As I begin to really talk to people openly about my choice to have an elective c-section for the impending arrival of my baby, I can’t help but feeling the weight of the world’s “natural” order on my mind. In our society, it is a commonly voiced belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth” often supported by the statement “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” and ended with “it’s just natural.”
Although I respect your opinion if you hold this belief near and dear to your heart, I must present the other side. My blog, and my mission, is to break down the barriers in our society that allow women to feel judged, stigmatized, and depressed. It is my job to present another side, another perspective, for women who continue to feel victimized by the pervasive thought in our society in which they somehow “failed” as a mother, as a woman, by either “succumbing” to a c-section or electing for one. Women often are made to feel ashamed of the inability or lack of desire to birth “naturally.” Many natural birthing movement attitudes view c-section as a last resort, an unfortunate choice, a traumatizing alternative that will result in feelings of inadequacy, emptiness, and total lack of womanhood.
My responsibility is to offer a different perspective. For example-the belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth (without intervention)” should and can sit side by side with the statements “people’s eyes were meant to see (without intervention)” and “people’s ears were meant to hear (without intervention).” Why oh why do we only hold true the first statement? Why is it socially acceptable to accept “medical” intervention to advance one’s sight or hearing? Do people with glasses and hearing aids feel less of a person because they have somehow “failed” to live as nature intended? Wouldn’t it be odd if, as a society, one was expected to “trust nature” and continue to walk around blindly or without the ability to hear if there were medical advances and professional individuals around to implement those medical advances? Of course society does not expect those with deficits in eyes or ears that can be medically corrected to just “go with what nature intended.” However, women who have either emotional or physical barriers present prior to the delivery of their baby are often expected to entertain the “natural” order of the body prior to “succumbing” to medical advances such as medicated birth and c-section.
The statement, “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” is inherently true. You know what else is true? Women have been dying in childbirth since the beginning of time. And so have their babies. Furthermore, more women and babies died in childbirth in the “beginning of time” because medical advances, information, and professionals who know how to implement and utilize the technology we have now did not exist. I truly believe that I and/or my child would have perished in childbirth if I had been birthing in an era of even 100 years ago.
Lastly, the proclamation of “it’s natural” is one that suggests anything other than a vaginal, non-medicated birth as “unnatural.” I would like to add that “natural” isn’t always efficient or life-affirming. Evolution is “natural.” Evolution allows for natural selection, survival of the fittest, the inability for all of us in society to “naturally” give birth. Is it right to give a label to woman of “unnatural” who would otherwise perish in childbirth if not for medically assisted birth? I view the labeling of my upcoming elective c-section birth as “unnatural” to be disconcerting. This societal label thrusts women who opt for c-section as outcasts, non-societal norms, that need to be treated with pity and disdain.
Based upon my words above, it’s easy to see how I feel about these statements. However, I still remain open to the thought that it IS natural for women to have their own beliefs and ideas about childbirth. I fully support a woman’s right to choose their own birth story in an educated and supported context. For more on my birth position, read here. I struggle with the fact that our society, as a whole, supports statements that make women feel less, make women feel “unnatural”, and make women feel as if their body and mind have failed them somehow. And that, my friends, is why I continue to advocate for the other side.
Thanks for reading,