Why the “Trash Natural Birth” Movement Needs To End |
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Why the “Trash Natural Birth” Movement Needs To End

admin June 21, 2014

It’s kind of ironic that after writing about the effective ban on water birth yesterday that I ran across this piece of drivel today.

Don’t click on it.  Don’t even give the author the satisfaction of more page views.  It’s really not worth your attention, or the five minutes of your life that you will never get back.  I’ll sum it up for you here: it’s a so-called feminist who feels that when it comes to birth, the doctor is the birth plan, and that by demanding choices or refusing interventions, you’re trying to one-up other mommies and induce guilt.  In other words, she’s busy doing the usual “trash natural birth” that’s become so popular.

I wouldn’t even bother to respond to it, except that this nasty theme keeps popping up, over and over.  The “natural” community is really taking hits now, from an audience of supposedly tolerant, progressive people who both don’t know and don’t care to understand what they are about — a wonderful testament, to be sure, to just how tolerant they really are.

It’s become par for the course, though.

We’re really not supposed to question the status quo.  We’re not supposed to have opinions about our lives or our bodies, especially when it comes to medical care.  We’re not really in charge of it.  See, someone else can make better decisions than we can about our health care.  Someone who’s been to medical school, and therefore knows “the” answers when it comes to birth (or child-rearing).  To question them is to insult their very dedication to their profession.  After all, they are here for our benefit.

The idea that a self-proclaimed feminist can actually advocate that women lie back, shut up, and let the doctor do their job when it comes to birth is immensely appalling to me, to be honest.  I ought not surrender my body when it comes to sex, or to abortion — those are my choices to make — but the minute that I want to give birth to a child, suddenly my body belongs to someone else?  And not even to the baby (for whom I would willingly choose whatever is needed to make him/her as healthy and safe as possible), but to a third party — to a doctor?  How can any feminist not see a problem with this logic?

Of course, logic is clearly not this author’s strong suit.

Natural Birthers As Exhibitionists

The author posits that the natural birth community is basically a cancer on human society.  That is my summation of her piece, not her words.

In this “article,” she explains that the natural birth community has “turned labor into a defining moment in women’s lives, their first chance to prove just how devoted a mother they truly are.”  This, apparently, is a bad thing — it’s the absolute beginning of the Mommy Wars, and therefore, it should be stopped.

Huh.

As far as I know, labor has always been a defining moment in a woman’s life.  That was true long before this generation of women began fighting for their right to control their own bodies and make their own decisions during the birthing process.  If you meet any woman who’s had children, ask her for her birth story.  It doesn’t matter if the baby was born last week or 40 years ago, she remembers, and she’ll likely tell you.  What’s more, she’ll still feel powerful emotions about it, whether positive or negative (or perhaps a bit of both).  This is something that’s always been — not a new phenomenon.  It’s obviously true for this author as well, or she wouldn’t feel moved to even write this nonsense.

The second part of that statement?  “…their first chance to prove just how devoted a mother they truly are.”  Wow.

The only one who’s interested in turning birth into a Mommy War is women like this author.  You see, I had three natural births — home births, actually.  I would be a part of that “natural birth” community she’s trying so desperately to flog with her nonsensical arguments.

I didn’t make the choices to have my babies naturally, or at home, because of what political message it would send.  I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a part of some “community.”  I didn’t do it because I thought it would make me a superior mother.  In fact, I didn’t care what anyone else was choosing for themselves at all, or what the peanut gallery might think of my choice.  I actually chose to birth naturally because — and this is crazy — I wanted to.

I chose not to have an epidural because of potential side effects.  I feel uncomfortable in hospitals.  I wanted to have my babies snuggled against me and ready to breastfeed immediately after they were born.  I wanted these things, and I felt they were better for me and my babies.

This is not, however, a judgment of other mothers.  My saying “this is what I felt was best for me” is not the same as “…and if you feel differently, you’re a bad mother.”  If this author is reading guilt and shame into the message, that’s some psychological problem on her part and nothing that I’m saying.

It’s possible for women to have natural births because they actually want to have natural births, and not because of what kind of mother they’ll be in another’s eyes.  I think it’s pretty sad and a little shameful to make major life decisions based on what others’ opinions are or might be.  That’s why I’m glad, as an adult, I don’t have to take other peoples’ thoughts into consideration when I make my choices.

Birth as a Political Movement

After stating that her doctor is her birth plan and that women are only giving birth naturally to prove something to a crowd (who, I assure, could not care less how you give birth), the author takes a bizarre left turn and starts discussing feminist politics.

