Childbirth is Not a Competition!

So—had a woman come into the office today, and asked me to write about how having a C. Section is not the end of the world and, for some, a necessity.

At first, I thought to myself–“Well a C. Section is NOT normal”–but then I listened to her side of this, and realized that we, as women, can really be bullies, for those who have a C. Section–that they have failed this basic rite of passage as a woman.

It just so happens that this lady is pregnant with her first child, after having had MAJOR–and I mean MAJOR surgery to her uterus.  There is NO WAY she is going to be allowed to labor!   It is really a miracle of modern medicine that she is even pregnant, after many years of trying!

So, she tells me–she is sitting at her prenatal group one day, and as pregnant women do –the talk got around to birth, and birth plans.

Well. as soon as she says she is having a planned C. Section at 37 weeks, she says there was a palpable change in the mood of the room!  Women shrank away from her, and shuffled their chairs to get farther away.  Eyes rolled, people giving signs to each other—“Who is this dingbat?”  “Why would she choose to do that?”

Sometimes, you have no choice!

Since WHEN did childbirth become a competition?  Why aren’t we supporting our fellow women.  I have not seen a tombstone yet that says “Here lies a woman who had natural childbirth”    Once the baby is out–generally speaking—nobody cares about your labor story—Yeah yeah—  been there— done that!

I hear birth plans and, although most of written with one’s own wishes, a lot are written with a sense of ‘peer pressure’  to:
1.  take no drugs
2. push out a 9 pounder after a four hour labor and
3. eat the placenta….

I hear partners on the other end of the phone saying to someone they have called after the birth, and the conversation goes like,

HIM:    ‘Hey ——   baby is here–yeah—   she’s beautiful’

OTHER SIDE (think Charley Brown with the teacher) “Wawawawawawa”

HIM:  “No–she had to take the epidural!”  with a downward inflection in his voice.

What the heck is with that!????   The other side clearly asking  “Did she have it NATURAL? or DID SHE TAKE SOMETHING FOR PAIN??    She took something????—I guess she is not quite the AMAZON WOMAN she thought she was!!!   SHE IS NOT WOMAN ENOUGH TO GO THROUGH LABOR WITH JUST A BULLET TO BITE ON!????   How do you think THAT makes a woman who has just been through labor feel??  EMPOWERED? Treasured?  Proud? Accomplished?


This is one competition where there are no trophies given for going natural–if that’s the way you want to do it–FINE—  HAVE AT IT–it’s YOUR birth!!!   I really hope it goes well for you…..but remember  –the best laid plans….and all that rot…

….. not everybody is lucky enough to have a 4 hour labor or to have a small baby, or to have the baby come the right way, or to have no placenta coming first instead of baby coming first–(pretty damn deadly if delivered vaginally).  I swear, I think women with PERFECT labors become doulas, and lay midwives!!!

Some of us “weak” women have to slog it out for over 36 hours, push for 5 hours, have back labor the whole time, and end up with forceps, etc etc  EVEN WHEN NOTHING MEDDLESOME (like induction), was done!!!   We just waited for labor–spontaneous is best right??–then we walked, and walked—–and walked.

Our water broke all on it’s own!   We drank fluids, we walked some more,  and at the end of 7 hours of walking, we get told we are TWO FREAKING CENTIMETERS–but “You’ve thinned out a bit!!”     THINNED OUT!!!!   My plan was to be SEVEN CENTIMETERS!!!

Sorry—cruel twist of Mother Nature–she doesn’t care about your birth plan—all you can do is HOPE that your labor goes well, and therefore you may get your “wishes” as laid out in the birth plan.

It’s the same when we have the baby–and we join “MOMMY BABY GROUPS”—more smiling viciousness!

I would hear:

“MY child is so smart–he was WALKING at 8 months old!”    Well–as it happens my baby was 10 pounds 9 ounces at birth (not diabetic!), and at 8 months he was heavier than the average one year old–so could not barely lift himself up–and other mothers would say, “He’s STILL not sitting up?”     He’s 6 ft 8 inches now, and quite athletic as an adult!

Your kid is smart because he is walking at 8 months?     -well MY kid is SMARTER –he makes me CARRY HIM!!!

