What is a “healing” birth and why would you need one?

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Natural childbirth advocates, help me out here. I’ve read many times about women having a “healing” birth after a previous C-section or a “healing” homebirth. What is a “healing” birth and, more importantly, why would you need one?

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of heal is:

[T]o make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.

I guess my real question then is: What was unhealthy, unsound or broken after having a C-section?

Was your body broken? Your spirit? Your self image?

Where did you get the idea that any or all of these things were broken by having something other than an unmedicated vaginal birth without interventions?

I’m sure it was not from your obstetrician, because obstetricians view C-sections as life saving procedures, not a sign of “broken-ness” of the women who have them. It couldn’t have been the nurses at the hospital, since they couldn’t care less how your baby was born. I suspect it was not your husband or partner who convinced you that you were a lesser woman for having a C-section. He was probably thrilled to be a father and considers the method of birth to be irrelevant. I doubt it was your parents or in-laws who chastised you for the C-section, either.

So who convinced you that you were broken and needed to be healed?

I have a guess: it was the natural childbirth industry who managed to convince you that not having the birth that they have deemed ideal meant that you were broken.

How convenient for them that after the books, websites, childbirth courses, tapes, midwifery care, doula services and affirmations failed to produce their version of the ideal delivery, the fault was with YOU not with them.

How convenient (and profitable) for them that they can double down and offer you more books, websites, childbirth courses, VBAC workshops, midwifery care and doula services to help you “heal” from the stigma of being broken, the stigma that they themselves inculcated in you in the first place.

How convenient for them that at no point are they forced to re-evaluate validity of the books, websites, childbirth courses, workshops, midwifery care and doula services from which they earn their income. They are always correct; they are always ideologically pure; they are always the best mothers; YOU are the one who screwed up.

And they would never, ever have to stop bleating about “birth trauma,” which they pretend is the result of obstetric care, but is the inevitable result of natural childbirth indoctrination.

It’s just like the fashion industry. The same people who spend millions marketing the idea that thin women are better, make millions by marketing the products that will supposedly make you thin. And if your self-image and self-confidence are undermined because you failed to achieve the ideal weight, it’s YOUR fault for failing, not their fault for creating unrealistic expectations.

In the world of natural childbirth, the same people who spend their time and money marketing the ideal of the unmedicated vaginal delivery without interventions  hope to make more money from marketing their products and services that will supposedly ensure an unmedicated vaginal delivery without interventions on the next go-round. And if your self-image and self-confidence are undermined because you failed to achieve the ideal birth, it’s YOUR fault for failing, not their fault for creating unrealistic expectations.

Ina May Gaskin, the grandmother of American homebirth midwifery, is often quoted as saying:

Your body is not a lemon… Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo…

But who ever implied that having a C-section or other childbirth interventions means that your body is a lemon?

Why none other than Ina May Gaskin and her natural childbirth buddies, of course!

How convenient.

  • keepitreal

    I just gave birth via c-section to our fourth baby. I walked into the OR myself, sat myself up on the table, and started my playlist of music created by my other children. It was a happy event. Our baby was born healthy and arrived safely. Only healing needed here was the kind that all women experience after the birth experience, be that a vagina that may have tears, or, worse yet, fistulas, or an abdominal incision. Only gratitude and celebration for a live and healthy baby and an excellent medical team 🙂 Oh! It was really nice to get a ‘state of the uterus’ report as well. Everything looked awesome–after 4 c-sections, and, should I want #5, no probs!

    • fiftyfifty1

      Congrats on your new baby!

      • keepitreal

        Thank you! 🙂

  • HealingBirthAdvocate

    When you are taken out of the equation of your own birthing experience and are silenced during the process by your care providers, it’s traumatizing. Your spirit can absolutely feel broken after an experience like that. Unnecessary interventions often leading to unnecessary c-sections. A lot of women are fine with having a RCS because they know better on how to keep themselves heard. They get the support they need (their spouse, partner, or doula) and are more involved with the process. Being treated as less than a human being during a pivotal experience in your life is the issue. Also, it really is possible for a RCS to be a “healing birth”.

    • sdsures

      Other medical procedures are not touted as “healing”.

  • moto_librarian

    My first birth was traumatic in the sense that I had that moment where I thought that I might be dying. I still remember the intensity of the pain, the feeling of weaving in and out of consciousness, and (finally) the blessed relief of fentanyl after they were able to run the I.V. I replayed the events in my mind for several weeks obsessively, and for at least a year, I was certain that I would never, ever decide to go through it again. When we decided to have a second child, I dreaded labor and delivery. To me, it wasn’t a “do-over” but an obstacle to be surmounted so we could have another child. Thanks to compassionate providers and an amazing epidural, it was a completely different experience the second time. I guess some people would call it “healing,” but to me, it was simply a relief to have it go smoothly without complications. I achieved my goal for labor and delivery both times; I have two happy, healthy boys. That is what it is all about.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    I’m another person whose body is “broken”, i.e. unable to have a child vaginally or at least unable to have the child I was carrying vaginally. I found the birth somewhat traumatic for a couple of reasons.

    First, I was flat out freaked out about the fact that I would have died if someone hadn’t helped me. It’s a little creepy for someone who is likes to think of herself as independent to have her nose rubbed in needing help that badly. It was, incidentally, the first time in my life that I would definitely have died without medical care. I found that fact disturbing, but that’s hardly the fault of the caretakers. I eventually simply reframed the whole experience in my mind as “made my saving roll”, i.e. I did ok because I put myself in a situation where I would get care if I needed it–and I did.

    Second, it hurt. I didn’t experience “rushes” or “pressure” or “intense sensation”, I experienced the worst pain of my life. Granted, I had dysfunctional labor and probably have a low pain threshold as well, but it was bad enough that I couldn’t do much but scream. The reason it was not a horrific torture was that the people around me were treating me sympathetically and not minimizing my pain or treating me as hysterical.

    I don’t need to feel that my body is not a lemon. It kind of is, with respect to reproduction: I had a hard time getting pregnant and a fatal without technology delivery. So what? What I need is to feel that there are people around me who can deal with my lemony body and not treat me as in some way worth less because of it.

    • Jessica S.

      Great story, I really like how you reframed it for yourself. I think that is so key.

  • Who?

