“Birth” Isn’t to Blame

Stephanie here.

I used to have a blog called The Cranky Doula. I didn’t tell anyone about it because I was worried about seen as adversarial. Seen as anti-establishment. The irony of many doulas is we get looked at like we have “issues” with the hospital. Or that we think everyone should have a home birth. Or that epidurals are bad. Most of us though primarily work in hospital settings. We give birth in hospitals ourselves. Some of us have had epidurals. I think we get seen as the former because we have realistic expectations of the hospitals. And the way we educate and support parents in the labor setting is no different then how I would support my family and friends in any other sort of medical situation. I would/have encouraged my people to ask questions. Be on top of their care.  Remember that hospitals, actual hospitals, are businesses.

Anyway. I had this blog because frankly after some of the births I needed to go home and vent.

Well. As you know, as a team we’ve decided to speak up now. Because we want your birth to be better. And if we sugar coat it… It’s not helpful.

And as harsh as this sounds – I don’t care if you don’t believe me. I can tell you that I don’t get anything from you either way.

There are only two people that that have any real stake in this game.

You. And your baby.

Your birth matters.

And we hear a lot of birth stories…

And so many of these stories are about how painful birth is. How terrible it is.

Now, I’m not going to write a post saying that birth is painless. I’m going to write a post about how people fuck up their own births.

Imagine sex. Imagine you’ve never had sex. It’s your first time. And people have been doing this for thousands of years. You should trust your body. But you’re not sure what to expect. And you’ve been told that sex is painful and invasive.

Now. Imagine you are in a room with lots of people watching you. The lights are on, you are lying on your back, not sure where to put your body. And you are penetrated. No lube. And then it’s over.

You’ve been initiated.

And you go and tell your story to other people who have never had sex. And you tell them… That it was great? No. Probably not. You probably tell them it was painful. And terrible.

Somewhere down the line you may tell your story to someone who has had a very different initiation. And they listen to you and shake their head and say “that does sound terrible. I’m sorry you went through that, like that. It doesn’t have to be that way”

And you think they must be liars.

Back to birth. I hear birth stories where moms have had all (ALL) their family members in the room and been surprised that they don’t progress and sometimes they deliver via cesarean. Where they have had two, three, or four-day inductions weeks before their due date and been surprised that their body doesn’t want to open and let their baby out. I’ve seen births where that damn gown is constantly in the way. And all the lights are on. And mom hasn’t eaten because she thought she couldn’t because of one person’s story that she heard 3 months ago. I could go on.
And I hear these stories and I shake my head and think “that does sound terrible. I’m sorry you went through that, like that. It doesn’t have to be that way”

And people think I must be a liar.

The reason this bothers me so much, is that “birth” gets blamed. That “birth” is hard and terrible.

Birth is hard work. No doubt about it.

You what else is hard? Doing a job with the wrong tools and expecting stellar results.

The worst part though – is that these stories get passed around as truth. And it’s not truth. It’s fear. And lack of education.

I’m sorry when people have a shitty birth. It’s a true bummer. Get some therapy. (I’m serious) and be careful about the message you spread around.

(A much sweeter video version of this can be found here: The Performance)

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