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Feminspire | April 24, 2014

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Home or Hospital: Why So Much Hostility in Birthing Movements?

Home or Hospital: Why So Much Hostility in Birthing Movements?

I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a mom, but your typical 20-something blog lover who spends too much time on the internet. Between two nieces, one nephew, a few times in the delivery room, and my love for mommy blogs, birth stories, and generally tormenting myself with the fear of giving birth, I have come across a lot of strong opinions on the subject. Particularly, I have seen a strong backlash against women who choose to birth in a hospital and use drugs and epidurals.

I am all for doing things the natural way. My life is heavily influenced by holistic practices and natural healing. I think a water birth at home would be amazing, where you are in the comfort of your own home and get to sleep in your own bed immediately afterward. No IV’s, no uncomfortable hospital bed, no awful food. A natural birth seems incredibly empowering, and there is no reason women who choose to do it shouldn’t be proud of their birth story.

But that shouldn’t mean women who choose to birth in a hospital, with epidurals, pitocin, or even planned c-sections (or who choose not to have kids at all, but that’s a whole different article) should feel any less proud of what they have done. Guess what? You gave birth. You grew a human being in your body for almost a year, your body changed in just about every way possible and then you have to deliver which is possibly be one of the hardest, most painful things you will ever go through, regardless of which way you decide to do it. So why do so many choose to attack and make women who choose differently than them feel bad about themselves?

Mommy blogs are a great guilty pleasure, but I can’t think of many where the birth story didn’t involve natural birth, or regret about not being able to birth naturally (which I think it is totally okay to be disappointed if things don’t go as you hoped). It is great that the natural birth movement is getting a louder voice, and that women are choosing to do whatever they decide to do, regardless of many doctors always encouraging hospital births. I love that the internet has brought so many people together through blogs and women who can share their birth stories and relate to each other. I just wish there wasn’t such a disconnect between ladies based on their birthing decisions. 

Quotes from celebrities come to mind, such as model Miranda Kerr’s comment saying epidurals make babies “drugged up”, or Dr. Denis Walsh, a well-known midwife, who claims “Pain in labor is a purposeful, useful thing, which has quite a number of benefits, such as preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby.” While I respect his opinion and think midwives are great, pardon me when I say fuck you, you are a cis-man, and have no idea what people feel during labor and birth and you have no right to tell us pain from labor is “useful”. We have made so many medical advances through the years, and if women choose to lessen the pain of labor through epidurals and other pain relievers, that is their choice and no one should make them feel like less of a women or mother for it. No one should say they connected with their baby “faster” or “better” because they didn’t use pain relievers, because everyone’s love and connection is individual. No one should say women who birth at home are naïve hippies. No one should say women who choose to have c-sections aren’t experiencing “real” birth. This underhanded way of insulting the other, whether it is subtle or not, is just another way we like to keep women down by telling them they “didn’t do it right”.

Pregnancy is hard. Labor and delivery is hard. Being a mother is hard. Just as we commonly preach when it comes to everything else about having control over our own bodies, let’s remember that this is another choice we get to make, there is no wrong choice, and if you don’t like it, don’t do it yourself.

Written by Sarah Pires
Follow her blog, Adventurously!