    Does some of this come out of the same space occupied by Bridezillas? They plan and execute the perfect wedding-every moment from the proposal coreographed, perfect ring(s), hair, dress, makeup, grooming, venue, food, honeymoon, gifts etc. It sometimes feels like the actual marriage is a bit of an afterthought and maybe even a letdown.

    Birth is framed as another consumer opportunity. On the one hand are medical professionals who can’t guarantee to do one thing or another, except to provide the standard of care in line with the new mother’s wishes; on the other is the NCB thinking that feeding concepts like ’empowerment’ and ‘education’ while setting up unreasonable expectations.

    The devastation of it not going ‘as planned’-when the plan was never realistic-is real. Is it trauma though? I’m not sure, especially when both mum and baby are well. Enough bad things happen to good people doing their best and minding their own business without creating a space for disappointed consumer expectations, especially when those disappointed expectations are accorded the same acknowledgement as actual tragedies.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      Does some of this come out of the same space occupied by Bridezillas?

      yep

      • Jessica S.

        I concur, and said as much to my husband last night. The labor and birth of your child is simply not a good time to place a lot of hope for some “perfect” moment. There’s too much important stuff to be dealt with, never mind the pain and exhaustion. At first I thought, at least postpone that expectation of the “special” moment for when you get home. But I though, when? To the sleepless nights and restless days and fog of trying to figure this creature out? I walked myself up through my son’s age and realized, huh – there is no optimal time for a “perfect” moment. In my view, it’s best not to expect anything and to hold lightly to plans, in an effort to avoid undue suffering.

        • Ob in OZ

          well said

  • Sabrina Hunt

    The only healing birth I want, is one where my child isn’t stillborn. You need to heal from the trauma of ‘natural childbirth’ too; I had an emergency C-section, because I’d had a complete placental abruption that resulted in the death of my daughter at 35w+3. There was no reason for this to happen. If I was to have another child and want a ‘healing’ birth, to me, that would mean a repeat c-section, as it would be too traumatic for me, to wait those last few weeks, the ones I didn’t get with my daughter, waiting to go into labor, waiting and hoping that the next day I waited wouldn’t be her last…

    • AllieFoyle

      I’m so sorry.

      • Sabrina Hunt

        Thank you… It just underlines the importance of correctly defining words. With my first, I had a spinal block, but I wasn’t upset that I didn’t feel as much pain as I could have; I was just happy he was ok. It was not a traumatic event, just because I ended up asking for meds… I am really tired of One group of people trying to say what is right for Everyone, in any context, but especially when it comes to childbirth.
        Would I have chosen a c-section before I lost my daughter? If I had to. Why you ask? Because it’s not about my health (so much) & how I Feel about the experience, it’s about the Child and them being Born, ALIVE! Whatever it takes to get to that is FINE!

        • Bombshellrisa

          I am so sorry you have to write this from experiencing this pain firsthand. I have not had a stillborn, but I have two friends who have had to endure the pain of stillborn babies. Two beautiful little baby girls. Both of my friends have moved on to have children, but it wasn’t so much the birth that healed, I guess it was the chance to finally be a mother.

          • AmyP

            “Both of my friends have moved on to have children, but it wasn’t so much the birth that healed, I guess it was the chance to finally be a mother.”

            That’s a very good distinction.

          • sdsures

            An excellent one, I’d say.

    • AmyP

      That’s so sad.

    • Jessica S.

      I’m so sorry, Sabrina. I can’t imagine bearing that pain. There is no salve strong enough.

    • OldTimeRN

      I’m so sorry. My heart breaks for you.

    • prolifefeminist

      I’m so sorry too, Sabrina. That’s so sad.

    • moto_librarian

      I am so very sorry that you lost your daughter, Sabrina.

    • sdsures

      I’m sorry about your daughter.

  • AllieFoyle

    I don’t think the question being asked in this post is intended seriously, but I’m going to answer it that way because I think it deserves a serious answer.

    What is broken and needs to be healed is a woman’s psychological health. A healing experience is one in which she is treated with dignity and respect and allowed to exercise autonomy over her own body.

    Studies suggest that between 1 and 3% of women of women suffer from PTSD after childbirth. PTSD is not a joke or a made up illness. It’s real and it’s devastating. Think about the many other women who are suffering sub-clinical traumatic reactions, or those whose PPD or PPA is exacerbated by childbirth factors. How can anyone who claims to care about pregnant women and their health ignore and minimize this? Who wouldn’t want to do everything they can to ensure that maternal mental health is a priority and that every mother is treated as well as possible so that she has the best possible chance of starting motherhood off on a positive note?

    You want this to be only about an imaginary subset of women who are white and over-privileged; you want their disappointment to be limited to something akin to a petty disappointment. You are missing the real story. Women are traumatized and hurt, feel violated, disrespected, treated with less dignity than other people, simply because they are pregnant women. Birth is an intense, life-changing event in any woman’s life. It can be traumatic in and of itself. Stop joking about and minimizing psychological trauma. It’s real; it’s common; it causes suffering. It’s 2014. Anyone who believes that psychological suffering doesn’t matter belongs in another century. Any health care professional who doesn’t believe that it matters when patients are traumatized by their care belongs in another line of work. Knowledge, understanding, and compassion instead of ignorance, indifference, and mocking.

    • Sabrina Hunt

      Tell me, have you compared the instances of PTSD in post-partum women with the percentage of stillbirth? If not, you have no basis in fact.

      • AllieFoyle

        Yes, researchers look at factors that can be associated with PTSD, and stillbirth and other serious complications to mother or baby appear to increase the chances of a woman developing it. There are other factors as well.

        • Sabrina Hunt

          I’m wondering, if the stillbirth rate is 1-3% of pregnancies and the PTSD rate is also 1-3%, how you feel they differentiate? You stated “stillbirth and other serious complications to mother or baby appear to increase the chances of a woman developing it. ” Appear? APPEAR?? How can you even say that? You’re saying that there a a lot of women who would have a stillborn child and Not be traumatized? I do not know 1 angel mother who does Not have PTSD. It is not a normal, observable or common event for people to develop PTSD based solely on giving birth not quite in the way they wanted, but they still had a live baby…. I would be interested to see the research you’ve looked at.

          • Medwife

            I don’t think anyone commenting here would say that losing a baby is anything less than the most devastating possible outcome of childbirth for any sane woman. I would say that post-traumatic stress disorder is one outcome of having a baby loss and that though the word “traumatic” is in it, there are other ways to show trauma than to develop PTSD. I don’t know if PTSD occurs in every single babyloss parent, and not only babyloss parents experience PTSD.

