I’m not very good at keeping my opinion to myself… Not when it really matters. If you’re in LOVE with that horrible shirt that makes you look like you’ve got one giant, wide tit perched atop your inner-tube belly, I’m not going to tell you it looks terrible… Not unless you try to wear it on a date or to an important client meeting or something. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.
But if I think it’s important, I can’t keep my mouth shut. At least, as Anna says, I am “eloquent even when pissed.”
Since I’m not on my laptop presently, I’m just going to cut and paste the details rather than the screenshots of the status blasting I did today on Facebook.
It started with this:
Jami Oof, I’m all worked up. Ladies: attenshun! Yer bodies were made fer birthin’! That is all.
And then, my sister chimes in with:
Uhh… What is she laughing at? Probably that she realizes the shitstorm that is about to occur on my status.
Ruth What exactly worked you up?
Jami One of my childhood friends started her hospital-based childbirth classes and was a little freaked out. I jumped on her status with encouraging words, a book that I think she should read and a suggestion to take my mother’s childbirth education class. Stressed the importance of being empowered AND educated.
Then one of her friends jumps on her status singing the praises of epidurals and beseeches her at the end, “You are getting an epidural, right???”
So… I went all hippy-on-my-soapbox and posted about the risks associated with interventions like epidurals and encouraged her to get educated AND empowered, not just pumped full of the tragic, complications and what-ifs that the hospital childbirth classes warn you about (read: freak you out about so that you will be a good little patient and listen, out of sheer fear, to whatever your doctor tells you *pats head*)
So, uh… I mean… I went a little crazy. But it really frustrates me when women are fearful of what we were biologically set up to do. It’s why we’re shaped the way we are… It’s why we’re the ones that carry the babies. The medicalization of childbirth makes me sick to my stomach.
So, yea… Not anything really crazy just yet, right? But I’m just getting warmed up.
Ruth Ah ok. So yeah, I’m definitely with you on everything. I’m not hippie-dippie about much of anything (I’ll take pretty much everything with preservatives and extra soap, thanks) but when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth and infant child-rearing I’m DEFINITELY a dirty fucking hippie.
Maggi Pssh – I did 80 situps lastnight and I’m ready for an epidural. All the patchouli and positive mantras in the world couldn’t talk me into pushing a person out of my vag without some type of numbing, be it meds or a fierce donkey punch, whatevs. But props to those who do it au naturel.
Jill Jami, I’ve just learned to not even try to be the holistic-health intervention in people’s lives. I just let it go in one ear and out the other. They have to be in a place of openness to begin to consider alternatives to the institutional healthcare conventions that have been dictated to us since childbirth from those whom we trusted the most, our parents and our doctors (however well meaning they were at the time). Otherwise, we’re just asking for a fight. Attraction rather than promotion, I suppose.
Ruth and I are soul-sisters, really. Maggi is hilarious and Jill is just right… But…
Jami I just cannot HELP it. A lot of things, I can just turn my head… But when people start singing the praises of epidurals like they’re some wonder drug or “happy juice” when in fact, they’re fucking up your chances to successfully breastfeed, they’re increasing your risk of an episiotomy, they’re doping up your baby, increasing your risk for a cesarean, they’re disconnecting you from the centuries-old magic of BIRTHING YOUR BABY, it just… it just bothers me.
I’d love it those moms who sit around and cheer on epidurals would also be as noisy when they’re nursing stitches on their nether regions from two holes being opened into one… I’d love it if they’d be real and honest about how the HELL they care for a baby when they had an emergency cesarean and they can’t stand up straight because of their stitches… I’d LOVE it to hear from them about the problems their babies had, in the NICU, difficulty breathing… I’d also LOVE to hear from them in a few years when their kids have other complications that could likely be traced back to being drugged up before they even took their first breaths!
Nobody does that.
See, I think more people need to sing the praises of natural childbirth… Not so much as “this is what you need to do” but like, “Fuck, the ring of fire burned… but I’m telling you what, when I was able to reach down and put my fingers inside me and touch my son’s head before he was born, before the ring of fire, that’s all I thought about when I started really doing the work of pushing. And when his head crowned through and I could feel all the intensity and the pressure and the burning, I could also feel my son’s father’s hands, holding our son’s head… Being connected all together as a family unit before he even took his first breath!”
