Friday, June 19, 2009

Unsolicited Advice

Yesterday a friend warned me against my plan of having a natural childbirth. Granted, she recently experienced a natural birth and I have no idea what it's like, but it was also against her will. She never wanted to have a natural birth. She wanted drugs immediately, but her labor had progressed too far for her to have them. This birth experience went against her birth plan. Already, based on attitude alone, that's not the experience that I would have had.

We've only told a few people about the pregnancy so far. I can't imagine how much "advice" I'm going to get once we're completely out of the closet. Everyone thinks their way is the best way and they just have to pass it on, even if you don't ask. I'm sure it's only just begun. When pregnancy ends, "help" with parenting styles begin.

When people try to tell me that I don't really want what I want, it just pisses me off. These people do not have access to my brain. They have no idea what I think, and it's not my job to sway them to my side. I have no interest in doing that. All women have a unique pregnancy and birth experience. Sure, there are similarities, but I'm talking about the total package. No two pregnancies and births are alike, even for the exact same woman. I don't want to hear how there's no way you could have gotten through birth without an epidural. I don't need my choices to be countered by your horror stories or condescending "you just have no idea" pats on the shoulder.

I'm not saying that I want to live in a vacuum with no advice or information. I do want to know what other women have experienced...IF I ASK THEM. And frankly, if our attitudes toward birth (or parenting or politics or TV or whatever) are at completely opposite poles, guess what? I'm probably not going to ask. If we're not starting out even close to being on the same page, their experience will probably have little relevance to mine. Beliefs, attitudes, perceptions...all of these things play a role in medical or health issues and in life.

It's not like I'm super hardcore on my natural childbirth choice, that there's absolutely no way I would ever have an epidural. Ideally, that is what I would like. I want to do it drug free. But I'm not going to completely close myself off to medicinal pain management if I feel like I really need it. There are just other things I want to try first (hanging out in the tub, walking and moving around a lot...things I couldn't do with an epidural). In an ideal world, that will be enough for me. We'll see how it works out.

I would like to talk to some women who have had a natural childbirth and were happy with their choice. I feel like it's kind of hard to find those women, because we're pretty much taught to fear childbirth and many women wouldn't even consider having a baby without an epidural. I'm scared too, but I think that talking to women who have a more positive view of childbirth will help.


  1. I don't know what it is about birth and parenting that makes people feel they have the right to tell others how to "do it". It is your body and your right to birth however you choose. Good luck to you and your beautiful, natural birth. :)

  2. Thanks, Sheryl. It can be really frustrating sometimes. :) It's just hard because I can't picture myself trying to talk someone out of their birth plan. Maybe some of that has to do with being a first time mother, but I'd like to think that even if I were experienced I would respect another woman's choice.

  3. Hi Melanie -- found you through top baby blogs link.

    I just read a similar post from another mom yesterday (if I find it again, I'll post the link), so there are plenty of moms out there who feel like you do. I hope you seek them out.

    The funny thing is that these "trends" tend to go in cycles. Twenty years ago natural births were very popular and those who used any type of pain management were looked down on. Now as you mention, it has swung to the other side! Why women make child birth a competitive sport I'll never understand!

    Years ago when I attended birthing classes I paid little attention to the c-section video since I had my own scenario of how the birth would go. Unfortunately after a long labor, I ended up with exactly that. I felt like I had failed!

    The fact is that every birth and every woman is different. You are entitled to the birth experience you desire and really shouldn't feel the need to justify it to anyone. If the time comes and you change your mind about meds, you shouldn't beat yourself up over it. Only you knows what is best for you and your baby!

    Take care - Dee

  4. It's funny that I just came across this post because I just wrote a post about this topic on my blog too:-) It's not surprising how common this annoyance is.