View Full Version : Why does the discussion of natural childbirth usually end in debate?
12-09-2002, 11:43 AM
Whenever the subject comes up that I am planning to have natural childbirth, it seems every woman within earshot has an opinion - usually women who have either had an epidural or is someday planning to have one.
By the end of the conversation, I feel like I've been on trial. I end up having to defend reasons why I want to do it, and when asked what research I have to support my choice, have it refuted. In some cases, I'm left with feelings of guilt, like some are mad at me. I feel like I never want to talk about it with anyone besides my husband ever again.
But I guess what bothers me most is that when the discussion of epidural comes up, the subject never goes any further than that -- which is the way it SHOULD be for natural childbirth as well!!
Maybe it's just my pregnancy hormones making me extra sensitive, but it just doesn't seem fair. I think it's great that women have a choice. Whether someone else has an epidural or not doesn't bother me, so why should it bother someone else?
Mom-to-be Mar 8, 2003!
12-09-2002, 02:13 PM
I know what you mean! I think that it is a touchy subject and women who are planning to have or have had an epidural feel a need to defend that. I think it's a guilt issue. Like your wanting not to have an epidural shows them up or something.... I totally believe natural is the healthiest for mother and baby. My cousin is an anaestheisiologist (wow! really poor spelling!) and when I told him I was looking for a doula, he said "I've got your doula, it's called a needle." So, try not to take it too personally. :) You know you're right. Try telling the next person that you don't want to get into it.
12-09-2002, 02:44 PM
It's really sad, because I don't think any woman should have to defend her decision, epidural or not. That's the great thing about choice, each person gets to make their own. I always thought that it was a rite of passage to be able to discuss everything with your girlfriends regarding birth. I guess I just never expected something like this to be such a controversial subject. I just wished that since I support their decision to have an epidural, they could support mine. Oh well.
Mom-to-be Mar 8, 2003!
12-09-2002, 03:45 PM
To be honest, I think that both "sides" on this issue feel defensive. As a woman who always planned to have an epidural, I faced my own share of well meaning (and not so well meaning) "but natural is so much better for you and your baby, why would you ever want to do that...." And then when I ended up having a C section, talk about having to defend yourself! I got the pitying looks and people saying "I'm so sorry..."! I soemtimes feel like a freak for having a C section and thinking it really wasn't that bad!
I agree it is very sad that people just can't be supportive of each others choices. Having a baby and raising a child is difficult enough without having to feel like you need to defend yourself. But, that is kind of the way it is with parenting. If you make a choice different from someone else, then some people, who are not secure in their choices, will try to persuade you to their choice. Or it could also be that people made a choice and secretly regret it.
But to give people some degree of credit, in the case of natural childbirth, it could be that people think they are trying to be helpful by "warning" you about how difficult labor may be for you. The reality is a lot more women walk into L&D intending to do natural childbirth than actually come out the other side having done so. This is really not very helpful advice, and in retrospect, I realize I have probably done this myself on occasion and will be a bit more conscious in the future that this advice is probably not at all welcome!
12-09-2002, 04:17 PM
I see what you mean. I guess when it comes to birth and babies, people have very strong opinions. I know I'm scared to death of having a c-section. I'm really looking forward to doing this myself so I guess I cringe when I think about risking out of the birthing center and having to transfer to the hospital.
12-09-2002, 05:26 PM
Research is your friend!!! The more familiar you become with the literature, the less you'll care what anybody thinks. I got plenty of flack, too, but by the time I was pregnant, it just rolled off. I was very confident in what I knew and what the research showed, so the opinions of people who hadn't done that level of reading just couldn't swing that weight. Also, support is critical. Talk to your midwife, your doula, other women who have chosen this route. Email me as often as you'd like. If you surround yourself with advocates, you'll be more likely to have a natural birth-- or to know if a c-section is truly necessary. And I agree with Beth, there aren't tons of natural births in American hospitals. Hospitals for the most part just aren't set up that way, practically or philosophically. If you want a natural birth in a hospital, try to find a way to have a midwife and doula. It will vastly increase your chances of natural birth.
FYI, I'm reading a wonderful new book called *Giving Birth* by Catherine Taylor. Lots of birth stories (all midwife-attended), good research, reads like a good novel rather than a resource book.
