giving birth

Your Birthing Style Does Not Reflect Your Parenting Style

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The word “style” is so loaded when it comes to parenting.

“What type of parenting style do you use?” means: “What type of parent are you, and do I agree with your choices?”

“What is your birthing style?” means: “Did you birth the same way I did, and do I agree with your birth plan?”

At face value, I come off as a totally hippie parent. I had two natural childbirths, one at home and one at a birthing center. I personally am not a big fan of medicine and hospitals, unless absolutely necessary. With that being said, I would never push my personal decision on anyone else and don’t consider myself an advocate for natural birth. But my birthing style gives off the impression that I am an ultra-organic, super-crunchy Earth Mother who probably ascribes to attachment parenting.

As I look at the choices I made after having a baby, it’s funny to see that I am not the parent my birthing style said I would be. I don’t usually buy organic because it’s more expensive. I have nothing against attachment parenting at all, but I didn’t wear my babies because it hurt my back; I also wanted to let my kids cry it out a little so they could learn to self-soothe.

On the flipside, there are moms who prefer “quick and painless” labor with an epidural, and I don’t fault them for that. I also know many women who had unexpected C-sections and have gotten flack for it (which I find totally ridiculous).

There are probably Facebook friends who have seen my birthing choices and consider me a “natural mom.” For some people, that phrase is a turnoff. There are also plenty of moms who had medicated childbirth and make more organic choices than I will ever make as a parent.

This is another fun mommy wars topic that is likely to breed resentment and stir up endless mothering stereotypes. But as any new mom can tell you, having a baby ruins all of your best laid plans. You don’t know how your birth is going to pan out exactly, and you can’t guarantee how you will parent once you meet your unpredictable baby. There’s one thing you can count on: A birthing outcome does not make a mother.


  1. gothicgaelicgirl

    April 25, 2014 at 10:22 am

    My stepmom had to have an emergency C-Section with my little sis at 36 weeks.
    My dad is a fairly well-known musician and after she got the section, she actually had people coming up and asking my dad “Was she just not bothered having the baby normally?” or “Was she too posh to push?”


    • Kendra

      April 25, 2014 at 10:40 am

      That phrase makes my blood boil so hard.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      April 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Me too, she had serious medical issues so she was aware that a c section might be necessary.

      Her own sister said it to her as well. Her sister is, to be polite, a complete wench, a really stuck up snobby person.
      She ended up having a section because, quote- “I didn’t want to ruin myself down there”

  2. Valerie

    April 25, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Funny you say that about getting flack for c-sections. I have encountered this a few times just recently- when it comes out in conversation that I had a c-section I swear I see the look cross their face and they immediately assume it was because of a botched induction or the baby “wouldn’t fit” thru my lady parts or because at 38 weeks I just couldn’t stand being pregnant anymore and begged my doctor to rip the baby out of me and they are all ready to cluck and pearl clutch. I take great glee in explaining that I had a giant ovarian cyst and that my ovary and the cyst needed to come out so a c-section had to happen so I could be knocked out afterward and have everything removed. They automatically deflate because the opportunity to school me on how synthetic and awful my childbirth experience was has disintegrated. 🙂
    And yeah, my parenting style does not reflect my birthing style. I did not have a birthing style dictated by myself because it was a completely medical decision made for my health. However, if it were up to me, I probably would have gone the natural route because meds freak me out and I try to avoid them if I can. But I am by no means a “crunchy” mom and just pretty much make decisions as they come- not based on a particular philosophy, but based on what makes sense at the time.

    • Kendra

      April 25, 2014 at 10:39 am

      I get this a lot too. I have a lot of feelings about my own C-section that I get to have because it was my body and my experience. Other people do not get to feel that my c-section was unnecessary, and I HATE it that people act as though I’m not “mom enough” because of it. I spent so many god damn months feeling “less than”, and I will slap a MOFO across the face if they want to tell me how I screwed up. First of all, I’d like to just say that I feel asking someone if they birthed vaginally or thru cesarean should be banned in and of itself because WHY DOES IT MATTER?