“MY kid is so smart, and I am such a good mother(smug smile), that MY kid goes to sleep for the night at 8 pm.”

My kids were still wound up at 8 pm–I had spent the day at work, and now was stressed out trying to conform to my notion of ‘successful mother’, and getting kids to sleep by 8 pm.   Then it hit me—the only one stressed out was me.  I switched to 9 o clock–and that gave me an extra hour to read books,  do baths, and snuggle–and life just got happier… kids are all quite well adjusted, and happy adults.

Think about breast feeding!  Sweet mother!   This is a LEARNED act—-we need a village to nurse a baby–it can be really hard for some women!  Even I with all my knowledge, fretted over whether the baby was hungry–so imagine a woman who doesn’t have that medical knowledge and replace it with “well-meaning” people who preach ON AND ON AND ON AND ON–(get my drift) about how great breast feeding is. –It is “THE BEST”, “NATURAL”  “EASY”.   Relatives, friends, neighbors— all saying “The baby is crying because he’s hungry… he’s hungry … how do you know he is getting enough, he’s hungry he’s hungry—–”  WAY TO HELP AND SUPPORT FOLKS!!!

Look–get used to this–if the car breaks down or someone drops a dish–everything is YOUR FAULT because you’re nursing.

Well–not all women are blessed with great nipples—there are so many variations of nipples –some are sticking out a mile, others you have to pull from the backbone.  So, now you have a new mother–who is typically already tired, and now the nursing isn’t going honky dory either.  She really wants to nurse, has read all the books, and has plenty of help to show her how to latch baby, and how to hold baby–but the baby won’t latch!  Won’t suck!  Loses weight (we expect a 10% loss)–and it is exhausting for her!

We have moved from olden days when women came from around the neighborhood, and helped the new mom–now we have satellite families, and experts saying the baby has to be with the mom at all times–even if she is so exhausted, all she can think of is sleep.  Sometimes REST can be helpful—having somebody else rock the baby can let you get needed shut eye.

I really get angry when I hear someone tell a struggling mother who is doing her best that she should not “give in”.  She needs to “stay strong”   The message CLEARLY being–“If you give up–you are not a good mother!”  If you disagree–then please tell me how the mother is empowered when you tell her that her decision to stop is not a good one, or that she should not have “caved into corporate greed” by supplementing with formula.

THERE WERE WET NURSES IN BIBLICAL TIMES–because even then—BEFORE CORPORATIONS and formula companies–some women DIED IN CHILDBIRTH, and SOME WOMEN WERE UNABLE TO NURSE!  I have seen that supplementation for a few days can give the baby the ENERGY to suckle at the breast!   AND–in the END ….FED    IS      BEST!!!!

So–give up with the judging, and the competition–life is too damn short!    Think about what you say–is it a not so subtle put down?

Back to the woman who sparked this post—-I don’t often shriek–but when I saw she had booked a prenatal visit I literally did shriek—  right in front of a patient, and had to explain that I was not shrieking about HER—I was thrilled!!    She is going to be an AWESOME MOTHER—–and it does not matter how this baby comes into this world—IT WON’T GO ON YOUR TOMBSTONE!!!

So—when somebody says they are having a planned C. Section—you don’t know the road she has traveled to get to this point!   Rejoice in MOTHERHOOD,  and less on judging mode of delivery!

If she is BOTTLE feeding–just ask how she is sleeping and coping–don’t go “OH–really!”

Stop bragging about your kid sleeping through the night like you can control that, when someone is saying they were up all night with their baby crying –just think—be a SUPPORT!!

GOD  –I feel like Rick Mercer some days!!


2 Replies to “Childbirth is Not a Competition!”

  1. Brittany says:

    I was so glad to come across this refreshing post after hearing too many judgemental comments and articles about childbirth recently. I’m currently pregnant with my first child and I naively had no idea how much other women (and some men) do in fact treat childbirth like a competition. It’s irked me so much that I wrote down some thoughts about it here:

    Thank you for this welcome reminder that the most important thing about giving birth is bringing a healthy baby into the world!

    1. admin says:

      I LOVE what you wrote–you are SO articulate—can I add a link to your blog? You say it so much more eloquently than me–when on a rant!

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