Maybe it’s just me, but…

Confession: I feel angry every time someone brags about their natural childbirth experience.

I’ve never heard of anyone else admitting this, so maybe I’m alone here. But I need to talk about it.

You know the well-meaning Facebook/blog posts: Over-brimming with joy at having had such a beautiful experience, bursting with pride at having stuck to the birth plan and literally pushing through the pain, gushing gratitude for supportive birth coaches, and subtly suggesting natural birth is the absolute best.

Don’t get me wrong–major props to any lady who ends up delivering naturally, whether they were planning on it or not. Because it doesn’t seem pleasant. Not that giving birth is ever pleasant, but epidurals make it more bearable. What bothers me is the attitude of elite-ism that sometimes attends natural childbirth. Natural is for the mentally tough and epidurals are for the quitters.

It’s a cultural thing: epidurals and c-sections are what happens when natural doesn’t work out. Natural is optimal, and everything else is sad second place. I know that’s how I felt going into the birth of my son. It never crossed my mind to say, “Yeah, I’ll probably get an epidural.” What a wimpy thing to say! All along I said, “I’m shooting for natural, but I’m open to an epidural.” Because I’m not a quitter.

But I quit. It was 3 am, hour number 6 of active labor, and I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, so I quit and got an epidural. And it was wonderful. And even though it wasn’t natural, it was a great experience. And even though it wasn’t natural, I was proud of myself. And even though it wasn’t natural, my labor/delivery nurses were fantastic. And even though it wasn’t natural, I’m 100% on board with getting an epidural next time I give birth. That doesn’t really feel like quitting.

But I certainly don’t have bragging rights. Because there’s nothing special about getting an epidural. And I guess this is what bothers me so much. I was pregnant just as long, was in labor just as long (maybe longer—it was 16 hours), and in the end I also got a beautiful baby. Would more pain, more endurance, and more tenacity have made the outcome—a sweet newborn—more special to me? I really don’t think so. The birth isn’t the important part. It’s the baby. But somehow this has gotten mixed up.

I don’t have a great conclusion to this post. No moral. No solution. I’m not asking natural birth women to brag less. Nor am I asking epidural and C-section birthers to brag more. I’m not asking for attitudes on birth to change. But I’d like to know I’m not alone.


3 thoughts on “Maybe it’s just me, but…

  1. Anyone who has a baby gets bragging rights. Period. Epidural or C-section or natural delivery in a birthing center or in a traffic jam, it’s probably one of the hardest things a woman will ever do! You survived pregnancy so you get bragging rights! You didn You have an adorable baby, so you get bragging rights. You didn’t kill yourself (or anyone else, for that matter) while in labor so you get bragging rights. You’re raising a child, so you get bragging rights! You didn’t decide to become a morphine addict in the 6 or so weeks after delivery so you get bragging rights. (I admit I considered it. That tear was killing me! And c-section ladies have been cut in half to recover from, and if you didn’t tear you get bragging rights for accomplishing that! And for the sake of women everywhere need to teach classes on how to avoid tearing.) And for what it’s worth, the 6 hours you did without meds is longer than I even labored at all, so you have bragging rights for that, too. And laboring at 3AM sounds dreadful. If you didn’t get an epidural you would have bragging rights for being insane. I hope you got some sleep!

    • Well said, Dani. I just see it over and over again, “Loved my natural childbirth!” “Let me tell you about my magical {natural} childbirth!” It. Makes. Me. So. Mad. I know it’s irrational–I know my birth was great, so it doesn’t matter if theirs was “better”–but it’s a tender spot for me for some reason.

      But seriously about tearing. I’m still having issues with my tear 19 months later. At first I was kind of proud of my push time (a half hour is pretty good for an epidural), but I regret it now. It’s better to push with care!

  2. My baby somehow copied and pasted a word and a half in the middle of my comment and then posted it with one phone grab. Do I get bragging rights for having a talented child?

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