    • Valerie

      April 25, 2014 at 10:47 am

      I know, I completely understand. One of the ones who asked recently was my son’s daycare teacher. My son’s single, childless, very young daycare teacher. Not that they aren’t allowed opinions but I know she’s very into organic foods and all things natural so I’m sure she’s already decided what her own birth will be and is projecting that on other people. Eye roll. You do yours, I’ll do mine. Please and thanks.

    • Kendra

      April 25, 2014 at 10:49 am

      I haven’t been asked that question outright too many times IRL, but a lot in various forums. I think if someone asked me to my face if my 20 month old was birthed vaginally I would probably just flat out ignore it. With a newborn, I can kind of see it as “making conversation topic” (still think there are better choices for that), but my kid is almost two. I don’t see how her birth has any relevance to any conversation at this point. And yes, childless people are generally the most judgmental. I can say this because pregnant me was a super-critical, judgmental bitch. She has since been put in her place.

    • Kitsune

      April 25, 2014 at 10:55 am

      I’m sorry people were so awful to you about it. Something that we have so little control over should stop being made into a judgement on mothers.

    • Kitsune

      April 25, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Yeah, I didn’t even realize this was something people got concerned about till I was in birthing class. I also had to have an emergency c-section due to a cord prolapse and since the anesthesia wasn’t working had to be knocked out. And this happened at a birthing center. I also enjoy pulling the “well I and my baby could have died” card when people get all sanctimonious about natural birth. Otherwise I don’t care what people do and hate the pressure put on women. I think it’s fantastic women have choices and more chances for themselves and their baby to survive. There is no way to fail at giving birth so that idea really needs to die in a fire.

    • Valerie

      April 25, 2014 at 11:03 am

      I’m sorry your experience was traumatic. People need to shut their pie holes about things they know nothing about.
      I work with a girl who had all natural births and when I first told her I had a c-section she actually said “Ugh, I could have never done that. I had my babies all naturally at a birth center.” Uhhh….does she think it was my choice? Lol. And does she think it would have been hers if she’d had the bad fortune to need one? Unreal. And she chose to formula feed from day 1 and I chose to breastfeed- do you think I ever said a word to her about it? Hell no. Your child, your choice. The sanctimony is ridiculous in the realm of parenting.

    • Kendra

      April 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

      I’ll admit it, I would have found it odd for her to be so obviously stuck-uppity about her natural birth and then not even try breastfeeding. Like you, I wouldn’t have said anything…but I would’ve been like “does not compute”.

    • Valerie

      April 25, 2014 at 11:11 am

      I know, it is definitely different. I had never met another mom so into natural birth that was also not into breastfeeding. Whatevs!

    • itpainsme2say

      April 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      You should have said “Ugh I could have too but some people who went to school for that sort of thing said it was medically necessary for my heath and the heath of the baby. Which is like most important right?” insert creepy barbie smile.

    • Kitsune

      April 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Weird, especially since they usually go hand in hand for judging. And thanks, it was actually scarier in retrospect than during.

    • val97

      April 25, 2014 at 10:56 am

      I do not understand why people would judge a C-section?! My sister had to go into emergency surgery to have a C-section. I never even asked why – I was just so happy when everything turned out ok.

    • Valerie

      April 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

      You would be amazed. It might be the only parenting thing I have ever felt judged on.

    • val97

      April 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Wow, I’m sorry. And that is one of the parenting things that has NOTHING to do with anyone else – what a waste of effort to be judgy about that. I can sort of see having strong opinions about parenting styles because you could be raising an asshole, but a C-section has nothing to do with how your kid grows up.

    • Valerie

      April 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

      So much this. I’ve never understood it. For me, it ranks up there in “WTF” with moms who consider kids getting first teeth as “milestones”. Like, a biological function that is by no means an accomplishment and they brag about it. I remember when Claire didn’t get her first tooth until she was 10 months old another mom saying before Claire had any that HER baby got teeth at 5 months old and looking like she felt sorry for me. Hahahaha. Does not compute.

