Those who push themselves to climb the last hill, cross the finish line, or conquer a challenging dance routine often report feelings of euphoria and increased self-esteem…women who experience natural birth often describe similar feelings of exaltation and increased self-esteem. These feelings of accomplishment, confidence, and strength have the potential to transform women’s lives. In many cultures, the runner who completes the long race is admired, but it is not acknowledged that the laboring woman may experience the same life-altering feelings… —Giving Birth with Confidence (by Lamaze International)
This is so true and so often overlooked or diminished in our modern birth culture. Comments such as, “you don’t need to be a martyr” or, “would you get a tooth pulled without medication?” or, “there are no medals for natural childbirth,” or, “in the end, all that matters is a healthy baby!” fail to acknowledge the transformative power birth holds in women’s lives. I think these comments (and the many others like them) often come from one of two places: the first being a place where birth did NOT hold transformative power in that speaker’s life (and, this is something I have to acknowlege as real—birth can be transformative, but it isn’t always, AND it can be a powerful influence in a negative sense as well [i.e. a woman who really did suffer during birth and/or was abused and/or experienced any variety of traumatic things, whether or not we, the listener, “know” that some of those things could have been avoided with different choices, etc., etc.]).
The second place, I believe is one that many medical care providers come from in that they do not want to look at the reality of the importance of birth because then they would have to confront the reality of how they may have interfered with or “ruined” birth for so many women. Perhaps that isn’t true or is a “bad attitude” or judgment on my part coming through, but that is how it looks to me from the outside. It is easier to dismiss natural birth advocates as “zealots” and mothers who wish to birth unmedicated as “martyrs” than to critically examine the institution’s birth practices and policies.
Related to the initial quote, here is a previous post about Birth and marathons…
As a side note, I really like the book I quoted—Giving Birth with Confidence—as a good “basic” birth book for pregnant women. I’m glad it is usually available in “conventional” bookstores as many other birth book treasures are not!