You Better Keep Your Natural Birth A Secret Until After Delivery

shutterstock_139560956I had two natural births. One was at a birthing center, and one was at home. You can call me crunchy, granola, hippie, or whatever you like, but it was what worked for me, and I had a pretty good time doing it. I don’t humble brag about natural birth, but I do talk about it with friends if it comes up in conversation.

I’m not a natural birth advocate per se, and it is totally a personal decision. That being said, it shouldn’t warrant any more criticism than having an unexpected C-section or a medicated birth.

I’ve had a few friends contact me because they were interested in natural childbirth once they got pregnant. I’m not an expert, but these friends wanted encouragement. Both of them told me point blank that they were having a difficult time because every single person that they talked to told them horror story after horror story.

Now what kind of sense does that make? Natural childbirth is just something that a woman chooses to do, and it’s not for everyone. But I still can’t figure out why people think it is their personal right to scare a pregnant woman considering natural birth, or even worse, to mock her and tell her it won’t work out.

Don’t be a dick. If I sign up to run a marathon and begin the training process, I highly doubt people would say, “Hey, did I ever tell you the story about my friend that signed up for the New York Marathon and got hit by a bus? Or what about my friend that ran the Boston Marathon and her leg randomly broke in half? It was horrific. Do you want to hear more about it?”

I told both of my friends that came to me for encouragement not to tell other people about their aspirations for natural birth. If you try to go natural, it may work out, and it may not. (In my case, it pretty much had to work out because I gave birth in a birthing center that did not offer medication.)

I also gave my friends the best advice I had to offer: Like the sports saying goes, it’s 90% mental. It’s probably best to face the facts that the majority of people are going to tell you a terrible story about childbirth when the topic comes up. Don’t let them get in your head. Keep your natural birth a secret and see how it goes. If your natural delivery goes well, you can have the last laugh and put the Debbie Downers in their place. If not, at least no one can say, “I told you so.”

(Image: PathDoc/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • glarg

      Your experience and intent notwithstanding, women who DON’T choose (or, don’t experience notwithstanding their choice; that is, where they would have chosen natural but required “non-natural” interventions) a natural birth are often saddled with a lot of judgment, blame, etc. for it. So when you suggest that women who do choose and can attain natural birth shouldn’t be judged more than those who don’t, I AGREE with you, but want to point out that that standard would still expose them to quite a lot of judgment.

    • Shannon

      Lol, I have to confess I totally did this because my friend that was expecting her first informed me that natural childbirth “can’t be bad because it’s natural. That if you don’t succeed you’re probably off to a rough start with being a mother.”

      So, yeah, I told her all about how I was wailing like a manatee in heat and screaming “give me the goddamned epidural NOW” before I even hit 6 cm. and that she was a huge dick for deciding others’ parental fate based on how the kid is born.

      For real though, good for you! I find stubbing my toe completely debilitating so me and drug free labor don’t mix.

      • Williwaw

        I love “wailing like a manatee in heat”.

      • Guest

        Yeah, if the labor doesn’t go well you may as well drop your kid off before you head out the hospital’s front doors cause you are screeewed.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Dude, I would’ve done the same. ;)

      • ellymoemoe

        Did your friend get the birth she wanted/expected?

      • Shannon

        She’s due in mid may so we will see what happens. Kinda funny wording above, sorry about that.

      • Anj Fabian

        You know what I want?
        Not the artfully staged and edited photos, I want the sound track. The groaning, the moaning, the screaming, the bellowing…

        The haunted house sound tracks are so hokey. I want REALISM.

      • K.

        “if you don’t succeed you’re probably off to a rough start with being a mother”

        What kind of fucker says something like that?

        (although maybe she’s referring to the “rough start” as in trying to take care of a newborn after major abdominal surgery? Because that was kind of rough on me.)

      • Kelly

        She sounds like a bitch. I don’t get her logic either. So, if I had let my son die, I’d be a better mother? Yeah… OK.

    • Guest

      But how are they supposed to give you unsolicited advice if you don’t tell them??

    • rrlo

      I really hope that the “C-sections for everyone” and the “how dare you drug your unborn child” crowd do not show up to this discussion. Both crowd scare me with their nonsensical commitment to how others choose to have babies.

      On another note, home-births seem to be falling in favour – I have recently seen a series of articles discussing that they are have higher chance of infant morbidity and mortality. If that is the case, I want the medical community to get their shit together and provide clear guidelines and recommendations regarding homebirths.

      • Fondue

        Actually, homebirths are on the rise. It’s still a very, very small percentage of births (I believe only about 1% here in Arizona), but the number is increasing. The higher chance of infant or maternal mortality occurs when you have an unassisted homebirth or an lay (unlicensed)-midwife. Arizona’s Department of Health Services just studied and revamped their rules and guidelines for homebirths last year. So, yeah, care providers are “getting their shit together” in regards to ensuring homebirth remains a safe option for those who desire it.

      • Ennis Demeter

        Home birth is more dangerous, period. Turns out, if you do childbirth far from doctors and equipment who can save you if things take an unexpected turn, it’s more likely your baby will die.

      • Lilly

        except that is not actually true — the places that have regulations and controls surrounding homebirths and midwives have lower infant mortality rates than hospitals. It is just that a lot of places don`t have rules so basically it is a free-for all and it does go to shit a lot.

        http://www.cmaj.ca/content/181/6-7/377.full.pdf

      • Ennis Demeter

        Nurse midwives almost never attend home births in the United States. Most “midwives” who attend home births in the US are Certified Professional Midwives, who only recently have been required to have a high school diploma. The Midwives Alliance of North America just released their death stats after hiding them for five years and they are terrible, even though it was only voluntarily reported deaths. The CDC has reported the homebirth in the US is dangerous. The editor of Midwifery Today was caught crowd sourcing a post dates pregnancy with no amniotic fluid, asking whether the mother should go to the hospital, and the thread was full of “midwives” advising no, try massage. That baby died. Logic also says that being near an operating room in case you need an emergency c-section means that hospital birth is safer.

      • Stacy21629

        If a baby dies at 6 months of age, how is that relevant to place of birth exactly?

        Infant mortality is death up to one year of age. The number you’re looking for is perinatal or neonatal mortality. And American CPM/DEM homebirth loses there every time.

        Read the recent Cornell study.

      • Jayamama

        In other first world countries besides the US, midwifery and home births are much more common. In fact, it’s just as accepted have some sort of midwife rather than an OB. And guess what? Their infant and maternal mortality rates are much lower, as well. The US rates next to last in developed countries. Are American women just not able to give birth as easily? Or can it be that our 1 in 3 rate of C-Sections and insistence on involving surgical doctors in normal birth is affecting the health of babies and mothers alike?

      • Lilly

        that was the point of the journal article I linked above — from the Canadian Medical Assoc. Planned homebirth with midwife had the best outcomes, midwife at hospital had 2nd and doctor at hospital had 3rd 00 the result was that for low-risk (most) births homebirth with midwife is equal any hospital birth.
        The big caveat is that midwives are generally regulated and paid for by the health care system in Canada (in Ontario where I live they have to do a post-grad degree in midwifery and a practicum before becoming licensed), resulting in a standard of care and practice (and also about which patients they can take on) that yields such great results.

      • Tinyfaeri

        A likely reason for the higher perinatal, neonatal and maternal mortality rates in the US is better reporting. Not saying that there aren’t serious flaws in the systems surrounding birth in the US, just saying that statistics are not always pure fact and don’t always represent the whole picture. Like my birth center’s C-section rate being so much lower than hospitals. It was – at least partially because they refused any patients who were at high risk for one (multiples, previous C-sections, pre-existing diabetes, etc).

