After Oprah recently gave a rousing speech about equality and women all over the place were feeling empowered and ready to get what they deserve I was dismayed to see a post on social media that made me want to rant (probably to myself but maybe to a reader or two) about the fact that childbirth is not a competition!
All Childbirth is amazing!
I all too often stumble across posts celebrating women who have had their children naturally and without pain medication. This is something to be celebrated, it’s amazing. However, it is no more amazing than the woman who had to be induced. No more amazing than the woman who had an emergency c section. No more special than the woman who didn’t want pain killers but after 24 hours in labour couldn’t take it anymore and had an epidural. No more miraculous than the woman who planned drugs but laboured too quickly and had to go it alone or the woman whose delivery ended with forceps. They are all amazing, special and miraculous!
Why Should pain in childbirth be a measure of achievement?
Childbirth is hard, it’s often scary and it bloody hurts no matter which way the baby eventually comes out. If I cut my leg or have a migraine or get through the flu without taking night nurse or paracetamol no one is going to celebrate me for tolerating pain. They may, in fact, think I’m a fool for putting myself through it. So why do we, as a Society, celebrate this in childbirth and determine a success factor to women based on how childbirth panned out? I imply no judgement to those who have managed labour without drugs. I don’t know how anyone manages it and you are heroes. Its just that being sliced and diced is hard too and I think I’m a hero too.
This little rant was sparked off today by a comment I came across on social media where a husband (who I am sure is very loving, supportive etc..) had posted about the safe delivery of his twins. Twins pregnancy and deliveries are fraught with risk and they do often end up in the NICU so I always feel relief whenever I see such a post especially after our stressful start with Twin 2. However, that’s not what struck me about this post. What struck me was that he said that he was super proud of his wife especially because she had delivered naturally with no drugs. Would he really have been less proud if she had ended up having a section or asked for a paracetamol? Probably not, but my point is that there is always an implied judgement on those who take the drugs or have c section. Maybe I am too sensitive, but I have also felt this judgement directly from other mums.
I tried labour without drugs for well over a day and I was not a fan. I also tried the drugs and they work, but ultimately ended up with an emergency section and then had to have 2 subsequent sections. Since then I have repeatedly sat with other mums where childbirth has been the topic and I have felt ashamed of my birth story. I invariably felt the need to explain and justify why I had c sections. Why should I have to do this? (Clearly this also has something to do with self esteem as why do I care what others think? However, that’s a whole other story)
Did I fail because I had c sections or an epidural?
No I bloody didn’t!! I have 4 children and that is a massive success even if they did come out of the sunroof. Society needs to stop celebrating only one type of delivery. It is always a miracle and childbirth is not a competition. Assuming baby is delivered safe and well you won the lottery! What I find sad about this is that any judgement I have ever felt has been from other women and we just all have to stop doing this to one another.