Jordan and I went to a birthing class recently. It was held in my doctor’s office and run by an experienced labor and delivery nurse. The information was conveyed to the group in a no-nonsense yet humorous way. It helped us feel even more at ease despite the fact that we have no idea how or when our baby will arrive. The hospital where I will deliver is extremely baby friendly*, which is important to me, but you know what isn’t important to me? Having a natural childbirth experience.
The topic of birth and birth plans among women my age is inevitable, and while many share from an honest, loving place, I’ve sometimes left those conversations feeling icky. Why has it become the norm to define our value as a mother by our birth plan? I won’t allow myself to feel less-than because I’ve opted for a more “Western medicine” approach.
The journey to parenthood begins, but certainly doesn’t end in labor and delivery. When you really get down to it, a woman has little to no control over how her body wants to labor. Some will have a textbook experience while others won’t. I find it extremely disheartening when women feel shame and embarrassment over their “failed” birth plan. All birth is miraculous.
Women have been giving birth since the beginning of humanity, but it’s also easy to forget that there was no such thing as natural versus “unnatural” birth until recently. If it weren’t for the invention of modern medicine many of us (or our children) would have died during childbirth from seemingly simple causes. It was either birth or (sadly) no birth. I think of my grandmother, who had four c-sections in the 50s. I’m grateful science had advanced to the point where she and her babies could arrive alive and healthy.
It’s important to be aware of our health and our healthcare options. Don’t like your doctor? Find a new one. If a birth center brings you peace of mind then by all means choose a birth center! We just have to remember neither a birth center nor hospital childbirth will guarantee an easier time parenting your toddler. Your teenager won’t care how they were delivered.
I, for one, feel comfortable in hospital environments. I’ve been able to find a doctor with whom I have the most confidence (seriously, she’s incredible). My parents both worked in the medical field and taught me to advocate for myself and, after consulting with some experts, make a decision that works best for me. To me, it was a no-brainer, but choosing a hospital birth isn’t setting me up for success or failure. It’s simply the avenue in which my son will enter this world.
To all my beautiful, strong women out there: I love you and hope you feel empowered no matter your birth plan!
*For hospitals to be considered “baby friendly” they have to meet certain standards: immediate skin-to-skin to encourage successful breastfeeding, a nursery is available, but the baby can stay in your room the entire time, etc.