The Childbirth Hierarchy, OR, God Made Epidurals

Picnicking with seven-month-old Hannah

The Childbirth Hierarchy……all-too-often implied, if not expressed.

As if how you have a child has any true bearing (pun intended) on the fact that mother and baby are both alive and well.

And as if childbirth is primarily, or even secondarily, about the mother’s joy and fulfillment in the experience. The word “narcissistic” comes to mind. Childbirth is about a baby coming into the world healthy, and the mother being okay in the process. Since when did it become about how the mama feels?

(I recognize some methods are more ideal than others, all other things being equal. But NO method is morally superior, much less divinely sanctioned. )

So, promised hierarchy, in order of superiority:

1. All-natural birth, at home. The ultimate. The ideal. The essence of motherhood: bringing new life into the world in the comfort of your own bed (or bathtub), surrounded by the comfortable familiarity of your own home (especially kitchen) and only the people you know and love in the room with you. What could possibly be finer? Why would you settle for anything less than this highest? Au natural, as we au know, is Mother Nature’s very best for us au.

2. All-natural birth, at a hospital. (A birthing center is allowed to be a micro-step above this.) IF you must have the help of strangers in an unfamiliar setting, at least you didn’t wimp out and ask for pain medication. You couldn’t be at home, but you managed to still be a REAL woman, by Jove. (Never mind the popped blood vessels in your face and the oath you made to God to NEVER EVER EVER EVER have sex again, as abstinence is the only foolproof method of preventing an encore performance of this.)

3. Hospital birth, with (gasp) pain medication. Well, if you couldn’t suck it up enough to grit your teeth through without pain relief, at least you gave birth in a distinctly female mammalian manner, and didn’t succumb to a…

4. Cesarean section, unplanned. Poor thing. Deprived of the glory, fame, admiration, and admission to the Club, of the Most Unique Womanly Experience. Downgraded to a plain old surgery where you lie passively while being sliced, relieved of your child, and sewn back up – as inglorious and routine as a dude getting a hernia removed. (Never mind you swallowed backwash the whole time and couldn’t sit up in bed without assistance for the next three days.) Such a loss. Better luck next time.

5. Cesarean section, planned. What, so you’d be sure to have a baby when your mother flew across the country to be with you, the only two weeks’ vacation she gets this year? Oh, because you like one date better than another? How appallingly selfish and superficial of you. I can’t believe you’re a good mother. (Oh, you mean this was per medical recommendation and availability? Hmm, well, still…)

Can we not just say, “How are you feeling? How’s the baby?” and “What’s your favorite dessert and when do you want it?” And if the new mama seems to want to talk, ask a million questions about the whole ordeal, but don’t dare imply that she failed to measure up in any way, or that she has been cheated of anything – or that she deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor for Doing It Right. The woman has a healthy newborn – is there any greater blessing for a mother? I didn’t think so. Let’s focus on this brand new baby and how we can be a blessing to him/her and the parents…and let’s quit assigning moral superiority to certain kinds of childbirth.

No one disses the mother who adopted, right?

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Published in: on May 17, 2011 at 1:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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