            I am very sorry for the loss of your baby.

          • Sabrina Hunt

            The thing is, I’m speaking from experience. I do know the statistics and if they’re going to misapplied, I will say something. I have never heard of, and have asked for the research to see, an actual PTSD Diagnosis from a regular childbirth experience. And by regular, I mean that Mother & Baby were never in a Life or Death situation. I have heard of hard labors; c-sections that weren’t wanted.. but I think you all are putting PTSD Diagnoses where they are not. It is a sad thing that people like me and soldiers and victims of actual trauma have to deal with others who think a little bit of stress or small amount of “not quite enough respect” is traumatic enough for a PTSD diagnosis. I have become very vocal and very educated on all of these issues since I lost my daughter 10 months ago…

          • Medwife

            It’s true, “PTSD” gets thrown around a lot, and it minimizes the experience of people who actually suffer from the disorder. It must be frustrating for someone who truly have it. 10 months ago… I know a lot of women feel pressure to “move on” in a few months time. That’s ridiculous. I’m just so sorry for everything you’re going through.

          • sdsures

            It’s true, there is a clinical list of symptoms which a patient must have x or more of to meet the criteria. There just have to be a set minimum of criteria. Otherwise, anyone and everyone could legitimately claim to have it.

          • sdsures

            One of the things about working with statistics, as it applies in ANY field, is not that there’s something wrong with the stats themselves – it’s the way they are interpreted. Unfortunately, very often because the people interpreting them don’t know what they’re doing (i.e. journalists rather than statisticians), the interpretation is incorrect. There will be nothing wrong with the raw numbers in and of themselves.

          • AllieFoyle

            “Appear” is just a way of expressing that two things seem to have a relationship. In research, unless you do a specific type of experiment (which would you could never do because it would be unethical) you can’t say for sure that one thing causes the other.

            It’s true that not everyone who loses a baby will develop PTSD, though I imagine it greatly increases the risk, and that people who have healthy babies can develop it. It’s a mental illness that sometimes develops after an experience in which a person fears for her life or bodily integrity (or someone else’s). My concern is that maternal mental health be taken seriously because it can affect a woman and her family profoundly and for a long time.

            Losing a baby a birth is one of the worst things anyone can imagine. It’s heartbreaking to think of anyone going through that devastation. There are no adequate words to express how sorry I am that you or anyone else has had to go through that.

    • Medwife

      I do think the fact that dr amy is not practicing colors her posts. Sometimes the distance is beneficial for the discussion- she doesn’t have to worry about HIPAA, for example. But I think seeing patients day to day makes a person a little more forgiving.

      • AllieFoyle

        I think understanding of and attitudes toward mental illness and psychological health have evolved a lot in the last decade or so too.

    • OldTimeRN

      I don’t doubt patients are traumatized from their births experiences to their knee replacements. But the answer isn’t to go find the local CNM because they’ll allow you do whatever they want just like you wouldn’t go to the local barber to repair your knee.

      Find a new do for. Find a new hospital. There are safe options out there. Doctors and nurses aren’t mind readers. Some patients like to suffer in silence, never voicing displeasure. Then complain about it later. Or they want or have unrealistic goals or needs.

      • prolifefeminist

        I think the problem is that traumatic birth experiences give NCB/HB advocates the perfect opening. The promise of a “gentle, safe birth” is all the more appealing after a tough experience. I think insensitive care providers need to take responsibility for the role they play in giving women a reason to listen to NCB claims.

        • OldTimeRN

          Yes I can agree with this. Not all caregivers are warm and fuzzy. But sometimes perception plays a role. Like the conversation below. Dr says “pelvic is small” patient hears “I’m broken”. Nurse says “your baby has a 10% weight loss” patient hears “the nurses want to give my baby formula, my breastfeeding is ruined”

        • sdsures

          How many people (previously believing in NCB/HB) speak up negatively after a traumatic NCB/HB experience regarding the trauma that is attributed to hospital births?

    • sapphiremind

      I see lots of moms who end up with PTSD. It’s not because they didn’t get to birth in their perfect way, it’s because they thought their pregnancy was going fine, then something happened and they delivered emergently or got life-flighted to a larger hospital to deliver, and their children nearly died or did die. I’ve seen women have to experience the first part of a c-section conscious without adequate pain relief because the general anesthesia hasn’t taken effect yet and the baby is dying. I was in a delivery where the baby was delivered ok, then there was an unknown placental increta and mom almost died. I know parents who have a hard time coming back into the NICU after one of their multiples (or many of their multiples) have died.

      Not because soothing music wasn’t playing on their mp3 player and they ended up needing a c/s that everyone came out of well.

      • AllieFoyle

        Of course. It’s by definition a reaction to an experience in which you feel your life or bodily integrity (or someone else’s) is threatened. It’s an involuntary reaction to a situation that is out of the person’s control, and it relates to a change in the way the brain processes memories, emotions, and physiological arousal for a long time afterward. Whether or not an individual gets PTSD from a given situation is variable, and depends upon personal characteristics, past experiences of trauma, and elements of the event itself and the way in which the person perceived it. It isn’t a trauma contest. The person who suffers from PTSD did not necessarily have an objectively worse experience than someone in a similar situation who does not. It’s just that it’s a legitimate cause of suffering and deserves to be taken seriously. If women claim that their experiences stay with them and affect them to the point that they feel the need for healing, the thing for anyone who is genuinely interested in improving maternity care to do is to listen, try to understand, and see what can be done to improve things so that women are less likely to have that experience, and improve supports for women who do.

        Dismissing birth trauma as “bleating” or pretending that it’s a phenomenon that is limited to spoiled whiners who are overreacting to a minor disappointment is cruel and counterproductive. Why bother asking the question if you aren’t really interested in the answer?

        • Amy M

          Exactly. Personally, I wasn’t traumatized by the pph I experienced. It was highly unpleasant and scary, and I wouldn’t want to repeat it, but I wasn’t left with nightmares and reliving the scene, etc. However, another woman in the same situation might have ended up with PTSD, and if so, she should be helped, not belitted or dismissed because some women get through pph unscathed.

        • sapphiremind

          I didn’t ask the question – but the question to me is more: Are people who are building birth up to needing to be this magical vaginal experience doing more to create PTSD than the fact that they have to have a CS

          • Jessica S.

