I had prenatal yoga last night. I feel like a bit of an old mother goose in my class at times – the majority of the women are having their first babies. Then I lug myself in all third-pregnancy like: usually late, bags under the eyes and kinder dutied out, ligaments stretching from here to who knows where, happy to do virtually anything in that quiet room if only to have an hour away from the crazy two hour long bed time shenanigans going on down the road at my house.
Sometimes I want to skip the pre-yoga chat and just get on with stretching my tired body. But last night’s discussion had me really engaged, and reminded me of the unfortunate birth culture within which we reside. Some of the first time preggy ladies were talking about things people were saying to them in response to their planning and hoping for a natural birth without intervention and it reminded me of how cruel people can be (granted, mostly unintentionally). And not only that, but how much birth-related baggage women (and men) are carrying about with them each day, making numerous attempts to palm it off to unsuspecting victims – or anyone who will listen.
When I was planning the Pixie’s home birth, I was surprised at the number of people who obviously thought a home birth was a selfish choice – in which the mother’s desire for a “nice” or “spiritual” experience comes before the health and wellbeing of her unborn baby. I was shaken by this as it couldn’t be further from the truth. However the vast ignorance of western culture when it comes to birthing and motherhood should really come as no surprise. Luckily for me it was my second pregnancy: I had given birth before, naturally, without any drugs or intervention. I knew what it was like to be pregnant. I was already a mother. While I still struggled with people’s opinions, I can’t imagine having to deal with the onslaught of everyone’s freely spoken negative and misinformed thoughts had it been my first pregnancy.
So last night when one lovely lady said that her friend had rolled her eyes when she said she was hoping to have an intervention free birth I just felt mad! Another woman had a friend who laughed and mocked at her writing a birth plan. All of the negative comments were coming from women who had given birth previously. How any woman who has gone through the pregnancy and birth process can then be so cruel and spiteful to an unsuspecting first timer is beyond me. One of my sisters is also currently pregnant for the first time (soooooo exciting – I am going to be an Aunty!!). She received an email the other day from a friend encouraging her to head straight for the epidural.
It seems widely acceptable to offer this type of unwanted advice willy-nilly (and doesn’t seem to stop once the baby is born either…) But then when you have had a normal experience of birth and consider sharing it, you often become the woman who is boasting about her good fortune and rubbing it in everyone’s face. You can’t win!
I admire people who plan for the birth that will be optimal for their baby and themselves. Women should take it upon themselves to be educated and make informed decisions about what type of environment and situation will be most optimal given their own individual situation – pre and post baby. For example I know someone with extreme anxiety who after much research opted for an elective caesarean in order to keep their stress hormones down and remain as relaxed as possible. For her, that was the most optimal choice which would therefore likely bring about a more positive outcome for her baby too. Good on her!
I think birth stories (and intentions) should be shared freely and without judgement amongst women – without spite or nastiness or fear mongering. That is the last thing anyone needs. So read ladies, read, research, get informed, ask questions to those you trust, build a support network around you and make choices that suit you and your family. Not your mother-in-law or the woman who sits next to you at work or the lady in the queue behind you in the chemist.
P.S. On another note I realise I haven’t updated the blog post-ECV. Long story short – I have a head down baby! Update currently in draft stages behind the scenes 🙂