Posted by: webbhouston | December 31, 2008

A healthy baby isnt all that matters

One of the worst things that can be said to a woman after having a difficult/painful/traumatic birth is “well at least your baby is ok”.

Yes, the baby might be ok… but what about the mother?

Having a traumatic birth can lead to a host of other problems that really make this comment quite insensitive.

Having csection can lead to bowel and urinary issues. Infections. Adhesions.  Obviously much more than this.

But honestly, I am not talking about the physical side effects of birth.. which are many that most women arent even aware of. If you were a woman that had an epidural or pitocin… did your doctor properly explain the issues that you could have with both of them? Did they tell you about how it can lead to trouble breastfeeding to get an epidural? How it increases your chances of forceps or even a csection?  Did doctors tell you that uterine ruptures are more common with pitocin? I dont know why most women that get these things dont know that. What happened to informed consent?

Anyways.. I am not even talking about that when I am talking about the side effects that not having the birth that you want to have has on a woman. I am talking about the emotional side effects. The physical ones everyone will see. The scars and the pain, the headaches, and the shivers… but the ones that are deep inside of you are harder to fix.

I was told that women forget labor. I believe that some people still believe that…. but I dont see how they can.  I know women who talk about every detail of how each of their children came into the world. They know their weights, their length. Thew know how long their pushes and they know how long they were in labor for.  They remember holding on to their husband’s hands and making them turn white with every contraction.  They remember the sounds of the beeps of the fetal monitors or the warm relaxation that the shower created after it fell on their backs.  I remember every bit of my labors all 5 million hours that they each lasted. I remember the feelings that came afterwards.  I also remember the peace that came thanks to being at home and being able to sit back and enjoy my child without it being taken away.

You know what else women remember? When medical practitioners do things against their wishes that lead to other things. When membranes are sweeped that lead to accidental water breakage… which puts the mother in a timer as to when she must deliver.

When pitocin is given in an IV to speed things up.

When a woman is given and episiotomy instead of being allowed to tear naturally or letting her skin expand.

Women remember those first few minuts or hours with empty arms because their child was taken away, sometimes without even being told why and without a reason.

Women remember the lack of respect that they are shown.

Women remember the sensation of having your arms tied down while having surgery, so you cant even hold your baby.

Women remember when people tell them “at least you are ok” after ending up with a dissappointing or traumatic birth. They remember that these words minimize our own wants and feelings and turn us into little more than vessels for new life.

Yes a healthy baby is important and nobody in their right mind would willingly put their life or their fetus’s life at risk just to prove a point. No having a child is not always 100% safe and complications do arise.  Everybody knows that.  But why it is assumed that having a healthy child will immediately cure all of the holes in a woman’s body or heart?

One of the recommendations to women who get Post Partum Depression (which I am very familar with) is to take care of themselves. To get sunshine.  Rest when you can. Dont forget to take baths and comb your hair. SImple things that many women forget to do because they are so involved in being a new mother, or are too tired to do sometimes.  So why are women told to just get over their feelings after a birth that didnt go completely right? Why arent those feelings minized by assuming that the baby will make it all better?

I firmly beleive that this dismissal of a woman’s feelings about her birth experience leads to women feeling like they should not feel bad about the birth. Feeling guilty because they do, even selfish.  Why should we be made to feel selfish because we care about what happens to our bodies?  A woman who is not allowed to work through her feelings and is made to feel bad because of them bottles them up inside, and can lead to a depression that might be difficult to get over because honestly… few people would understand it.

Of course many of these dissapointing birth experiences stem from not being listened to about their wishes to begin with…

I find it sad that many women declare their wish for natural births… yet if you talk to an OBGYN many of them have not even seen a natural birth in their time as a doctor. This have gone so far that the “new” definition of natural birth is a vaginal birth.  Vaginal does not equal natural.  Having a baby come out of your vagina while you are hopped up on painkillers so that you can stand the pitocin being run through your veins because you got induced because your doctor was going on vacation this weekend and you hadnt gone into labor and it was Friday evening.. that is NOT natural.

I have a few pregnant friends right now.  We talked about how our home births helped heal the birth experiences that our own mothers have had and that our husbands had been exposed to.  My mother had 2 csections after long labors and failure to progress.  Doctors told her she was unable to have a baby vaginally because she was so skinny and we were so large (i was 7 ponds 11 ounces btw), her experience was dissapointing and at almost 60 years old she had to have a surgery fixing something that she was still having problems with after her last csection over 25 years ago.  My births were healing for her in a way that many wont understand. SHe saw what she wanted her birth to be.  She saw my happiness and my joy.  She didnt see me chock full of wires and tubes and she didnt see me cut open and in pain.  Birth can be a healing experience for many mothers. I know that mothers who have had “bad”  births feel like their subsequent births are a way to start fresh.

The day that one gives birth to their child is one of the most important days of a woman’s life.  Few days have ever brought such happiness or such heartache for many a woman.  We should have the experience that we want if we can, and if we cant our feelings should be taken into consideration and addressed.  Women are not selfish for feeling let down after a birth that did not go the way it was planned.  The physical and emotional scars are real.   No matter if it was an unnecesary csection or if it was being told when to push or not. A woman’s body is hers and her child is hers.  We should be allowed to mourn for the loss of what we wanted and not be told “a healthy baby is all that matters, at least you are ok”, because in many cases… we arent ok.


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