            This is SO KEY. It really comes down to this. If someone has trauma b/c of misplaced expectations, they should still get help for those emotions, to work through it. In those cases, the answer is not looking to see how we can better support women in childbirth, not if what occurred during what they perceived as a traumatic experience was all necessary and normal – it is their expectations that need altering.

            However, I know that there are cases where women are treated poorly and it has nothing to do with ideology. Those cases should be handled, not only with appropriate help dealing with traumatic emotions, but also through reporting the issues to the hospital, etc.

            It’s crucial to let people feel how they feel, when they feel it, but it’s also important not to misplace where the trauma originated – in some cases, it was set-up through unrealistic expectations or beliefs that are based on misinformation. Still valid emotions, but the medical establishment doesn’t need to change in those instances.

          • Ob in OZ

            yes, again and again.Worse yet is that there are many patients whom have no interest in this nonsnse and yet natural birth is being forced upon them and they suffer the consequences. “you’re doing great, you don’t need that episural you asked for two hours ago”, “Don’t feel too bad. After all, you did get to fully and push before they made you have a c-section”. Tou know what a healing birth will be for this patient? A planned repeat c-section based on HER decision and I will bet anything she will be happy with the outcome.

        • Josie

          I think you are of very few compassionate people on this comment board. Thank you. Women matter.

        • fiftyfifty1

          It seems to me that if a person claims that they have birth trauma due to interventions and that they went on to experience a natural “healing birth” that they didn’t really have significant trauma to begin with. The reason I say this is how many other causes of PTSD can be “healed” by a do-over?

          If a soldier gets PTSD during a traumatic deployment, will a calm deployment “heal” his or her PTSD? No.

          If you get raped on a date, can you just go on another date with a nice guy who is respectful and get “healed”? No.

          If your parents are abusive, will getting adopted by a non-abusive set be a magical healing experience? No.

          Saying that having a natural birth following one that had interventions is “healing” is more akin to the experience of not making the varsity soccer team your first year, but making in on your second try. The only real “trauma” was to your pride. That’s why it’s so easy to “heal”. Real trauma ain’t nothing like that.

    • Hooligan

      I think you missed the point. You don’t have to have ANOTHER birth as a “healing” birth because the last one was traumatic. And yes, PPD and other psychological disorders are REAL. No one is saying different. She is making the point that you don’t “heal” from one birth by having another. That’s just foolish. And actually, I have read and spoken with many overprivileged women who DO liken their petty disappointments to “trauma”. Trauma is having your baby stuck inside you and riding a goat cart to the nearest hospital, 4 hours away, and praying you don’t die on the way there. Trauma is no surgeon, no c-section because the hospital doesn’t have an adequate surgical suite, or is out of meds or supplies or there is no anesthetist available. Trauma is suffering fistula because of improper care and no follow up. YOU’re talking about first world problems, where women only die because they buy into a ridiculous ideology that says women have amazing birthing powers if you only believe. That if you “trust birth” enough, you’ll be just fine, and if you’re fearful, you’ll do poorly, but if you’re a birthing warrior, you’ll be amazing, and hey, if you film it, maybe even famous! Trauma is not these things -having a “mean” nurse. Having a dr. check you during a contraction to see if you’re ready to push. Trauma is NOT having an IV placed to save your life faster if something goes wrong and you need meds immediately. Trauma is not having the option of an IV and no meds available. Trauma is life-threatening, NOT idealistic woo-fantasy birth-interrupted. So if the Dr. tells you you can’t burn candles and incense in the hospital room, that’s not TRAUMA… that’s a reasonable precaution against fire. If a nurse suggests you get an IV placed, she’s not traumatizing you. She’s trying to make sure she has tools in place to SAVE your whiny ass should you need it. And here’s the amazing part. They’ll try to help save you, even while you’re being a sanctimonious hipster woo-filled know-it-all snob who can’t be bothered to follow protocol to save your life or your baby’s life, should the need arise. They’ll tolerate your alternative, organic, non-gmo ass, and talk shit about you later in the break room, but to your face, they’ll still be polite and tolerate your BS so that you and your baby come out alive. “Knowledge, understanding, and compassion instead of ignorance, indifference, and mocking” <— just as soon as you pull your head out of your own ass, you'll get what you're looking for. I promise!

      • sdsures

        Well said!

    • sdsures

      Practically speaking, I wonder if there is enough mental health support delegated to sufferers of PPD. We all know that the mental health profession is stretched thin as it is, and when you need help, it can often take months to be seen.

      In that case, it makes me wonder if many sufferers of PPD are simply being overlooked.

    • Busbus

      I get your point, and it is an issue to be taken seriously, especially when someone is really suffering. However, I think that NCB promotes memes that make it more likely someone will suffer psychologically after giving birth.

      I am not from the US, and maybe this makes a difference. But I had never even heard of the IDEA that someone would feel “broken” after a c-section until I came in contact with American NCB. What sick definition of worth is this, anyway?

      I have this NCB-book at home called “Birthing from Within”. The whole book is full of stories of women who felt separated, violated and alone during their medicated births, after having accepted an epidural or a c-section (one of those horror stories, ironically, is in the chapter on “compassionate use of labor anesthesia”). There is not a single story in the book about a woman who had a birth that was not all natural and who was still happy with her experience.

      Clearly, this does not represent the experiences of many, many women who give birth in a hospital. But this is a book that is meant for first-time mothers. Any mother who reads this book is must come away believing that “that’s how it is” or “that’s how it’s going to be if I need an epidural.” In effect, she is being primed to experience anything but an all-natural birth as alienating and maybe even traumatic, because that is what she has been told to expect.

      Culture makes a huge difference in how we perceive and work through our experiences. In the same way that I reject memes that tell a woman that she is “worthless” or “ruined” after being raped, I reject memes that tell women that they are “broken” after having required some medical intervention during the birth of their child. The answer to such cultural constructs is not to help you find something else that will finally prove to yourself or the world that you are not “ruined” after a rape or “broken” after a c-section. That would imply that you have accepted those damaging messages in the first place. The answer is to reject these messages – and the underlying philosophy – outright, once and for all.

      • AllieFoyle

        Oh, I agree with you. I think I actually threw that book across the room when I was pregnant. Or maybe it was Spiritual Midwifery.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        However, I think that NCB promotes memes that make it more likely someone will suffer psychologically after giving birth.

