I make no secret of the fact that I’ve had three c-sections and zero vaginal births. Sure, I made a valiant effort to push my first daughter out “the old fashioned-way,” as I jokingly call vaginal deliveries, but the fact is, were it not for modern medicine, both Lauren and I would have died in childbirth. Had we lived in the 1800s or early 1900s, maybe one of us would have survived at the expense of the other. This is why I offer you some retorts to anyone who talks about childbirth, labor, epidurals, cesarean sections or even breastfeeding in anything less than a respectful and tolerant tone. “Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without pain meds or epidurals.” This is true. You can’t deny it. And yet, those cave women also didn’t have a choice. You can’t speak for the cave woman who after three hours of agonizing back labor, probably would have jumped at the chance for an epidural. Not having the option of an epidural is not the same as choosing not to have an epidural. Just because women have been giving birth naturally for centuries (because they had no other choice) doesn't mean they would do the same thing today. “Too many women are having labor induced so their doctors can make their tee times.” This also may be true. It depends on if your OB plays golf. If it’s something you are worried about, be sure to ask your doctor, “Do you play golf? Because I don’t want to be induced just so you can make your tee time.” Or, you could also say “No thank you, I’d rather not be induced and I’d rather let nature take it’s course.” But back to our friend the Cave Woman. We can’t be sure she didn’t use her own primitive methods to stimulate labor. Just because she didn’t have modern medicine at her fingertips, doesn’t mean she wasn’t just as anxious, uncomfortable and sick of waddling around like the rest of get when we know we are about to “pop.” We do know that women have been trying various methods of stimulating labor since, well, forever--like eating spicy foods or engaging in certain rigorous activities--all in the hopes of trying to get the inevitable started sooner rather than later. “Breastfeeding is the way nature intended women to feed their babies.” Well, you certainly can’t argue with that. But, if you have any tact, you should refrain from saying it to a bottle-feeding mother. I actually did end up nursing all three of my children but because of my extremely stressful three-plus hour attempt at pushing out Lauren, followed by an emergency c-section, my body was so “out of wack” that my milk didn’t come in for almost a full week. We supplemented Lauren with formula but I continued to try to try to nurse her. She lost a lot of weight in that first week and I was on the verge of giving up. Hours after I left the pediatrician’s office in tears, my milk finally came in. Breastfeeding is the way nature intended us to feed our babies, that is, those mothers and babies who weren't killed off during the birthing process. Nature is efficient but that efficiency is brutal. There was nothing about the process that was "natural," especially since we both lived! Judging mothers who are bottle feeding is the same and whether it is by necessity of choice, if both mom and baby are healthy and happy, it's really no one else's business. As mothers preparing to give birth, the best we can do is to educate ourselves and to make ourselves aware of the different options that exist when things start to unfold. There are a lot of things that you simply cannot know until you are in the moment. This is true whether you are in labor with your first baby or your sixth. If you hear someone who means well, or maybe someone who has really wide birth canal and a super-high pain tolerance (not to mention a superiority complex and a competitive attitude about giving birth) remind her that there is no shame in using modern medicine during childbirth—and because of it, the mother and infant mortality rate has dropped A LOT in the last century. Besides, that cave woman might have really appreciated an epidural.
Great post. We wanted to go all natural with the birth of our first 2 years ago. Unfortunately, I had to be induced, which led to a C-Section 20 hours later. It just went to show us that as much as we had planned and wanted for no interventions, our baby’s health and safety, as well as mine, were of the utmost importance. My desired birth experience at that point was not a priority.
I am going to be giving birth to my first baby in May. I am a little nervous! We just filled out our birth plan and I’m surprised how specific it is sometimes. I don’t want to say no to an epidural or pain meds because I don’t know what it will be like. If I can’t deal with the pain you better believe I will get an epidural. Really appreciated this post because I feel so many people out there are passing judgement on modern medicine and pushing to do it without pain medication.
Personally, I much prefer not having the epidural. My recovery was so much easier and I felt better a lot more quickly without it, and I started breastfeeding immediately with the intervention-free birth. But it is great to have those options available!
Love this! Wish we didn’t have that judgement between women on how others give birth, Every woman and every birth is different.
Also, actually laughed outloud at “ask your doctor if they play golf”
This article is a great reminder that for thousands of years, women never even had a choice on whether or not to have medication during the birthing process, and that not having a choice is very different than having the option, but electing not to choose that option. Certainly, many more lives are saved now, thanks to modern medicine. Isn’t the goal to have a healthy mother and child? That wasn’t always the case before. Were it not for modern medicine, it is likely that either my baby or I (or both) would not have survived birth. I am forever grateful that we are both healthy.
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