      • guest

        Extremists of any sort scare me, but there’s just something about the birthing ones. You’re either a homebirthing, doctor-hating hippie who believes eating your placenta will cure cancer, or you’re an unempowered, C – section getting princess who cares more about comfort than your baby. Makes med-free hospital birth mamas like me feel like we don’t really “belong” with the natural birth community or the hospital birth community. I wish we could all just be more supportive of each other.

      • Fondue

        I’m planning to have a homebirth, and a lot of my midwife’s other clients are pretty crunchy, so I sometimes feel like I don’t belong either. I’m planning on having a fresh wax and manicure/pedicure before getting into the birthing tub and the other ladies are getting belly casts and henna tattos on their bellies and lining up someone to make placenta pills. So, I get it.
        I want to have my baby at home because that is where I will feel most comfortable and safe (I’ve had a bad experience with an OB, so I’m very wary of them). If being in a hospital is where you will feel most comfortable and safe while bringing your baby into the world, go for it. :)

      • rrlo

        Good luck with that. I hope all goes very well for you and you have a wonderful caregiver to look after your needs.

      • NYCNanny

        You’re fab.

      • Tinyfaeri

        In real life, I would hope we are. My friends, family and I have had just about every degree of medical intervention, and aside from asking how the birth went, no one has cared.

      • Kelly

        I have to say that in real life, I’ve never met a woman who thought everyone should have a c-section.

        On the other hand, I’ve been flat out called a failure to my face by more than one natural birth extremist because I needed a c-section.

      • SDM14

        A “friend” of mine implied that I had an “unhealthy” birth because I had an epidural. She has never had a baby.

      • Kelly

        Yep, that’s familiar. I heard some bitch tell one of my friends that she made her baby a drug addict because she had an epidural. It’s insane.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        Yeah my friend told me if I have an epi the baby will be a druggie. Meanwhile she sucked down the gas her whole labour, which is fine, but that actually does cross the placenta, unlike the epidural.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        Homebirth isn’t safer, and MANA buries the statistics. Unfortunately the people who want home births generally aren’t interested in what the medical community has to say about it, because patriarchy/oppression/desire to profit. It isn’t safer. Ever.

      • rrlo

        I don’t think Homebirths are safer.

        I do think randomly arguing with a person on the Internet on Homebirth when that person has clearly stated that’s what they want is completely useless and condescending. It is none of my business.

        It stops being hypothetical argument when someone says “I am planning a Homebirth” and unless we are that woman’s close family member or caregiver – we need to just back off. And me occasionally reading the Skeptical OB does not make me an expert.

    • Williwaw

      When I signed up for my first marathon, my brother told me I wouldn’t be able to do it and that I should do something easier, like a 10 km run first…it definitely sucks when people are not supportive of your choices and assume you don’t know what you’re doing!

      • Bethany Ramos

        Yes! In any endeavor.

      • Guest

        #thingsmyparentssay Some people are Debbie Downers. Everytime I bring up doing a run they’re all huffy about it like I’m crazy. Just last night I brought up signing up to volunteer at a horse stable with special needs kids. Per my mother’s text my dad said that if I wanted to help someone disabled I could come clean his house. Not funny.

      • Ennis Demeter

        You can’t control childbirth the way you can control running a marathon though. There really is no “training” for childbirth. You can’t condition your uterus, or do exercises that make cord prolapse or hemorrhage less likely. There is no evidence that breathing or meditation helps with pain, either. Preparing and being aware of what is happening in labor is good. but no woman can control what happens, not really.

      • Williwaw

        Oh, I totally agree…I just meant that people are often not very supportive of the personal choices of others. I try to be (within reason), although I don’t personally feel the urge to ever do drug-free birth (I had laughing gas, then an epidural, and then had to get a c-section anyway). And I 100% agree that breathing and meditation don’t help with cord prolapse or other complications, and I have never understood people’s excessively rococo birth plans (mine was just “get to hospital, do what it takes to get baby out healthy”). I know some people claim meditation, etc. things help with pain, and that’s great for them if it works, but it doesn’t work for everyone – I have a chronic pain condition, and breathing, hypnosis, guided imagery, and meditation have never helped me, and they certainly didn’t help during labour (it was also kind of annoying because one of my maternity nurses kept wanting me to sit on the birthing ball some more and do some deep breathing, and I was all “no, just get me the epidural”).

        All of this is why I enjoy marathon running more than childbirth (because I prefer to be in control).

      • Jayamama

        Actually, childbirth is just as much a mental act as a physical one. While there are certain conditions that are not preventable by preparation, pain management is not one of them. Watch any video of a hypnobirth, and you’ll be hard-pressed to believe they’re in pain. The breathing is to help oxygen get to the uterus, since it is a muscle, and to relax you. And it has been proven that fear adds to the pain, so being relaxed and confident reduces the pain. You can even do perineal stretching to help with crowning and sometimes reduce tearing. I wouldn’t say that either of my home births were easy, but they would have been impossible without the months of preparation, both physical and mental.

      • Bethany Ramos

        YES.

    • Rabbit

      This is something I just don’t understand (getting butthurt over how someone else decides to use their body). Why does anyone care how or why you did what you did while giving birth? Why? I can’t imagine giving even half a fuck about how anyone pops out a kid, other than “Are you okay? Is the kid okay? Good. Done. New topic.” And the idea that if/when/whatever I decided to have a kid, people will care about/have and opinion on how I’m planning to do it is just insane to me. Like, actually insane. I can’t even picture my best friends giving a fuck about method of birth. If people quit wasting their breath on nonsense, maybe they can focus more on, well, not being weird, nosy, little asshats, and we can get on more serious topics. Like why people are willing to eat shit sausage.

      • Shannon

        “…like why people are willing to eat shit sausage.”

        WORD.

      • Williwaw

        Peer pressure?

      • Rabbit

        Dude, if someone’s “friends” are peer pressuring them into eating shit sausage, they’ve got bigger problems than can be helped on an online forum!

    • guest

      So much this. Last time I was super excited about my med-free hospital birth, and was pretty open about it with everyone. After many eye rolls and “hahaha you’ll change your mind!” comments, I just didn’t say anything unless someone point blank asked. I gave birth in exactly the way I wanted to, and people were much more supportive of my decision after the fact. This time I’m planning on doing it the same way, but am not planning on sharing it with the world unless asked. It’s just easier, and frankly it’s nobody else’s business

      • Emme

        I was put in this position at my baby shower, except I said I was getting an epidural. That brought on comments of “I wanted one too, but the nurse F-ed it up” (complete with a shudder) and “Oh, you kind of want to be knocked out for it then, huh?” I don’t even know if I would share again even if asked. You can’t win either way!

    • Sara

      I’m like 90% my mom’s birth plan was: get the baby out. Feed the baby. Love the baby. Smack the dumbasses that judge how I got the baby out. Which I think is an excellent plan.

      • Elisa Probert

        I’m loving your plan. Mind if I borrow it if I ever need one?

      • Sara

        Of course, dahling!

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        This is my plan.

      • Sara

        It’s also how she fed us too! Cheapest and easiest(for her)? Breast milk. Stupid older brother ate like a baby whale? Breast milk and supplement with formula.

    • Meg

      I think parents just like to scare pregnant people. Natural birth is probably last on my list of desires at this moment (4months pregnant first baby) but I have been told horror story after horror story of all kinds of labor and birth. In fact I’m pretty sure I haven’t talked to a single person yet that was happy with their birth experience.

      • Guest

        I had a great birth experience! It went quickly (almost too quickly) and I got the epidural that I knew I wanted. People only like to share the scary stories. Don’t let them scare you.