It really never even occurred to me to consider what my plans for giving birth would say about me politically.  Honestly, it didn’t.  Apparently, though, this author thinks that it does, or that it should.

Her argument here is so ridiculous that I’m almost not sure where to start.

Apparently, in order to be a true feminist, we need to accept epidurals (which our fore-women fought to get, you know).  We also need to just trust our doctors — this, too, is progressive.

I’m appalled that anyone who calls themselves a feminist would possibly make the argument that there is one right way to give birth.  Isn’t true feminism about choice?  Shouldn’t a true feminist support women, regardless of where and how they want to birth (or if, perhaps, they don’t want children at all)?  Unfortunately, this author is an example of what is wrong with modern feminism — only her version of feminism is feminism at all.  All those other women?  They don’t appreciate what feminists fought for.

We have a term for women who think like this.  It’s misogynist.  If you believe that your way is right and all those other women are just plain crazy…

The political theme continues as the author then tries to drag celebrities who have had natural births through the mud, equating this with a clear “two-tiered” system in our country.  Apparently, only the spoiled rich people want natural births.  They only do it because they’re out of touch with reality and don’t have to fight just to get access to a hospital.  They can “play” at natural birth by having one, while surrounded by a medical team who can help in a moment if anything goes wrong.  This is apparently the ultimate in elitism.

I don’t know why anyone needs to twist a mother’s desire to do what’s best for her and her baby (please note: her and her baby, not “all mothers and babies everywhere”) into elitism.  Who does that?  It’s rather elitist that the author can sit here and mull over why women make the choices they do with birth and why those choices are wrong — shouldn’t she be spending her time worrying about making the next decisions in her son’s life instead of judging other women?

Why the Trash Natural Birth Movement Needs To End

Stay Strong, Natural Birth Community

I’ll be honest: yes, there is some judgment in the natural birth community, towards women who do not choose natural birth.  Sometimes women do look down on other women who choose epidurals, or scheduled inductions or c-sections.  Sometimes they ask (whether with positive or negative intentions) if a woman tried hard enough or did enough research before she gave birth.  Yeah, it happens.  It shouldn’t, but sometimes it does.

That, however, is because people are human.  It doesn’t excuse the behavior, but it also doesn’t mean that we should reject the natural birth movement entirely.  It doesn’t mean that we should judge these women harshly for choosing natural birth.  How does judging women for choosing to birth naturally make it okay that other women judge those who choose not to birth naturally?  It’s like the author is trying to punish people who birth naturally for hurting her or making her feel guilty about her choices by hurting them and trying to make them feel guilty and selfish.

In the end, the author doesn’t shed any light on a new issue; she merely adds to the existing Mommy Wars by insulting those moms with whom she disagrees.

The natural birth community should remain strong.  They should continue to support women who desire to give birth naturally and provide information on natural birth to those women.  Unlike what the author says, there are real benefits to choosing to give birth naturally.  It’s not for everyone — I’m never going to claim that — but it should absolutely, 100% be a viable option for those who want it.

You’re not more or less of a mother because you had an epidural, or a hospital birth, or a home birth, or a c-section.  We all have a birth story.  All of those birth stories matter.  We don’t have to bend to the bullies who say that birth shouldn’t or doesn’t matter, or who say that anyone who does it “this way” is a bad mother, didn’t do her research, or is an exhibitionist looking for attention.  That’s just hyperbole, intended to direct the readers away from the author’s own insecurities.

Don’t worry about others’ insecurities.  Just worry about doing the best you can for your own life.  You make the right choices for your body, and your babies, regardless of what those are.  We support you in whatever those are, even if others don’t.  We believe in you.

How do you feel about this “trash natural birth” movement?

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39 Comments

  1. Amen momma!!!! Love this! Seems the insecure can turn anything into a mommy war. When your are confident enough in your own decisions you don’t feel the need to have anyone else’s approval. I love your statement and completely agree, now as an adult, I really don’t put much care into others opinions. My children’s health and safety will always come first. Even if it’s against the popular vote:)

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  2. i don’t understand how natural birth became the exception. child birth is scary but with the right midwife any thing is possible. i agree, feminism should be about suporting all women’s point of view not just one. also, i learned the hard way to question drs. unfortunately during my second pregnancy, i was recommended to a terrible ob/gyn. every time i went there they were drawing blood. turns out they were scamming my insurance runnin std screens every month. i was beyond insulted and fired them immediately. i completely agree with your article and took your advise about not reading the other article

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  3. Wow. It really bothers me that you twisted the author’s words to say that you feel she said “natural birth is a cancer on human society.” Give me a break! Talk about hyperbole. Did you actually read the article or are you just making assumptions about what she said?

