So glad I found a place with like-minded people! I've been feeling very alone. :) Any ideas out there on WHY women are so defensive and upset when you bring up your wonderful home birth experiences? Why is there anger and name-calling? It's so strange to me. I would love to share with friends and family, but many women just shut down, and won't have the conversation at all, or they get angry and say I'm putting society at risk.

Here's my new favorite quote from Stephen King (father of several children born at home):
"Believe me: if you are told that some experience is going to hurt, it will hurt. Most pain is in the mind, and when a woman absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful- when she gets this information from her mother, her sisters, her married friends, and her physician- that woman has been mentally prepared to feel great agony".

haha! Mentally prepared to feel great agony- love it.

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I have found you have to be very gentle with how you bring up the subject. I have a friend who is very pro epidural, but she and I have found a way to talk to each other:) She has told me that she has felt very judged by those who choose to have a natural baby and that they have made here feel that she is an imperfect mother because of that. I think many women have felt this way. Part of it comes from the fact that they may have tried to have a natural birth and then had a bad experience. I think, though, that if you just talk about how much you loved your birth experience, with no reference to epidural, pitocin, home birth ect., you can use that as a jumping off point.
I really like that quote. That's the whole idea behind using hypnosis in child birth and when it's done successfully it's amazing to witness.

I think Rachel is right in her statements. It's easy for other women to feel judged and I believe we all can be a little judgmental in our assessments of other women's birth choices.( I know I've been guilty of it) In training to be a doula part of the process for me was to really be able to encourage and support even if I don't agree with what choices a mother is making. It's difficult to let go of my feelings of passion about natural birth, and to simply support. Not everyone wants to be educated, and we have to be content in the fact that our choices will speak for themselves.

Now telling me that my choices shouldn't be my own, are a different story, and I will readily stand up for what I feel is right. But I haven't encountered that kind of hostility very often.
I have been guilty of not sharing a wonderful home birth experience for fear of offending others. It's taken me a while to be able to share my birth story without feeling guilty. It's hard to hear someone talk about a tough birth experience then pop up with "mine was great" without sounding like you're trying to make them jealous or feel cheated. But, I'd come to realize that if we don't talk about the wonderful birth experiences, all women hear about are the difficult/traumatic ones and they immediately fear birth (which feeds in nicely to your S.K. quote). And he's absolutely right. There is something called the fear-tension-pain cycle; when you fear the contraction you tense up, when you tense up it hurts more, when it hurts more you are more fearful of the next contraction, etc spiraling into a vicious cycle. The way our media and TV shows represent birth feeds right into this fear. You never see a calm, serene, beautiful birth sequence. It's always high-drama because of some type of crisis the doctor then "saves" mom/baby from. No mention of the fact that many of the crises arise from unnecessary interventions. That's an entirely different story. Nobody wants to put THAT on the Today Show apparently.

But that's just my opinion... :)
I've been wondering the same thing myself. I recently had a HBAC and no one I know personally can relate.

My friends, who have had crash c-secs for questionable reasons (like me), and then repeat c-secs for more questionable reasons (unlike me), used to talk about how hard it was to have had surgeries; how angry they were. Now all of the sudden their doctors are their white knights, and elective surgery is a breeze?!
I also want to add that once the initial "birth story" has been told I have learned to zip my lips. I love my friends and family. My experience is just another experience, and it's not supposed to be a dividing line or a scale for others to compare their own births to. I made my decision to birth with a midwife to avoid interventions, to have the safest birth possible, not to acquire bragging rights.

It doesn't really matter why some women get upset when I say that there was no problem with the last birth, it only matters that they are upset. It's their issue, and their feelings. Go easy. If someone doesn't want to hear all of the details, it's OK. It is a very personal subject after all.

The women who are interested though? These are tending to be women who also want to share their experiences and information, are ready to explore their own births, who are expecting a baby, or are wanting to expand their families. These are also the gals who are actively seeking out facts and options on their own. And men are interested in birth too. Especially those who fit the above categories.

When I sense someone start to shut down when I'm relating my story I cut it short. There's just no benefit from arguing with another person who is entrenched in their beliefs.
Opposing viewpoints fascinate me.

Whether its over birth, religion or politics, there are always going to be people on either side of the fence, and there will be some balancing right on top of it.

When we can learn to accept each other and our own choices, we may have a shot at attaining a more peaceful world. Until then, the change can start with us.

How would you rather see that person who disagrees with you react? Graceful? Perhaps. But if the roles were reversed, if you were in their shoes, how would you respond? With passion over your beliefs?

I have spoken passionately about my experience.

Therefore isn't it only natural for those who have experienced the opposite of me (a medicated birth, elective c-section or induced labor ((I had my first and only child, so far, at home))) also be charged and vigorous over their choice?

I've seen women on both sides of the fence. Have friends on both sides. In the end, we're all women who love our children and tried to make the best choices (whether those choices were educated or derived from family and cultural influences).
Personally, I am fascinated by this question and especially the broader meanings of this. I so want to validate women's experiences and to be a good listenter. It is hard sometimes to watch the judging that happens-- by women of women, by a woman of herself, and by her family of the new mom.

