The list of things moms are shamed over, unfortunately, grows every day. Whether or not you breastfeed or formula feed, bed-share, cloth diaper, return to work or stay home; every parenting choice seems open to judgment and scrutiny. Sadly much of this judgement comes from other moms, and centers around the type of birth a woman experiences and the words she uses to describe it. When faced with people who shame you for calling your birth "natural," you're bound to feel upset. Luckily, there are ways you can respond without adding fuel to the proverbial fire.
I had an epidural near the end of my labor and delivery process. While a slew of interventions were necessary to get my son into the world safely, I still call my birth experience natural. After all, my son's birth lasted over 48 hours, with the interventions only coming in the last few years. Believe me when I say, I felt everything.
If you gave birth to a human child, no matter the interventions needed, medication used, positions chosen or the location it happened in, then the birth should be considered "natural." Still, women who have unmedicated births are shamed for using the term natural (as it could be seen as divisive and, sadly, usually is) and women who gave birth with medications or other interventions are shamed for using the term natural, as some people tend to disagree. In other words, you just can't win. You can, however, answer back with these responses when anyone shames you for how you choose to describe your birth experience. After all, you were the one who went through it:
"All Birth Is Natural"
I didn't give birth to an alien (although, now that we're in the toddler years, I do have some questions).
All birth is natural birth, whether you give birth at home, in a birthing center, in the back of a taxi, via c-section, with forceps, with an epidural, with an audience or all alone. Birth is birth. It is the most miraculous event and makes heroes of us all.
"It Might Have Been Out Of My Hands"
Some times a woman is able to make every single choice about the birth experience she wants. Other times, however, it is taken out of her hands due to emergency situations, medical problems, or simply the best needs of her baby. In these circumstances it's even more ridiculous to shame a mom for a "choice" that was totally out of her control.
"Believe Me, It Still Hurt"
Some people seem to think that if a woman has an epidural or other types of pain relief, she didn't experience a "real" birth.
I have never understood the idea that birth should be treated any differently to any other painful bodily experience, just because it is a "natural" event. I can't imagine someone saying "no" to drugs if they broke their arm, just because they want to "really experience" what it's like to have a broken bone.
If you gave birth unmedicated, all power to you. Honestly, you're a warrior woman and you have every right to be proud of the birth you experienced by calling it natural. however, the idea that a medicated birth isn't painful is nonsense. Moms who choose pain relief do so because they're in pain.
"We All Get The Same Prize"
There should be no shame in any birth process that brought your precious baby into the world. What every mom-to-be hopes and dream for is the safe delivery of her child. Yes, the experience does matter and a woman should absolutely have the opportunity to feel whatever she wants to feel during labor and delivery, but there are no medals for doing it in a particular way. The baby is the prize, my friends.
"You Do You, I'll Do Me"
In other words, "Mind your own business, please."
"Progress Is Good"
If your birth went without a hitch and you were able to do it in almost exactly the same way women throughout time have been giving birth, I applaud you.
However, there are many mothers and babies that wouldn't have made it without medical interventions (including myself and my baby). Medical progress quite simply saves lives, and should be hailed as miraculous not shamed for being "unnatural."
"Natural Isn't Always Good"
The term "natural" is often used to suggest that something is purer and better than any alternative, but natural isn't always better. Sometimes for the health or comfort of the mother and baby, interventions or medications are necessary.
"My Body, My Choice"
If the baby is exiting my body, you don't get a vote. Period.
"I Call A Truce"
Let's just agree to end the mommy wars right here and now, shall we? They are so redundant. Women need to pull together and ready ourselves for more important fights. How we birth or parent our babies really shouldn't be up for debate, my friends.