Mom to Abigail Rose
12-09-2002, 07:28 PM
You're not being too sensitive if folks are actually asking you "what research do you have to back up your decision"...someone who asks that sounds like they have a chip on their shoulder...I mean that is an odd question.
I do believe a lot of people are sensitive to some questions etc... when the person commenting doesn't mean to be questioning desrespectfully. (we were on the same thread about his before :))
I for one am PLANNING a natural child birth, I'm not walking into a hospital with that plan, I am going to a birthing center where only midwives are in attendance, so chances are high I will have one, and I am doing everything I can up front to make that happen by making that decision (birth center). BUT I will not shed a tear if I end up at a hospital, with a c-section or even in an ICU with all technology plugged up. I trust the birthing center.
I am very careful when I tell people that I plan this to not be too opinionated on it, or too self righteous about it. I say it exactly how I did, "I am planning (knock on wood) to have a natural child birth. I personally just imagine it that way". BUt I have lurked the unmed board at parents place and feel some of those ladies are the opinionated ones against med births, and it disqust me. I agree with what you said, respect a women's right to choose. there will be bigger decisions in our lives and choices in our lives than this.
My best friend jokes and laughs and says, "Neve if I could have rolled into L&D butt first, up in the air so the epidural would have come quicker I would have"...that comment doesn't effect me in the least bit. She does say, "it hurts...hats off to you".
I say politely nip these folks in the bud, but make certain that when you tell them of your intentions that it is not a "holier than thou" approach, I think that is where problems start. (though from what you've said you seem very respectful of people's choices so I doubt that is the culprit at all).
If women could support eachother more I swear we would all rule the world...it is our downside, we all have so much strength to give eachother but hardly ever do.
I'm rambling...but hold your head up high and know that you are doing the right thing for you!!! And feel free to tell folks how you feel when they make you question it.
12-09-2002, 08:02 PM
I know what you are going through. I had the same problem with people around me when I was planning my delivery, they just didn't understand why I wanted to go natural with a midwife and a doula instead of an ob like they did. I never critized how they delivered, I just would explain that it was something I wanted to do. I didn't appreciated the "I told you so" looks and comments when I ended up having a c-section. I guess it prepared me for the breast/bottle debate and all the other child rearing opinions that people feel the need to enlighten you with (not sure why strangers at the mall felt the need to ask me when I will stop breastfeeding...).
12-09-2002, 08:04 PM
I think it was especially bad, because this recently happened at a Christmas party my husband and I were throwing. I kept trying to move onto another subject, but that unfortunately proved to be difficult. I actually don't really provide much information, other than "This is what I want to do..." I don't give reasons why. I really do try to respect anyone else's decision, which is why I don't give our any reasons or details...or any of my research.
But I think you're right. The bottom line is I'm doing what's right for me, and that's all that matters!
Mom-to-be Mar 8, 2003!
12-09-2002, 08:14 PM
Well, I must come at this from the other side of things, because it seemed that I was always having to defend why an epidural wouldn't be the worst decision I could ever make for my baby. The important thing is that you have done some research and have decided what is best for YOU. Usually, "I have discussed it with my OB and we feel that this is best for me and my baby" helps to end the conversation, unless it is the guy bagging your groceries who had a neighbor whose wife had 11 kids and she.... (you get the idea :))
The only advice I can offer beyond that is keep an open mind and do go with what your OB says while you are in labor. In my case, I was glad I had an epidural because it prevented an emergency C-section, but someone else might have another story about why they were glad not to have had one.
People are downright nosey when you are pregnant. And just wait until they start to ask you about breastfeeding :)
Good luck and hang in there. Things will go great and be a big happy blur no matter if you have an epidural or not!
12-09-2002, 09:26 PM
I have ceased to be surprised at the incredible rudeness of complete strangers who feel compelled to comment on my child. I was in Nordstrom's last week and was in the elevator with Sarah in her stroller. Sarah was sucking her thumb (as usual). This complete stranger said to me "She'd be a beautiful child, if she'd take that thumb out of her mouth". I was dumbfounded. Can you even IMAGINE saying that to someone?????? What possesses some people?
