No, they are not impressed with your unmedicated birth

I like to say that when my husband and I got married, he wanted two children and I wanted four, so we compromised … on four.

My husband would tell you that it’s the best decision we ever made. Each has grown into a wonderful person and we have had the joy (and the occasional aggravation) of supervising that process. Four children is a bit unusual in our community and over the years we gotten a lot of comments:

“Oh, four children; I could never do that.”

“Four? How did you manage?”

“I’m impressed that you could raise four children and remain so calm.”

That’s what they said, but I don’t believe for a moment that they really mean what they say. They are not impressed with my husband and me; they could do it if they wanted and they don’t particularly care how many children another couple chose to have.

I’m reminded of that when I hear natural childbirth advocates crowing about their “achievement” and insisting that everyone in the world is either impressed with them or incredulous and dismissive about their choice. They are so desperate for attention, positive or negative, and so relentlessly self-referential, that they cannot see what is right in front of their faces: no one cares whether anyone else had an unmedicated birth.

I was reminded of this reading one of the most recent posts by Donna of Banned From Baby Showers, one of the “birth visionistas” of Birth Boot Camp.

Donna writes, in an offensive post explaining any woman whose birth does not meet Donna’s specifications for birth and breastfeeding cannot become a BBC instructor:

Recently, I had a brief conversation with one of my daughter’s teachers. She saw the “Birth Boot Camp” vinyl on the back of my car and asked what that was all about. I briefly told her and she said, “Wow! You did that without drugs?!” in her sweet Southern drawl. She went on to say, “I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who’s done that!”

And:

I’ve had so many women over the years tell me that they thought of me during their labor. “If Donna could do it, so can I!” Husbands cheer their wives on right at the end when she wants to give up, saying, “Donna said it would be like this at the end. You are almost there. We’re going to meet our baby soon!”

Apparently, Donna actually believes this.

She is either so naive, or so desperate for praise, that she thinks people give her personal choice more than one micro-second of interest. The teacher was no more impressed with her pretend “achievement” than anyone who claimed to be impressed with my decision to raise four children. In both cases, the people expressing how “impressed” they were, were not impressed in the least. They had the opportunity to make the same choices and they chose not to because it wasn’t right for them and their families. They are really saying: “I’m impressed that choice worked for you, but it’s the last thing I would ever want to do.”

Ditto for the idea that if “Donna can do it, so can I.” You’d have to be pretty ignorant to be unaware of the fact that ANY woman could have an unmedicated childbirth, most of the mothers who ever existed have already had an unmedicated childbirth, and most of the women laboring around the world each and every day have unmedicated childbirth. When women say, “I could never do that.” they mean “I would never do that; it doesn’t impress me in the least and has absolutely no appeal for me.”

Maybe this is the reason why NCB advocates congregate at websites and message boards that ban anyone who disagrees. They thrive on the illusion that someone, anyone, is impressed with their pretend “achievement” and can’t bear the reality that the overwhelming majority of people couldn’t care less.

  • sdsures

    Eugh, the idea of my MIL or mom insisting I have a NCB is just…creepy. I know my mom would never suggest such a thing because she knows my medical history would make doing it insane, and I know my MIL might think it, but under strict orders from my hubby would keep her mouth shut.

    MIL home-birthed her younger son; my hubby is the elder. Both were large babies, and hubby was checked out at age 15 for Marfan’s – thankfully negative. He has the skeletal features, but thankfully no other problems.

    I think that in general parents want to be helpful and offer their own experiences in the spirit of wisdom and encouragement, which can be great once the kid is out of you and you’re raising it. But not so much with the WAY the kid gets out of you. That seriously squicks me out.

  • Brooke

    Cool story bro, but I don’t think anyone is going through natural labor to impress you. Their probably doing it because they feel as if it’s the best decision for them and their baby/don’t want to repeat experiencing the side effects of an epidural/bad hospital birth experience. I think I actually avoid making friends with other parents so I can avoid talking about this stuff.

    • CSN0116

      …I think they avoid making friends with _you_, dear.

      • Brooke

        Well if they have your same bitchy attitude that’s a plus.

        • Azuran

          Seriously honey, there is nothing here for you, just stop, go out in the real world and get some help for yourself. Watching you is just sad at this point.

          • Brooke

            I think people who cannot handle sometime disagreeing with them online without throwing a bunch of insults at them are the ones that need help hun.

          • Heidi_storage

            I agree! How aptly you have described yourself.

          • Azuran

            You come in here, in every single post out there, and disagrees with it, no matter what it’s about. You’d fine something to disagree with if there was a post about the earth orbiting around the sun. And you have nothing constructive to say about anything. And you’ve been doing this for months. So yea, totally understandable that many people have no more patience for your shit.

        • corblimeybot

          I’m sure you have a lot of IRL people dodging you because they don’t want to hear your vacuous blather about NCB nonsense. “Oh god, is that Brooke? Gotta pretend I’m on my phone.”