    The point, and I believe it a valid one at that, is that there is certainly a socioeconomic gap between women who have many options for birth available to them, and those that have few if any options in the U.S.. Most of the women I serve as a CNM are receiving governmental assistance and simply couldn’t afford to birth at home, even if they wanted to. And to say that “yes, there is some judgment in the natural birth community towards women who do not choose natural birth” is quite an understatement. Some of the most judgmental women I’ve met in the birthing community are natural birth militants–some are even midwives–and yes, they are absolutely saying that the way they choose is the BEST for every woman.

    I really wish that women who choose peaceful birth experiences for their babies (God bless them…it’s an absolutely beautiful thing when things go smoothly!) would choose peace in every other aspect of their lives as well. Blog posts such as this one only serve to perpetuate the mommy wars that do indeed start before a woman even has a baby in her arms.

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    • Yes, I read her post. Several times. The title calls people who birth naturally a CULT. That’s a pretty strong negative statement! She goes on to say that women who want to birth naturally are elitists and are just doing it as some kind of performance art. How is that not offensive? Hint: it’s very offensive.

      Also, if you read my post, you would know that at the end, I state that we support moms no matter how they birth. We only want to see every choice respected, whether that’s all natural, with an epidural, a c-section — or whatever a mom chooses. Exactly how is that contributing to mommy wars??

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      • Katie,

        I actually unfollowed you on facebook last week because of posts like this one and the vaccine rant that you posted last week as well. I whole heartedly hope that you mean well, but responding to articles with rants such as this is I believe what the original commenter is speaking about. There are SO many woman in the natural birth community, anti vax community, crunchy community in general, who continually rile other people up with commentaries and ‘rants’ such as this. It’s unnecessary and fuels the ‘mommy wars’, just like, guess what, the post you were responding to. I understand and completely agree that people posting their opinions can be so infuriating, but to respond with rants does no one any good. What we need is good conversations, rants are seen by many as condemning the opposite side. When one follows a rant (which is exactly how I view the article you are responding to) with a rant it fuels battle. I wish that there was a way for good conversation to ensue instead of rant battles. It would lend to such a greater outcome then falling into the trap that others set to rile people up.

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  4. Wow… you were really offended by the other author and were clearly really emotional when your wrote your response to it. I had originally read her article before I saw this one listed as a “Related Article” and this one reads much more like an emotional rant. You’re putting a lot of words in the other authors’ mouth. You both have valid opinions, and honestly, they’re much more similar than you realize. Even you admit that there are women who think less of women who opt for the medical pain relief that is now available to us – those are the women the other author is referring to. Just because she makes light of it does not mean she is saying that every woman who opts to go natural is making a statement that women who don’t are somehow lesser than them. Nonetheless, she acknowledges that there are in fact women who think that way, and that is not a false statement. Never once does she say “Don’t go natural.” Her point is that you shouldn’t feel shame in making the choice not to and that really is a message that needs to be circulated. It’s great that you can get past social pressures, but not all women are that strong and that’s why the other author’s messages is a good one. We’re all human.

    You missed the mark on what she was saying.

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    • Honestly, I think the “social pressure” to shut up and do what the doctor tells you is a whole lot greater than the social pressure to have a natural birth. That’s why it’s really, really hard to read articles like that, where the author is really with the mainstream and is telling a small, alternative group to shut up. It’s annoying, perhaps, for a minority group to tell the mainstream to shut up. It’s actually damaging when the mainstream tells the minority to shut up. That’s why I had to write this.

      I didn’t get at all that she thought you shouldn’t feel shame in making your own choice. That business at the beginning about the doctor being the birth plan and doctors knowing better than women because they’ve done it thousands of times before, and that the baby is the only story? That’s pretty harsh towards a whole lot of women.

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  5. What a way to twist the words of the author……..way to go. Do you feel better now? Geesh, taking it to the extreme are you now?
    Your article holds no credibility with me, it is just an emotional rant. Your opinion isn’t the only opinion. I read your article after it popped up after reading the article you tried so hard to shoot down because it didn’t agree with your own experiences. I read so I can try to understand other’s opinions, to have a broader understanding.
    Sometimes when people have a very small world it is easy to generalize. That is why I am educating myself by reading differing views. The author did not say everyone needs an epidural, she simply touched on what things were like a long time ago. And in some areas of the world women still go to the women’s hospital to get shaved, get their enema, are roomed with other women in the same room giving birth without their husbands present, and don’t get pain medication because “it’s supposed to hurt”. Maybe I should applaud you for even reading this article you so passionately ripped to shreds in your mind and distorted, but as a woman who clearly has more understanding of the big world around us all I need to suggest to you take a step back, count to ten, then respond. And stop living in such a small world. Your kids will thank you for it later.
    PS – I’m pretty sure your body is still your body, despite the poor souls who are doing their jobs and taking care of you and your babies.