12-09-2002, 10:45 PM
Tammy if you nip one person in the bud with a comment I guarentee word will spread and others will watch what they say :) I'm pretty strong willed and speak with confidence when I dscuss this. I have been fortunate that I have not dealt (yet) with many people, but I guess they know I'll have the last word if it pertains to definding my actions.
I just returned from a neighborhood gambling game with 16 gals ($5 bets once a month)...dice game called BUNCO. A lot of the gals are older, my moms age, and I was amazed at the actual support from these older gals about the birth center and that I am not breast feeding. It ends up a lot of them didn't breast feed, and I think that generation is thrilled for us having options. I mean I doubt the majority of these women had their husbands in the room let alone in the hospital. My father was not even in the hospital for either of our births. It had nothing to do with quality of their marriage, they're still togther (I think on 45 years) and going strong...it was the times...
12-10-2002, 03:38 AM
You also might want to find out your Dr's philosophy as well as the leanings of the hospital.
Where I delivered was known for it's more "alternative" philosophy. The L&D nurse asked me, as soon as I entered, what I wanted and said that she would help me to that end--where possible. In fact the day after delivery my Dr. walked in with a smile and said: "You know that your delivery was the type epidurals were made for." And when I asked him why he didn't' suggest it, he said: "You said you didn't want it." It's important to surround yourself with people who know what you want, but it's even more important that you remain open-minded yourself ready for whatever the body and nature decide to throw your way.
In the end it is your decision.
I too am going to try and avoid an epidural (well, for as long as I can). To avoid getting into a debate I usually tell people I am considering and researching all options - I guess I'll decide then. Which in reality is the truth. You should be prepared for different situations becuase you never know what is going to happen. I know several people recently who planned an epidurl and then freaked out that they couldn't have one ("too late" or low blood pressure, etc).
I also read "Giving Birth" and I wished I had read it earlier. I really didn't do enough research on my doctors before getting pregnant. I knew I liked them (as a Gyn) and that they are a very reputable practice in the area. But I guess I was under a false impression that they were more 'with the times' on birthing issues. A lot of the books and magazine articles I read early on made it seem that so many doctors and hospitals were moving toward being more supportive of womans needs in labor (being able to walk around, etc) and I guess I assumed my doctors were that way. They seem too pushy on the epidural. I fear I will end up with one before I am really "ready" (they will "persuade me"). Now I just can't wait to pop this baby out! I am so surprised at how things have turned out - not that they are bad - just not at all what I expected. I want to give birth in a hospital becuase I feel more comfortable in case an emergancy should come up, but next time around I will definatly try and find a doctor or midwife (in-hospital) that is more in-line with my views...
Think I went off the topic there.......
12-10-2002, 10:21 AM
I have to agree with the poster that says it cuts both ways. I received the most criticism about the possibility of an epidural from my stepmother. She delivered three children with no pain medication (and with the first one they administered pitocin). She kept telling me that over and over throughout my pregnancy and it really got to me. Sure, I would have loved a natural childbirth. But I wasn't going to make myself miserable! I went into L&D with the idea that I would hold out as long as possible without drugs, and I did. But my SM was there the whole time and completely supported me when I got two (!) epidurals. They enabled me to be slightly lucid. (Slightly being the operative word...20 hours with no food will do that to you!) I remember reading somewhere here (I think KathyO?) about how you never hear of the man who walks into the ER with a broken arm and refuses pain medication because he wants to experience it. :P Men are so lucky...
All that being said, I was very unhappy with my birth experience. Throw in disgruntled nursing staff, a horrendous heat wave and an obscene amount of woman giving birth at once and you get the idea. I am not proud of my two epidurals, but I know it was what I needed to do to get through it. I am hopeful that with #2 my experience will be much different.
And Beth, I would have been sorely tempted to tell that person in the elevator to stick a certain appendage up a certain bodily "route." I can't believe how rude people can be!
12-10-2002, 01:38 PM
I got the same flack. It was as if people felt I wanted to harm my child by not having it in a hospital. They thought we were total nut cases. My response was "Women had been having babies for thousands of years before some man wrote a book about it!" Then, of course, when we ended up in the hospital, epidural, whole nine yards, they were smug. A friend actually asked excitedly, "Did you have drugs!?!" And when we told her yes, she was like "GOOD GIRL!" I think most were just supportive & me hormonal, but a few who planned the opposite births were glad to see my failure at a natural. I think they felt it cemented their plans to go straight for the drugs.