The best explanation I've ever seen was in Robbie Davis-Floyd's book, Birth: An American Rite of Passage. It offered me a way to frame the whole birth process as one where our society demonstrates to women what their roles are as mothers, how they should relate to their bodies, and what their place in society is in general. So what we end up with in the US, with the medicalization of birth, are messages about how important machines are as opposed to the body-- how women cannot know their experience except as mediated through a machine. Technology trumps self-knowledge. The institution's clock is more important than her body's timetable. etc., etc.

I think that much of what I see as a doula is women struggling to fit their experience into their whole understanding of themselves as women and as humans-- and that what our culture dictates does not match their experience. So when a woman goes into labor and confronts the uncontrollable, magnificent, amazing process, she has to figure out how to balance that against the cultural pressures to make it controlled, tidy, and on the schedule and expectations of other people. Not an easy thing to do.

sorry this is so long. and just my perspective.
I agree with the other ladies. But I also think...

So, first we are in a very small minority of women that reject mainstream medical and cultural opinion on childbirth. This makes us easy targets for people to assume that we are making the wrong choice or are "crazy." (yes I have been called that for my beliefs and my decision to have a midwife instead of an OB and a home birth)

Most women had a medicalized, medicated, OB directed, hospital birth. They did this because they believed that it was the only safe way. Labor & delivery is seen as a means to an end and an unavoidable event to get a baby. Not a life changing, empowering, sacred experience. I think they get defensive and angry because they cannot acknowledge or even entertain the idea that their birth experience could have been any different. They endured it so they could have a healthy baby. I don't think they can bear the idea that they could have had a healthy baby through an experience that was anywhere close to the intimate, joyful experience we are describing.

Women who have had both types (as I have) have no problems lamenting our medicalized birth and comparing it to the natural experience we subsequently had. Women who have not need to defend their decision and their birth experience by dismissing us as "risk taking wackos" because it justifies and validates their way of approaching L&D. And I think that they do feel like we are judging them as weak for not "going natural." This just makes the defensiveness worse.

I had a c/s w/ my 1st. By accident I ended up with a midwife for my second. She suggested, encouraged, and supported a VBAC and sent me in search of resources to facilitate a natural birth experience. Ina Mae, Henci Goer... Without stumbling into that information I would have ended up with another c-section and not even realized I had other options. I had a sucessful, unmedicated, intervention free (except for continious EFM because midwife insisted) hospital VBAC. This time, armed with all my information, I chose to have a home birth and am very excited about it.

With women that seem interested and open I freely discuss it and even give them places where thay can get the information. Women that roll their eyes and say they could "never go wothout an epi" or "would never feel comfortable taking that risk" I simply don't discuss it any further. "I believe in my body's ability to bring a baby into the world. Birth is a natural event/bodily function and I choose to experience it that way" is my standard response for these women.

For women that attack me for my choices and cross the line I start spouting off stats and studies, about intervention rates and the fact that the US has one of the worst maternal & neonatal outcomes in all of the developed countries. Have you read....do you realize....is my question over and over. I advise them to do some research and then if they want to debate the topic or discuss my decision I will be glad to but until then they are uninformed, lack all of the information, and cannot possibly have an academic discussion on this topic.

I won't force my opinion or "open the door" so to speak, but if they do I am happy to step right through it :)
Thank you for all the helpful responses! I am really impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness put into each one...this is renewing my faith in women. I have been a little short with people lately, not wanting to go into my reasons for having 2 children at home, and never experiencing the "wonderful" hospital. I have been SO grateful for my midwives, and their experience and care! I was about to do a hospital birth with my first, when a great childbirth class instructor noticed how uncomfortable and uneasy I was about all of the rules in a hospital. No walking around? No food or water? IVs and monitors outside and inside the body?! Why? Why did I need to do all of that? She took my husband and me aside, and asked us to chat with her after the class. Here she was, teaching in a hospital, and knowing there was a much better way! She said she probably shouldn't be telling us about midwives, but that we could research on our own. My first thought was "unsafe", "wacko", and "hippy homebirth". But I decided that if she was right, and I was wrong, I wanted to know it. And I spent months and months- books, internet, movies, anything I could find to back up hospital births vs homebirths or midwife birth centers. I realized that she was right! And I went with a midwife at home- a few weeks before the birth! I have NEVER regretted that decision, and I am SO grateful for that wonderful lady who steered us towards something beautiful. I have since talked to many friends, and 3 of them decided to go with midwives...no regrets there either! I wish I could reach so many more though, and I'm thankful for websites like this, and books, movies, etc that they are producing just to inform women. You are all right- this is not an easy thing to talk about! Women get so upset. Thank you all for realizing that, and giving me some great ways to discuss or not discuss. I wish the AMA would have this discussion with everyone too....not likely.

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