There Are No Medals For Birth… 

In this day and age, it seems many people are fixed on the idea of “natural” birth. No pain relief, calm, lovely, magical birth. As natural as the Earth around us and just like we used to do in the “old days”. It seems to be considered “superior”. I saw an article recently about the amount of women who develop birth trauma because they didn’t get to follow their birth plan.

I have one major issue with this. In the “old days” a hell of a lot more mums and babies died in childbirth. You barely hear of of mothers dying in childbirth nowadays, but only twenty years ago it was somewhat commonplace. And don’t get me started on the amount of mums and babies who died soon after birth because of lack of medical intervention.

When I got pregnant, I imagined I would have a water birth with probably just gas and air as pain relief, but I never said I wasn’t open to what I might need. The way I saw it was I wouldn’t know what I needed until I was doing it, so nothing was off the table. Then my blood pressure went up and the water birth idea went out of the window. Fine with me – I could have fought for it, but the thing was it wasn’t that important to me. Then at twenty eight weeks, Eden was still very much in a frank breech position. I didn’t like the idea of the ECV procedure to turn her and I have seen far too many breech births go wrong, so I got my brain used to the fact that if she didn’t turn, we would be on our way to scheduled ceasarean-ville. Again, it took some getting used to, but I soon adapted to the idea. Then of course, at thirty four weeks, she flipped!

I had to get used to the idea of “natural” (read – vaginal!) birth all over again and for some reason at that point the idea was pretty scary. I had gotten used to the idea of a scheduled surgery to give birth to Eden. Knowing the time, knowing the place and knowing pretty much exactly how it would be going down. Being thrown back out into the world of “it’ll happen when it happens” was quite unnerving, however I started putting together a birth plan in my mind. Normally, I’m a great planner. Tell me I’m going on holiday and I will plan it to the hilt, but for some reason I really struggled to plan bringing Eden into the world. My birth plan ended up being along the lines of –

I want to be active. I would like an epidural when I ask for one. I would like to use gas and air if possible. I would like delayed cord clamping and for Amy to cut the cord. Immediate skin to skin if possible. Baby can be given IV vitamin K at birth. We will be formula feeding from the start“.

I absolutely did not understand how some ladies manage to come out with several pages of detailed instructions. My biggest concern was that I had never done this before, so I genuinely had no idea how my body would fare or whether things would go as planned. Essentially, I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment by expecting too much and not getting it. I wanted to make loose plans just in case things changed quickly. Just in case something went wrong. I don’t know whether that was my fear from infertility and loss partially making me think that maybe this wasn’t actually happening, but I just felt unable to plan for it.

Then came the offer of induction due to my blood pressure. I accepted this immediately because not only did it give me some kind of a schedule, but by that point I was in for observations basically every other day, I felt like hell and my BP was just going up and up despite the medication to bring it down. I had real fears about pre eclampsia and dragging my butt up to hospital every other day was getting tiring. My induction was booked for two days later at 38+3. I still stuck with the same plan and pretty much got what I wanted when it came to Eden’s birth. Maybe that’s because I had barely any expectations.

I don’t understand why there is so much pressure on women to have a “natural” birth nowadays when in a lot of cases going the “natural” route would mean the death of us or our babies. I’m all for having preferences, but planning a birth to the hilt scares the hell out of me – especially when you’ve never done it before. How do you know how your body will cope? Every single baby and every single birth is different. A lot of women say we are “made to birth” but that is simply not true. If you want to get right back to nature, humans are basically made to die at the age of 30… Just looking at the amount of women and babies who die in childbirth in the developing world proves that we are not made purely to birth.

Modern medicine is fantastic. We save the lives of so many mothers and babies nowadays and that is admirable. Through C section, forceps, induction and other “unnatural” things, we bring a child into the world alive in many more cases than we would have managed before. That’s admirable. Well, it’s more than admirable, it’s incredible! I know quite a few women who, had it not been for procedures like those described above, would not be holding healthy babies.

So, can we quit shaming each other for birth choices or birth necessities? The amount of times I’ve heard someone say that a mother who gives birth by ceasarean hasn’t really given birth is insane. A woman who didn’t “feel all the pains” and chose to have an epidural hasn’t really given birth. A woman who was induced and didn’t “go naturally” didn’t really give birth. A women who has help from ventouse or forceps hasn’t really given birth. A human came out of all of these women, therefore she gave birth. It’s as simple as that. That’s the crux of it.