    • pixie

      April 25, 2014 at 11:46 am

      But getting teeth early doesn’t mean anything developmentally, though…I think all it really means is a chance the baby will talk earlier because teeth help produce certain sounds. But that doesn’t mean your kid will actually cognitively be able to talk when their teeth come in.
      For what it’s worth, I got teeth later, too, and didn’t talk until I was two. The teeth coming later probably had something to do with it, but the main reason is I just didn’t give a fuck about talking. I understood everything, just no desire to talk. Until my dad and I went to the airport to fly to Vancouver to see my mom (she was on a business trip). The airplanes got me talking finally. 😉

    • Kendra

      April 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

      In my experience, the people who judge C-sections are usually very into the whole “hospitals and doctors are out to get you” thing regarding birthing. They assume that you were too stupid to understand some of the things that can increase the risk of ending in C-section and that you have no mind of your own. OR, they assume that you did it by choice because you didn’t want to mess up your ladyhood.

    • keelhaulrose

      April 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

      I have people give me shit for my c-sections. A friend suggested I stick with the truth, as blunt as it may be, so my go to response is now “say what you want about c-sections, but I’d much rather have them than have two dead babies, which is what would have happened if I waited for my body to go it alone”.

    • Kendra

      April 25, 2014 at 11:06 am

      If that was true for me, I would totally pull that line out every time.

    • Kelly

      April 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      That’s exactly what I say. I’d rather be a “failure as a woman” than bury my son so yay c-section!

    • Rachel Sea

      April 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      One of my friends had a c-section because she had a fibroid the size of an orange corking her cervix. She’s got a lot of pagan woo-woo friends who did their damnedest to convince her that she could still have a natural birth if she would just eat the right herbs, pray to the goddess, and visualize the fibroid away.

    • Valerie

      April 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      You lost me at pagan woo-woo friends. Lmao. That is fantastic.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      April 26, 2014 at 6:00 am

      When I joked that I was getting broody, a friend slipped a crystal down my jeans and whispered, in a totally creepy voice “This will make you fertile”

      She’s been off my christmas card list for a while now…

    • Valerie

      April 26, 2014 at 6:49 am

      What the shit?! Lol.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      April 26, 2014 at 6:58 am

      I know, we’ve always joked she was a little hippie and she acknowledges that herself.
      But she does take things too far.
      She told our friend *A* that *A*’s miscarriage was simply “The Earth recalling the baby’s spirit”

      That’s when it passed from cool, she uses crystals, to “holy shit, run before she tries to bless us with sheep urine”

    • Valerie

      April 26, 2014 at 7:08 am

      Bwahahaha. You are hysterical. And I must associate with boring people because I don’t know anyone who would douse me in sheep urine. Questioning all of my life choices now.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      April 26, 2014 at 10:52 am

      LOL Glad I can entertain!
      I come from a tiny backwater village where the sheep outnumber the residents by about ten to one.

      There were TWELVE in my class in school….

      Couldn’t get away with anything!

  3. D W

    April 25, 2014 at 10:23 am

    *Slow clap*
    People like to put people in boxes. It saves them all the trouble of actually getting to know an individual.

    • Jessifer

      April 25, 2014 at 10:50 am

      The thing that drives me nuts about people who claim to have some sort of birthing/parent style, is their need to constantly TALK about their style, regardless of whether others want to hear it or not (I’m talking about you, Facebook!!!). Other than on parenting forums, which are designed for that type of discussion, I never engage in an unsolicited conversation with someone about what approach I’m taking to raising my kid. Nor do I really care how they’re raising their kid. I’m alone at home with my child day in day out so when it’s time to have an adult conversation, I wanna catch up on my office gossip and the latest Game of Thrones episode, not talk about whether I’m doing baby-led weaning or making purees.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

      It is probably the labeling that makes everyone so irritated.

      For example, if someone said, I am a hipster, I would be like, EW. On the other hand, if they said, I like to wear skinny jeans and drink locally sourced coffee, I would be like… I kinda do too. 😉

    • Jessifer

      April 25, 2014 at 11:06 am

      The labeling seems like a grown-up version of the high school cliques (i.e. jocks, preps, nerds, punks, etc…). Why people continue to do this as adults is truly baffling.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 25, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      I agree DW. You are good at pointing out that people like to put people in boxes. From now on, this is all you do on Mommyish alright?

  4. Kay_Sue

    April 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

    “But as any new mom can tell you, having a baby ruins all of your best laid plans.”