      • Nica

        Same here. Two spontaneous labors, two epidurals, two relatively uneventful hospital births. Not gonna lie – shit gets real once those contrax start coming one after another, but I never thought I was going to die or anything like that! That said, the mix of endorphins, hormones, etc. that floods your body when that baby is born and you see and hold him for the first time is unparalleled. I cannot imagine there is ANY drug out there that mimics that feeling because the entire human race would be addicted to it!

      • iamtheshoshie

        I went in not wanting drugs at all, but when I wanted an epidural it was fucking magic. Though holding still during strong contractions for the needle stick was the worst.

      • Guest

        I think it’s a little like losing your v-card; the more you picture it being this perfectly beautiful event full of love and candles and rose petals, the more disappointed you are when you find it’s painful, sweaty, and awkward.

      • Brittany Anne

        I had the same experience with my first pregnancy. I heard so many horror stories that by the time it was time to give birth, I was terrified. I guess the upside to it was that it was actually so much nicer than I imagined. My labor went really smoothly (it was long, but I had an epidural pretty early on, and good Lord, they are magical things), and now I have a happy, healthy baby!

        So yeah, definitely don’t let them scare you. :)

      • Jessica

        That’s exactly I how felt! My daughters birth was a million times better than I expected. So now anytime I see one of my friends getting nothing but horror stories I jump in just to let them know it isn’t always a nightmare.

      • rrlo

        My birth experience was fine. Some of it was painful. Some of it was annoying. It was rather longer than I had hoped. But it didn’t end in a c-section – I was happy about that (not because I don’t support C-sections but the thought of labouring for days and THEN having a c-section sounds like the worst to me).
        In the end I had a nice, little baby. Recovery took a few weeks. Then I was fine.

        Very boring, very mundane. I hope yours is the same or better.

      • Hayden

        As someone who labored for days and then had a c-section I can definitely say yup, it IS kinda the worst :) Especially because I wanted a natural birth so badly that I took a hypnobirthing course in a city 1.5 hours from home, read all the books, did all the yoga, you name it. I won’t say it was all for naught because I mentally got through the ordeal pretty well but yeah. Not so ideal.

        AND YET, after all that I don’t really feel like I had a bad birth experience…is that weird? It was still amazing on some level. I didn’t feel traumatized and I felt proud of myself for getting through it and also, I was in love, in love, in love with my son.

        So Meg, maybe that can reassure you a bit :)

      • iamtheshoshie

        Are you me?

        ETA: But, yeah, the punchline is that I also labored for days, had a c-section, and 6 weeks later am no more worse for wear. Aside from being super sleep deprived.

      • Kelly

        If people ask me, I’m going to tell them the truth. My birth experience was a total nightmare. I’m not going to sugar coat it for anybody. Partly because I wish I would have had some idea of just how bad it could be instead of hearing bullshit like, “It’s a natural thing! Women have been doing it forever!”

        Yeah, women have been dying during labor forever too.

        Long story short, I don’t volunteer the details of my labor but if you ask, you’ll get the truth. Followed by the fact I recovered completely from it and have a healthy child.

      • SDM14

        Agreed. The strongest word I heard from my midwives was “intense.” Breaking Bad is intense, my labour hurt like hell.

      • rrlo

        Not just midwives. The doctors that observed me for my birth kept on using the word “uncomfortable” for contractions. I guess they don’t like to use the phrase “hurt like hell” too much.

      • Erin Murphy

        I had an unmediated hospital birth and I was happy with the experience. My son is 4 months old now and I don’t remember having tons of pain. I told my husband after my son was born that the pain wasn’t as bad as I expected but that I wasn’t in a hurry to do it again.I think that’s the best way to sum it up. I personally found breast feeding to be much worse than labor.

      • sparklesmcgee

        Yes same! Two natural hospital births. They hurt and it got a bit scary at times but looking back I feel strong and proud of myself and hardly remember the pain. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, was a total fucking nightmare for the first few weeks, both times. I have crystal clear memories of agonising pain and that has never faded!

    • Shannon

      You know what it might be? If a woman tries, and fails, to give birth naturally–but then hears that another wants to attempt natural birth,–I think it may set off a little competition in her head She may not have succeeded, but she doesn’t want others to because what does that say about her? That she’s a failure? A pansy?

      Definitely not saying it’s okay. But maybe that’s why others react with negativity?

      • Fondue

        No, I think people just love to share horror stories in general. Tell someone you’re going to Hawaii and they’ll immediately tell you about getting stung by a jellyfish while they were snorkeling or tell you about how they got food poisoning from a freaking mai tai.

      • Tinyfaeri

        Yup. There’s always one. But hey, at least you don’t have cancer! (or cancer as bad as this one woman I knew, let me tell you all about it!)

      • SDM14

        I feel that way about my own birth (that when I got an epidural at 9cms, I failed). But I don’t bring anyone else down. I just assume that they’ll get their natural birth and do a better job than me. But I can see how someone might react that way and try to tear someone else down. It happens.

      • footnotegirl

        You did not fail. You changed your plan. Baby born? Baby alive? Mom alive? BIRTH WIN. No matter how it happened.
        If I decide to vacation by hiking the appalachian trail, and get 200 miles in and then say “You know? I gave this hiking thing a chance, and it is not for me, and my feet are really too much to handle..oh, hey, look at that resort. I’m going to finish out my vacation at that posh resort over there.” I didn’t fail my vacation, I CHANGED my vacation.

      • SDM14

        You’re right about this. And I’m trying to change my thinking about it.
        On a lighter note, have you read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods? It’s a travel memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trial…and stopping after about 800 miles. :)

    • emily_bemily

      I’m about to have my first baby (seriously, my water broke this morning) and there is no end to people being assholes about what they won’t think will work for you. If I tell someone I’m planning on a natural birth they’ll laugh and tell me that won’t last. I’m also an idiot for thinking I can successfully cloth diaper, make my own baby food, and raise a normal uncircumcised son.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Good luck!!! :)

      • Brittany Anne

        Congratulations, and good luck! :)

      • rrlo

        Good luck! Congrats.

      • Fondue

        Good luck and congrats!!!

      • K.

        Congratulations!

        And seriously–people tend to stfu once you have the kid and ARE cloth diapering, making the food, cleaning the foreskin etc.

        I got the same thing about the cloth diapers, and it struck me as really weird that people seemed to think that if you say, “I’d like to cloth diaper” that somehow is tantamount to signing a legal contract and you are barred from Huggies for the rest of your life. Happily, I love our cloth diapers, but we’ve still got a stash of disposables for emergencies and travel :D

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        OMG UPDATE?!?! and congrats

      • emily_bemily

        I HAD MY NATURAL BIRTH BITCHES! Baby Ethan born 11:13pm on the 27th. Take that haters.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Congrats!!!! Love the name and SO VERY happy for you! :)

      • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

        Congrats and best of luck!
        And as for cloth diapering, if you have easy and free access to laundry, and a willing spouse, you can usually make it work. It’s just a regular part of the ‘ol routine around here.

      • Kitsune

        Congrats and good luck!

      • ChickenKira

        I got so much shit about homemade baby food too. I can’t figure that one out, I can cook for me, reasonably well if I dare say so myself, so I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to cook for a baby, because, you know, smashing some roasted pumpkin with a fork is really very difficult.

      • Jessifer

        For me it was the opposite. I joked one evening once about my son not wanting to eat my homemade puree cause it tasted like crap, and how it was jarred food that night as back-up, and everyone went apeshit telling me not to give him the jarred puree, like I had injected him with heroin or something.

