Telling Women They Can't Talk About Their Awesome (or Upsetting) Birth Experience- THIS Needs to Stop

That is me. I am holding in my hand a magazine that I have an article published in. I am so stinking happy that this happened to me. (You probably want to buy a copy now, so it was "Pathways to Family Wellness" issue 41, Spring 2014.) And I have every right to brag about it.

Yes, I have come out of my blogging coma to write a tiny bit of angry tripe aimed at some other blogger. Look at me go!

So another childbirth educator I work with shared this little gem on a private group I am on:
 "Pregnant and new moms who boast on social media: It's time to stop"
If you manage to make it through this annoying piece of "I'm so offended you had a great birth," bit of fun then congrats, you did better than I did.

What is wrong with this article? Well, many things. I have contemplated listing them in alphabetical order or in order of importance, but I am just going to go ahead and start.

1. Finding JOY in other people's JOY is a sign of character. 
Being annoyed when somebody else is happy about something awesome that happened in their life...well, let's just say it is a sign that you don't have character. And yes, we should try to find joy in the happiness of others EVEN IF they are happy about something that has been denied us. That is what we try to do when we try to be good human beings.

Is this always easy? Absolutely not. That doesn't mean we shouldn't make an effort and it certainly doesn't mean we are RIGHT when we are grumpy about every good breastfeeding or birthing experience (or job or graduation or family vacation or any of the other numerous things that people post selfies of on social media).

Being a stick-in-the-mud when something good or triumphant happens for another person doesn't just make us grumpy, it makes us jerks.
This mom is overjoyed at her natural birth. GO HER! (shared with permission.)

2. Keeping our mouths shut because we might offend and injure the precious flower that is the ego of woman is downright stupid AND it takes feminism back to the dark ages.
So, let me get this straight...Women are liberated. They want good jobs. They want to make choices regarding their health care and their reproductive organs. They run companies, countries, homes, and tons of other things. They are smart and strong.

But WAIT! Don't post about your great birth on instagram! You might offend one of these powerful women and then she will cry and hate herself!!! OH NO!! You hurt her FEELINGS!

OK. Give me a break. Seriously. I am a woman I can tell you right now that I am way tougher than this. If I can handle the right to VOTE, then I can handle an instagram selfie of somebody who did something I didn't do.

Get off this RIGHT NOW. Because when you talk like women can't handle it when another woman "brags" then you are acting like we are all idiots who basically don't have the basic ability to survive waking up in the morning.

And we do. For goodness sake, give yourself and all of us more credit than that. This makes me absolutely ill.

3. Claiming that women shouldn't "brag" is ludicrous.
This woman had a VBA3C. Yeah, I think she should brag about it.

You know, I read another article recently too. It was in the Atlantic and it concerned the "confidence gap" between men and women. The authors claimed (and had some decent data to back themselves up) that women lack confidence in general and tend to NOT pipe up with their abilities, ideas and expertise when they should.

The result? They don't get promotions, they don't move ahead in the business world, and this is one more reason women lag behind men in certain areas. Not lack of ability, but lack of WILLINGNESS to TALK about their ability.

The worst part? Women are just as bad or worse at putting the smack down on confident women.


You know what- I am acquainted with many men. And you know what else, it is not unusual for them to have an inflated sense of self. Why are we OK with this in men and not OK with this in women?

I am just going to go ahead and give women everywhere the go-ahead on this one. You do something that makes you proud? Brag about it. It just might get you promoted.

4. Assuming that because women have pain relief or c-sections means they wanted it means you just don't get it.
Yes, some (many?) women want and like their epidurals or cesareans. That is just fine with me.

But you know what? Many women are not happy with those things in their birth.

I love birth and an interesting thing happens when I talk to women. When I tell them I teach birth classes, they tell me about their birth.

And I listen.

I listen if they had a c-section or an unassisted birth. I listen to what they have to say. Because I love birth and I think women have a DEEP need to talk about their births.

You know what I hear when they talk to somebody who is just sitting there listening?

I hear a lot of pain.

Just the other day I talked to a woman who told me she had needed two cesareans for the births of her children. She told me why. She then expressed sadness over those births.

Her sadness wasn't based on an instagram pic she saw of some celebrity after a home birth. She was sad within herself because SHE (nobody made her feel this way) felt like SHE should be able to give birth naturally.

