Being involved with nutrition, when I got pregnant with my first child it seemed to come naturally to research “natural birth.” It all started with The Business of Being Born. It brainwashed me. I feared hospitals. I feared interventions. There were many moms in the blogosphere who I admired that had natural births and home births. There wasn’t too many bloggers who were well versed on nutrition and “crunchiness,” (I suppose you could call it) that had praised hospital birth. In fact- they talked about hospital birth like it was the enemy. I nonchalantly and gleefully followed along my merry way, eating healthy and going to the chiropractor regularly during my first pregnancy. (Chiropractors by the way are not covered by my health insurance.) Reassured by all the “research,” and the Pinterest pins about how superior natural birth was. I never did go so far as to eating my placenta (just because animals do it… it never convinced me.)- but I had read many stories about it. Hypnotized by the kind words of the midwives and the dimly lit lobby of the birth center and pretty decorations.
“No doctor is going to slice me open because he wants to get to his golf game!”
Oh, how wrong I was. How very wrong.
I admit it though. That was the first step. Very rarely will you hear a blogger or anyone in general for that matter readily admit they were wrong. It stings. It’s painful. It makes you feel stupid, conned, deceived, most of all NAIVE.
I trusted the midwives. I trusted that birth center. I was comforted with knowing the hospital was next door. The sick part is- they use the proximity to their advantage so when they screw up too bad they can throw you away and let the hospital fix the problems they created. They are close by so that way there’s a smaller chance of somebody dying, and they don’t have blood on their hands. I never thought I’d go next door to the hospital. I was never taught in the six week “natural birth course,” about anything really scientific that would have been helpful while I was laying on a stretcher with the possibility of bleeding to death going through my mind.
Why wasn’t I ever given graphs and research? Why wasn’t I ever taught about postpartum hemorrhage? Why was I watching a “peaceful water birth,” and being shown photos of a “lotus birth,” when I needed to be learning warning signs of emergencies and about the ACTUAL process of labor? I was encouraged NOT TO attend a birth class at a hospital by the birth center. I was encouraged to attend at their birth center even though it was an hour away from where I live, because it was so more “superior.” That a natural birth class would be more relatable with how my labor would be. Was it because the hospital would have taught me what the real risks are? Would I have been more likely to jump ship and go for a hospital birth after I learned how painful and dangerous it REALLY was and that imagining I was an opening flower and breathing deeply wasn’t going to do jack shit?
I am EMBARRASSED to say that I was even considering having a home birth for my second baby. I got so sucked into this natural birth cult that I cast the blame onto the midwife for my postpartum hemorrhage and trauma- and thought that maybe it could go perfectly at home with a better suited midwife.
I was unhappy. I was scared of everything. Scared of being at home, scared of being at the hospital. Scared of the epidurals and Pitocin, scared of another hemorrhage at home, scared for the baby’s safety at home. I prayed for some kind of sign, some kind of direction. I received it in the form of a bloodwork scare. We took this as a sign to go to the hospital.
Then I found The Skeptical OB. I read everything. I found Hurt By Homebirth. I read everything. I found Doula Dani. I read everything. I found the Homebirth Loss and Trauma Support Group on facebook. I couldn’t stop reading. I read with an open mind and heart, and slowly I began realizing JUST HOW duped I had been. JUST HOW bad they screwed me over during my emergency that could have very easily been fatal. I felt a sick feeling in my gut that if something was wrong with my daughter it could have been overlooked or turned bad very quickly and I had no idea how fast it could happen. I felt nauseous and horrified. If I’d have known any of this I wouldn’t have chosen a birth center. I would have willingly gotten a C-section, Pitocin, episiotomy… anything to help keep my baby safe. Anything to keep ME safe so that I could live to mother her.
I went back and forth in my mind about my birth story. Did I remember right? I realized that every midwife and doula I had told my traumatic birth story to had made some sort of justifications. As if maybe I remembered it being worse than it was. It was mind games at their finest. I knew what I felt, I KNEW what I remembered. I knew what a nightmare it felt like and the feeling of losing all that blood from my body, my mouth and throat so dry I couldn’t speak from screaming, my body shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t control it, my body was in shock… and they all had the nerve to downplay it?
I knew what I needed to do. I felt a strong, compelling urge to write Dr. Amy Teuter a letter. I had read all her articles, I felt a need to write her my story. I felt I was in a whirlwind of confusion. How could the natural birth movement have nearly brainwashed me? How had I not seen it?! For reassurance, to thank her for her website, for validity, for closure… so I wrote the very long and intense story, apologizing about how long it was- I even included how I was badly I was treated by the La Leche League lactivist after my traumatic birth. Being a popular blogger- and being a little intimidating, I didn’t really expect her to write me back. Or for some reason I was scared I’d get an e-mail about how stupid I’d been for “trusting natural birth and midwives.” (Which was how I was feeling deep down.) I doubted she’d read the long story and write back- BUT SHE DID!!!
