What is Birth Shame? (“Natural Birth is Best!”)

birth shameWhat is Birth Shame?

Back in 2009, my first-ever birth that I attended as a doula was supposed to be a homebirth, but it ended up being a Cesarean.

I felt this strange thing called birth shame. It was tragic, devastated, and I felt sad for the mama involved.

A Cesarean birth wasn’t what she expected at all!

I felt somehow as if I had failed her.

It took me a long time before I realized that, actually, she was happy with her birth.

She didn’t blame me for anything….on the contrary, she remembers her birth fondly because of my presence there!

Finally, it dawned on me that her feelings about her birth were ultimately what really mattered.

That birth deeply affected the way I view my role as a birth professional…

It made me realize that I never want to perpetuate birth shame.

I must confess, I deeply believe in natural childbirth.  I wouldn’t be in this line of work if I didn’t!

Personally, I’m a homebirthin’ hippie of epic proprotion.

However–I am quite well aware that’s not the path for everyone.

I think it’s frankly shitty of people to be so gung-ho about natural childbirth that they make women who didn’t have a natural birth feel small or ashamed.

Mothering is hard enough without swallowing a heap of guilt about what kind of birth you ended up having. Sometimes, things are simply out of our hands.

I believe that all women are doing the best they can with what they have, at any given moment.

Even if I can’t personally relate to another woman’s choices, I still believe in her as a person who’s just doing her best.

I believe she’s a mother who loves her child, and I will support her in whatever her wishes are for her birth, PERIOD. End of story.

So, no, I’m not going to demonize epidurals or pain medicine in my childbirth classes! (Even though I will tell you about the mad oxytocin rush you experience right after a natural birth!)

Natural birth at home can be incredible, but I don’t think less of women who feel safer in a hospital, or are afraid of feeling labor pain.

And I certainly don’t want any woman, anywhere, to feel ashamed about her birth. Sometimes, everyone makes different choices than they originally thought they would.

If birth advocates are so focused on “converting” you to natural childbirth, that you feel like you’ve got to strive to that “ideal birth” or else suffer from birth shame…

They’ve Missed the Point Entirely – and I apologize on their behalf.

In my work as a doula and birth educator, I endeavor to make women aware of what their choices really are.

Not just to inform, but to make women aware that they don’t have to ask permission to be properly informed.

I want women to feel confident and free in the choices they are making – whether or not I understand or agree with them.

If you’re facing a Cesearean, I want to help you to feel safe, supported, and at peace with that reality.

No matter if you’re sad, scared, or maybe…secretly kind of relieved that you don’t have to push.  Psst…..it doesn’t have to be a secret.

Your feelings about birth, whatever they may be, are valid – and you should have a safe space to express them.

You can have the most highly trained professionals in the world advising you, but ultimately, YOU are giving birth – you are the sole player in your life’s drama.

Can you have a good birth by just following doctors’ orders and doing what you’re told?  

Absolutely….but I may delicately, lovingly ask – who’s defining “good” for you?  No, I won’t want your answer. I’m just inviting you to think about it, Love.

I do not believe there’s any “right” or “best” way to give birth. It’s a process, a flow, a dance of intricate potentiality, unique to each woman and her baby.

Yes, one’s fears, hopes, and expectations can and do come into play. They may ultimately affect or even limit your choices–or your body’s ability to handle labor and birth.

You will be invited to work through this kind of birth shame, fear, and complex feelings in my Conscious Pregnancy Workbook.

Perhaps now is the time to start digging deeper into our feelings about birth – right now, today.

Feeling birth shame, guilt, or fear is something that can be released, if you uncover the unconscious beliefs that contribute to it.

Let’s stay in touch, k?