      • ChickenKira

        You can’t win. Whatever you do, it’s wrong.

      • OhHeyDelilah

        Oh wow, are you me? A friend’s husband asked me recently what kind of diapers we would be using when our baby is born and I said I was planning to use cloth. He gave me a fucking lecture, like ‘oh, nope, you have to use disposables.’ I said politely, ‘well, we’re planning to use cloth’ so he went on a bizarre rant about how much better disposables are, and then spent the rest of the night dropping lame, unrelated asides into the conversation, like ‘oh hoh hoh that’s like the equivalent of using a cloth diaper when disposables are the only way to go!’ I cannot fathom why he cares what I am planning to cover my child’s ass with, or why i am supposed to justify it to him, but my god it was annoying. Some people seem to think if you make different choices to theirs you are somehow invalidating every decision they ever made. It boggles my mind.

      • Véronique Houde

        well, you can tell him for me to go screw himself because i did both too and it’s not the end of the world. Right now, she’s in disposables only because we’re renovating and having to add loads of laundry on top of destroying and rebuilding my house, including my bathroom with washer and dryer in it is overwhelming. But the minute that the renos are done, she’ll be back in cloth ;)

      • OhHeyDelilah

        I will happily tell him to go screw himself. BRB.

      • Tinyfaeri

        Just goes to show, if there’s a thing out there, someone will be crazily passionate about it. My mom cloth diapered us because my brother had a reaction to the disposables at the time. Not a big deal, and the diapers make great rags when you’re no longer using them to cover your baby’s butt. They also have diaper services out there that are pretty awesome if you don’t want to use your own washer/dryer.

      • OhHeyDelilah

        Spot on – people are crazily passionate about all kinds of random crap, most of which has nothing to do with them. I find it amazing. I almost wish I had the energy to care SO MUCH about what other people do, but frankly I would rather just keep lying here on my couch, ramming cookies into my face.

      • Tinyfaeri

        Mmmmmm… cookies… :)

      • Erin Murphy

        Let us know how it goes! We’re slowly increasing how much we cd. My son had chicken legs and always leaked or had diapers that were so large on his skinny body that I couldn’t feed him.. Don’t throw in the towel if it doesn’t work right away.

      • iamtheshoshie

        What kind did you use? Our baby has total chicken legs and prefolds work well for us. AIOs and pockets were a disaster, though.

      • Erin Murphy

        I was too intimidated for prefolds but I’ve used everything else. My favorite are an aio called totsbots by bummies but they are 25$! The fitted hempy heineys do a good job holding but the whole thing gets soaked with pee and skeeves me out. I use them and they are supposed to be excellent when he’s able to move in his sleep. I’ve been experimenting with various stuffing combinations for pockets. I didn’t really believe the hemp liners were that great but I bought some out of curiosity and those suckers get the job done!

      • iamtheshoshie

        I wanted to love tots bots, but we had a poopsplosian and I was sad.

      • iamtheshoshie

        We use cloth and it’s awesome! Diaper laundry is so easy because no folding or hanging. Even my husband likes it.

    • K.

      So, I had the best of both worlds: 20 hours of labor (no drugs) that ended in a c-section, which means I get questions all the time about which one was ‘better.’

      I pretty much tell people that unless there is a medical necessity to change the plan, whatever you envision, you can probably do.

      But you have to figure out what you want. Hearing stories from people won’t tell you that much because your body, your baby, and your goals–and your fears–are different. I’ve never heard two birth stories that were the same experience for two mothers.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I didn’t (and still don’t after the fact) mention mine unless I was asked directly after getting snarked on at lunch with friends and told “oh, let me know how that goes” and “you’ll ask for the drugs!” I have my own reasons for going with a birth center that didn’t do epidurals, and I had a great experience. I don’t know if mentally I personally could get to a home birth, but I can see how someone who was low risk and had a good midwife could get there. People need to worry less about what everyone else is doing and more about what they’re doing, and as women we all need to support each other more rather than tearing each other down for whatever choices we make or paths we have to take.

    • SDM14

      I tried my hardest to have a natural birth with my second (four months ago) and failed at it. I got to 9cms and couldn’t go any longer. I feel tons of shame over it (the logical part of my brain thinks this is silly) and I hate hearing about people who “succeeded” at natural birth. When I read this, I think, why couldn’t I do it? What is wrong with me?
      I would never try to scare a woman out of a natural birth, like many people do. I tend to just think that if they manage it, they’ve done a better job than me. I’m fairly certain I’m struggling with some PPD, which is exaggerating these feelings of failure, but it still sucks.

      • Tinyfaeri

        *hugs* and it sounds like you might want to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. You have a baby, you’re not a failure. You don’t hear anyone talking about how their kids were born on their first day at school, their first dance, their first time driving a car, their high school graduation, etc. OK, you might, but those are the ones you want to avoid for obvious reasons. My point is that in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, and though you’re upset now, I hope you won’t always be. And you’re not a failure in case it needs to be said again.

        And seriously, talk to someone ASAP if you think you have PPD – don’t wait like I did, it’s worth it to feel better sooner rather than later.

      • SDM14

        Thank you, you’re very kind. I’m actually going to speak with a counsellor tomorrow. I tried meds for PPD but the side effects were awful so I stopped taking them (with my doctor’s supervision). I’m going to try talking it out instead.

      • Tinyfaeri

        I wish you all the luck and healing in the world. *more hugs*

      • Kelly

        You did not fail. There is nothing wrong with you. The human body simply does not always magically do what we want it to do. People die of natural things every day. You are not a failure. Anybody who tries to make you feel like one over this is just an asshole.

        No one “succeeds” at natural childbirth either. it’s not a test. Those people just got lucky that things went right for them. Just like people who don’t get cancer are lucky, they aren’t superior to those who do.

      • SDM14

        Thank you. And the rational part of me (that isn’t hormonal and sleep-deprived and all that) does realize this. My sister had a C-section and is completely happy and satisfied with it, and I felt really happy for her. It went well, her recovery was easy (she said breastfeeding hurt worse than her incision) and her scar is teeny-tiny. And of course, her daughter is awesome. And my birth plan with my first baby was essentially: get baby out safely, the end. But somewhere along the way I internalized these feelings of natural birth being superior and an “achievement.” I now live in very crunchy area, which could be part of it.
        Anyway, thanks again, and I’m hoping that speaking with a therapist can help me work out some of these thoughts.

      • Kelly

        You’re so welcome. I felt awful and like such a failure as a woman after my c-section. Some of my “friends” made those feelings much worse. I hate hearing other women feeling guilty about how they gave birth because I empathize with it so much.

        I hope you start to feel better soon and speaking to a therapist can really help, especially when PPD is concerned. I waited so long to get help with mine and now I feel silly for it. I wish you all the best.

      • SDM14

        Oh yeah, definitely some “friends” made me feel awful. One, in particular, has never been pregnant but has a close relative who is a midwife, so of course that makes my friend an expert. Grrr.

      • iamtheshoshie

        So many hugs to you! From another mama who wanted an unmedicated birth and didn’t have one.

      • SDM14

        Right back at you!

    • Kay_Sue

      Well, in all fairness, they tell you horror stories regardless of how you are giving birth. They only need to know how so they can tailor their specific brand of horror to your experience. It’s a service, really…

      • meah

        So true. Why? Why do we do this to each other? Puppy dogs and rainbows only, please. I’m already freaked out enough.

      • Kay_Sue

        I have no idea why, but I agree. Give me the basics. But don’t leave me writhing in despair….