        This isn’t even in question. Ina May and her ilk sell the idea that “your body is a lemon” and whatnot. However, who is calling anyone’s body a lemon if you have a c-section. That’s Ina May, not doctors.

        Who thinks that getting an epidural means you are weak? Not anesthesiologists or the nurses who keep offering it to you as you are screaming in pain.

        The NCB crowd is the one who focuses on “variations of normal” but insist that normal only includes vaginal delivery. Doctors are the ones who will say that having a c-section to prevent a problem is a perfectly normal thing to do. It is the NCB crowd that is claiming it is not normal.

        Lactivists are the ones who obsess over exclusive breastfeeding forever. They see a woman who has beat herself up for months doing everything she can, but adding in formula as a supplement and tell her she failed because she didn’t try hard enough. Doctors see her and say, wow, congratulations on all your success!

        Yeah, where are women getting the idea that they are failures or broken? Certainly not from doctors.

        • Geusteleh

          I recently read that the reason why The Farm did homebirths is because they couldn’t afford medical care. So the whole thing has been complete fucking bullshit to begin with.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Yep, Ina May’s “your body is not a lemon” is total marketing pitch.

      • AllieFoyle

        The thing I would say though, is that there is a difference between a cultural construction and an individual’s psychological response. For example, someone could be a feminist and intellectually reject the idea of rape rendering women ruined or worthless, but still feel deep pain and shame after being raped herself. A compassionate society rejects regressive misogynist ideas but also recognizes and works to alleviate individual suffering.

  • Anna T

    The way I see it, “healing birth” isn’t supposed to mean that one conceives a baby just to have a good birth experience, or that one puts the birth experience before safety (such as a VBAC at home). However, if safety is preserved, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the current birth experience being better than last time. Actually, IMHO it’s pretty wonderful if the woman is able to say, “I felt so much better this time!”

    It isn’t selfish to want to feel good before, during and after birth. The baby, actually the whole family, benefits if the mom feels good and recovers quickly.

    I like to think that a birth to motherhood is like a wedding to a marriage. Obviously the most important thing is to have a good marriage (live, healthy mom and baby), but the memories from your wedding day (the birth of your baby) will last forever, so they matter too. And sometimes it’s the tiniest thing that makes a difference, such as a caregiver who treats you with respect and dignity and actually discusses your options with you.

    So what is a “healing” experience (not necessarily birth) in my opinion? Repeating something that was unpleasant, perhaps even traumatic last time, sometimes because you have to do it… and discovering, along the way, that it isn’t as bad as it was last time. That perhaps it’s even actually pretty good.

    Just an example… imagine you were involved in a car accident. Suppose nobody died or was seriously injured, thank God. But you keep recalling the incident, replaying it in your mind. You lay awake at night wondering what could have been done differently. You lose confidence of ever being able to sit behind the wheel again. And when you talk about how you feel, people hush you up: “think about all the poor people who lost loved ones to car accidents, or came out permanently injured, or even died. You are so lucky to still have your life and health.”

    For a long time, you avoid sitting behind the wheel. But then a moment comes when you can no longer postpone it. Perhaps you have moved to an area with no public transportation. Perhaps you can no longer rely on your husband to do all the driving. Either way, you begin to drive again. You approach this task very gravely. You are serious and collected. You turn off your phone whenever you get in the car so you don’t get distracted. After a while, you regain your confidence as a driver.

    So, perhaps you weren’t truly “broken”, but I see it as a “healing” experience.

    Or perhaps you had a failed, semi-abusive relationship, and now you are in a loving marriage. Or perhaps a child thinks of himself as “dumb” and doesn’t want to learn, but blossoms under another way of education. This, too, is a “healing” experience. I could go on and on, but… it’s getting late…

    Sometimes, things go badly for us, or we just experience them in a bad way.

    And if sometime in the future we have to do those things again and they feel/work out better the second time around, it makes a shift in the bad memories from the first time. It makes us realize that particular bad memory wasn’t the end of story; there was a part 2, which was better. And that is good and healthy for us, as human beings. Not just with birth, but in many instances in life in general.

    • AllieFoyle

      Well said.

    • sdsures

      “So, perhaps you weren’t truly “broken”, but I see it as a “healing” experience.”

      You’re not suggesting a car-accident survivor deliberately try and get into another, are you?

      I would assume not, but I do understand the point you’re trying to make. Personally, I don’t think “healing” is quite the right term. Or maybe it works only with certain metaphors. Maybe the word is too New-Agey for me.

      Another example might be with therapy for phobias. There are different ways of therapeutically helping patients who suffer from crippling phobias: gradual exposure (generally favoured), all the way through to the rather unhelpful (IMO) method of “flooding”.

  • Babychu

    I don’t think people that are antagonistic towards NCB culture will ever understand this nor want to understand it because they think it would somehow give points to NCB.

    Separate the baby from the experience. When th about a healing birth many mean a healing experience. That is why people have “healing” ERCSs. Because the experience helped to overcome a past negative experience It is very simple and I am not sure why people dont get it.

    Some project it onto the baby, but many don’t. They just want a better birth.

    And yes, doctors routinely tell women they are “broken”. “you’ll never have a vaginal birth”, “small pelvis”, “won’t ever dialate on your own”. All this is to tell a woman her body is incapable of birthing a child without medical intervention. An a lot of these women have gone on to have successful VBACs multiple times with other providers, or in homebirth settings.

    And then unlike getting your tooth pulled like so many people want to compare this to, birthing a child isnt a medical procedures, it is a mjor life event and a major life mileatone to some women. Why would they not want it to me an enjoyable, peaceful experience however they picture that. I ehole heartedly believe the medical professional, by not recognizing this, are driving women to take risk outside of the hospital and right into the arms of the NCB folks. I speak as one of them. My fiest hospital birth was so awful I immediately hit the internet to find out what the hell just haooened, why was I treated so poorly, and that led me to NCB, evil obs, evil hospital.

    And to Dr Amy about it being a race, wealth thing. I am black and the hospital I went to served a larger poorer population of various people of color but mainly chinese and I 100% believe when I walked in I was just another no nothing run of the mill dumb ghetto poor person to them and was talked down to and treated as such. And my husband is hispanic and got it too. Black and brown people want birth respect too. All people should be respected at birth.

    My last birth was a failed vbac attempt, cord compression. It was emergent anf chaoti but from the OB down to the anesthesiologists and the person who picked up my trash in my room I was treated with respect. Even in the midst of the panic my OBs bedside manner was awesome. sorry for typos

    • AmyP

      “Why would they not want it to me an enjoyable, peaceful experience however they picture that.”