    I’m seriously going to make this my first embroidery project. I am going to embroider it on a throw pillow for every new mother in my life.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

      I know, I had so many good intentions… Then I got F’ed in the A by life.

    • Kay_Sue

      April 25, 2014 at 10:42 am

      You really don’t know what you’re in for until you’re in it. I know there are folks far more driven by their parenting style than I am, and I admire that in a weird way, because my parenting style is currently “Adapt and Survive”.

    • Williwaw

      April 25, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Haha, I still haven’t finished those lovely embroidered booties I started making for my son when I was pregnant. He is two now. I think my parenting style is “procrastinate”.

    • Kay_Sue

      April 25, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Mine falls along that line too. I started a baby book for my first and never finished it. Didn’t bother with the second….

    • pixie

      April 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

      If/when I ever get pregnant, I’ll be the first I’m line for one 😉

    • Kay_Sue

      April 25, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      It’s the best advice you can receive.

  5. WriterLady

    April 25, 2014 at 10:36 am

    If you are as warm, endearing, and authentic in your social media posts as you are in your Mommyish articles (and I have zero doubt that you are), I would not give it a second thought. Unfortunately, natural birth fanatics have sort of created a niche circle of like-minded women who project a smug, sanctimommy attitude. I’ve seen it a few times myself, but I’ve also seen women in the same position as you. They simply preferred the natural birthing route, and they did not discuss the matter in a condescending tone. In other words, they did not behave as fanatics, and they also refrained from making others feel inferior. Furthermore, we should feel free to talk about our experiences without fear of judgment. Only when we project our choices and values onto others does it become problematic. And that’s exactly why I share your disdain for the ‘parenting style/birthing style’ ideologies. I’ve used the terms to describe people who legitimately follow a certain parenting philosophy as if their child’s life depends on it, but I honestly believe that most of us lie somewhere in the middle. We consciously pick and choose which methods we prefer, but we do so not to impress anyone or to one-up other mothers. Kudos to you for doing what’s best for your family!

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Thank you so much, that is so sweet!! 🙂 Yes, there are always extremists that make one particular philosophy awkward for everyone else, whether it is natural birthing, breastfeeding or not, etc. It’s just funny to see how some of your parenting and birthing choices have nothing to do with the others!

  6. Kendra

    April 25, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I don’t conform to any style. #rebel

  7. CW

    April 25, 2014 at 10:40 am

    A lot of the crunchy, AP-loving moms I know IRL did have a homebirth but others came to that parenting style later on. I can’t think of any women who had a homebirth who AREN’T now crunchy AP moms, but that’s because I don’t know all that many moms who had a homebirth.

  8. Jessifer

    April 25, 2014 at 10:43 am

    My birthing style is: Get it out.
    My parenting style is: Feed, Clothe, Love, and Try not to fuck my kid up too much.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      April 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Agreed – have never understood why parenting needs a style beyond that…

  9. LiteBrite

    April 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I didn’t choose my “birthing style”; my birthing style chose me. My son was breech, and the cord was wrapped around his neck twice, so no vaginal birth for me. But to me, the way I gave birth to my son matters far less than the way I raise him to be a decent human being (I hope).

    Like someone else said, I didn’t even know people felt so strongly about birthing until I took a birthing class and got on the Internet.

    I will say though that Ryan Gosling can come set up a birthing pool in my house any day of the week. Hey Girl indeed.

    • Valerie

      April 25, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Yeah, we can swim in it, Ryan. #comeonover

    • Kay_Sue

      April 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm


    • Kay_Sue

      April 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      But only because we want it to be as authentic as possible.

  10. Lilly

    April 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

    my birthing and parenting philosophies somewhat line up but that is more because the philosophy I adhere to is:

    try it the gentle, natural way first, if that doesn’t work or is annoying — fuck that and 21st century that shit.

    • Alene

      April 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      This is me too! I never thought to say it that way, though. I’ll be stealing that one!

      That was my plan with birth – give it a good try as intervention free as possible (in a hospital), and if shit goes down and something else is needed, go for it. I ended up with an IV for GBS, but no epidural or other medication. It’s also my plan with parenting. Breastfeed and babywear as long as everyone is comfortable and happy, not longer. Feed local when it’s easily accessible and affordable. Co sleep for a while, sleep train when kid tells me she needs it.


