Thoughts on Childbirth: Let's End the Judgment
I couldn’t be more excited to become a mother, but the thought of actually birthing a baby terrifies me. To prepare, I’ve asked friends and family and scoured the Internet for personal birth experiences, trying to compile as much information as possible about what to expect. Knowledge is power, I suppose.
Overwhelmingly, these stories have been positive, with women sharing their experiences without trying to push their views on others. Nonetheless, I’ve been astounded at how contentious the issue of childbirth – or, more specifically, how women choose (or end up having to) to give birth – is. And, quite frankly, the negativity and judgement is disheartening.
To me, there is no right or wrong way to bring a child into the world. Childbirth is beautiful no matter what, and it doesn’t make you less of a mother (I can’t believe I even have to write that, but the sentiment is out there) for choosing or requiring pain medication, no medication, a C-section, or any other option. The means women, their partners, and their medical teams choose – or must employ as childbirth progresses – are irrelevant. The most important thing is that our babies are healthy. That’s what constitutes a successful birth.
In Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman talks about how epidurals are the most commonly used pain management method for French women giving birth. In fact, the only women who don’t get an epidural are American expats and French women who don’t arrive at the hospital early enough to get one. To them – and this is my favourite part – is that an unmedicated birth isn’t even referred to as a “natural” birth, as it is in North America. It’s simply called what it is: “giving birth without an epidural.” The goal is to bring a healthy baby into the world. French women simply don’t see the need to suffer unnecessarily in order to do so.
Personally, at this point in time, even though the thought of receiving such a large needle terrifies me a little bit, I plan to opt for an epidural if I can. I know that anything can happen, from not having time to get the epidural to requiring a C-section, and that’s A-OK with me. If you choose another option, that’s your prerogative. All birth stories should be celebrated because they’re all beautiful, empowering, and challenging in their own way. And, most importantly, the mamas who gave birth are equally strong, capable, and motherly.