    • Kelly

      You don’t have a natural birth until you actually have one though. It’s not like ordering a meal at McDonald’s, shit happens. That’s what irks me when people say, “We’re having a natural birth!”

      You don’t know that. Unless you’re one of those weirdos would rather your baby and/or you die during childbirth to avoid the dreaded c-section. In many cases, you do not have a choice. I think that’s why a lot of women get eye rolls and snarky comments when they proclaim they’re going to have a natural birth.

      • Jayamama

        As the author said, though, if you have your baby at home or in a birthing center that doesn’t offer meds, the chances are greatly improved. Of course, transferring to a hospital is always a possibility if you decide you are done with the pain, but it’s not like you have someone popping in your door every twenty minutes asking if you want the epidural yet. I had two home births, and I completely understand why people get drugs because there came a point each time where I totally wouldn’t have been able to say no to a nurse pressuring me to. Of course, I was probably transitioning, so it would’ve been too late. Natural birth is not for the faint of heart or those with a low pain tolerance. But that doesn’t mean that those who are interested should be treated to a patronizing comment when they say so.

      • Kelly

        Except your chances don’t improve based on your location. If a c-section is necessary to save your infant’s life, it is necessary. That’s all there is to it. You can’t pray or wish that fact away.

        I don’t have a low pain tolerance. I had a c-section with no drugs after 15 hours of labor because it was an emergency situation (my son was dying) and there was no time for it. I’m obviously not a wimp or faint of heart.

        The hard, cold reality is that childbirth doesn’t always go perfectly and not you, me, the author or any other woman giving birth gets to just make it go perfectly with happy thoughts. That’s not how life works.

      • Jayamama

        Sometimes a C-Section is necessary, yes. But in normal situations, that number is no more than 10-15%. Yet, the rate in the US is 1:3. Obviously, something is wrong with the way we handle birth. If we let the body labor naturally, which includes (if desired) no inductions or pitocin, eating and drinking, being able to move around, and being left alone instead of poked and prodded every half hour, most interventions aren’t necessary. They become necessary once we interfere.

        Yes, I know that this isn’t always the case because there are emergency situations. And I don’t look down on any woman for her choices in birth, because I truly believe that we’re all doing what we think is best for our baby. I was born very lethargic via Cesarean because of the Demerol my mom was given. Who knows if that would have been necessary if she hadn’t had the drugs. But I really don’t fault anyone for needing pain meds. Birth hurts like heck.

        You seem like you’re pretty convinced you’re right and I’m not going to change your mind, and that’s fine. But don’t condescendingly try to school me on how life works. I’m not a child. Just because you didn’t get a natural birth doesn’t mean that someone who’s hoping for one won’t get it either. And her chances are greatly improved if she has people behind her who are supportive, not making patronizing comments and telling horror stories.

      • Kelly

        I am right though and you’re the one being condescending. You’re the one calling women weak and faint of heart over needing medical intervention to save their child’s life. Could you be any more full of yourself?

        The truth is no woman on the face of the earth can just decide that her labor will go perfectly unless she’s some sort of powerful psychic who can see the future.

        If you don’t like that, that’s your issue but it’s reality. People’s bodies malfunction every damn day and no amount of friendly words or hand holding will stop that.

      • Jayamama

        I’m sorry you misunderstood my comment about being faint of heart. It does not mean weak; it means wishy-washy, indecisive. I simply meant that if you want to try it, you need to prepare. It’s not something that can do successfully by saying “eh, we’ll get there and see how it goes.” You need to mentally prepare for the pain and be committed to no drugs, and even then it sometimes doesn’t work out, which is okay. Part of that preparation is talking to other women who are encouraging. I don’t think women who use drugs are weak. Any woman who gives birth, whether that be a natural home birth or a scheduled C-Section, is strong and powerful. She is a mother.

        And by the way, needing something to change your child’s life is far from getting something to numb the pain. Both are understandable and acceptable but not the same. I was not talking about life-saving measures. I was simply talking about pain management. I know that no one can predict how their birth will go. Mine didn’t go as planned, either one of them. But there are things you can do to help it go the way you want, such as having the baby at home or a birth center to avoid pain drugs, which was my original point. Apparently you thought I meant something else.

      • meah

        Hmmmmm… I’m sure that being committed to going med-free helps some people get there, but I went in simply hoping for natural, but totally open to other options if I found it too much. I was lucky enough (and it really is all luck– how your body works, how the baby’s doing, etc.) to give birth the way I wanted.

        I don’t think you mean to sound judgmental, but it is kind of coming across that way. I think it’s important that we all acknowledge that every person and birth is different, and what works for one person may not work for everyone.

      • Jayamama

        It seems like every time I try to talk about my home births, people think I’m being judgmental. I really, truly, do try to not participate in the mommy wars. Even though I had my babies at home, exclusively breastfeed, cosleep and wear my daughter does not mean I think it’s the only way for everyone to go. I don’t judge mothers for making other choices because I don’t want to be judged for using disposable diapers or smacking my older daughter’s hand on occasion, since it’s the only thing I’ve tried that actually gets her attention sometimes. I think some people just automatically assume that if you do things a certain way, you must be judging them for making another choice.

      • Kelly

        Maybe you shouldn’t assume people are anti-homebirth and go on the attack if you don’t like being judged.

        I have no issue with home birth. I do have an issue with the smug attitude that women who couldn’t have a natural birth must have screwed up somehow.

        You got lucky if nothing went wrong. Some people aren’t so lucky.

      • Jayamama

        I don’t think that any woman who has given birth has screwed up. And I didn’t assume you were anti- anything until we got into this whole spiel. I didn’t go on the attack at all, in fact. My original comment, if you read it in light of me talking only about pain management, was simply saying that those interested in natural birth should get the support they need, and that there are certain things that you can do to help you with that endeavor, NOT that everyone else is weak or failures or anything else.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        When you call other women wishy washy, indecisive, faint of heart or accuse them of low tolerance to pain or similar for choosing pain relief, you are being judgmental.

      • Jayamama

        Okay, I’m really over this discussion, since no matter how I try to explain myself, someone takes it the wrong way. Believe it or not, I started commenting with no ill-will toward anyone. But let me attempt to explain one more time.

        What I meant by all of those things is that you have to approach trying a natural birth with a steely resolve or it’s not likely to happen because, let’s face it, birth hurts like hell! I would have totally said “screw natural birth” if I was in a hospital where drugs were readily available and if I hadn’t spent months mentally preparing for the pain. I totally understand those who choose to have a more comfortable birth, and I really REALLY don’t judge them for it. I almost wish I had had the option at home.

        Like my original comment said, if you’re hoping to skip the drugs, doing it at home or a birthing center where the drugs are harder to get to can help you achieve a natural birth. If you’re not mentally prepared for the pain, it’s a lot harder to say no to the drugs. But let me reiterate, so there’s no confusion. IT’S OKAY TO GET THE DRUGS. I’m not saying that you’re less of a mother if you do. It’s just a personal choice.

        Near the end of my second birth, the contractions didn’t stop. They were literally overlapping each other to where it would hurt really intensely, then wane to hurting moderately, then repeat. There was no break. There was no chance to scream that I wanted the drugs if I had been at a hospital. There was only me and my birth tub and that excruciating pain. But if had someone popped in the door and asked if I wanted that shot in my back, I would have been so happy to say yes. It was only the fact that I was at home that got me through that hour and on the other side. I get it. Drugs are wonderful, and if a woman goes into birth not completely dedicated to doing it drug-free, I think it’s harder for that to be the result.