It's SUCH a personal thing (breastfeeding, too), but somehow people are just so insensitive. As of now, with Ds being 1 year, people have stayed the heck away from the breastfeeding issue with me. But you'd better believe I have an arsenal full of responses for the first person who asks "How long are you going to keep breastfeeding?"
Mommy to Jonah
12-10-2002, 02:37 PM
I think you can tell that all of us, as mothers, feel the need to defend what we did and how it happened. I had the opposite experience as Joanne - my mom had 6 kids, 5 "naturally." And she told me all along that if I opted for an epidural it would not make me any less of a mother. I agree with whoever said that some women may be trying to prepare you. I had a week of false labor leading up to the actual labor and although it is rare, my body was so tired that after laboring for 6 hours straight with contractions coming every 2-3 minutes an lasting 60-90 seconds I only dilated to a 1. Talk about discouraging. Here I thought I was envisioning palm trees just like they said! After some medical intervention I got "stuck" again at 9 and was no longer allowed to walk/stand because of postural hypertension and the words "c-section" began to be discussed. I was trying so hard to go naturally and I finally collapsed in sobs when I asked for the epidural papers. The nurse, who I believe is an angel, assured me that the epidural would allow me to sleep (something I had had very little of that week - maybe 3-4 hours each night) and my body to relax and allow the cervix to open. She was right.
Everyone's labor is different. I think the important thing to remember that no matter how he/she comes out, it is a miracle. We should marvel that our bodies do this and that we are blessed in this day and age with medical help to save those babies who would otherwise be lost or harmed. Some people are just nosy and rude and whether it's about your labor or someone's (adorable!) girl sucking her thumb, they obviously have some of their own confidence issues if they feel the need to point out (what they perceive) to be other's shortcomings.
Good luck to you - and good luck to us all!
12-10-2002, 02:40 PM
and look at that, I felt I had to defend myself! I should have just said I intended to go naturally, but complications led to the epidural. And when it comes time to have another go, I can say without hesitation that if I have back labor again, I will DEFINITELY ask for the epidural. Just my feelings...
12-10-2002, 03:00 PM
Thanks to everyone for their responses! I now understand that no matter what a person does (or plans to do -- we all know our plans don't always work out that way!), someone won't like it. And that's OKAY! I actually think reading everyone else's responses helps me to feel that no matter what the topic (drugs, breastfeeding, thumb sucking) it doesn't matter what someone else says.
I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences. I really do think I was being very hormonal the day I wrote this! I guess that's what pregnancy does to you, so I can use that excuse :) But it's also good because I know there will be many other situations where others don't agree with things we do as parents (strangers, family, friends) but since it's not their kids, I guess it doesn't much matter.
Re the stranger commenting on the thumb sucking -- how ridiculously inappropriate, unfortunately I could just picture my own mother making a comment like that to me down the road!!! Ah, the joys of parenting.
Mom-to-be Mar 8, 2003!
12-10-2002, 03:13 PM
>remember reading somewhere here (I think KathyO?) about how
>you never hear of the man who walks into the ER with a
>broken arm and refuses pain medication because he wants to
>experience it. :P Men are so lucky...
I'd love to take credit for that one, but it wasn't me. This whole phenomenon of people (friends, relatives and total strangers) telling you what birth is going to be like, and how you SHOULD respond to it, just seems so ridiculous. EVERYONE experiences sensations differently... add to that the fact that EVERY birth proceeds differently... add to that the fact that things can change quickly if the health of mom or baby comes into risk. With all those variables, how can anyone presume to know what someone else's labour will, or should, be like????
I also can't understand how a private, personal choice in regards to pain medication, labour location, practitioner, etc. gets interpreted into some kind of political position, which people then feel free to take issue with...
12-10-2002, 04:18 PM
I would give my eye teeth and two or three molars if my daughter would suck her thumb!!!
Mom to Abigail Rose
12-10-2002, 06:50 PM
very well said...as are all of the post here on this topic!!!
