So a while back, I posted a picture taken of me during my c-section on a birth-focused facebook page. I’ll admit I was tweaking them a bit with the caption, “Me and my daughter while they were sewing me up during my fabulous planned c-section!!” See, I really love this picture, and I think it shows that a lot of things Natural Childbirth Advocates ™ like to say about c-sections simply aren’t true. My hands weren’t strapped down, my baby wasn’t taken away from me for hours, etc. This wasn’t even in some crunchy organic-food-serving hospital in Portland *cough*OHSU*cough*, but at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, OH, home of the much-maligned-in-NCB-circles show “One Born Every Minute.” It really was a fabulous birth experience. But I digress. Anyway, I was tweaking them, but I never expected to get this response:
I suppose I should have expected it. My introduction to the nastiness brought on by NCB rhetoric came early on in my career as a mother, in the livejournal pregnant community after I posted my son’s birth story. It was immediately arm-chair quarterbacked, with most commentors implying that I should feel terrible about my failure. I’ll never forget being told that I wouldn’t be a “real woman” until I pushed a baby out of my vagina (so… does that mean nulliparous women are sitting around waiting to become real??).
Any time I’ve mentioned it since, the NCBer I’m talking to claims that never would have happened; no one would really say that. But they do. Someone recently brought to my attention a thread
on Joyous Birth to my attention.
The OP posts, complete with a “trigger warning” (WAT? LOL) that she is traumatized that her friend is going in for an emergency c-section. She mourns the loss of the friend’s natural birth and blames her for choosing an OB to care for her and not taking care of herself “properly” during her pregnancy.
So let’s see. We have an apparently necessary c-section (high blood pressure, swelling, headaches…), and the sanctimony here is STILL so thick you could cut it with a knife. But that’s not all. After many condolences and (((hugs))), she worries that something has gone wrong, since she has not heard anything for three hours. Finally she announces that the baby has arrived safely. And THEN Janet Fraser herself has something to say:
Bahahahahahaha. Really? It almost seems that Janet thinks it would be better for babies to die from pre-eclampsia than be delivered via the sunroof.
See, the NCB movement wants to make sure you know that c-sections aren’t really birth. From this idiocy to the oft-posed-on-NCB-websites question “Do c-sections count as birth” to the NCT refusing to cover c-sections
in their birth classes, they’re attempting to denigrate both the method of birth and the women who have one. The latest iteration of this attack on c-section moms is a little more subtle than telling them they’re not real women, but it’s just as hurtful. It’s telling them that they haven’t really given birth. This attitude is all over the internet and permeates the hardcore parts of the natural birth community.
Doulas say it:
Natural Childbirth websites discuss it:
Even women on mainstream websites feel the need to talk about it:
Last but not least, there are actually forums dedicated to telling women that they have not given birth unless their children came out their vajayjay:
I used to feel hurt and angry when I read statements like these all over the internet. Why do other women feel the need to diminish the birth of my children? Or the births of anyone’s children? What is the purpose of saying anything like, “Cesareans are not really birth,” to a woman who has had a cesarean (or even to anyone who may need a cesarean in the future!!)? Is it a need to feel superior? To inform them of their supposed stupidity and gullibility in listening to their doctor? To warn them that they have somehow damaged their children? What is actually being done with this ridiculous assertion is to make her feel inadequate, feel like less of a woman. She starts to feel defensive. Maybe it has even contributed to her postpartum depression or helped to create feelings of animosity toward her care providers that didn’t exist before someone’s fat, blabby mouth opened up and spewed out that filth.
So let me make it clear. The way you give birth not a referendum on your worthiness as a woman, mother, or human being. The way our children came into the world has NO BEARING on our abilities as a mother. It’s wonderful that there are those women who have the good fortune to give birth with little to no intervention. But, really, in the scheme of things, birth is only a short moment in the lives of our children. We have so many opportunities to be amazing mothers throughout our children’s childhood and even as they become adults. Let’s not get so hung up on a 3-inch difference in the location from which they emerged.