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    • I fail to see how coming here to tell me what a small world I live in and how you are superior to me is in any way tolerant or helpful. Are you proud of yourself for doing the exact thing you’ve accused me of?

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    • Kristen,

      For what it’s worth, I think what the author of the other article wrote about enemas and isolation and inhumane treatment was actually just an attempt to explain how the battle for women’s rights, as pertaining to birth, came about. If you read her article again, she’s saying the women in those circumstances (back in the 60s) WERE given pain medication and WERE in hospitals, but that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I interpreted that part of her article as her way of acknowledging the value of the original movement in birh activism.

      If you really do like to read to broaden your mind, you should check out Tina Cassidy’s The Suprising History of How We Are Born. She gives a very thorough history of how birth has evolved and about the importance of birth activism. For example, those women in the earliest maternity wards previously mentioned couldn’t remember anything at all (and completely missed the first moments of their child’s lives). Some medications even caused them to react hysterically and pose risks to themselves. Consequently, those women were tied down and sometimes beaten. Some husbands heard their wives screaming and then would come in after the baby was born to find bruises and marks from the restraints. Some demanded to know what on earth had been done to their wives and some demanded to be allowed in at the births of subsequent children.

      The one thing the author of the anti-natural birth article and I can agree on is gratitude for all the women who have fought to improve birth from what it was in the 60s. I totally agree with the author of this article that all of that activism was really aimed at making maternity care safer AND that through that activism, women should be empowered to make their OWN birth choices. If you want an epidural: yay for the early femininits and doctors who fought for pain relief options. And yay for those since who have fought to find medications that didn’t make for a disorienting/traumatizing experience. If you want a natural birth: yay for midwives, doctors, and doulas that can help you prepare for and navigate one!

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    • And you are saying WHO is taking care of her and her babies? Truly, I am amazed that this even got published.

      Speaking of “emotional,” did you read your own comment before posting?

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  6. you should really re-read the article. She isn’t saying that we should lie back and shut up but that women should feel good about chosing what they find they need when they are actually giving birth. Your rant is not helpful or particularly evolved. Natural birth is wonderful and the the medical ability to control pain can also be wonderful and women who end up getting an epidural should feel just as proud of their efforts in labor and just as worthy of their child. I also think her point about the socio economic considerations in this discussion is important. Rather than labeling somebody’s opinion as “drivel” why don’t you calmly respond…this doesn’t have to be a nasty conversation.

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    • “She isn’t saying that we should lie back and shut up but that women should feel good about chosing what they find they need when they are actually giving birth. ”

      I didn’t see anything whatsoever in her article that shared that point of view. I did, however, see her mocking women who would ‘dare’ to question a doctor (whom she says IS her birth plan). I also noted that she said that what happens at the birth isn’t important, because the baby should be the story and the experience for the woman is nothing — all that matters is a healthy baby.

      This narrative is not new, she is not the only one writing it, and it is incredibly damaging. Women should not be encouraged to submit to doctors without question. They should not be willing to give ownership of their bodies, however briefly, to another. They should not be told that their feelings and experiences in birth do not matter. Many women actually suffer from PTSD because of the way they were treated during birth. It’s a huge experience in their lives. The natural birth movement didn’t create that; it has always been true.

      When a feminist claims that one path that many women feel passionately about is “wrong” and belittles it, and suggests that women hand over control to others, yes, I label that drivel. It’s inconsistent with the feminist message.

      Coming here to tell me that my rant is “not particularly evolved” is not particularly respectful, either. You don’t like my opinion, so you have to imply I am unevolved for having it? Hmm….

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  7. Wow, I can’t believe the negative responses to your piece. For a change of pace–well written!!!

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  8. Great response to that piece of crap… that woman disgusts me.

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  9. Thank you for this post. I, like the comment before me, appreciate seeing different sides of things, which is why I am really glad you posted this. I enjoy seeing your view and agree with it more than the article you referred to. All the natural birth people I have associated with don’t seem arrogant at all and are just about helping women see all the options out there and getting the word out so everyone can make informed decisions that work best for them. Maybe I’m just lucky.

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  10. Wow. Ok. I gave her a page view. Paragraph 1 and 2 she relies only on the Dr. No responsibility for her body or what will happen to it or the baby’s. She wanted to just get on with it. Labor seemed like just an inconvenience. The Dr. did it hundreds of times. What it? Hundreds of sections, extractions, women in a position where the business was right at eye level? (A good midwife team sees hundreds of healthy normal births. And refers and transfers the others.)

