The ‘no need to be a super hero’ comments..

21 December 2009 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

A close friend is 14 weeks pregnant with her first child and is very excited and inspired by her pursuit of a natural, midwife attended birth. I’ve shared with her all of my favorite books and she’s presently really enjoying reading about hypnobirthing. She also recently watched “A Business of Being Born” with her husband and now feels fantastic about her choice of care providers and honestly seems to be looking forward to the birthing experience, not fearing it.

Sounds lovely, no?

Then she goes home to visit her family and gets the–sadly almost inevitable–‘take the drugs! Don’t try to be a super hero’ comments from a relative. The comments made her furious, as I remember them making me. I’m not even sure what is the most anger triggering, the vague implication from sometimes total strangers that you can’t hack child birth? The dismissive nature of one’s birth choices that were made, in many cases, after ample research? I guess the bottom line is it just seems completely inappropriate to vocalize such a negative experience onto someone who’s not even yet had the opportunity to go through it for themselves. But beyond just ‘raining on her parade,’ the comments towards my friend felt like the same kind of negative propaganda birth always gets: “It sucks, it’s painful, make it as easy on yourself as possible and do what your doctor tells you to do. But above all, TAKE THE DRUGS!”

What do you say to this? I’m pretty sure initially she did what I did, which was basically to nod and ignore. Then she moved on to, “how about we discuss this after I give birth?” But the subject left us wondering: what is the deal with this variety of comments that you get EVERYWHERE (even from our doctors as was depicted in Knocked Up)? At the end of the day, it’s only you and your baby experiencing that particular birth so why it matters to anyone else how you choose to prepare is beyond me. But is there any way to turn the conversation towards the positive so that it doesn’t feel like a weird birth-based competition?

We both assumed the root of these comments was some kind of failure insecurity. The mom is question had apparently aimed for a natural birth herself and somehow fell short and now resents the idea. And I’ve run into this many times myself – this resentment of the quest for natural birth. In some cases it comes from a mom who is using natural to mean vaginal birth, but regardless these moms feel very justified in telling you, aiming for a natural birth is not worth the effort.

Obviously there are plenty of women who have had natural births that feel differently. You can certainly just attempt to surround yourself with their stories instead. But I sometimes wonder if the whole ‘don’t be a super hero’ thing isn’t scaring a lot of natural birthers into the closet. I mean, who wants to cheapen a wonderful personal experience by feeling put into a position of having to defend it? Or having it made to be something that was somehow selfish, and about what the mom wants alone?

On the flip side, much like I hate being told ‘take the drugs’ I have no interest in forcing my birth choices on other women like a natural birth vigilante either. It just would be nice to get a constructive conversation out of assumptions.

Am I being too idealistic? Probably..

-Christine

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What I learned from being pregnant (part 1 in a series) Merry Christmas, for those who celebrate!

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