10 Things Men Need To Stop Saying About Women Giving Birth (Like, Immediately)
I, for one, had many conversations about childbirth with my cisgender male partner, leading up to and even after our son was born. I didn't consider those conversations "girl talk," because we're adults and human bodies are human bodies and just because my partner couldn't experience pregnancy or labor and delivery himself, didn't mean he couldn't be an active participant in all of the above. I'm thankful my partner was an informed man when it came to childbirth, because I've heard far too many things men need to stop saying about women giving childbirth; things that are outdated and offensive; things that are sexist; things that are anything but helpful and perpetuate gender stereotypes that are hurtful.
Most of the gentlemen I associate with are grown-ass men, so they don't cringe when a woman talks about childbirth in front of or around them. I mean, we've all graduated from middle school and sat through The Miracle of Life and we're big kids now, so I honestly think it's time we start acting like it. However, the patriarchy is strong and internalized misogyny is a real thing and, sometimes, it's no more apparent than when you hear a man talk about childbirth. The words "disgusting" and "ruined" get thrown around a lot, and certain myths are perpetuated about labor and delivery that only hurt the women who are or chose to experience it.
Which is why men need to just stop saying the following things. Conversations about childbirth should involve men, because so many men are part of conception, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and parenthood in general. These conversations don't (and shouldn't) be for "women only," but if men are going to participate, they need to erase the following sentences from their mouths:
"It's So Gross"
No, no it's not. I mean, I guess "gross" is a relative term and hey, even as a mother who has given birth vaginally, there were certain aspects that were definitely "graphic," but birth is also a pretty natural, organic act. Like, it's kind of a necessary thing. I am here because someone birthed me and I would guess that the man saying childbirth is "gross" is around because someone birthed him, too. Maybe, instead of saying it's "gross," say something more productive.
"It Probably Doesn't Hurt That Bad"
Unless you've given birth yourself, you are not at liberty to comment on how much it does or doesn't hurt. There's no need to do the "being kicked in the balls hurts more," comparison or talk about how much pain a man's body can withstand in relation to a woman's. Just, no.
"Women Have Been Giving Birth For Thousands Of Years, So You Shouldn't Be Afraid"
Yes, women have, but if you're not a woman you aren't allowed to say how any other woman should feel when it comes to giving birth. In fact, gender be damned; no one should be commenting on how other women have given birth and making comparisons. Labor and delivery and pregnancy all vary, from woman to woman, so it doesn't matter what someone else did or how they felt or what happened.
"A C-Section Isn't Giving Birth"
To be fair, a lot of women say this to other women too, which is just ridiculous. If you housed a human and that human has emerged from your body, you've given birth. It doesn't matter where the human emerged from or how that human emerged or if you helped that human emerge in your own home or in a tub or with an epidural or in an operating room. If you were pregnant and then you weren't and there's a baby because of it, you've given birth.
"I Don't Want To Hear Or Know About The Details"
I mean, if you're not the partner of the woman who has given birth, that's fine? I'm a mom and sometimes I don't want to hear the details of someone else's birth. However, don't act like childbirth is the equivalent to someone in Harry Potter's world saying, "Voldemort." Like, we're adults. We can talk about it. It's OK. It won't kill you.
However, if you are the partner of a woman giving birth and you don't want to hear about it, I really don't have words for you. I can't imagine not wanting to be involved. I mean, you were involved during conception. I have a feeling you don't have a problem hearing about that.
"Child Birth Takes Way Too Long"
Child birth takes as long as it takes. There's nothing "too long" about it. Honestly, if the hardest part of childbirth for you, dude, is waiting around, you're at a freakin' picnic winning the lottery compared to what your partner is going through. Suck it up and be patient.
"Childbirth Ruins A Woman's Body..."
The amount of rage I feel on a subatomic level whenever I hear someone use "childbirth" and "ruined" in the same sentence, boarders on dangerous. Childbirth doesn't ruin a woman's body anymore than any other physical activity she may or may not do. Honestly, the idea that a woman is "ruined" because she has had sex or procreated, stems from some sexist bullshit the patriarchy has been peddling since always, attempting to identify women as nothing more than products for male consumption. Nope. Nope nope nope a thousand times nope.
"...And A Woman Can't Be Sexy After She Has Given Birth"
If you can't separate the functionality of a woman's body from the sexuality of a woman's body, I literally don't even know what to tell you. Like, grow up, maybe? That's probably the best I can come up with between gritting my teeth and telling you to kick rocks.
"A Woman Giving Birth Should Just Do It By Herself"
I have never had this ridiculous sentence uttered in my direction (or even around me), but I know women who have. In fact, a dear friend of mine basically gave birth by herself because her husband thought "childbirth" was a "woman's thing," and he didn't need to assist her. Rage.
"It's What A Woman's Body Is Made To Do"
This can be a loaded statement. On the one hand, telling a laboring woman that her body was made to go through labor and delivery can be empowering. I know that when I was in the middle of horrific contractions, having someone remind me that I could do this and my body was "made" for this, helped keep the fear at bay. However, when you're not speaking to a laboring woman, you really shouldn't package childbirth as this all-natural, inevitable thing that every woman's body is made to do and, in turn, should do.
First, not every woman's body can get pregnant or go through labor and delivery. Second, just because a woman has the "tools," doesn't mean that she will inevitably become pregnant or birth a child. So, in the end, it's best to package childbirth as a choice, and not something every woman's body is made to (or has to) do.