Shame, Guilt, “Natural?” – one mama’s opinions

It amazes me some times about just how absolutely terrible other moms can be. That’s the biggest reason I avoid comments on posts that deal with a potentially controversial mama topic. But since watching my entire birth plan dreams and hopes shift entirely, I’ve become aware of another part of the shaming mom community (yes, I do think this is a real thing, unfortunately!) that deals with the whole world of c-sections.

Now, cesarean sections are beginning to be a huge focus on mine because well, guess what, I’m having one. And while, I’ll be honest, hearing fellow mamas having had one in the past made me feel a little judgmental. Mainly, I was viewing their birth experience through eyes that the “natural birth culture” I was surrounded with gave me. The idea that having a c-section isn’t real birth, or that it was taking an easier way out. That was before I had a birth of my own and before I had really done any significant research into the world of carrying and delivering babies. I recently picked up a book called Push Back by Amy Tuteur, M.D. and even though I’m only a third of the way through it, the content of this book has already brought up a lot of thoughts.

While I do feel like this book is pretty far to one side of the spectrum when dealing with natural birth advocates and then the OBGYN’s side, I do think this book raises a lot of good questions. For instance, what really is natural when it comes to birth? According to Amy, natural is doing what mothers have been doing since the beginning of time, and that is more than half dying in childbirth because of complications, unknown conditions, babies not fitting through pelvis’, and so on. She goes on to mention how each generation of mothers have adapted to the culture they lived in and more and more babies and mothers have survived because of medical advancements in technology and the ability catch issues before they become too much of a danger to mother and baby.

I’m a teeny tiny bit put off by Amy’s obvious frustration with the natural birth community which stems from a lot of ignorance that she has seen in her 30+ years as an obstetrician. But, I do agree with her on a lot of points with that. (Read the book to find out exactly what I’m referencing, I’m not going to quote the whole thing here!) I have personally known mamas and read stories about mamas who have refused ultrasounds. While this didn’t bother me before being pregnant with little bear, it does now. I worry about those mamas because if I hadn’t had that 20 week ultrasound, we never would have known something wasn’t right with little bear. His heart is healthy, his movements are strong and I’ve been feeling him move since about 13 weeks. On all accounts, he’s perfect and there is no cause for alarm. However, as we’ve now seen, babies can seem perfectly healthy from the outside, but little (or big) things can be lurking underneath. While I can understand mamas’ reasons why not to go with “medical interventions” I do question their stands now that I have a high risk pregnancy and have seen how quickly things can go from being a-okay to whoa this is not good.

So where is the line? Where is the line for being aware and informed and then purposefully putting your baby at risk because you don’t want to do an ultrasound or some other such procedure? Where is the line where we as mamas need to support each other or when do we need to speak up and wonder if that was not the wisest decision for your baby’s health and your health?

I have felt like I personally need to justify WHY I’m having a scheduled c-section now. While I have so many amazing and supportive mamas around me, I still wonder who is judging me for taking these steps and getting the medical “interventions” they’re so against? It really makes me ponder how we as mamas can change the culture of judging and shaming and guilt tripping for those who haven’t made the same choices as you have. For me personally, I’m trying to figure out how to shake off the mama shame of not having the natural birth I wanted. Guys, that shame and guilt is a real thing and I hate that we put other moms through that and we put it on ourselves! And honestly, I really don’t know how to even deal with that right now. I know it’s partly shame and guilt I’m putting on myself, but really? My biggest thought since the moment we found out what was wrong with little bear has been how can I protect him? How can I make the best choices to make sure that he is going to survive the best that he can?

I’m still processing what I’ve read so far in the book I shared above. And I’m sure this won’t be the last post where I verbally process either! But seriously, can we at least try to come alongside each mama we know and encourage them in their choices for themselves and their babies? And maybe, just maybe leave the shaming and guilt tripping out of the conversation? Becoming a parent is hard, becoming a mom is hard, and that’s even without potential complications and shame and judgment from those around us. So I’m going to go back to reading my book, and maybe you all can think about this and let me know your thoughts?