      As peaceful and enjoyable as possible, under the circumstances.

      But experienced mothers from the dawn of time up until around 1970 would have hooted with laughter at the very idea of childbirth being peaceful and enjoyable. Historically, childbirth has always been regarded as a dangerous ordeal to be endured, rather than some sort of spa day.

      • UsernameError

        “Doctors routinely tell women their bodies are ‘broken'” I have never heard the word broken out of an OB’s mouth, but you know what, some women really can’t procreate at all, or easily. Why is it that for some women their entire self worth is wrapped up in how easily they have a baby? My body is “broken” if you will because I’m a high risk pregnancy. I have had 2 preemies, an IUGR, I’m rh sensitized, have SLE, and develop ICP. Am I supposed to think the OB who tells me these things and what my risk factors are is a jerk because he is telling me I’m “broken.” That’s really just the silliest, most immature thought process. Sorry, but it is. And it is pushed upon women by this ridiculous NCB movement. I don’t view myself as broken, I view myself as being very blessed to have healthy children at all, thanks to medical care.

        • sapphiremind

          I’m also “broken” I went into labor at 19 weeks with both pregnancies. I delivered preterm. My OB telling me that it was likely to happen with subsequent pregnancies wasn’t mean, insulting or a failure of me as a woman – it meant I have a health condition. I have several. This one involves being able to stay pregnant. But it’s the idealization that causes the feelings of failure, if anything. Otherwise, it’s just a fact about your body and that’s that.

        • Amy M

          Yeah me too. I couldn’t get pregnant wo/medical intervention–so what? I wear glasses to see. I have asthma too. If we lived in prehistoric times, sure I’d be long dead: of respiratory illness, or lion food. Certainly I wouldn’t have lived to reproductive age, so my inability to pass on my defective genes wouldn’t have mattered anyway! But hey, I live in modern America where I’m lucky enough to have access to medical help for all of those issues. And now, my defective genes live on in my children. I don’t think I know one person who is a perfect specimen of humanity.

      • Babychu

        So we have to live in the past? I thought that was the argumenet against the NCB movement? I mean women also didnt have fancy maternity wards and OR rooms waiting for them back in the day. Would they laugh at us for having birth in soft cushiony beds that can raise upright with a push of a button? That seems spa like to me.

        • AmyP

          It’s weird to go from:

          A (terrifying, agonizing unmedicated birth throughout nearly all of human history)

          to

          C (spa day–the current childbirth goal)

          Without making a detour to

          B (safe birth for mother and child).

          First we need to be safe and in not too much pain. Then we can worry about the trimmings.

        • Renee Martin

          Reading comprehension- she just said that moms from back in the bad old days would find it funny (or whatever) that we expect, or even demand, that birth be peaceful and enjoyable. Because it was horrific for so many back then.
          They would also be SO HAPPY that we have it better! They FOUGHT for US to have all that we have now, especially pain relief in labor, which was one of the original feminist goals.
          Laughing does not mean denigrating.

        • Jessica S.

          Birth has become safer because of the medical procedures involved. I know you don’t view birth as a medical procedure, but it takes those procedures to make it successful. It doesn’t have to be a negative or positive thing: it just is what it is.

        • Amy

          I think what AmyP is getting at is that NCB advocates are now selling birth as an experience that you should, and will enjoy. I don’t know about you, but NONE of my older female relatives think about birth as an enjoyable *experience.* Just a part of life. None of them tell a “birth story.” Their brief experience in childbirth and labor were not important, taking home a baby was. They are happy that we have modern comforts available during birth. They are happy that we have formula so that our babies don’t starve –My 87 year old grandmother had to make her own formula because my uncle wouldn’t gain weight. NCB advocates are not honest about birth conditions of yesteryear. Every woman can choose what they want to do, but we cannot pretend that birth was this wonderful experience for women until eeeevil doctors stepped in and all of a sudden made women believe birth was painful.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      And yes, doctors routinely tell women they are “broken”. “you’ll never
      have a vaginal birth”, “small pelvis”, “won’t ever dialate on your own”.
      All this is to tell a woman her body is incapable of birthing a child
      without medical intervention.

      So what if they can’t? How does that mean they are “broken”?

      • Babychu

        Broken to me something doesn’t work as it should or is caused not work as it should by injury or defect.

        I just don’t think many of you understand or care to understand or I’m clueless and have no idea what I am saying. I had a healthy baby and got treated like a peice of trash, and so far it was the worse experience of my life. I’ll just be grateful because some frontier woman back in the day would hoot and laugh.

        I have to bow out of this conversation sorry.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          But if that is the case, our bodies are broken all over the place. I challenge anyone to claim that their bodies work perfectly all the time. Jeez, the prevalence of laxative and Jamie Lee Curtis selling probiotic yogurt shows pretty clearly that “not working as it should” is the norm.

          Why is it ok to suggest that our digestive systems can’t act without help, but try to say that about having a baby and suddenly it’s a major insult?

          • AllieFoyle

            This is not about an insult or people getting their delicate feelings hurt. It’s about people feeling traumatized and disrespected when they give birth to such an extent that they suffer psychologically.

          • Sabrina Hunt

            Suffering Psychologically from childbirth? When the baby Lived? I’m sorry, but that’s crap… I’m sure there are a few instances of hospital employees being ‘not so great’, I’m living proof of that, but seriously? That is the most inane thing I’ve ever read…

          • Renee Martin

            NO ONE DENIES THIS HAPPENS.
            The question is- why is the solution idealizing birth, assuming the next one will be great because this time you will “do it right”, inserted of working through that trauma in the first place?

          • Jessica S.

            Yes, well put. Idealizing is what sets up for the disappointment and trauma.

          • AllieFoyle

            I think a lot of people are denying it, lumping women in with bridezillas and making dismissive comparisons with petty, superficial concerns.

            The solution is not to idealize birth; it’s to listen to women, understand what they experienced and how it affected them, and to give them support within the mainstream medical establishment so that they don’t feel compelled to turn to people peddling falsehoods and unsafe practices. Treat women like they matter, like their mental health and well-being as mothers and human beings is important.

        • Renee Martin

          I am pretty sure every single person so far has said that your experience was indeed horrible, totally unacceptable, inexcusable, and not OK one bit.