    3-4 she gets into putting everyone, unassisted, planned home birth with a midwife or team, birth centers, doulas, etc. in one big group. Insulting! We also learn that there is no proof that epidurals could be bad in any way.
    I am so glad feminists fought for birthing rights for us. I am completely dumbfounded that WOMEN today want to tell other women what they can and can’t do with their bodies! I had 2 home births. I might have said something like what Kunis said, having only a fraction of her priviledges. The reason I judge others is because when you have a good midwife team with some kind of Dr back up they will instruct you and your husband (partner) what to do in an emergency and even how to recognize problems early on. (Hint: it’s not throw your hands up in the air and say “Well, Honey, looks like we’re screwed!”) That is where research and planning come in. Midwives do low risk births. How come people with elevated risk don’t get or ask for that kind of info? And how dare a person create and carry a human life without doing some basic research?!?!!! I have friends who were cut bow to stern because they never thought about it before labor/birth and the Dr never mentioned it until the scissors were in hand. Where are the feminists when we need them?

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  11. Thanks for the article. I thought your slant on feminism was well-stated. I also appreciate how you encourage women to take control of their births and not simply leave it in the hands of their well-intentioned doctors. Perhaps, the other author is reacting to feeling judged by parents who promote natural child birth. So I really appreciate your last few paragraphs which give support to mothers choice without judgement.

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  12. I agree with you author. I haven’t read that other article but I’m from the deep South in Georgia where it is very unheard of to want to be “naturally minded.” I have some on-line friends near Savannah that feel similar to me but for the most part when I was pregnant no one could understand my desire for a more natural birth-not even my hubby! There are better choices that we can make when bringing our children into the world as far as their and our safety-but they can be different for every person/situation. Most people on the other spectrum of my views want the easiest and pain-free situation: schedule a C-section because baby is breech at 36 weeks (rather than try to use chiro or other methods to turn baby or deliver baby breech) and so now all my children are going to be C-section babies even if there is no other medical reason to do so; why not take the epidural-pain meds make birth easier!; breastfeeding till a year? no supplementing? breasts are for sex not babies….yada yada. Sucks that you are getting all these negative comments above. I ended up succumbing to pressure and had an epidural during my births due to my own lack of will at 8 cm and not enough support to encourage me. I wish I could have had that natural hospital birth like I wanted but I’m still had a good experience and healthy baby. I too am tired of people like the above that just want to be negative Nillys and bash women for wanting to be more natural and holistic.

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  13. Thank you Kate for writing this. I absolutely understand what you are trying to say and commend you for doing so. Child birth was the most challenging and enlightening thing I have done in my entire life. I too, chose to do natural child birth and was blessed with a very wonderful experience. I came to my decisions based on research that I had done and a multitude of answers I got from fellow mothers. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there and people tend to follow blindly without getting all of the facts. This goes for both natural and assisted births. Regardless of how a women chooses to give birth, none of them should be pushed or guilted into doing things a certain way without all of the information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions….if a Doctor says something is medically necessary, they should be able to explain to you why it is necessary. Additionally, if natural is the way you want to go, know the risks and options should something happen. Child birth NEVER goes the way you plan it or imagine it…..it is an organic experience that changes from mother to mother and birth to birth.

    Women need to be informed about their options, their bodies and the effects that certain medications and medical procedures can have on not only their body, but the baby as well. The same goes for any risks that can be encountered during natural birth. Women should be supporting each other so they are equipt to make a healthy decision for the baby and their bodies.

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  14. Thank you so much for writing this article. You took the words right out of my mouth. I completely agree with everything you said. It is so important that every woman do what is best for them and their baby. Through childbirth education, women can make informed childbirth decisions. Without proper education, how can anyone make an informed decision? No one should be pressured to do one thing or another just because their Doctor says so. It is ok to ask questions and conduct your own research.

    I also had a home birth because I wanted a home birth. I went to birthing classes and did a lot of research in order to make an informed decision. Ultimately my husband and I created a natural birth plan. I felt completely comfortable in my home and with my midwife. I was very happy with my decision, but also understand women who decide to have a hospital birth. Thankfully there are birthing options and medical interventions if necessary. Having a natural home birth is one of the birthing options available just like having a hospital birth. Every woman is different and should not be judged negatively for their decisions. We should support each other and push for further education so women can make informed decisions about childbirth.

