Tag Archive | motherhood

Birth & Courage

I wrote previously about when birth doesn’t go as planned and shared my perspective that a cesarean is often an act of personal courage by the birthing woman. I’ve been reading the new book The Doula Guide to Birth and the authors make similar comments:

“Remember, you are still giving birth to your baby. It takes courage to give birth whether interventions are used or not.”


“Whatever way birth happens, it is your rite of passage into motherhood, and that passage is to be celebrated. Natural childbirth is a passage, cesarean birth is a passage, and birth with an epidural is a passage to be celebrated. That passage cannot be taken away from you. Every mother’s birth experience is valid, and an act of courage.” (emphasis mine)

Another good quote from the book is with regard to vaginal exams during labor and whether they are necessary or not (they’re not!):

“Although there is currently a heavy emphasis on dilation, vaginal exams, and timelines for giving birth, labor is not about dilation. Your body knows how to give birth whether or not you ever have a pelvic exam during labor. Birthing women need encouragement to trust their bodies, and to be the stars of their own labors. Doulas help provide this encouragement. And the confidence a woman discovers in labor can help carry her through the demands of parenting and future challenges in life.” (emphasis mine)

When birth doesn’t go as planned…

Some time ago I was talking to a mother whose birth hadn’t gone as planned. She said that she knew that she needed a cesarean, but that she also knew she had missed out on a “very cool experience in life.” I think it is definitely possible to accept the need for a cesarean, while still honoring/recognizing the profound experience of giving birth vaginally. I also think it is possible to acknowledge the magnitude of becoming a mother, regardless of the what happened with the birth–having a baby is a big deal no matter what! Though I’m obviously a huge advocate of natural childbirth, I truly believe that cesareans are often an act of personal courage. I also think that all births are rites of passage and are profound transformations and initiations into motherhood. So, though while some women may have missed out on the sense of personal power that often accompanies a natural birth, they’ve all taken significant and meaningful journeys of their own.

Then, I came across a poem by an anonymous writer in the book Open Season. It reminded me in part of my thoughts above.

For Those of Us Who “Failed”

And what about us who “failed”?

The ones whose birthings were not the finest hour

of their womanhood?

The ones who did not defy all medical intervention?

Those who have no heroic defiant story to tell?

Where do we fit in?

We can’t all be the ones that change the system,

but are we less a part of the sisterhood of those

who have given birth?

To those that have shone at the hours of birth

remember those of us who have not.

Will we, like the Vietnam vets, be recognized

too little and too late?

We experienced giving birth too.

Less nobly than some maybe,

but a noble experience nonetheless.

You say you honor choices.

Can you really honor mine?

I will always honor the process which

brought forth flesh of my flesh.

I honor your births too.

Can you ever honor my experience, or will I

forever be a part of your statistics on

the way things shouldn’t be?

Remember me.