8.21.2011

sick of the birth wars

i am tired of hearing extremes from both sides. i hate hearing from my fellow natural-birthers that mothers who choose to get an epidural or have c-sections don't bond with their children as well as women who have natural births. what an entirely heartless thing to say. do i believe the natural birth process can help with the bonding process? absolutely. but i don't believe it is the only factor in that early bonding process. and i know there are amazing, 100% devoted and loving mothers out there who've had elective c-sections (gasp).

i am also heartbroken and weary of hearing stories of incompetent midwives making ignorant or selfish decisions that result in the death of a baby. "homebirth" means a lot of things when it comes to statistics. these aren't just the planned homebirths of low-risk women with well-trained midwives. these are unassisted homebirths, unplanned homebirths, homebirths of teenage girls too afraid to tell anyone they are pregnant, homebirths of women living in poverty who could not afford health care, and homebirths attended by midwives like those mentioned.

i also am tired of those homebirths being the only ones people in the medical field reference to, and hearing that women who choose homebirth care more about the birth experience than about their baby. i am sick of hearing the mothers blamed for the death of their babies, and sick of deaths of babies in hospitals being ignored. the truth is, not one side is perfect. a mother must trust HER instinct and birth where she feels safest. i am along the line of thinking that birth is inherently safe -- i know many people will disagree with me on this one -- and that often, it is the situation the mother finds herself in that makes the birth unsafe. not that issues don't arise naturally, but i do believe that 98% of the time, with a good, well-trained, understanding and attentive care provider, birth is safe.

i can say, being on the homebirth side of things, i became defensive very quickly, because i'd only ever known hospital birth. i may be wrong, but my line of thinking is that in a society where 99% of women choose to birth in a hospital, hospital births don't need defending (unless you've been personally attacked... then by all means ;). if you've ever assumed i've judged you for your birth choices, know that i have not. my anger lies not in the choices of women, but in our health care system, the lies surrounding natural childbirth, the stories i hear day after day, and how women who have been hurt or traumatized are left thinking that's all there is, and that they should just settle for that kind of experience or treatment. i am not ignorant enough to think that's all there is in hospitals -- but i do know it is quite common.

i've heard so many people say, "it's just birth. so what if you have a good experience." but i can't sit here and tell you "it's just birth." not after what i experienced. and i'm not sitting on my high horse saying my experience was better than yours. if you were satisfied and happy with your hospital birth, had a great obstetrician, felt taken care of, had an epidural or cesarean section and wouldn't ask for anything different, who am i to say my birth was better than yours? i am not here to change your mind -- what my goal has been, always, is to show women that birth doesn't have to be scary or traumatic, and that it can be different than what most americans believe it to be. the truth is, it's not "just birth." women are impacted in some way when they give birth. hello, you are birthing a life into this world. it is the one of the most life-altering things you can go through. and so what if a woman says she feels empowered and strong after giving birth naturally? who is anyone to sit there and mock her, or tell her she's being selfish?

my faith in god comes into play in how i view birth, as well -- which is not something everyone is going to relate to. if i am talking to a non-religious woman about how i trust god because my body was designed for birth and i believe birth to be an amazing gift and spiritual experience, she is going to think i am crazy and it is going to mean nothing to her.

do i believe homebirth to be the best for me? obviously -- otherwise, i wouldn't choose to have one. if i felt for any reason that i would need to birth in a hospital, i would. but believe it or not, i don't think it is the best for everyone. some women need to be in a hospital to feel safe. some women need an epidural to calm their fears. but what i do believe above anything, is that every woman needs to educate herself about her body and the process of birth and needs to find the best option for her, whether that is in a hospital, birth center, or at home. don't just trust everything you hear. research, research, research. ask questions. don't go with a midwife just because it feels good. and don't go with an OB just because that's what everyone else is doing.

there's no point in these birth wars. what it comes down to is that women need to decide for themselves what is best, and everyone else just needs to back off. if someone has a different opinion than you -- so what. respect it. there is no reason for hateful language, bigoted attitudes, and assumptions about someone you do not even know. understand that they have that opinion for a reason. homebirth moms need to stop trying to make hospital birthing moms feel guilty for their decisions, and obstetricians need to shut up about something they have never even experienced. everyone needs to step off their high horse and mind their own damn business.

phew! how's that for pregnancy hormones?

on an ending note, of course i will continue to talk about and advocate for homebirth. and god willing, i will continue to be able to have homebirths. it is my passion, and if i come across as in-your-face about it, i don't mean disrespect, and don't misinterpret my passion as judgement.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you! I bonded with Talon immediately. They gave him to me in the operating room and I breastfed right after the surgery in recovery for the first hour of his life. And, his blood sugar dramatically improved because I fed him so soon. It was perfect for me, even though the c-section wasn't really planned. -Elise

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  2. Very well said. Having had hospital, birth center, and homebirths I will say that in my experience initial bonding was not affected by birth setting. (with every one of them I was just so stinkin glad to be done. ;-)
    My goal for any birth is "do what you need to do". Education on your choices and belief in your ability are HUGE steps in being able to own your birthing whether or not it turned out just like you "planned". (planned...ahahhahahah!)
    Judging other women or ourselves with labels and perceived intent is just harmful. Blame and guilt are death to peace.
    Thank you for speaking out.

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  3. i think a lot of us on the other side just want people to be safe with whatever they choose. it means mandatory insurance for midwives, risking more women out (no vba3cs), not advocating uc, i could go on and on. i dont want you to think that i hate homebirth. i think when it goes right it is lovely. but that a mw can kill several babies and go on practicing and no one bats an eye (mostly because no one knows!) - something's gotta change. i also hate when ppl say epidurals or sections cause delays in bonding. absolutely untrue. i could talk all day on this as you know, but i just wanted to assure you that not everyone who opposes homebirth is so extreme.

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