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  15. Love this! I found your blog because another mom had posted that article that you are discussing. I am so tired of being told that my home birth, breastfeeding my child, and other natural parenting choices shame other moms. Um, no. I do what is best for my baby. I had an amazing birth experience, I have worked hard to be able to breastfeed my child (yes, at 12 months, it is easy, but it wasn’t in the beginning), and I love talking about these things. Not to shame other moms, or show how good I am, but because I have found joy in them. Instead I am told that I have only achieved these things because of privilege and I should not speak about them in case it makes someone else feel bad.
    Why can’t we talk about our successes as mothers? My home birth does not make your c-section any less of a birth. My breastfeeding does not impact how you feed your baby.

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  16. You’ve pretty much went over the edge on this. First you tell everyone not to read the link but I did. I know I’m wasting my time but I only see where she actually only trashes the ridiculous show that the Lifetime network is gonna put on. I can tell by what she says it’s only gonna make women who are doing natural childbirth look crazy. Maybe you should calm down and read her article like I did. It is well written without trashing anyone but people on the show or who are responsible for the show. Yours on the other had is quite hard to read. It is just crazy. She of course doesn’t support natural childbirth but it didn’t insult my intelligence like your ramblings did. However at the end of the day when all is said and done both natural childbirth babies and other childbirth babies will be born equally and no one will know the difference. So why does anyone care how the baby was born as long long as it’s alive. But one woman won’t have suffered for no reason at all.

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    • I’m a little confused by what you’re trying to say here….

      First, calling women who have a natural birth a “cult” is wrong and offensive. Period.

      Second, my main message was that we support women in how they give birth, whatever that means, and that women make the choices that work for them — they aren’t making choices based on getting a medal or trying to be superior to others. I’m not sure how that insults your intelligence….

      Finally, yes, it matters how the baby arrives. Birth isn’t just about the baby, it’s also about the mother. If she doesn’t feel supported and comfortable during birth (whether that’s at home or during a scheduled c-section) then she is more likely to suffer from postpartum depression or even PTSD. Yes, it MATTERS. And one woman’s idea of suffering (natural child birth) is another woman’s idea of the best way to give birth. (I’d feel I was suffering, and terrified, if I had to undergo a c-section, personally!)

      I think you might want to re-read my post, because it honestly sounds like you missed the most important parts.

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  17. Had to read her article. She just sounds defensive about her choice to me. As in, maybe a tiny bit of guilt deep in her heart or something. A cult? Wow, sad for her.

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  18. I read both the article and your response. I believe you have not truly defended your position, but actually proved the author’s point in spades because you are interpreting what she says through your own lens of bias. That’s not a criticism, but a truth – we all have our lenses and see/interpret through it. There are very few facts in your response, but plenty of assumptions, interpretations and emotional reactions that do little to refute the author. Likewise, her article had her own biases, and you are clearly ‘warring’ with her on that point. This article does nothing to bridge the gap, find compromise, or take a mature look at the criticisms. Likewise, your commentary responses are just as highly charged – can you accept any criticism of your ideas?

    Personally, I had my son over 9 years ago, and yes, I had an epidural. At that time, I was shunned from a mom group, and excluded from events. I got over it, and found others who were less judgmental. This does not define all natural advocates, but it certainly was my experience, and I saw that reflected in the author’s article. What I saw in yours was what I felt and saw 9 years ago. If you are going to make public statements on the web, be prepared to accept criticism and respond factually and rationally – it will help your cause.

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    • Hi Carrie,

      Having read both posts again after letting it sit for a few days, I don’t think what you’re reading is that my response is so highly charged — it’s that the issue, in general, is highly charged. Birth is a big deal to women, no matter how it happens. And they are likely to read into it.

      I’ve noticed that women who tend to be in favor of natural birth, or who have had natural births, consider my post to be balanced, fair, and necessary. And I’ve noticed that women who feel judged by those who had a natural birth tend to take offense to my post, feeling it’s judgmental and over the top. The exact same words are being interpreted vastly differently by people who’ve had different experiences. To use your words, through their lens of bias.

      I stand by what I wrote here, even after taking time to calm down and re-read. Some of the language towards the original author is harsh, but the main points about women choosing what works for them without worrying about what others think, stand.

      I don’t find it helpful for someone who knows little about me and my work to attempt to correct me, explain to me that I ought to be prepared for criticism, and condescend to me. You may not have meant to, but statements like “can you accept any criticism of your ideas?” and “If you are going to make public statements on the web, be prepared to accept criticism and respond factually and rationally — it will help your cause” are rather condescending. This isn’t my first time writing a controversial piece (and hardly the most controversial or viewed piece I’ve written) so I’m not unaware of how it works. It’s fine to come here and disagree with my words or interpretation but attempting to “educate” me on how to be a professional writer is unnecessary. And you’d be surprised how often people feel the need to try. 😉

      Reply

      • “I don’t find it helpful for someone who knows little about me and my work to attempt to correct me, explain to me that I ought to be prepared for criticism, and condescend to me.”

