birth... why do women feel like failures?

I read a lot of blogs by other women, some I know personally and some I have never met. A reoccuring theme to those that are by mothers is the inadequacy that they felt because they had a c section or an epidural, that they couldnt give birth properly. It makes me sad that some thing as empowering as childbirth is disempowering women because they feel like they have failed.

I have never had a c section so I dont understand what it is like, what the pain is like afterwards, what the feelings associated with it are like, but I have friends who have coped with it in different ways, some take the as long as the baby is ok approach, others take the I failed approach, it seems to be a dividing issue at parent groups the I have given birth vaginally vs the c sections... it is stupid. Of course giving birth naturally is the preferable option but if the life of the mother or baby is at stake then c sections are necessary. I do question though repeat use of them without trying to give birth vaginally, I do question the number of interventions used that then lead to the c section, the unneccessry inductions because 40 weeks is when pregnancy should end. Says who? pregnancy in humans is between 38 to 42 weeks from last menstrual period. due date, is just an estimated time of arrival, I have had one baby 4 days before edd, one the night before and one at 41 weeks. each was perfect and that was the outcome we wanted.

I am lucky to have had three relatively easy non complecated births, yep they were bloody painful but my pain releif options were limited because of the length of my labours.. pethidine wasnt an option, the gas made me feel gross, a shower helped and anything else just wasnt going to happen because I wasnt in labour for long enough. I am lucky I give birth easily. K's deleivery was great, short, and intense and scary because I was told to expect 12 hrs or more and we got to 3 all up. I then Haemorraged... now that was scary... I had to go to theatre etc, have blood transfusions, didnt get to feed my girl till the next morning, she then ended up in neonatal unit because she was cold and jaundice.... a bloody scary introduction into parenthood.

My second birth was much better, we knew to expect a short labour, that there was the possiblity of pph, but that we would have everything in place to stop it happening, L's labour was great, sunny afternoon, relaxed, what we had planned for. She too had jaundice and spent time in neonates.

O's birth was awesome, I went into labour in the early morning, my dad timed contractions, my parents met him when he was hours old, we were in Oamaru, the birthing unit there is small, and quiet, I loved it, and would be so tempted to go back there if I could.

This time I am thinking about having a home birth, I am throwing ideas around about it, who knows I might just opt for the option I know best and go to hospital, its all early days though.

Anyway I digressed a bit there, I watched the Business of being born again yesterday, and it reinforced for me the fact that women are being made to feel inadequate even before they give birth, that they wont be able to cope with the pain, that its too hard.... we have been giving birth for millenia, often with a midwife to guide us. It seems that birth has become so medicalised that we treat it as part of an illness something that needs fixed that we need Drs for because we cant do it. I have had midwifery care for all three, and am doing the same again, I arent sick, I am pregnant. We need to claim back birth as normal, as something that we can do, I arent saying that intervention shouldnt happen, its is necessary in some cases, just that we need to look at why interventions are happening and why we are made to feel like we are failing if we dont accpet them as "normal"

Childbirth is one of the most amazing journeys that you ever take, to feel like a failure is not an acceptable outcome for me or any other women. We need to talk about our experiences, not just the horror stories, we need to reclaim childbirth as a womens issue, not a "medical" issue


Puerhan said...
April 15, 2009 at 3:43 AM

Hear hear! Great post! Pregnancy is certainly not a medical issue or illness! It is the natural process of how we come into our independent physical form in this world!!!

As you say, if interventions are necessary then we can all be glad of the medical knowledge / technologies we have available and the mother certainly need not feel any sense of failure.

Think I've caught up with your blog now! ;-) Off sick again so been reading... need to do some steaming now I think to see about clearing myself out.

Azlemed said...
April 15, 2009 at 8:01 AM

I have been blogging a bit more again, mood is a bit low, so this helps.

There is often debate about birth and what is right, and it marginalises those who actually give birth, It frustrates me a lot esp the fact that c sections are done a lot quicker than always necessary.

Puerhan said...
April 16, 2009 at 2:05 AM

Hey D, you might also enjoy this blog: Green SAHM

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