I will only summarize what she wrote out of respect that she was sending a private e-mail.
She said she was sorry I suffered so much and that the midwives were grossly unprofessional, unethical and their actions were inexcusable. She said she’d heard many stories like that and some midwives were just in it for their own enjoyment, then resenting the mother when something goes wrong. She was happy I had found better care providers for this pregnancy.
I was on a cloud. I was so grateful she had taken the time to read my story and to even write back. As I read those words a chapter of my life closed. I am so profoundly grateful that she took the time to do that, it meant more to me and I needed that validation more than I could have imagined. It helped me.
I let go of natural birth.
I have never been happier.
My new doctor listens to my questions, but I haven’t ever stated that I want another natural birth. He does hospital VBACs so he leans toward the natural birth friendly side… but I have not committed to another “natural birth.” I feel freedom and happiness in knowing that I could get an epidural if I can’t handle the pain this time. I feel freedom in knowing I could ask to be induced if I wanted and I wouldn’t have to wait and wait miserably huge and in pain, with anxiety about who can watch my daughter and when the baby will come. I’m not plagued with anxiety during ultrasounds because of “what if it’s causing autism and hurting the baby,” anymore. I am excited to see the baby during ultrasounds now. I don’t have a debilitating fear about being cut open for a C-section and all the things that could lead up to it, because I know what the worst is now. The worst is death.
I see just how overrated the process is now. The natural birth movement has put the process of labor above the outcome. Sure, it’s nice for the women who have easier labors and nothing goes wrong. When I read birth stories now I question words like, “magical,” “blissful,” and know that they are just one woman’s experience not an an entirety of natural birth.
When I read about women who had to have “Unnecessary C-sections,” I feel less scared and more apathy about their opinion, because that’s what it is- an opinion about a procedure being unnecessary. I laugh to myself a little bit when women go so far as to call their labor “TRAUMATIC,” when it is nothing near life endangering and more about the lack of control they felt they had. Because I HAD the natural birth- and there was no control there either.
It hurts to say I was wrong. I was. It’s embarrassing to say I was misled and delusional. But I was.
I now feel sick when I read of the preventable deaths because women are being brainwashed by the natural birth community to value the process of labor so much. I feel sick when I read about how high they put vaginal birth on a pedestal instead of focusing on safe mom and baby. I feel sick about the formula shaming coming from that same community- causing depression and anxiety in new mothers.
Since I left the natural birth movement- I have reevaluated a lot of things.
I read lots of research that isn’t one-sided.
I don’t feel the guilt and anxiety I once did when I can’t afford something organic at the grocery store. (And my financial anxiety has lowered because of the money savings.)
I have given up on almond flour, coconut flour and any other avoidance of the bliss that is baked goods. I baked a mostly organic cake the other day and it was delicious. I didn’t feel guilty either, I imagined how happy my daughter will look when I bake it for her first birthday.
I’ve been saving money. I don’t feel as compelled to buy all the expensive crunchy items just because bloggers recommend them.
I reassessed what is important.
I feel happy in knowing that I can get out of the pains of labor if I so choose. I feel happy in knowing if I go over my due date I can choose to get induced- and there are a few benefits such as not letting the baby get too big.
Did I mention how expensive “natural birth and living” is? 35$ per chiropractic visit, the homebirth midwife I interviewed charged 6,000$. Not covered by insurance.
I do not feel the crippling anxiety I once did about breastfeeding. Since my experience with my daughter didn’t go very well I had mixed feelings of guilt, sadness and defeat. I was worried about going through it again with my next baby and I hated that breastfeeding made me feel so self concious, trapped and embarassed even around my own family. I felt ashamed and it was psychologically difficult to always hide when I wanted to try to breastfeed. I felt near panic attacks at the thought of breastfeeding in public. I feel so much freedom in letting go of that breastfeeding fear and embracing if I combination formula feed the next baby. Knowing that the research says it’s not bad. Knowing I don’t love them any less, they won’t care when they grow up, it won’t effect them to the extent that it portrayed and I’m not failing them if I don’t exclusively breastfeed has made me feel so much more confident in my ability to be a good mom, and a sane person.
Did I mention I won’t feel trapped to the baby or the breast pump (which I so despise) if I need a break from the craziness that is life with a newborn? I can go on a weekend trip with my husband if I want a break from my kids and not feel guilty for having a glass of wine? Just this idea gives me some peace and happiness. All of the modern mommy martyrdom is a bunch of insanity provoking guilt based parenting. It’s wasn’t healthy for me mentally. I think that mental health is pretty important with a newborn at home.
Hallelujiah I feel FREE, FREE AT LAST.
Stay tuned as I will be writing about my journey through my second pregnancy. 🙂 ❤