We need to stop making people feel bad for how they had their babies. How you give birth doesn’t make you a parent. How that baby comes out of your body isn’t integral in making you a mother. Being a mother is more than that and it’s about time we stopped pressurising women to have these “perfect, natural, healing” births. Birth is about getting a child safely into the world with mum safe too. That’s all as far as I am concerned. So much birth trauma comes from pressure to have these low intervention births. I understand why people want low intervention. I understand why women plan “natural” births, but what I don’t understand are the people who refuse medical intervention in an emergency.

So, go ahead with your birth plans. Make them as complicated as you wish. Do your hypnobirthing classes and all of the other things. Bring your essential oils. Or don’t. On the other hand get your scheduled C section, get your epidural, take your gas and air or your pain relief drugs. If all is going well it’s your choice! But just remember, if you or your baby have a medical emergency it will be medicine that will likely save both of your lives, not nature. And remember that your experience is yours alone. Let’s stop shaming and start standing together as mothers. Maybe empowering woman and not having some ridiculous birth “hierarchy” will help combat birth trauma?

Just remember – there are no medals for birthing your baby. 


This entry was posted in 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to There Are No Medals For Birth… 

  1. Me n you had the same birth plan I didn’t want to plan because anything can happen…..and ended up having to be induced, getting an epidural, and then my son got stuck and they had to vacuum him out which caused him to bruise badly and me to tare in 3 places including a 4th degree tare that I ended up having to have surgery on because it didn’t heal completely never could I have foreseen that

    • The way I thought of it was that my body had never done it before, so how could I possibly plan for it?

      • Same here, if I ever get pregnant again I’m setting up a C-section but if I did the baby would probably come on a different day than planned anyways lol my plan was the safest actions for me n baby I was very flexible

      • Personally I think flexibility is the best way. I’ve seen four page birth plans… FOUR PAGES! And I can’t imagine how disappointing it must be when you don’t get every element of your laminated four page birth plan…

      • Wow that seems a bit extensive I’ve known people who have gotten postpartum depression over it and I was afraid of getting ppd after going through losses I just wanted to enjoy motherhood I personally felt like being flexible with no expectations was better for my sanity

      • Yeah it can be a big contributor to PPD. That’s what makes me sad about it

  2. My birth plan was relaxed. I never wrote anything down. I told my midwife my plan was for the baby to come out, preferably vaginally. Even with those relaxed expectations, I struggled to process my birth for more than a year. People deal with major life events in their own way. Four page birth plan? Sounds like someone who is trying to find a little control in a new and possibly scary situation. My only advice to women who are preparing for birth is, surround yourself with people you trust and do you what you need to do to get through. Eff everybody else.

    • I totally 100% agree.

      Took me a little while too. There were moments that were traumatic for me. I can’t imagine how upset I would have been had I subscribed to the school of thought that I “failed” if I didn’t get what I wanted.

      • Yeah. My wife studies home birth, and she was talking about how one of the reasons that women hold on so strongly to med-free,intervention-free birth ideas is that their having to defend their choices against the dominant paradigm of medicated hospital birth (here in the USA). It ends up being an all or nothing kind of thing for many women because of that. I wish our cultures and systems of care could support women in the birth they want as well as the birth they end up having.

      • It would be amazing if we would all just listen to one another sometimes

  3. Mamalife says:

    My birth plan was 2 lines for my first one(after 3 miscarriages) do whatever it takes, I dont care what you do as long as the baby and mom are both safe and healthy. I had an induced delivert at 37 weeks.

    As much as I like being hippie about birth, I do raise my eyebrows at those who choose to ignore the Dr’s advice to have a birth of their choice.
    Also, I know many moms who havr had home births but it scares thrr crap out of me. What if there is need for sudden medical intervention!

  4. Diapers and Dumbells says:

    If I could give you a high five right now I would lol. My second baby was a scheduled breech C-section. I got a lot of judgement over it, but why? Natural birth is amazing but we have other options for a reason and are SO LUCKY to not have to be afraid of eminent death when things don’t go as planned.

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