I'm on a lonely limb here but I don't believe in the term "natural childbirth". Yes, I offerLamaze-based childbirth education (here and here) but I believe that we set women up for shaming when we say "natural childbirth".
I get where the term comes from. And I truly believe that those who use it want to empower women to make better, more informed decisions when it comes to their childbirth experience. Their heart is in the right place. But here's where I take the road less traveled: when we advocate one path as The Path, we alienate those who, for whatever reason, aren't in a position to follow that single path. And this is true for so many things. No matter what we do, not everyone will be a size 6 and have the "right" BMI. It's just not physically possible. Bodies are different. Learning styles are different. A traditional school setting might not be the right thing for some kids but homeschooling is. For a pregnant survivor of violence who has felt controlled and violated by someone in the past, choosing to bottle-feed instead of breastfeeding can be an informed choice. There will always be folks who take the "less" traditional or "popular" path because it is the one that works for them. There's no shame in that.
After my new moms group on a recent Saturday, I called my sister Caroline to tell her a bit about the beautiful group of moms and babies with whom I spent my afternoon. The group was a mix of "older" and "younger" moms; SAHMs and those who worked outside the home; bottle feeders and breastfeeders, etc. Everyone was there to learn more and offer support, where they could, to each other. There was no judgment or shaming. That group was truly a microcosm of what support around mothering should look like. I was proud to be part of it.
As moms, we need to stand together more than we need to draw clear lines in the sand. Working moms vs. SAHMs. Breastfeeders vs. bottle feeders. Natural childbirth vs. those who had a medical intervention or a csection. ARGH! I'm sick of it. Are you? The last thing we need is more new moms feeling shamed for choices or "choices" that they made. No one wins. Constant taking sides or advocating one way over another just pulls us further apart. So, instead of trying to one up each other or push for "best" method over another, let's meet in the plenty-of-room-for-everyone middle ground called motherhood. And when we show up there, instead of bracing for battle, let's talk honestly about what's truly holding us back: a lack of early daycare/education and paid maternity leave; insufficiently accessible (or absent in general) community resources for postpartum support and education; the predatory selling & guilting of new moms. These "women's issues" are truly the ones that affect all of us and have the largest long-term impact on our children, not whether or not my daughter was born via csection.
Agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment below and join this conversation. Thanks for reading.