        If you feel that way, why on earth do you have a blog? I agree with her completely, you cannot handle any criticism. Just like with the other article, you over-react to every comment that isn’t 100% in favor of your own rant. Even comments that aren’t in direct criticism of you or your opinion, you find a way to take offense to it and so clearly spell it out to the commenter exactly how offensive each miniscule comment is. You need to remove your blinders, but clearly you have really a strong personal reaction to opinions that even slightly differ from your own on this subject (or perhaps, just aren’t worded in the way you prefer).

        From the very title you jump in with your misinterpretation (based on your response to another comment). If you cannot understand the difference between “The cult of natural child birth” vs “Everyone who births naturally is part of a cult,” then I completely understand why you repeatedly misunderstand the other article and cannot handle responses that do not 100% support every last word of yours.

        Reply

  19. Thank you for your gracious, balanced response to this article. The only positive thing about a young friend sharing the article you are responding to was that your reply came up as the top follow-up link! It made me so sad to hear the harsh criticism of my birth choices from 24-16 years ago! After 4 amazing, natural, home births I love to encourage women that birth is not something to be afraid of, but I try to never make them feel like their choice to have a hospital birth is something to be ashamed of either. It’s all about being informed and doing what you feel is best for your body and lifestyle.
    I was quite surprised at her claim that there is no medical reason to avoid an epidural as when I was giving birth there were quite a few… I’m far enough removed that I don’t know the statistics anymore, but I still would not trade my birth experiences for anything! Please continue your balanced advocacy for something that is very precious. Blessings!

    Reply

  20. I am low income in the US and have an hbac planned for the end of this summer.
    Midwives are usually willing to work with people that can’t afford care.
    The fact that people think home birth is for the elite is silly to me.

    Reply

  21. I read that article when it came out, and it ticked me off. It just seemed a total misunderstanding of why people choose natural birth in the first place. I didn’t do it because I thought it made me a superior mother. I did it because giving birth is sacrificial enough, I was darn well going to do it in the way I was most comfortable. I chose a safe situation for my baby — but a safe situation for me is important too! And “safe” means lower risk of c-section, less tearing, fewer complications. I didn’t pass up the epidural to be a martyr — I passed it up because I wanted to be able to feel to push most effectively, to avoid a cesarean or a difficult recovery. And that IS something we can prove scientifically about epidurals, even if not a bit of the drugs go to baby.

    I wanted to tell the author, “No one gives you a medal for being the most compliant patient either.” That is, she has a lot of pride for not making a birth plan and leaving everything to the doctor, but that doesn’t gain her anything. It’s not going to spare her a c-section, and major abdominal surgery is no joke! (To say nothing of the increased risk of death from a cesarean — it’s a small risk, but women do die every year from c-section complications, many of them from c-sections that aren’t really needed in the first place.

    I know as mothers we all want to paint our choices as the most self-sacrificing way to go. Hospital birthing mothers act like a home birth would be risking their baby’s life just for an experience, while home birthing mothers might sometimes paint their choice as a way of being an uber-mother. But it’s not all about sacrifice. Giving birth is a sacrifice. But we are not morally obligated to completely ignore our own well-being. I made the choice as a woman to safeguard my own well-being while also looking out for my baby as the loving mother I am. Call it “selfish” but not wanting to be treated like a piece of meat by an uncaring hospital, not wanting to be cut open without good reason, not wanting my birth canal torn to shreds ….. that is my right.

    Reply

  22. Did you miss the point of the article?? It was about not making woman who chose to have an epidural or need a c section not feel guilty. Because they do! Because if you didn’t do it 100% naturally then obviously you did something wrong. As a mother who had to have two c sections due hypertension, breech babies and bleeding behind my uterus I get kind of tired of hearing that I need to get over how awful my babies births were. You are telling people to skip reading the article when it actually has some great points. We really don’t need celebrities saying they are going to have a natural birth because they wanted this baby so they might as well do it right. As if we will really know if they have an epidural once the contractions start feeling like they are crushing her. Her article was very well written while yours just tells people not to read hers and sums it up badly basically telling people her article says you shouldn’t care how you give birth. This is not what she said at all. This article looks like you blurted out a response without thinking or even previewing it before you posted it. That is very irresponsible.

    Reply

    • “It was about not making woman who chose to have an epidural or need a c section not feel guilty. Because they do! Because if you didn’t do it 100% naturally then obviously you did something wrong.”