THAT is the kind of stuff new moms need to hear. Fuck ’em if they get grossed out by it… Having babies is sticky, messy business… But it’s incredible… And it’s a RIGHT. And when women just toss out their chance to FEEL that experience — when they’re flighty about it, it burns me up… Ungrateful, man. Just so ungrateful.
The part about reaching inside of myself and touching my son’s head while he was still in the birth canal? Totally true and might I add, in-fucking-credible! Any of those really amazing monumental shifts during my pregnancy were phenomenal. When he was breech and turned, I remember the feeling of him moving out from under my rib. It was like something out of Alien.
Maggi I don’t think there needs to be a “holier than thou” attitude towards a woman who chose an epidural. It’s a personal choice/preference and being given the riot act isn’t the best way to receive information. There are plenty of century old traditions/ways of life that are becoming more and more obsolete, esp in the case of medicine. There are pro’s and con’s to both sides, yes. I don’t see choosing an epidural and, in the process, perhaps causing damage to the health of you or your child any different than choosing to drink alcohol or smoke cigarrettes or indulge in processed foods. And if we’re speaking from the standpoint of “Well the baby doesn’t have a say in it.” – we as mothers allow A LOT that could be considered harmful for our children: Happy Meals, video games, tv, candy, cola, etc. I don’t think anyone can be considered a model parent, childbirth to present. You make choices as a parent, as a woman, as an adult and everyone isn’t always gonna be on your team, but in the end, they don’t live your life.
Jillian I had an epidural and, if that is your style, it is totally a wonder drug. If I could buy it on the black market I probably would. I also had a c-section, and other than not being able to bend over very far or laugh too hard, it wasn’t all that difficult to get around with staples and they only stayed in 2 weeks anyways. I also breast-fed for about as long as I wanted to, though I think I’ll try longer with the next one. Isaac, health wise, was and remains perfect except for your occasional cold or daycare gross-ness. I understand how passionate you are about this, but be careful. Preaching your gospel with that underlying tone of condescension will get you called a hypocrite quick. Hospital child birth is not a dangerous or uneducated choice. It is just not for you and a lot of other women out there. Just like natural or home childbirth is not for others, myself included. Being aggressive and lofty, I don’t think, is a good way to try to convert anyone. to anything.
And then, my soul-sister Shana comes swooping in:
Shana Maggi, you’re right, it is your choice. I think Jami just wants to encourage moms-to-be to get educated, but we all know, in the end it is a free country we live in.
Epidurals were not made to encourage wellness for moms or babies, they were made to make the lives of doctors easier when childbirth moved away from what was naturally occurring to isolated hospital beds and being strapped down. Before epidurals they used other drugs (like ether) to knock women out because the women were struggling against the restraints they’d been placed in. Not surprisingly, causing a woman to be unconscious while her body is doing the hard work of labor did not lead to increased health of mothers or babies, nor did it sit with husbands who saw their women completely out of it and sometimes bruised from the places where their restraints had been placed. The history of medicating birth in this country is brutal, it’s interesting, and it’s one that we should all consider before jumping on the band wagon of “being able to take the drugs.” Just because practices become obsolete, doesn’t mean the new practice is automatically an improvement.
Medically speaking, there really aren’t any pros to receiving an epidural. The pros are mostly psychological: it helps women think they can do it because now they’re being helped by pain medication. It’s like telling kids that $100 sneakers make them jump higher. But, epidurals don’t always take the pain away and do often lead to further interventions, as Jami mentioned.