  11. Life-Sized Mommy

    April 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

    “Style” labels suck.

    I’m a breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, hands-on, “raise them gently” kind of mama…

    Who has had two epidural-improved hospital births, and will do the exact same thing if I ever have another baby.

  12. Kitsune

    April 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I only know one person IRL who has a parenting style and it’s AP. She’s also the only one who talks about it all the time. Everyone else is pretty much doing whatever works. My non-judging philosophy on parenting is really similar to my non-judging philosophy on sex. Is it safe, sane, and consensual?, then it’s none of my damn business. Is your kid healthy, happy, and loved?, then you are doing great.

  13. val97

    April 25, 2014 at 11:13 am

    My style is to make fun of everyone who talks about parenting styles and birthing plans on facebook.

  14. K.

    April 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I threw up 3 times while giving birth.

    Apparently, I am a vomit-y kind of mother.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 25, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Best parenting style ever.

    • Kay_Sue

      April 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      That’s actually a really useful one, given how gross kids can be.

    • Sarah

      April 26, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Same. I honestly have no clue how my boyfriend slept through 8 hours of my early labor…lucky bastard.

  15. Kelly

    April 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    My “birthing style” was keeping my baby alive. I have to admit, I don’t really care to associate with those with different birthing styles than mine.

  16. Pappy

    April 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Sigh… I hate to have to be this person, but you didn’t have a “natural” childbirth. Or, to be more accurate, you did but only because everyone has a “natural” childbirth. ALL birth is natural. What you presumably had was a vaginal, unmedicated childbirth. Calling it “natural childbirth” implies that all other ways of giving birth are unnatural, which carries an implicit value judgement.
    Also, you didn’t choose to have a vaginal birth, you were able to. You also didn’t choose to have functioning limbs, or a working pancreas, or a pelvis capable of accommodating a fetus. As an author, you should be more careful that your language doesn’t imply that it’s up to you whether or not you can do these things.

    • CW

      April 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Natural = the way God/Nature made the female body to work. I’m not anti-modern medicine and had an epi with my first two kids, but those WERE medical births. My 3rd delivery was a natural birth because my midwife didn’t do anything aside from catch the baby. My body did the rest all on its own. Sometimes medical births are preferable, as complications can arise. I certainly wouldn’t want to be attempting a natural delivery without an OB on call to do an emergency c-section should one become necessary.

  17. the_ether

    April 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I assume my parenting style will be much like my own personal style – slapdash hippiegeek with an emphasis of comfort and sarcasm.

    Whereas my birth style is aiming to be…er…much the same. Birth centre, unmedicated, medium amount of gadgetry, presided over by an oil painting of Jeff Goldblum.

  18. cabinfever

    April 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I just want to point out that an epidural does not mean a “quick and painless” birth.

    With my first, I had an extremely long labour and an occiput posterior (sunny side up) delivery. If not for the epidural – which let me rest and helped a bit with the pain – I wouldn’t have had the strength for a vaginal delivery.
    With my second, I opted for the epidural again, and even though things were comparatively pretty straightforward, it still hurt like a motherfucker, because it’s childbirth.

    I’m disappointed that even here, there seems to be a general, quiet judgment about the use of epidurals (or whatever “meds”) during childbirth.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 25, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      I don’t believe I judged anyone, and I really am sorry if you were offended. TBH, I say tongue-in-cheek stuff like that all the time and give very little thought to it. I totally understand that every woman’s birth is personal and a challenge.

      So anyhow, no judgement from me in any of the terms I used or jokey references I made.

    • cabinfever

      April 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Sorry Bethany, I wasn’t offended by what you wrote.

      The comments during discussions of birthing styles/preferences/etc can feel a little anti-epidural at times, but maybe that’s just the way I’m reading them, and maybe I’m really just still responding to that “obgyns will steal your baby’s soul” (or whatever) piece.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 26, 2014 at 8:57 am

      No, I really do get what you are saying and appreciate you sharing! This a tough subject to talk about from any perspective, and your points matter too. Thanks! 🙂

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