As a woman and a “parenting blogger” who is not actually a parent, I try to keep an open mind about most things. Running STFU, Parents has afforded me a glimpse into many worlds, and one such world is that of the sanctimommy. There are many types of sanctimommies — so many that I’m convinced a good portion of sanctimommies would hate each other, despite certain commonalities — and one type in particular that always catches my attention is the birth junkie. Now, as I said, I try to keep an open mind about personal choices regarding birth, especially since I haven’t given birth myself and am not a doctor. I’m not here to judge anyone for having a lotus birth, for instance; I’m here to judge that person for showcasing the lotus birth on Facebook. That being said, birth junkies are a very special breed of sanctimommy, and today’s column is about a few of the ways in which they alienate their “friends” by beating the topic of birth, well, to death. Metaphorically speaking.
Birth junkies, “natural” sanctimamas, and even the occasional aggressive mama bear use Facebook in a way that most other sanctimommies don’t. While the common sanctimommy might utilize Facebook to brag, complain, or get enraged about a subject that pertains directly to her, the types of sanctimommies I’m talking about are usually speaking to ALL women and mothers about birth. They see themselves as counselors, coaches, and above all, champions for mothers and the birth process. Fundamentally speaking, I could get on board with some of their philosophies. I admire women who feel in control of their bodies, and I believe in a mother’s intuition. But even more than that, I admire women who have given birth and don’t feel the need to tell everyone every freaking thing about it and why their way is the best way.
If there’s one thing that’s firmly anti-woman, in my opinion, it’s women telling each other what to do with their bodies. Yes, a woman’s vagina can expand to the width of a football field (or so I’ve heard!), and sure, there are studies that say drugs are bad, mmkay, and giving birth naturally will be a great experience for both mom and baby. But that doesn’t mean there are “right” and “wrong” ways to give birth, and it’s not exactly empowering when an obsessive birth junkie is constantly lighting up Facebook with new updates about how STRONG women’s bodies are and how FIERCE women should be, like primal animals, when giving birth. Some women would actually rather just get an epidural to make the pain subside. Some women prefer to get C-sections because it’s what they prefer, or because it’s what was required in order to give birth to a healthy baby. And birth junkies aren’t doing those women any favors with their versions of support. Let’s check out a few of the ways in which these “wombyn” shame and complain on Facebook:
1. Natural Birth Lectures
When Lauren says, “A lot of people wonder why I’m so passionate about natural birth,” it’s clear to me she’s missing what those people are really saying. They’re not saying, “Golly, Lauren, why ARE you so passionate about this subject? DO TELL.” They’re saying, “Lauren, please stop. Stop stop stop I don’t need to hear anymore about natural birth for the rest of my life please THANK YOUUUUU.” I can only imagine the earful little Odin is going to get when he’s old enough to ask where babies come from.
2. Women Are Amazing
Okay, Birth Junkies Of Facebook (BJOF), WE GET IT. Women’s bodies are amazing. Women’s bodies can birth children. Women can endure a lot. For the love of cervix dilation, we know! I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a chart or a diagram posted on Facebook that outlines the exact amount of pain a woman can survive during birth. What I’d like to see instead is a diagram outlining how *I’M* going to survive if I have to keep reading about a woman’s pain threshold. Seriously, BJOF, most of us are aware that woman’s bodies are amazing. Especially women. We know.
3. C-section Pow-Wow
Is anyone else picturing Karin nodding and wearing reading glasses like a professor? Ughhh. What is the point of these types of discussions on Facebook? Isn’t this more like brunch material? Stuff the ladies can talk about over eggs benedict while pumping? I don’t mean to sound dispassionate, because I do care about this subject to a point, but I have to wonder why Monika felt the urge to share these thoughts with her entire Facebook community. Surely some of her friends have had elective C-sections. Does she not worry about offending them in the process? I guess in order to communicate thoughts as “deep” as Monika’s, one must be strong enough to know she’s going to piss off (or bore) a percentage of her friends. That’s just a risk that women like Monika are willing to take. As for Megan, I wish her well with her garden.
4. Epidurals Are For Sissies
Tyler, Sue, and Maggie: You guys are the real champions here, for speaking up and telling R. to shove it. Just because women “squat in rice fields and huts across the world” doesn’t mean women who get epidurals are “sissies.” And even if it did, who cares? What kind of person wears a shirt that essentially says “My Birth Method Is The Best Method,” anyway? Not someone I’d want as my friend. I would say that I wonder how she feels about formula feeding, but I’m sure she’s got a t-shirt for that, too.
The main argument women make for openly discussing birth practices and explaining (over and over and over again) what a woman’s body is capable of is that it’s supportive. The general thinking is that the discussions are necessary for women to feel better about themselves and their choices. But, sometimes I think the “sanctimamas” are actually doing a disservice by making women feel like they have to have a certain kind of birth to feel proud of themselves. If they wanted a home birth and had a hospital birth, they lose cool points. If they planned on a natural birth and wound up with an epidural and a C-section, they can’t share in the same joy or wax poetic about the “beautiful pain” of their contractions before pushing. It’s this type of mentality that leads to a person literally having nightmares about having a hospital birth with meds. Maybe if the education these sanctimamas (and documentaries) provided didn’t come with such harsh judgment, we’d all be better off. At the very least, it’d help women like Elise catch a few extra hours of much-needed sleep.