          Of course you are going to have a horrible experience if you are treated like trash! That is a normal reaction, and I think everyone understands this. Lots of others have had horrible experiences too.

          I think you all are talking at cross purposes.

    • Guesteleh

      Thank you for sharing. I think there are two separate issues here that are being conflated. One is the right that patients have to be treated with respect regardless of their SES, race, ethnicity or country of origin. Here’s a paper that describes the attributes of patient-centered care. It includes sensitivity to nonmedical and spiritual dimensions of care and respect for patient needs and preferences.

      What people are talking about here are affluent women who have access to high-quality care but have a consumerist approach to childbirth: the belief that because they exercise a great deal of control over most aspects of their lives they will be able to control all aspects of childbirth and that the failure to control childbirth down to the minute details represents a personal failure and an implicit loss of class status.

      I’m glad you shared your experience because I think what happened to you is by far the more important issue. It’s horrible to enter a hospital at one of the most vulnerable times of your life and be treated as less than human because of your race. It’s disgusting and needs to stop.

    • Lena

      “And yes, doctors routinely tell women they are “broken”. “you’ll never
      have a vaginal birth”, “small pelvis”, “won’t ever dialate on your own”.
      All this is to tell a woman her body is incapable of birthing a child
      without medical intervention.”

      This is the disconnect for me, and why I just can’t take NCBers seriously. So WHAT if you’re told you’re body can’t do something that others can? Why does it matter? I would have never been an Olympic athlete not matter how hard I worked for it, because I don’t have the genetics for it. That’s life, suck it up.

      As to your experience as a Black women in the hospital, I don’t doubt it for minute, and it’s exactly why I take issue with a group composed mostly of white upper middle class women bitching about “trauma” and birth statistics, when they’re the ones with the best outcomes. They’re appropriating other people’s traumatic history with the medical establishment and claiming to be the victims. It makes perfect sense to me that a woman of color fears standard medicine and would look elsewhere. But the likes of TFB and Rixa Freeze? To hell with them.

      • AllieFoyle

        This is about individuals, not demographics. I don’t know any reason why white UMC women can’t be legitimately traumatized. Women of any race or socioeconomic status can be raped, abused, beaten, sexually harassed, discriminated against, and maltreated. Anyone can suffer after trauma. Anyone can struggle with mental illness.

        (TFB, btw, is definitely not UMC, and she has discussed the fact that she has suffered from psychological issues. I don’t agree with a thing she says or does, but I think she’s an individual who has suffered, and I think the decent thing is to have compassion for someone in that situation.)

        • Bombshellrisa

          I think TFB has also mentioned she is trying to get help for her mental health issues, so she is taking some healthy steps trying to deal with things. And reading what she wrote about how she was treated trying to get that help, it sounds like she was neglected and discriminated against because she had to go through the system being Not UMC.

        • Lena

          “I don’t know any reason why white UMC women can’t be legitimately traumatized.”

          Eh, I tend to think that many of those women who are “traumatized” are so because of the NCB nonsense they let influence them. Most of them would have been just fine if they hadn’t built up an “empowering” experience in their heads beforehand. That said, of course anyone can suffer trauma, but when those UMC women are the first ones to scream about the need for reform citing statistics that primarily effect the poor and women of color, I’m not wasting sympathy on them. Because history and current events have proven time and time again that when it’s time to actually be there for WOC, their response is, “Fuck you. I got mine.”

          As for TFB, I stand corrected.

      • Lioness

        Thats racist too, Lena. Because black women is treated in a racist fashion, that means white women can’t complain when they are treated poorly?

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      The eye doctor has told me that I can’t see well without glasses. Is he telling me that I am “broken”, too? If yes, why isn’t there a big outcry against those evil optometrists for calling us all broken?

      Or if it is ok for eye doctors to tell us that our bodies need help, why is it so offensive when an OB says it?

      • Bombshellrisa

        Exactly! Where is the outrage over the diagnosis of flat feet from the podiatrist, the orthodontist telling someone they need their overbite corrected or the dentist wanting to fill a cavity?

        • Lioness

          because so often it turns out to be untrue.

    • Medwife

      I’m very glad that you were treated better at the last hospital. I have witnessed very bad behavior toward poor people and minorities, although happily not in my current workplace.

    • Paloma

      How they treated you in the first hospital is completely unacceptable and you are absolutely right about that. This should never ever happen.
      Having said that, I do not conceive birth taking the baby out away from the experience. The whole point of birth is the arrival of a baby, and I see no reason to separate one from the other. If I had the most wonderful vaginal birth ever and the baby didn’t survive it would not be a good experience. It could definitely be worse if the birth was complicated and the baby didn’t make it, but it would still be one of the worse experiences anyone could have.
      Birth is not a medical procedure BUT it is a moment that should be monitored, because of the danger it poses both to mom and baby. Trying to deny that is dangerous too. We monitor children’s growth and nobody sees it as pediatricians trying to gain power or being mean, everyone assumes we are trying to identify any problems that might arise soon so that treatment will reduce the future complications and repercussions on the child. What OBs in general do is basically the same.
      When an OB tells a patient they have a small pelvis, or that they will not be able to have a vaginal birth, the DO NOT mean that they are broken. They are simply giving the patient the best information that they can so that they can take the measures necessary to have a healthy mom and child after the pregnancy is over. If that person believes they are broken it does not mean the OB is trying to undermine them. To put it into perspective, if I tell my little brother not to jump out the window because he will hurt himself I do not mean he is broken because he can’t fly, I want to prevent him from hurting himself, but he might be offended by my statement if he has been told differently elsewhere. Granted, there are bad OBs out there, who are disrespectful and out for themselves. But that happens in every profession in this world.
      Finally, it is OK to want a vaginal birth, it is better for the mom if it is posible. In general, nobody wants an operation if they can avoid it. Doctors prefer them too, it makes our lives that much easier, and our patients heal that much better. But that does not mean a vaginal birth should be the only goal, the most important one has to be a healthy mom and healthy baby. Trying to put the experience ahead of this is irresponsible and selfish, which is why a lot of us don’t understand the concept of a “healing” birth.

    • Bombshellrisa

      “All this is to tell a woman her body is incapable of birthing a child without medical intervention” I think that is an important thing for a woman to know up front. It’s not an insult.

  • sdsures
    • Guest

      Thanks for the SPAM! Take it elsewhere. Moderator, please check this user.

