“Why go through all that pain if you don’t have to?”
“You’re not going to get a medal for bravery”
“You think you are better than us”
“Don’t try to make me feel guilty for wanting/having drugs”
“No one is better than another for not having medication”
How many of those of us who have chosen natural childbirth has faced these statements? I, for one, have heard them all… and more – including ‘crazy pioneer woman’, ‘hippy’, ‘holier than thou’, and ‘out to prove something’.
Where does this perception come from, and more importantly, why the animosity toward those who chose NCB?
How ‘screwed up’ is the United State’s perception of childbirth and pregnancy? A mother of two puts it this way: when she was looking forward to sharing her recent natural childbirth story with friends and family as it was an empowering and beautiful experience, this is her story. “When she tried to talk about the experience, however, people couldn't get past the fact that she'd had a drug-free birth. ‘Forget about all that other stuff,’ they would say. ‘You didn't have drugs?!!’
‘That's when I realized it was just even more screwed up than I thought,’ the mother says. ‘If people couldn't even hear you tell a story about how great childbirth was even though it hurt a lot, then there was something really screwy going on.’ "
We, as women, have allowed medical society to strip us of a very fundamental right: the right to full disclosure. Disclosure of what; what is lost during childbirth when it is not allowed to happen nature’s way, and what is added to labor and birth when interventions are thrown into the mix (risk).
The truth is, birth can be painful, but it is so much more than the discomfort. There is a beauty, a rite of passage, a feeling of self-accomplishment, growth, and self, a humbleness, and a safety net of giving birth the way nature intended. It is not about being better, being braver, being hippy, or being righteous – it is about being educated and making the decision that is most in favor of the facts. It is being wise.
Our society doesn’t get that. Just like the recent commercial for an over-the-counter pain medication ‘one more step toward a pain-free world’, we are dead set on floating through life comfortably. Fast and easy, pain free and strain free, we don’t want to work or feel the sweat of our brow any longer. And we are missing out on life in the process.
And, God-forbid, we remind someone of what they missed out on – inadvertently or purposefully, and we, the bearers of the good, though hard-to-swallow, news of natural childbirth, are on the chopping block. Guilt is translated into anger and defensiveness. Grief is translated into angst and self-preservation. Doubt is translated into fear and justification. And women who are 3rd and 4th generation victims of the breakdown of the beauty of life once again become proponents of the very thing that have instilled this victimization in the first place. They vehemently defend their abusers.
So, full circle, how do we get past this barrier that is set up in the minds, hearts, and defenses of medicated mommas? How can we share the beauty of something that seems so elusive and fantastical to the majority of women? I would love to hear your ideas – for I am at a loss at times… times such as these.