12-10-2002, 08:02 PM
You're not hormonal, you're just discovering that when you're pregnant, everyone's an expert, and everyone from your relatives to the Blockbuster clerk has to get their two cents in (and can be ferocious about it). I had people think I should be locked up for deciding not to have amnio or genetic testing even though I'm in my late 30s. And everyone wants to NAME your baby! Next time, I'm not telling anyone in advance what names we picked, because people always go "That's terrible, I think you should name him/her..." and list names that I never care for.
Good luck to you no matter what happens!!
12-10-2002, 10:46 PM
It's been said a million times, but it's so true - you just don't know what might happen when you finally go into labor.
I think it's worse for people who DO have a lot of expectations (specific birthing plan, firm ideas on drugs, etc...) because all your best laid plans can be out the window in a matter of moments. For me, I knew there was a chance I might need a c-section because I had a large fibroid that they thought might get in the way of a vaginal delivery. But, it ended up that the fibroid wasn't an issue at all, and so I was prepared to deliver vaginally, until my dr/nurse noticed that my baby's heartbeat was slowing considerably after each contraction. They became really worried - started giving me oxygen - the fear was that the cord could be around her neck. Within 15 mins or so, they decided to do an emergency c. Sure enough, when they pulled her out, the cord was wrapped 3x around her neck. My dr believes there was a good chance that she wouldn't have survived a vagnial delivery.
My own experience makes me believe even more that it is not a good idea to go into this with too many preconceived notions of what should or will happen. You just do what you have to do to have a healthy baby! I never could understand the whole "feeling of failure" some women feel after having a c-section. If you have a beautiful healthy baby, how could you ever consider that a failure????
Vaporizer affiliates (http://vaporizeraffiliateprogram.com)
that was me -- although, ironically, my husband's favorite thing to do is complain about a headache but refuse to take anything for it. "It's just dehydration." Well, stop complaining!!!
Seriously, the only person this really affects is the mom, so why doesn't everybody let the moms make their own decisions? So they might change their minds -- isn't that the right of being female anyway??? I think people just like to think they know better than everyone else.
PREGNANT! EDD 6/9/03
12-11-2002, 08:04 PM
I think that the discussion of ANYTHING related to pregnancy, birth, or motherhood ends in debate. If you were planning to have an epidural, people would give you their opinion about that. If you breastfeed or bottle-feed, if you use cloth diapers or disposables, if you plan to send your kid to preschool or not, and on and on and on.
I think it's because people sometimes feel defensive and judged because they did or didn't do something that you've decided on. Logically, they know that you aren't talking about or condemning them because you want a natural birth, but they're having an emotional reaction to your decisions.
I just let it go in one ear and out the other.
12-12-2002, 04:16 PM
You don't owe ANYONE an explanation for anything you do in your pregnancy, labor, parenting etc. Everyone told me I was crazy to attempt natural childbirth except my DH and my doctor. I made it drug free until about 5 hours before my son was born and I had a shot of painkillers just so I could get a break. You do whatever is best for you and TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! My son was born 3/18/2002 and so far my instincts have been right on target! If you are breatfeeding(I'm still going), get prepared for more comments! I've never BF in front of any of my relatives and I've been asked "You're still doing it ???". My son has NEVER been sick, no colds or ear infections yet and he's almost 9 months old. I have to think the BF has something to do with it. One more thing, we didn't tell anyone his name until after he was born just to avoid the discussions. I got just as much flack for that as the natural birth and BF decisions. DH and I wanted to keep something to ourselves since it felt like the whole world was into the pregnancy! Sorry to yap so long!
Best of luck to you and believe you can do it!
SAHM to Christopher
12-13-2002, 04:40 AM
Great discussion. I wish I had had this board throughout my pregnancy instead of only in the last month.
We also kept the name quiet until the birth. It became a guessing game among the relatives like "Rapunzel" (Sp?). And considering that the in-laws are only NOW adjusting to it--4 months later--I'm rather glad we did.
mom to Dante 8/1/02
12-13-2002, 10:31 AM
Well, I wish we had kept the names quiet. Some of DH's friends are not too quick on the uptake and declared that one of our girl choices sounded like a porn star. And even when I told some of my girlfriends about DS's name they kind of rolled their eyes. I guess it's best to not tell until the baby is born; they can't insult an actual person as easily as a large belly.
