Let me just start out by saying that I know this post will probably cause some controversy. I'm okay with that. This is something that has been on my mind for months now and I had to say something. It's not my intention to pass judgement or to label or to generalize. It's simply my thoughts based on my own observations.
Anyone who knows me in real life, follows me on Twitter, or reads this blog obviously knows that I'm pregnant. And yes, this is my first child. Since the day I found out I was expecting I have been doing research... I started reading articles, studying books, I joined online pregnancy communities, and started following all the knowledgeable momma's I could find via Twitter. In this process I noticed something that really upset me. I started seeing these so-called 'birth activists' who would post things on Twitter or respond to other momma's in my due date community essentially saying that anyone who doesn't choose a natural vaginal birth with NO interventions is un-educated, misinformed, and making a horrible choice for themselves and their unborn. Furthermore, you are destroying the planet if you choose to use disposable diapers, you're interrupting the mother-child bond if you choose not to 'wear' your baby and use a stroller, and GOD FORBID you use formula... you may as well hand your child over to the devil himself for all the long term damage you are causing! Now, I know that a lot of these women truly have the best intentions. Most of them are standing up for the women who have OB's who tell them their baby is too big to birth vaginally or tell them that their baby will die if they don't have an induction at 40 weeks. They are supporting people who have been lied to and cheated by the medical community. However, SOME of these women don't care about a woman's specific circumstances. They don't bother to find out why a woman may choose a scheduled c-section or an epidural. They think you should run quickly away from any OB and birth safely at home in the living room. They want to tell you the 'right way' to things, and everything else is dangerous and wrong. These are the women who make me mad.
The other day while on Twitter I read a tweet posted by one of these 'birth activists' saying that any pregnant woman who chooses to to see an OB is making a mistake. Excuse me? While I agree there are many induction happy OB's out there, there are also wonderful, caring, and educated OB's out there (take mine for example...) who want nothing more than a safe baby and mommy. Not every OB is trying to cut your belly open to make it home in time for a 5pm dinner. Just because you may have had a bad hospital experience, doesn't mean that hospitals are evil places who's only goal is to destroy the beautiful and important process of birth. Another woman, after reading a pregnant lady's blog post about bringing makeup and hair products so she could look cute and feel good after birth, took it upon herself to actually respond to this woman on Twitter who she doesn't even KNOW to say that she's DIS-empowering woman everywhere by wanting to look good during birth instead of looking like a sweating angry mess during the most important time of her life. She also called her out because she said she may want an epidural after dialating to 5-6cms. REALLY? Why the hell does this women care that someone wants to put on mascara when everyone in her life is going to be visiting her and the new baby and taking pictures? Just because SHE didn't care about looks during birth doesn't mean that we all feel like way! Hell, I fully plan on showering, doing my hair, and putting on makeup after birth so I can look and feel my best! I'ts an individual choice and it's not causing harm to anyone! And why does she feel the need to judge someone just because she may or may not choose to use medication during birth? As a first time mom, I understand fear of the unknown and if I feel like I'm in too much pain to focus on delivery my baby safely then I will get pain medication to relax and sooth me. This isn't someone standing up for a woman who has been misinformed or lied to or who is choosing to do something dangerous... this is someone who's simply judging another woman's choices for herself and her baby and frankly, sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong. Why do these women CARE? Leave us pregnant woman alone. If we come to you and ask for help, fine, educate us, but do not come to us with your opinions and try to guilt us into thinking that your way is better. Pregnancy is stressful enough. Whatever way a woman chooses to birth IS the right way! I don't care about your views on the subject, that's the truth! And you and your opinion isn't helping anyone... it's making women who don't make that choice feel guilty and that is WRONG.
