all go smoothly and we will both be healthy. That is all I can hope for.

 
At November 28, 2010 at 12:49 PM , Blogger Jennie said...

I too intended to be a member of the "natural birth club", and I made it a whole day without progression, until I was finally given IV drugs to help me rest, then Pitocin. It was that or a C-section and I'm glad I did get the choice. However, I don't know if I care next time around what the procedure is. I think I'd like to try drug-free again, but if things are getting rough, I'm not planning to agonize and suffer for hours and hours, only to end up using the drugs or risk a C-section. I think this is a great post because since giving birth I've even talked to another mom who made me feel terrible about not going "natural", but really, is there such a thing as an "unnatural" birth?

 
At December 7, 2010 at 5:32 AM , Blogger Enjoy Birth said...

Thanks for the follow up. I loved your first post so much, it took me awhile but I posted about it on my blog today. It is a great reminder that we need to respect each other and honor each others experiences!

 

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