        • Mike Stevens

          That you Gaby?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      And yet you talk about it ad nauseum on this website, on Facebook and on Twitter. It’s your identity and that’s just sad.

      • corblimeybot

        Didn’t she “accidentally” give birth to one of her kids in her bathroom?

      • Brooke

        No what’s sad is that this blog has become your career ” Dr” Amy.

        You’re right in that I have given this blog way too much of my time but seeing how easy it is to get under your skin is encouraging.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          What’s sad about fighting anti-science, easing guilt, and rejecting sexism?

        • CSN0116

          What is _your_ career, Brooke? No, seriously, what the fuck do you do for a living? Because you don’t seem fit to meander in society. You’re radical at every turn, combative, off-putting, and stereotype soooo easy that it’s laughable.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            All indications is that she should be out of high school by now. Probably.

        • Azuran

          Oh wow, a retired OB chooses to spend her free time doing a blog about obstetric to help educate people and give support to those in need.
          So very sad.
          Like my retired grandmother, who now does charity work helping the elderly, after working as a nurse in elderly care for 35 years.
          So sad when people stay productive members of society when they don’t ‘have’ to.

          Tell me, I’m curious as well, what is your career? What are you doing to improve society?

    • corblimeybot

      Hey resident asswipe. I’ve had to quit talking to multiple “friends” because they are SO VERY VERY invested in their unmedicated labor. They NEED other people to tell them they’re stronger and better than other women because they didn’t use pain relief in labor. It’s super important to them. They mention it whenever childbirth comes up, whenever their children’s birthdays roll around, just for no reason at all!

    • Bombshellrisa

      “It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere,
      I’m all alone, more or less.
      Let me fly, far away from here,
      Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

      I want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose,
      Drinking fresh, mango juice,
      Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes,
      Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun,
      Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

      I’ll pack my bags and head into hyperspace
      Velocity at time-warp speed
      Spend my days in ultraviolet rays
      Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

      We’ll lock on course straight through the universe
      You and me and the galaxy
      Reach the stage where hyper-drive’s engaged
      Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun,
      Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun”

      • demodocus

        Red Dwarf!

        • Bombshellrisa

          I worry that Red Dwarf is much too good for Brooke, but everyone else in here deserves a quality laugh (it’s on our PBS station and I really, really enjoy watching it and love that there are so many fans here)

      • Roadstergal

        I will now have that stuck in my head all day. 😀

        And maybe the Rimmer Song, too…

  • Lauren Davis

    Ps- you must want people to be impressed with your Harvard degree or else you wouldn’t be advertising it, right?

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Do you really think having sex and having the resultant baby travel through your vagina is more impressive than a Harvard degree?

      • MissMary

        I actually think she does.

  • Lauren Davis

    What gives you the right to determine what one’s achievement is or is not? Your article is extremely offensive. Would you belittle a man for being proud of completing a marathon? You clearly don’t understand what natural childbirth is all about and have no business commenting on it. You only prove that women cutting other women down is still a problem. I did not have my son naturally to “impress” others; as his mother I believe it was the best thing for us. And yes, I am proud of myself that I was able to give birth naturally because it was beautiful. Spare the world of your judgements.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Completing a marathon takes training and dedication. Giving birth takes nothing…other than good luck. That baby is coming out, one way or another. If your pelvis is big enough, it’s coming out vaginally…with or without pain meds. Even if you’re unconscious, that baby will come out vaginally. If your pelvis is not big enough and you are fortunate enough to live in a country with adequate medical resources, it’s coming out via c-section.

      It’s not an achievement. It’s biology. I’ve given birth vaginally and I’ve run several marathons. The marathons were tougher.

    • demodocus

      I can’t run a marathon, or even a 50 yard sprint. I did however just give birth to my second child. Some are pleased for us, but no one is impressed. Some people do go on and on about their children’s births as if we *should* be impressed, and those are the ones Dr. A is talking about. Dr. A is saying that this Donna person doesn’t seem to realize people are giving her polite fictions rather than actually being impressed by her decisions.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      And then everyone clapped including my cat and her pet dragon.

    • Ennis Demeter

      Giving birth IS an achievement. It’s more of an achievement than running a marathon. It’s just really misogynist to encourage women to suffer terrible pain to do it. The pain is not an achievement. Women suffering is not an achievement.

      • Roadstergal

        It’s like boasting that you ran a marathon without shoes. Um, good for you? I don’t think it’s less of an achievement to run one with shoes, just less painful. :p

        • sdsures

          It’s like she wants everyone to say, “Congratulations! You’re the BESTEST EVER masochist!”

      • Misty

        No, it’s not more of an achievement than running a marathon. The average women can give birth. The average woman cannot run a marathon.

        -From a woman who has given birth three times, twice without an epi because the baby came too fast and cannot run a marathon. I just did a 5K though so yay me.

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