I am so tired of the mommy wars. They start the moment you have a positive pregnancy test and continue into perpetuity. Everyone seems to have an option about, well, everything pertaining to pregnancy, child birth, and parenting, and as a pregnant woman I am so done. It's none of your damn business what I do with my body or how I decide to birth, feed, or parent my children. So, lately I have a more than a few things you can say to people who shame you for having a medicated birth, tucked in my handy mind-your-own-business arsenal and open for all soon-to-be moms or moms to use.
I used to be a proponent of "natural child birth," before, of course, I had babies. It turns out, my threshold for experiencing excruciating back labor was about 18 sleepless hours until my "natural," medication-free birth plan made a loud sound as it hit the bottom of the nearest trash can. My epidural was amazing and just what I needed to get some rest and for my labor to progress. Plus, when it was time to push, I was so ready.
Then, with my son, I had to be induced at 37 weeks due to preeclampsia. I lasted about 14 hours before I begged for medication. I may have proposed to the anesthesiologist, which was awkward because my husband was there and she was not into women. The on-call midwife questioned my decision repeatedly and shamed me, claiming that my labor would stall. I showed her she was wrong when I pushed my son out (in one push) just a couple of hours later.
I will tell you a secret: My births were still badass with epidurals. They brought me the relief and the strength I needed for my body to do some pretty freaking amazing things. And both times, I got a baby in the end. No one, I repeat, no one, gets a trophy if they skip out on pain medication; not for dental work, not for surgery, not for headaches, and not for birth. If men birthed babies, I think they would probably offer epidurals at 20 weeks. When I give birth next month, I plan to get an epidural as soon as humanly possible.
So let's stop shaming moms for doing what they need to do to be badass, baby-birthing wonder women. If someone shames you, here are a few creative ways to respond.
"I Don't Want A 'Natural Birth,' I Want A Supernatural Birth"
We've got to stop shaming medicated labors, starting with idealizing "natural" birth. What does "natural birth" even mean? As if people who have medicated births (or *gasp* c-sections) have alien babies or their births are attended by the Winchester brothers from Supernatural. Now that I think about it, that actually sounds freaking wonderful. I am going to ask my OB-GYN if that's an option they offer.
"It's My Body"
Yep. My right to bodily autonomy didn't end when I got pregnant. You don't get a vote.
"Funny, I Don't Remember You Having To Push This Baby Out of Your Vagina"
Until science comes up with a way to transfer pain to someone else, you don't get an opinion about my level of pain or what kind of pain relief I want or need during child birth. When they do come up with that technology, I'm gonna call you and sign you up if you don't stop talking right now.
"Child Birth Doesn't Have To Be A Punishment"
Contrary to popular belief, child birth doesn't have to be horrible. Women don't have to suffer. It's bad enough that we have to push a baby the size of a water melon out of our vaginas without feeling every contraction. Anyone who thinks their is a moral reason for women to feel pain, doesn't sound like a very nice person to me.
"Are You Going To Have Your Next Root Canal Without Meds?"
We don't seem to shame people for having Novocaine at the dentist's office or taking pain medication when they have a migraine, surgery, or break a bone? For me, labor pain was worse than all of those. Why the heck do we shame women for wanting or getting pain relief during labor? I'll tell you why: the patriarchy. Let's stop judging other women, OK?
"Shaming Or Scaring Pregnant Women Is Infantilizing And Gross"
Just stop. It's not cool. Pregnancy, labor, child birth, and raising small humans is scary enough without having to hear your opinions or horror stories.
"Wait, Are You My New OB-GYN?"
There's only one person I consult about medical decisions regarding my pregnancy, and she has had years of medical training and a comprehensive knowledge of my medical history. Do you?
"Do You Even Science?"
As much as the natural birth crowd seems to think that epidurals are bad for moms and babies, science says otherwise. According to research, epidurals are effective, laboring people love them, and they don't increase risk of c-sections. They also don't hurt babies. So, why do people hate them, again?
"Epidurals Can Be Really Empowering"
My epidurals made me feel badass and strong. They were amazing. Your mileage may vary, but I loved mine and regret not getting them sooner. I'm definitely getting one the next time around.
"Stop With The Mommy Wars, Already"
We need to stop shaming other moms and feeding into a culture of perfect parenthood. Parenting is hard. Let's be a village, surround pregnant people and new parents with love and support, and build each other up, instead of tearing each other down. We just might find, if we get down from our soapboxes for a second, that we can help raise an awesome generation of kids together.