        That’s all I have to say. I’m sorry if anyone felt insulted or judged. That was truly not my intent. I think all moms are amazing, no matter how they became mothers. We all created life with our bodies and how that baby makes its appearance is inconsequential. But I’m done talking about it now. Good night.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        You variously said that women who choose drugs are ‘wishy washy’, ‘faint of heart’, had ‘low tolerance’ and, just above’ implied that they lack ‘steely resolve’. How you cannot understand the judgment implied there is beyond me.

      • Jayamama

        And how you continuously take things out of context is beyond me. The simple point I’m trying to get across is that, just like many difficult things in life, unless you’re completely committed to it, it’s unlikely to happen. It may still happen if you’re not committed, and even if you’re committed, you may change your mind, both of which are fine. But you don’t approach a marathon, for example, without preparation and without being resolved to finish it. That wouldn’t make sense. People who go into a marathon with an attitude of “let’s just see what happens” and no preparation are unlikely to finish.

        The point that I’ve also made repeatedly, and that you’ve chosen to ignore, is that I think all births are beautiful and all mothers are powerful, regardless of the birthing journey and whether they used pain meds. *It really doesn’t matter.* Choosing drugs does not make one weak. It is simply another path to the same destination, which is a healthy baby. That’s all that matters. I have friends with all sorts of journeys, and I think they’re all amazing. And therefore, I’m not sure why you continue to call me offensive.

        I also never called home or birth centers safer, though I do happen to think that. I simply said that you’re less likely to have pain meds there, so they can be a good choice for those who are hoping to go natural. Please point out where I said that.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        I haven’t taken anything out of context. You said that women who want natural births need to have steely resolve and not be wishy washy. The direct implication there is that the women to end up with pain management, or choose it from the get-go, lack such steely resolve. There is not other way to take it than as a judgment on that woman’s character.

        You absolutely implied that having no access to pain meds is a good thing as it will lead to less intervention. This has been objectively been proven to be A Bad Thing. You also spouted complete nonsense about sections.

        I cannot be bothered trying to make you see how awfully offensive you have been, because clearly you lack that level of self-awareness. The fact is, if you call the decisions of other grown women ‘wishy washy’, you are being offensive. It is that simple.

      • Kelly

        Then I don’t know why you jumped on my comment to gripe about pain management. I was specifically talking about c-sections necessary to save an infant’s life. I very clearly said I was talking about c-sections and how you can’t know for sure that you won’t need one because shit goes wrong sometimes.

        Also, by the way, calling people wishy washy and indecisive in insulting.

      • Jayamama

        The article was about pain management, or at least that’s what I understand a “natural” birth to be. I know you mentioned Cesareans, but talking about those who want a natural birth and fail meant, to me, that you thought they’d cave and get some help with the pain. That’s why I mentioned the pain in my comment. Rereading your original comment, I can see the intent behind it, and I’m sorry for not understanding what you meant. I really do put life-saving measures in an entirely different category.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        You’re not getting your point across well. Mostly because it is offensive.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        ‘Wishy washy’? Are you fucking kidding me? How you have the gall to call other women patronising is beyond me.

      • blh

        The 10% to 15% is bullshit because you cannot actually decide if the c-section was necessary or not in many cases. They think it’s a good idea so they do it. They baby may or may not have been ok but there’s really no way to tell. Also, many women want c-sections and if that’s what they want I don’t see why anyone thinks they shouldn’t get it. And Idk what kind of hospital you’ve been to but they don’t force the epidural on you. I had to repeatedly ask for it before I got it.

      • Jayamama

        The 10-15% figure came around based on studies which determined that above that amount, there was no significant improvement on maternal or infant mortality rates. Basically, while it’s hard to tell in each individual case if it was “necessary,” the higher the overall rate is, the worse the mortality rates get. The first 15% or so does help save babies and moms. But there are risks to any surgery, and we may be hurting moms and babies more than we’re helping them. Honestly, though, I’m not a doctor and I don’t pretend to know what a better alternative is. I’m just stating what researchers have found.

      • http://thefresstyler.blogspot.com/ Hannah

        Your chances of having a dead or hypoxic baby is also ‘greatly improved’ at home. That is objective fact, despite MANA’s best effort to bury the statistics.

        Sure, it turned out great for you twice, but it mightn’t have and while that question about pain every 20 minutes might be annoying for you, a dead baby that could have been saved but for your desire not to be irritated is, I am sure, far worse than ‘annoying’.

        Women who choose medicated birth aren’t ‘faint-hearted’. That is so insulting and patronising that it barely warrants response.

    • Alannah

      Birth outcomes are “90% mental”. Are you kidding me? Does the author seriously believe that pregnancy and birth complications can are caused by not enough wishful thinking? Way to blame women for their medical issues. Obstructed labor, cord prolapse, postpartum hemorrhage, …it’s all in your heads ladies! If you only do enough hypnobirthing classes and read out your affirmations every day birth will be an entirely risk free walk in the park!
      And what’s with only unplanned cesareans being ok? Vaginal birth is sometimes just not what is best for mom and/or baby. Moms who have a planned cesarean are better off without the judgment, thank you very much.

      • Kelly

        Well, of course birth outcomes are 90% mental, just like all other instances where a person’s body doesn’t perform perfectly.

        Paraplegics? 90% of them can walk, they’re just too lazy to do so.
        People with insulin dependent diabetes? 90% of them just have a needle fetish.
        Cancer patients? 90% of them just fake it for the attention they get.

        Yep, the human body only malfunctions in any way 10% of the time. That’s why the vast majority of people we all know have ever had any medical problems.

      • Kelly

        *never had any medical problems.

      • Ro

        I don’t think she meant that the outcome was 90% mental. I think she meant that handling the pain of a natural birth is 90% mental.

      • Ennis Demeter

        Which is also bullshit.

      • Ro

        It’s not actually. If you are mentally prepared for the sensations your body will be feeling and given ways to cope with them, then you will be much more able to handle the pain.

        With my first child I went in blind and the contractions completely overcame me. I wasn’t in control at all. With my second I had much better support and felt much more prepared for what I was about to go through and I was able to handle my contractions much better.

        My state of mind might have been better also because I had a home birth with my second and being somewhere where I felt safe, familiar and comfortable made a world of difference.

      • Ro

        And before you start harping on the evils of home birth, I had mine in Canada, where it is covered under our health care, completely monitored and considered a safer option for a healthy woman having a healthy pregnancy.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Also, my midwife said (and I’ve read on medical websites) that the anticipation of pain and fear make the body tense up so you ultimately feel more pain.

      • Ro

        I actually handled my contractions fairly well until I got to the hospital. I was put in triage for two hours which was just a bunch of beds surrounded by a curtain with very little privacy. I had needed to labour standing and bent over, try being comfortable doing that in a backless gown with your bum sticking out of the curtain.

        At that point my labour just turned bad. I realized that I am the type of person who wants to labour in a place that is quiet, comfortable and private. It made a huge difference in my next labour.

        I completely understand that for many women a hospital gives them a sense of security, and that’s what they need to labour comfortably, but for me another hospital labour was only going to happen as a last resort (medically necessary).

      • blh

        I was not afraid of the contractions, mistakenly thinking they’d be uncomfortable but manageable. WRONG. It hit me like a ton of bricks. If something is painful it WILL be painful whether or not you’re afraid. And on the other hand, there have been times I’ve been dreading something thinking it would be terribly painful and it wasn’t that bad.

      • blh

        I don;t get the obsession with suffering. For every other ailment or medical procedure people wouldn’t hesitate to take painkillers. But a bowling ball coming out of your vag is no big deal? Not to mention hours of contractions.

      • rrlo

        It really bothers me when discussions of un-medicated childbirth is reduced to “obsession with suffering”.

