Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Love Letter to Drug-Free Birth Moms II

I know how it goes. The information slips out, because God knows you wouldn't dare actually volunteer the information - you're not planning on using an epidural, you have a birth plan, you're taking a Bradley class. How quickly the claws come out. Your own sex immediately views you as an outsider, a freak, an enemy.

My decision to have a drug-free birth came to me, quite literally, in the middle of the night. I had had insomnia and accidentally stumbled across a documentary called The Business of Being Born. Nobody had ever  recruited me to join some natural birth club. I wasn't trying to impress anyone. I just did research, had serious discussions with my husband, made a choice about what I thought was best for my as yet unborn baby. Other people seem to have this perception that I see myself as a warrior in the great hippie army of all things all-natural. Come on. We who have had a drug-free birth know the truth.

To illustrate how non-similar women can be who choose the natural birth route can be, allow me to illustrate my Bradley Method birth class. My husband and I, I guess, could be described as lower-middle class. We are both college graduates and own our own home but our student loan debt keeps us from having DVR or even cable. We were in our late 20s and total beer snobs. Another couple was deaf and in their mid-30s. They were both professionals, into healthy eating, and rowed for a crew team, which is how they met. The third couple was very young and unmarried. The pregnancy was not planned. They were pretty rock and roll. Their son's middle name is the name of an X-Men character. My point here is that natural child birth can be for ANYONE while most people seem to believe it is this one specific type of woman; a woman who thinks she is stronger and better than everyone else.

While pregnant, you are to abstain from/avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs, soft cheeses, some fish, roots, OTC medications, etc. The list goes on and on. Why? Because everything you consume, whether inhaled, injected, or ingested, can affect your fetus. You are connected. The baby is part of your body. So it stands to reason that an epidural, one that has been dosed for an adult women, will have an effect on an unborn baby, who would require a fraction of that dose.

Americans will endure all kinds of pain for the right payoff. Just look at the popularity of that show "Fear Factor"! People get enormous tattoos, pierce their genitals, swim in sub-zero temperatures, run miles in extreme heat, compete in triathlons, etc. all because the "payoff" is deemed worthy. I know a wonderful woman who has asthma and only one working kidney who participates in a Warrior Dash every year. For me, a potential healthier baby is payoff enough.

Any woman I have met who has opted for a drug-free birth has done it for a different reason. One woman simply had an intense fear of needles and so she couldn't imagine any kind of a successful labor and delivery scenario that involved an epidural. There are so many reasons to consider a drug-free birth, not one better nor more admirable than another. My hat is off to anyone who studies, trains, and prepares for a drug-free birth regardless of their reason. In a culture where labor and delivery has become just another medical procedure, woman who choose to take charge of their children's births are to be commended.

Instead, we are treated with disdain and contempt. Other women, in particular, often shake their heads. Somehow, hearing about a birthing experience so different from their own immediately makes them defensive. Trust me when I tell you that however my labor and delivery went, it had nothing to do with you. It was not to prove you wrong or to prove anything to you. Women come at me as if I am peronally attacking them by having a drug-free birth. Why couldn't I just have a c-section like everybody else? Why do I have to stand out? Why do I have to be different? It's just so irritating somehow!

Here's what I am asking for. When you hear that a woman had a drug-free birth, don't recoil! Just accept it as any other difference, such as favorite color, politcal affiliation, or astrological sign. If it makes you want to roll your eyes, resist! Ask yourself, does she seem to be a good mother now? Does she seem to be trying to make good decisions to raise her children to be healthy and productive members of society? Then that's all that matters! It doesn't mean she is a hippie or that she's going to try to recruit you to the "drug-free ways". I am begging you, as a fellow mother and a fellow woman. Just accept my labor and delivery choice as I have accepted yours. It will only make us all stronger!


  1. Agreed,but I also wish drug free birth moms could also accept those who didn't have drug free births for whatever the reason. Moms supporting moms could be a beautiful thing.

    1. Moms supporting moms IS a beautiful thing! You are absolutely correct! That was the point of the final paragraph. As I posted in Part I (a different entry), I feel that women who have to get a C-section or use an epidural, etc. DO receive a lot of support because it is mainstream. There also seems to be an assumption that women who have a drug-free birth do NOT support other women who do not have a drug-free birth and I don't feel that taht's true, either. The point of this entry was just to give support to those who do have a drug-free birth (because I know from experience that there is not a lot of that - except from fellow drug-free birth mamas who are in the vast minority). I do not condemn women who do not have a drug-free birth. This was just an entry of support, that is all.