Take my sister for example... She was absolutely dedicated from the get-go to make the best choices possible for her and her baby. She spent so much time researching her options for labor, writing a detailed birth plan, taking breastfeeding classes and infant care classes, and she planned on having a 100% natural, intervention free labor. Mother Nature however had other plans. She went into labor 2 weeks early and her son was still breech and after some unsuccessful attempts to turn him, she was wheeled into the operating room for c-section. I just remember the look of disappointment on her face. I could tell she was devastated that after all her time and research and preperation she had to do the one thing that she was trying to avoid... the dreaded C-section! But you know what? In the end she had her son and after time she recovered and now she is an excellent mother to my 8 month old nephew. Despite latching troubles in the beginning, she has managed to exclusively breastfeed him. I couldn't be more proud.
Another example is a new momma that I've been following on Twitter, mammamccann. She had a simliar experience where she planned a beautiful relaxing homebirth experience with no interventions. Unfortunately, she had a condensed labor, struggled with positioning, and was in an extrodinary amount of pain. She ended up with an emergency C-section as well and struggled to let go of the feelings of guilt and shame over a 'failed birth'. Now she realizes that none of that matters, she has her beautiful and healthy daughter with her and she is still able to be the wonderful mother that she wanted to be. (Click here to read her wonderful blog post which oozes with positivity and wisdom. I love her attitude!). My favorite part of her post is below and couldn't sum up my own feelings about birth better:
"... it becomes more apparent to me as time goes by how much is focused on a vaginal birth being 'natural' and 'the right choice'. Women need to feel empowered whichever way they give birth. The birth is not what is important its the aftermath, nurturing your child, loving your child. We should not be judged by the way baby arrived but of our own courage, strength."
(thank you mammamccann for allowing me to share your story! Like I've told you, your attitude is truly inspiring and I hope that others can learn from your experience!)
So why should these women feel guilty just because they weren't able to birth vaginally? It's because the so called 'birth activists' tell them this is how they should feel.
I have been hesitant to write about my own birth plan and parenting choices because I know that most of the 'crunchier' women who follow me will not agree and will pass judgement on me without bothering to understand why I plan to do what do. But you know what? Let them judge me! Here's my plan out in the open for all to see.
I see an OB, NOT a midwife. I looked into midwives and even spoke with some, and you know what? It wasn't for me. I chose to birth in a hospital which was 100% covered by my insurance and where I know I can choose to use medication if I want to (that's right, I said it. I may actually want medication during birth! *GASP*). I did not see the logic of paying almost three thousand dollars to go to a birth center which could potentially end in transfer to a hospital anyway. I chose not to use a doula, you know why? I believe that birth is something that should be experienced by the father of my child and myself... I do not need to pay a stranger to be in the delivery room to support me when my boyfriend is and always has been a tower of strength for me to lean on. I plan to use disposable diapers. I am a working mother who also goes to school, and I do not have time or energy to do 3 loads of laundry a day and I truly think that the prices of cloth diapers are just as ridiculous as the prices of disposables. I am going to breastfeed my baby for as long as it makes sense to me. I could pretend and say that I plan to breastfeed until at least 6 months, but you know what? That is unrealistic. I will exclusively breastfeed while I am still on maternity leave and at home with my baby, but once I go back to work and start classes again, I will probably supplement with formula. Sure, I could pump every 2 hours at work and yes, the law says that I must be provided with a place to pump. But guess what? Leaving my desk to pump every 2 hours in the bathroom or my car sounds awful, and I really don't want to badger my boss about how I need to find a place to pump when I work in a tiny office with floor to ceiling windows and no privacy whatsoever. I will nurse my child when I can and hope to God that my supply lasts for as many night feedings as possible after I return to work, but I won't feel guilty for using formula.
My point is, I have plenty of reasons to do things differently than people say is best. I am NOT a stay at home mom who gets to dedicate all my time to my baby. I am a working mother and I need to support my family financially. I will do whatever is best for me regardless of what anyone thinks or says. So don't judge me. And stop judging other women out there who make different choices than you do. The only important outcome is having a happy, healthy baby. Period.