        There is nothing wrong with women about to have babies putting some thought and preparation into how best to approach labour and delivery. It is a big deal.

        And I am not talking about candle-lit, orgasmic births or anything. But looking into practical things like side effects of all medical procedures – the pros and cons of different options. Having meaningful conversations with their caregiver about pain meds as well as alternative coping strategies. Knowledge and recommendations are constantly changing.

        Those that choose to go for unmedicated births have their own reasons – maybe everyone in their family had easy births. Maybe someone they know died due to an allergic reaction to anesthetics. Maybe they have a high pain thresh-hold. Maybe they want to see how it is first before deciding on pain meds. Maybe they are paranoid about how the drugs affect the baby.

        It is such a personal decision. It doesn’t need to be justified. There are NO guarantees. Everything has risks. Everything has side effects.

        Just like women who had C-sections do not need to hear how they “failed” at child-birth, those that had babies without pain med do not need to hear they are masochists.

      • iamtheshoshie

        I thought I was super prepared. I’m no stranger to pain. I’ve had a couple broken bones, back spasms that made me vomit and were 10/10 on the pain scale, and an ovarian cyst that was twisting. Then I had 4 days of back labor. I held out for a long time, but in the end, my body and mind were just exhausted. There’s so much variability in pregnancy and childbirth that you just can’t be prepared for everything.

      • Ro

        Of course being more prepared is no guarantee, but no one can deny that it will improve your chances. There would always be some labours that need help. Everyone thinks that the only potentially deadly labours are the ones that end in c-section, I’m talking about labours and deliveries that might have killed mother or baby back before modern medicine. But labours like yours are probably saved by pain medication. You might not have had the energy to push if you hadn’t had any pain relief.

        I don’t think anyone is saying that if you prepare yourself enough you will definitely be able to achieve a med free birth, but if you are hoping not to use pain relief, then you might want to do some preparation to increase your odds.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Perfectly said.

    • Harriet Meadow

      As someone who wanted a natural birth and ended up having ALL the interventions (antibiotics, pitocin, epidural, internal monitoring, and eventually c-section), I think I can shed some light on why people are nasty about natural childbirth. Or, at least, these are the nasty thoughts that go through my head:

      1) I’m jealous. My body couldn’t do what it was supposed to. After 22 hours of very little dilation, lots of VERY painful back labor, and a baby turned “sunny side up” (despite several attempts on my OB’s part including positioning me on a ball for an hour as well as manual version) and not even dropped AT ALL (after my water had broken with meconium in it, which generally is not a great sign), I got a c-section. To add insult to injury, my doctor, who initially told me I would be able to have a vaginal birth for the next one, changed her mind after the c-section – she said the internal aperture of my pelvis is ridiculously small and she wouldn’t “risk” it (keep in mind, this is a doctor who was totally ok with the idea of a natural childbirth – I live in Boulder, after all). In other words, my body just. couldn’t. do. it.

      2) I honestly think that homebirthing is dangerous. I have no problems with people trying a drug-free birth in a hospital or even in a birthing center (my sister did it in one that was close enough to the hospital to make an easy transition should something go wrong), but I do not understand why anyone would want to home birth. Yes, childbirth is natural and people have been doing it for ages and ages…but death in childbirth was pretty prevalent for a long time, and I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to have the necessary tools nearby just in case something goes wrong…

      But that’s just me. Even if these thoughts go through my head, I try to banish them immediately. I shouldn’t be jealous because I have a healthy baby, and as for the second thing, people can make their own decisions and that’s none of my business!!! Just as I hope no one would comment on certain aspects of my parenting – though I got a comment about my baby using a pacifier just today (blurgh) – I won’t comment on anybody else’s (except for in the comment section of this article lol), especially not when they’re pregnant. Good lord, why would ANYBODY try to do that to someone who is so hormonal???!!!

      • SDM14

        I think what makes things worse is that there are some people who INSIST that your body “knows what it’s doing” and “is designed for this” which is complete nonsense. Yes, birth often goes well, but women and babies are not particularly well-designed for this at all (giant baby heads). I know a local doula who goes on about this stuff and it makes me ragey, because my baby got stuck in the birth canal and I needed forceps. Which of course is somehow my fault because my body knows what to do. Ugh.

      • Harriet Meadow

        Yes, this is the problem. I remember thinking during my birthing class, as the woman was assuring us that our bodies were designed for this and women have been doing this for thousands upon thousands of years, that actually the fact that we are bipedal puts us at a significant disadvantage in comparison to other animals (narrower hips so we can balance on two legs, but like you said, giant baby heads). Hence all the problems with childbirth up until very recently… In other words, our bodies may be designed for this, but they’re not designed particularly well. Anyway, I shouldn’t feel like my body somehow failed me. It did GROW the baby, after all. But you’re right: all that insistence on the body’s capability does make you feel like you’re lacking somehow when you can’t do it!

      • TheGiantPeach

        Regarding # 1 – don’t feel bad because you’re body “couldn’t do what it was supposed to.” I have horrible eyesight, but I don’t feel bad because I have “unnatural” vision via corrective lenses! Any bodily function is subject to fail us at any time, and childbirth is just another bodily function. It has no bearing on your worth as a person or mom.

      • Harriet Meadow

        That’s a good way to look at it!

    • footnotegirl

      If you can manage it, don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant. I tried not to discuss my birth plans with people (because privacy! Also, because did not want arguments) and at least three friends as soon as they found out I was pregnant were all “Get the epidural!! omg!” and one was …. extremely bossy about it. “Don’t you dare do natural child birth! You can’t! It’s awful!” Repeatedly. Every time I saw her. For three months.
      You know what would have been more awful? Dying in childbirth. Because I’m allergic to lidocaine, which is what they use to give you an epidural, so I COULD NOT HAVE ONE ANYWAY. Even if I had wanted it. Injecting something I could have a major allergic reaction to into my spine would be a really really bad idea.
      Besides, I’m phobic about anyone touching my spine, let alone putting a needle into it and then injecting anything. I did fine with my meds-free birth, even with the pitocin. Probably due to suffering migraines since I was a little bitty kiddo, and thus having really good practice at dealing with pain.
      Much like with breast feeding, it seems like no matter what a woman chooses, she is wrong. I prefer to go the other way. No matter what a woman chooses, she’s probably right, because she knows herself best and can make the best decisions about what she’s capable of handling.

    • Ennis Demeter

      I had a natural childbirth. It hurt like hell, and I refuse to believe that attitude or breathing could have changed that. I also refuse to brag or feel smug or like I ran a marathon, because suffering is not good, and horrible pain is not like exercise or sports. It is not an achievement and it has no inherent value. In fact, I think that the idea that women suffering in childbirth has value or makes them tough or is “better” is deeply, deeply misogynist.

      I would never advocate to make home birth or free standing birth centers illegal. Pregnant women have autonomy, like all humans, and I believe that more than anything. But when you give birth outside of a hospital setting, you are subjecting your baby to unnecessary risk. You may not think you are, but you are.

      • blh

        THANK YOU. You said everything I think, espcially about the misogyny.

    • Guest

      Some people are just negative about everything. Never let someone convince that you can’t do something simply because they think or know that THEY can’t do that thing. I have a friend who is like this and it is maddening. My husband and I tried for SEVEN YEARS to get pregnant. I ended up finding out I was pregnant shortly before she had her second baby. She sent me a video of her baby screaming inconsolably with the message “See what you have to look forward to?”

      • Bethany Ramos

        Oh no. I hate that kind of stuff. But congratulations to you!!

    • Stacy21629

      So everyone in your life should only say things that reinforce rose-glass understandings of labor?