      The first sentence — I didn’t get that *at all* from her writing. Not at all. (And I had lots of people who were upset about it email me and they didn’t get that, either.) What I got was her saying that people who have natural births are in cults and natural birth has gone too far. It isn’t okay to insult women who have a natural birth to defend those who don’t.

      The second sentence — no. I don’t think that’s true at all. I don’t support that thinking. I support women regardless of what type of birth they have, or want. That isn’t true for all in the natural birth community, sadly, but it’s true here.

      I don’t think my post was irresponsible at all. I think you are reading it through a lense of feeling guilty about not having had a natural birth (and you don’t need to feel guilty, nor do you owe me or anyone else an explanation) and are seeing things that aren’t there. I’ve re-read it a few days after writing and it’s passionate but I don’t think it’s at all out of line. I think you need to go back and read it again.

      Reply

  23. Um, I have read through her article twice, and the article she first linked to in that story once. Now let me say, I had all of my children at home, I am apprenticing to be a midwife and I do believe home birth is far better than hospital birth–but only if that is what the mom wants. I do not think that Ms. Strauss was doing a lot of bashing. Yes, she is on the hosptial-is-better side of the fence, but if you read this article (http://jezebel.com/5948663/the-lazy-birthing-manifesto) you will see that she did not want to go that route. She did not want to take responsibility for her own healthcare–she wanted to put it into the hands of a doctor. Not a choice I would make, but I respect her right to make the choice she believed to be the best one for her and her child.

    I don’t think she did a lot of bashing; I think she is quite frankly puzzled about why anyone would choose to have a home birth when to her it is clearly easier to just place all the decisions into the hands of the “professionals.”

    We know that we are the professionals about our own bodies. We WANT to be consulted about decisions that need to be made, and I applaud anyone who does. However, I cherish my right to make choices, my right to speak about my choices. In order for me to have that right, she has to have the same right.

    I have read the blog of a woman who really, really BASHES midwives and I have to say that this article came nowhere near that type of hatred.

    If we want to continue to have free voice in regards to the choices we are making that are out of the mainstream, we have to be open to others doing the same. We need to have an attitude of, “Do the research. Do the thinking. Make your choices. Live with your choices.”

    Yes, I shake my head in sadness when I hear a pregnant mom talk about her appointments with her doctor, her birth, what occurred in the hospital, but it is her choice. If she wants to be educated, then, by all means, I will help to do so. But ranting and railing on either side is of no help; it simply leads to more ranting and railing.

    If we really, really want to get the attention of our children the best thing to do is to drop the tone and pitch of our voice and be calm. I think that would be a better strategy in just about every situation.

    Reply

  24. The people who don’t see a problem with that article are blind and should do some research on maternity care and birth. “My doctor said…” is not good enough. There are HEAPS AND HEAPS of scientific and medical evidence to prove that common practices are based not on facts, but more on tradition and habit. It’s not natural mom vs medicated mom. It’s about making informed choices, REGARDLESS of what that choice is. When a mom “chooses” an epidural or induction without knowing a single side effect, it’s fine. When a mom goes natural, she’s “trying to prove something.” It’s all about INFORMED CHOICE and people TOTALLY MISS THAT.

    Reply

  25. Another great post, Kate. I like the tie-in you made with feminism.
    My mother always told me that people who are always suspicious of foul motives of other (individual) people are probably revealing more about themselves than the other person. I think if one’s assumption is that women birth naturally to make a point or to show themselves superior, they are probably someone who needs validation from others and cares too much how others perceive their choices. If you are secure enough to feel confident in your ability to make your own choices, you are free to allow others to also make their own. If you are hyperaware of other’s opinions of you, you perceive judgement coming at you from every angle and may very well make choices according to what will incur the least (perceived) judgement. That seems to be the frame that author was writing from.

    Reply

  26. Don’t natural births come with their share of risks too? The thousands of women that died from child birth prior to modern day medicine would be more than eager to remind you of this if they could. As for you wanting a natural birth because you want to snuggle up to your baby, women that get epidurals CAN and DO hold, snuggle, and breastfeed their babies as well, right after birth. There are risks to everything- even something as simple as driving with your baby in the car, or going for a walk. You never know when something can happen. God forbid something goes wrong during your birth, and you’re at home? Then what?

    Reply

    • This is silly.

      Any birth can come with risks, but I don’t make decisions for my life based on “what if.” And I think it’s incredibly arrogant to assume you know what women from another era would have wanted or said! You can’t possibly know.

      No, I’m not going to answer your final question. You don’t really mean it. You are trying to mock and shame women who choose natural birth.

      Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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