Monday, January 14, 2008

Why are women scared of childbirth?

Why did Christina Aguilera schedule a non-medically necessary cesarean? Why did Brittney Spears, Madonna, Claudia Schiffer, Denise Richards Victoria Beckham? Why, for that matter, does any woman schedule so-called “patient choice” cesareans?

Look in the mirror. When you speak about the births of your children, what do you say? Sadly, the only positive things most woman say about their births are “the epidural worked great, didn’t feel a thing!” or “well, at least the baby was healthy”. Why do we, as a society, insist on perpetuating the fear and pain of childbirth? Troubled as she may currently be, read what Brittney Spears had to say way back when, regarding the upcoming birth of her first child: “I don't want to go through the pain. My mom said giving birth was the most excruciating thing she's ever gone through in her life.” Shame on you, Mrs. Spears.

When I was pregnant with my first child all I ever heard were pregnancy and birth horror stories. Am I saying we should all just lie to each other about birth? No. For most women it’s not all sunshine and roses, but it’s not the end of the world, either. Some would argue that women are scared of childbirth because it’s a “great unknown”. I would say it’s because of what they think they know, based on every horror story you or I have ever told.

“But vbac,” I hear you saying, “you scare us with your c-section horror stories all the time. Aren’t you being a bit hypocritical?”

Nope. I wish we had more voices out there scaring women out of medically unnecessary sections. For those who hear my horror stories, but need (or think they need) a section anyway… don’t worry too much. My story had a mostly happy ending. (but tell that to the several women last year who died following their sections)


mm said...

Yup... could have knocked me over with a feather when I noticed Nicole Richie and her teeny tiny pelvis were capable of birth without a scalpel!
I was reeling from the giddyness.
As usual.
F-ing Brilliant words.

Jill said...

Of course all we have are horror stories. Because all we have are women who gave birth on their backs, trapped in bed, with unfamiliar drugs racing through their veins, machines beeping, bright lights glaring, genitals exposed for all to see while they screamed in agony. That's a horror story for sure, and that's all these women have to go on.

I love comparing the stark differences between homebirths and hospital births. Nine and a half times out of ten, you ask a woman who had a hospital birth what it was like, and she'll reply, "Oh, it was horrible, but it was worth it for my baby" or something along those lines. Ask a homebirther the same question, and a look of euphoria washes over her face as she says, "It was an amazing experience! I can't wait to do it again!"

I think the key lies in changing the dynamic. More women need to know that birth doesn't HAVE to be a horror story. Just because their mothers and their mother's mothers were subjected to that, doesn't mean they have to be. They can change the direction of the tides. And then when their daughters are pregnant, instead of scaring the bejesus out of them, they can tell them the story of their birth with pride and happiness.

Jill said...

Besides, "fear of the unknown" is a bit of a cop-out to me. We live every day in the shadow of the unknown. Seriously, I have no idea what's going to happen every time I wake up in the morning. Sure, I have a plan for things I WANT to do, but those things might not happen. I might get run over by a truck on my way to the corner store. Who knows? But I won't hide in my bed in fear of that. Life is crazy and dangerous, yet we all live it. We don't have a choice.

AtYourCervix said...

In my practice as an L&D nurse, I have noticed that women are very fearful of the unknown. When you're having your first baby, all you hear are the horror stories of labor from your friends/family. You go into the hospital, stone cold scared of this whole thing called birth. Less and less first time mothers are attending childbirth preparation classes, because they (most of them anyway) just want an epidural upon arrival. It's a rude awakening when that epidural doesn't happen immediately upon arrival to the hospital - especially when they are not in active labor yet. Coping skills are minimal when it comes to pain. Some women see elective primary c/s as an easy way around the pain - when the opposite is true. They are not informed adequately by their physicians about the risks involved with major abdominal surgery.

Anonymous said...

first let me express my sympathy for your lingering trauma from your 1st pregnancy & birth.

i note that you have a large family yet state no one cared etc after you'd had your baby? i honestly don't understand.

from my view: my 4 vaginal births were horrendous and 24 - 30 years later still suffer - both physically and emotionally.

i had a tubal ligation 24 yrs ago and a hysterectomy 20 years ago and i can assure you that the experience of abdominal surgeries were miniscule compared to the agony and trauma of 'natural' childbirth.

avoiding pain like i suffered IS a great reason to go the Csection route.

(and yes, childbirth classes for each)


tubal reversal said...

of course women are fearful at first birth because they listen horror stories from other.they should consult their doctors about birth and after birth problems

tubal ligation reversal said...

It is because they listen from others that it is too much painful process.

Anonymous said...

It isn't exactly exageration however when women tell of natural birth horror stories. And plenty of women and babies still die in natural childbirth. Interestingly enough there is actually a hormone produced that makes you somewhat forget the pain of childbirth. It's a womens choice to have a cesearian, we shouldn't shame anyone for a personal choice.