I didn't impose this feeling on her. I did not PROJECT disappointment in her. Nobody did.

And this is the case for many women.

Yes, some are perfectly at peace with surgical birth, but not all. And this sadness (I believe) is not inflicted by the natural birth community. I mean seriously, almost NOBODY has babies naturally! We are a freak sideshow. Women have an inborn NEED and desire to birth their babies the way women have for generations.

Should they feel broken or like failures because they couldn't? Absolutely not and nobody thinks they should! But women DO feel this way, and when we say they only feel this deep sadness and regret because somebody "made" them feel that way, we both discount the free will and power of women everywhere, we also totally discount their feelings regarding their own birth experience.

Frankly, this makes me ill. Again. This article made me feel ill twice.

5. Assuming that women had cesareans or pain relief because they NEEDED it also makes you a fool.

The author assumes that BECAUSE something happens a lot means it is NECESSARY. Ahem...not so. The fact that something happens a lot just means that it happens a lot.

"So, if the majority of women need intervention or pain relief when giving birth" says she.

Sorry cowboy, not true. Just because something happens doesn't mean it HAD to happen. Do I really need to go further with this one? I mean where the heck does this false logic come into play and gain acceptance?

"Well, people in America drink milk every day THEREFORE people in America MUST NEED to drink milk everyday."

I am getting ready to bang my head against the wall right now. GAH.

There is NOTHING that justifies a c-section rate over 30%. NOTHING. So don't say that again. There is nothing that justifies the claim that all women (or 80% or so) NEED pain relief in labor. Nobody likes pain in labor, but seriously, that never killed anybody. Other stuff in labor, yes. Pain, no.
In conclusion, (I feel like I am writing an essay in the fourth grade. I just said "in conclusion.") can we just stop this? I mean really.

I had four babies naturally. They were great experiences. I have done lots of other things in my life that make me happy or that were goals that I worked for and then accomplished. I breastfed for over six years, I have been published, I finished college, I stayed married for 14 years, etc, etc, etc.

I will admit that I don't put that stuff on twitter or Facebook or whatever. That isn't my style. But I don't begrudge other women for sharing their triumph over something awesome.

When a woman has a natural birth (or any kind of birth!!!!) it is a big deal! Birth is hard work. It hurts. It takes a long time. It is an enormous effort. And we have EVERY right to brag about it and talk about it and share our joy!

Our real friends won't tell us to keep it to ourselves or "stop it". They will celebrate with us because they love us. Those that do otherwise...

Well, thank goodness for the un-friend option.


Jenn said…
I made it through the first article, but it made me sad. I totally agree with your first point (and the others, but especially the first): we should be able to rejoice in other women's successes. I have never run a marathon, but that doesn't mean i have to get my panties in a wad when I see someone post about the marathon they just finished.
Mama Runner said…
The author of that article needs to read this article:

And take it to heart. No one is natural birthing at her. No one is breast feeding at her. No one is judging her.
Joy@WDDCH said…
I hate that women feel like they can't talk about a positive birth because someone else will get offended. We can talk about the good, the bad and the ugly about everything else in life but birth? Nope. Someone automatically assumes you're judging them if your story is opposite of theirs. It's ridiculous.

Hearing ALL kinds of birth stories helped shaped MY idea of an ideal birth for ME. I had two epidural births that made me wondering what could have been done differently. Hearing positive, natural birth stories helped me to achieve three natural births following those two drugged births. Not because I felt guilted or judged. I just felt INFORMED!

Women need to start learning to get along.
Joy@WDDCH said…
Ugh ignore some bad phrasing there. I started typing one thing, deleted and apparently didn't write it correctly.

Supposed to say "I had two epidural births that left me wondering what could have been done differently."
Anna said…
Yes! My cousin just posted that very article and it bothered me. I gave birth naturally to my three children and while I didn't post the fact on Facebook, it is something I AM proud of. It was hard and scary, especially with people telling me I was crazy. I am not proud of it because I feel better than anyone else, but because I felt empowered. I am a woman. This is what women have done for thousands of years. I gave birth to three human beings!! Really, it has nothing to do with anyone else. Why should what I do make someone else feel like less of a person?
It's a bit ridiculous that we compare ourselves to others over everything. It's also self-centered and petty to look at someone's happiness and be snarky, because we haven't done it ourselves.
I love your post, because it's exactly how I feel. Thank-you!