12-13-2002, 10:49 AM
We told some friends our name choices: Sarah for a girl, and Eli for a boy. One of our "friends" looked at me and said, "Well I hope it's a girl!" People are pretty amazing.
12-13-2002, 11:45 AM
We had decided on Presley for a girl but once MIL heard about it, she told all her friends, and then reported back to us that EVERYONE (including her) hated the name and that we couldn't name our child that. It reminded them all too much of Elvis. So, it ruined the name for us. Now we keep our names "top secret" and MIL hates it! I already know my own mother doesn't like our chosen middle name, but I could care less. She had her chance to name three kids (and I always hated my name!)
Last night we were at a class where everyone was telling the names they picked out. We were the only ones not to tell. I told my husband I was surprised he didn't just tell. He said if I'm not going to tell all my friends and family, I'm certainly not going to tell a room full of strangers!
Mom-to-be Mar 8, 2003!
12-13-2002, 03:34 PM
We didn't tell our name choices to anyone... although that was partly owing to the fact that we could not for the life of us come up with a boy's name we agreed on! (Fortunately, we had a girl.) Anyone who pressed us too hard was told, "oh, but it's BAD LUCK to tell ahead of time!!!" Nobody persisted after that.
But until she was born, we referred to her by a "fetal name" - I had dreamy thoughts of Robin (unisex name, comes in spring, and EDD was in April) or Pema (also unisex, means lotus), but then my husband said, "Hey, Ziggy the Zygote!!!" and it stuck.
I can't _believe_ that your MIL was (a) out taking a poll of her friends, and (b) back in your face, telling you to change your choice. This time around you should scare her with some really awful, bogus names to keep her busy until the actual event... "No, really, Mom, we both think that Noxzema is a LOVELY name!!! Don't you??"
12-13-2002, 05:05 PM
We had a contest to find the WORST baby name to go with our last name, and we passed out the list of the nearly 100 suggestions we got to everybody we knew. THEN we told them what we had decided on. Once people contemplate a baby named such things as "Puke Smook" and "Troubled Smook," Abigail just really sounds just fine. :)
Mom to Abigail Rose
12-13-2002, 06:08 PM
My husband and I, when I was pregnant the first time, made a list of really horrible names for boys just as a joke between ourselves. We had fun laughing at the names, but kept the names to ourselves. Imagine our horror when two years later my sister unknowingly gives one of those names to her son! Yuck! The kid has to live with this name for the rest of his life! Its a good thing she didn't tell it to us. There is no way I would have kept quiet. The ironic thing is that my sister didn't tell the name because I told her not to after my MIL insisted that the original name we chose for our son was a girl's name and refused to believe otherwise. (The name was Gabriel). Of course we didn't name him that because my MIL never would have let us hear the end of it.
12-13-2002, 10:42 PM
WOW! Your story sounds just like mine! I was all set for a natural birth. The nurses and doctor were so respectful of my wishes. Not once did they offer me pain medication. I eventually took it because I had been in labor for over 24 hours and was exhausted. Well, my little guy's hearbeat kept going down and while I began to dilate, he was not budging. They wheeled me in for a c-section and you can imagine our relief when they pulled him out and immediately put him on oxygen. That was of course after they unwrapped the cord from his neck. My poor little guy was blue. But he was fine and is growing like a champ today. My little birth plan which I had worked so hard on was completely out the window. But I have a healthy, happy little guy and for that, I am grateful :)
12-14-2002, 11:46 PM
That reminds me about what my doctor said when we were discussing delivery options and pain medications. "No one tries to have a 'natural' rootcanal."
12-17-2002, 06:47 PM
We did the same thing. We kept our lips sealed on the names. There are relatives/friends we have who'd probably make odd comments if we had told them one and they didn't like it. I figure that once he was here and named, they knew there was nothing they could do about if they didn't like it. I don't know if everyone liked Ds' name, but no one said anything!
My mom teased us by calling Ds horrid names all throughout the pregnancy.
If we have another, we are still keeping the names quiet, because it worked out very well.
Mommy to Jonah
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