      That’s supportive. Backing up completely unrealistic expectations!

      News flash. Labor freaking hurts. 2 natural childbirths myself and labor freaking hurts. Moms should not be led to believe it’s “all in their mind” or they will feel like complete failures when they realize – labor freaking hurts.

      • Bethany Ramos

        But every experience is different, so one person’s horror story may not apply. My labors were only moderately painful, so I disagree. And I would never call anyone a failure because that is inaccurate and incredibly hurtful.

      • SDM14

        Bethany, you recognize that every labour is different, and that is key. You’re not telling anyone else that because your labour was manageable, that so was theirs. I think a lot of people who have moderately painful labours assume that all labours are equal and they’re not.
        Even as I’m writing this, I’m having a hard time believing that your labour was only moderately painful, but only because mine was SO intense that I can hardly imagine anything else. We humans are flawed, and it’s too easy to generalize our own experiences. Does any of this make sense? I was up most of the night ;)

      • Bethany Ramos

        Yes, and I have read your comments, and you are NOT a failure!! :) Thank you so much for sharing. I totally acknowledge that there are good and bad stories and everything in between. My main point with the article is that yes, we often hear the bad, so let’s just cut down on those stories or even allow a few good stories in as well.

      • SDM14

        I agree with you, and that goes for horror stories about sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, etc. Even though I’m not getting much sleep right now, I only ever congratulate my pregnant friends. Because it passes! And everyone’s experience is different! Horror stories are pointless and unhelpful, no matter the topic. Couldn’t agree with you more. :)

      • Jennifer Freeman

        No one is talking about completely lying about labor. It is one thing to offer, when asked, a realistic interpretation of how your labor felt to you. It is quite another thing to tell others that your experience will be their experiences, that they won’t be able to handle those experiences, and that they shouldn’t even try. Realism and being discouraging are totally different things.

      • rrlo

        It’s fine to say “My labour hurt like hell.” It is not fine to say “Your decision to try a med-free birth is ridiculous because yours will hurt like hell too”.
        Women about to give birth are not children. They do not need to be condescended to.

    • Véronique Houde

      I’ve had a pain-med free birth while on an epidural. And I was the first of all my sister and stepsisters to give birth within a year-long period. I got asked a lot of questions on my labour story, and I always tried to stay both realistic without getting all smug about what I went through. I always tried to say that everyone had different priorities and ask my sisters (and friends) what their priorities were for their birth story. And I tried to talk about how you feel when things don’t go according to your plan (like when they said they had to induce because of meconium in my fluids), and how in the end, it might not matter. And yes, I would say that it fucking hurts like hell, and kind of laugh about it.

    • http://www.guru.edu.pl/4/bazy-biwakow-zielonych-szkol.html solicjan

      Nice article

    • That_Darn_Kat

      With my first, I had an epidural (in addition to some meds before that), but the meds made me hallucinate and didn’t touch my pain at all, and the epidural left a huge “hot spot” right on the side of my hip, right on the hip joint. Instead of having my pain all over my body, it was concentrated to one spot. My daughter weighed 3 lbs 11 oz. Because of my experience with her birth, when I had my son, I decided not to attempt an epidural in case I had the hot spot again. He weighed 7lbs 14 oz. I now get lots of comments about having the meds with the little (5 weeks early) baby as opposed to the big baby. *sigh*

    • val97

      After my first natural birth, my best friend called me. We were all still in college at the time. This was just minutes or hours after the delivery. She asked me if it was worse than the time I broke my arm in five places and the bone popped out. I said yes. She asked if it was the most horrible thing I’d ever been through, I said yes and cried. She is now childfree. I love her dearly and sometimes envy her life, and she is a wonderful aunt to my kids, and all of that. But in the back of my mind, that conversation nags at me and I hope it had nothing to do with her choice to be childfree.

      • meah

        I’m sure one conversation wouldn’t have swayed her from having children! We all know (even before we give birth) that it hurts like hell, so I think you should let yourself off the hook with this one.

        On that note, I’m glad no one asked me so soon after having my baby, because the memories of the animal noises I was making would have been too fresh. A few weeks later, I think I would have had more rose-coloured glasses. :)

    • meah

      What is with people deciding to share their unsolicited horror stories with pregnant women. When I was pregnant with my first, I was at a party where every mother I spoke to had to tell me about their various horrific experiences. Finally, a lovely older woman came to my rescue, saying, “I’m sure all you’re hearing are bad things, but I can tell you that all of my children were easy births with no complications, and I’m sure that will happen for you too.” It made me feel so much better.

      I’m not stupid, I know shit can go wrong, but I don’t need have that shoved in my face repeatedly! Would you do that to someone who was going for surgery? Applying to university? Making a go of opening a business? Training to run a marathon?

      I was lucky (and I know it’s all luck), and did have an uncomplicated, unmedicated hospital birth in the end, but I would never suggest that anyone who did not has failed in some way. I hope to do the same with my second, but you just never know how it’s all going to go down.

    • Diana

      Well the internet has a major hate on for hippies at the moment. Live and let live.

    • iamtheshoshie

      I totally respect what you’re saying, but this kind of article is the mentality that makes women who attempted unmedicated birth and didn’t have it work out feel like failures. Women can choose to TRY for an unmedicated birth (I actually hate the term “natural” childbirth), but no one can choose an unmedicated birth.

      I was 100% committed to an unmedicated birth. I was registered at a birth center that had no access to pain meds. But then I had 4 days of back labor. 4 days of getting almost no sleep and feeling like my spine was breaking. There was no way to predict or prevent it. Then my baby wasn’t tolerating labor, which led to a c-section.

      I’m not a failure for transferring to a hospital. I’m not a failure for having a c-section. I plan to try for an unmedicated VBAC for my next child and I’m still all in favor of unmedicated childbirth for those who want it. But saying that it’s all, or even 90% mental, is just not true for some of it.

      • Bethany Ramos

        No, you are not a failure! I also agree with and respect what you’re saying. Thanks for sharing.

      • Erin Murphy

        Did you see a chiropractor during your pregnancy? People say that the adjustment can help prevent back labor.

      • iamtheshoshie

        Nope, I didn’t. But I have a big pelvis and my baby is a tiny guy, so he descended too far too quickly (twice, actually– I had nonprogressive labor for 4 days at 38 weeks as well). He was just hanging out in my pelvis at 0 station, banging his head around, so that’s what was painful. Really nothing to be done about it but try to grow a bigger baby next time.

    • M.

      I agree with not telling people beforehand. I had a midwife-assisted birth center birth with my son and I heard all kinds of crap about it from people. I had someone literally laugh, I had someone else tell me that I’d never give birth vaginally because I’m petite, and I heard ALL ABOUT how unbearable and godawful the pain is from pretty much every epidural-using mother I talked to. I have had people ask my advice about unmedicated birth, since I’ve been through it, and this is what I tell them: it worked for me and I was lucky. I was in labor only 12 hours and my water didn’t break until the push before he was born. It’s easy for me to say “yeah, it was a great experience! Give it a shot!” but my birth was not like everyone else’s birth. I have one friend who wanted an unmedicated birth but after 18 hours (!!!) she got the epidural. 18 hours! That is 6 ENTIRE HOURS of labor after the time when I gave birth, so how can I possibly relate to that experience? My little sister, who very much wanted an unmedicated birth after seeing me do it, had an epidural then a c-section after being stuck at 5cm for 15 hours. Every lady has to do what is right and comfortable for herself, my experience is mine alone and what worked for me will not necessarily work for another…I wish everyone had this same outlook because I get so incredibly tired of hearing a bunch of crap about all things parenting.

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