Women in our culture take the epidural, more often than not studies show, because it’s waved in their faces and they’re culturally conditioned (in a big way) to be afraid. As one OB put it, if you’re on a diet and someone keeps waving cookies in your face, eventually you’re going to crack and take the cookie. If moms in hospitals were instead encouraged to be patient, move around, breathe, let go, accept, and trust their bodies not to split in half then the culture would be different (like it is in every single other developed nation (i.e. Norway, Japan, Sweden, Holland, Australia, UK, etc)). Jami, and other women who are the choir she’s preaching to, want that culture to change so that it supports and empowers WOMEN, instead of the medical industry. (it’s costs $40,000 to give birth in a hospital, but $4,000 to have a midwife, why aren’t insurance companies all over that? why did newly graduating OBs run smear campaigns against traditional midwives in the early 1900s?)
It’s not about being a model anything. It’s about knowing all of your choices, their consequences, and your willingness thereafter.
I’d be interesting to pop-quiz moms to be to see if they know the facts about the history of birth. Like that game, Truth-Truth-Lie where you pony up three statements, one of which is a lie but two of which are true… And do this about birth history. I’m sure there’s be a lot of shocked and surprised faces.
Jami Exactly… I think if women knew the whole story of birth… the whole history, they would be as fired up as me. Our mothers were the ones born to knocked-out, unconscious women… But our grandmothers? Our great-grandmothers? They were likely born at home with a family member or a midwife, letting their bodies do what they were naturally designed to do.
Something got messed up, historically, when science caught up with things like vaccines… People developed this infatuation with drugs. Not because they NEEDED them — but because they were told they should take them.
If you educate yourself — REALLY educate yourself — and learn about the pros and cons of a natural birth versus one with lots of interventions, and then you decide you still want the interventions — have at it. Just EDUCATE yourselves! Be proactive. Read books. Talk to other mothers. Don’t just listen to what the hospital or the doctors tell you. Find some unbiased people to bounce questions off of — people that aren’t profiting from your medical care. No skin off my nose if you are making an educated choice and we just happen to disagree.
The part that makes me angry is when women are flippant, dismissive and ready to take an epidural like it’s a cough drop. Just like any drug you’d get at the pharmacy, you’d want to know all the side effects. Most women who opt for interventions couldn’t even tell you what the drug they’re taking actually DOES to their body. That’s reckless. That’s dangerous… And THAT is the kind of thing that needs to be dug up from the roots and disposed of…
This isn’t me coming from a place of condensation. I don’t think that I am better than you (general you) because I had a natural assisted homebirth. But I’m pretty sure, when it comes to knowing the facts about biology and birthing, I’m smarter than you (general you).
Ok, so that last sentence there was a little… whatever… But it’s true! I mean, shit kids, my mom is a doula. I have been raised in a house full of discussions of placentas and perineal massage and evening primose oil and colostrum. You just absorb it, man.
Maggi I don’t know about you, but the most educated I’ve ever been – about anything in life – was when I was pregnant. And I think I speak for probably 80% of women when I say that. Outside of crackheads and kids having kids, I don’t know many women who don’t take pregnancy seriously and use every resource available to them to become educated on the entire process, inside and out. So of course women *know* they have the option for a home birth or one without medication. And I don’t know a doctor or hospital, especially in these times, that doesn’t hand you a stack of paperwork to read/sign before they lay a hand on you. So yes, you’re given plenty of info on the consequences of an epidural. And the majority of women have little to no complications. Hell, do you think I’d take half of the Rx meds that I do if I believed the warnings on the label?? I trust my body. I know my body. I know what it’s capable of, but most importantly, I know what *I* am capable of. Shit, let’s apply this mindset to everyday life – Why is there a fast food restaurant on every corner? Why do we pay $300 for exercise-based video games? Why are there drive thru versions of prcatically every service available? Because we are a LAZY society. We like to take the easy way out. It’s what we do. So unless you don’t take advantage of modern conveniences, I think it’s a moot point. But, we can agree to disagree 🙂
Jami “And the majority of women have little to no complications.” <– This is statistically inaccurate, Maggi.
But I do agree that, as a whole, people are lazy. We are happy to have someone else just tell us that they’re going to take care of things so we don’t have to think… It happens all the time — that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that trying NOT to be that way makes you self-righteous.
All in all, the point of my sharing all of this with you guys is to say this: don’t fucking be a lemming man! Especially a pregnant lemming.