      • sdsures

        I have a reason for posting it. It links from the BWF blog mentioned above, so I looked at it and found the notions on it just as ridiculous as a healing birth. Delete it if you like.

        • Susan

          I have had some patients wearing those actually.

          • Guest

            Yes, same here. Much more comfortable, no worrying about butt showing out back of gown when walking and avoids the inevitable nipple showing through the telemetry pocket slip in traditional hospital gowns or the high neck of a hospital gown feeling constrictive when in bed with an epidural and trying to change positions.

          • Medwife

            That’s a lot of money to spend on a piece of cloth you’re going to at the minimum, bleed on, and at most, puke/pee/poop/get vernix and meconium all over. I don’t get it but *shrug*

          • Bombshellrisa

            True but then you don’t have to hear the “someone might have died wearing this gown yesterday” argument from whoever is wearing it. I was going to get one for my son’s birth because it was pretty and I liked the idea but I didn’t. Oh well. I wouldn’t have had time to put the dang thing on anyway.

          • Medwife

            Wow, I never contemplated the dead body factor, and it puzzles me that it bothers some people.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I have never heard it unless it’s part of an argument against hospital birth. I have never thought about it either.

          • Jessica S.

            Oh good grief, now that’s all I’ll be thinking about in the hospital!! 😉

          • Bombshellrisa

            The gowns they use in L&D aren’t the same as the rest of the hospital-hehe, don’t worry : )

          • Jessica S.

            Oh, whew! 🙂 I’m sure I’ll have much more to worry about that day. (Which literally feels like an eternity even though it’s a little over 3 weeks away.)

          • Guest

            Good luck & best wishes for a safe birth. We were due around the same time but I had my bubba at 37 weeks (2 weeks ago). For the record, although OT, as an ongoing issue here: I was induced with both my deliveries and had no probs, with straightforward vaginal deliveries.

          • Trixie

            I never had those issues with hospital maternity gowns — I was surprised at how modest they were. Must vary from place to place.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Same here-the gowns in L&D are different from the ones in the rest of the hospital and were actually comfortable.

      • Trixie

        She’s a regular here, not a spammer.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Very real-I got these as shower presents for my friends.

      • sdsures

        Any use?

        • Bombshellrisa

          My friends used them. Someone said they were able to get their epidural with the gown on and they didn’t have their backside showing. The nurses thought they were pretty gowns and were ok with them being worn.

          • Medwife

            There’s nothing’s wrong with them, but I do think it’s a reflection of the exhibitionism of birth, that everyone has to be ready for their close-up at all times.

  • Cobalt
    • sdsures

      But it still puts the onus on a tiny, helpless baby, YOUR baby, to heal your psychological booboos. That is not fair to the baby. And what of the baby from this next birth?

      • Cobalt

        You didn’t read it. I can tell because your comment has no relation to the story.

    • Bombshellrisa

      ” I support women making a decision on their own. For being educated, supported, and believed in. That they get the kind of birth THEY want. I cannot support someone making the decision for you – someone telling you this has to happen and you just simply saying “okay”. Jessica’s first time around didn’t go at all how she planned. This time it did. She made a decision knowing all the facts. She was not TOLD she was going to have to do something she didn’t want to do. She had support, she had a birth team who advised her of the risks, but who also understood her history and tried to make it right the second time around. What I want is for every woman’s first birth to be their best birth” But again it’s making the birth of this beautiful little guy all about the experience of the mother, “trying to make it right the second time around”. It was from the prospective of the birth photographer.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        I cannot support someone making the decision for you – someone telling
        you this has to happen and you just simply saying “okay”.

        Yeah, nature has a way of doing that to you, doesn’t it?

        • Bombshellrisa

          If getting pregnant and experiencing birth taught me anything, it’s that I will not always be able to make the decision based on what is best for my feelings and that I will often just have to say “ok” and NOT like what is happening.

      • Renee Martin

        Sounds like a good experience, but healing?

  • UsernameError

    I had a traumatic pregnancy. I went in with low expectations because I’m always miserable when I’m pregnant. But I developed severe ICP and had almost constant gallbladder attacks. They refused to remove my gallbladder, and my gallbladder was attached abnormally, so I had really severe attacks. They literally lasted for 3 or 4 days. 3 or 4 days of the most intense pain you can imagine, and the hospital refused to do anything for me. They finally threw a prescription at me and told me not to come back. I was having 5 or 6 of these attacks every month. And add on top of that the horrible itching, and I was one miserable critter. After the baby was born, I honestly felt some residual trauma over that. Every time I got a stomach ache, I would panic. I was terrified to eat. Every time I left the house I took my pain pills with me, just in case.

    So we moved, and I had another gallbladder attack. I was petrified. I tried to wait it out because I knew no one would help me, but my husband bundled me up and took me to the ER anyway. They admitted me for 4 days because by then my gallbladder was such a scarred up mess they couldn’t send me home. Someone finally helped me. I can’t describe the relief.

    But yeah, I didn’t need to have another child to “heal” me. Actually, it was so bad my husband had a vasectomy and we’re not having any more. I don’t get this healing birth thing. I have children because I want children, not for some validation.

    • prolifefeminist

      That sounds positively horrible – I’m so sorry you had to go through that. 🙁

    • Karen in SC

      I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Why wasn’t your gallbladder removed? I have heard of some pregnant women who have to have that surgery. I had severe gallbladder attacks and had mine out after suffering three attacks in a year. It was before I had children and I was told that was good thing.

      • UsernameError

        They refused to remove it because I was pregnant. I asked to have it taken out, but the surgical team refused. The hospital where I finally had it taken out, was appalled. They said they remove them from pregnant women all the time. I guess the other team didn’t want the liability.

    • pinkyrn

      That is horrible. It has to be horrible to think nobody at the hospital wants or can help you.

  • Lena

    Sorry for the OT, but google’s giving me nothing and I trust Dr. Amy and the doctors who comment here:

    I’m searching for a new gyn and I came across one (male) who only accepts patients who are between the ages of 16 and 35. Can there be a valid reason for this? I was about to call the practice and ask to see what answer they come up with, but I’m too creeped out right now to keep from sounding accusatory and I don’t want to do that if there’s a reasonable explanation.

    • Offhand, without knowing more, I can’t really make a judgement, BUT, having said that, there ARE subdivisions within the OB/GYN field, just as there are orthopedists who specialize in foot or knee problems to the exclusion of other parts of the body. The doctor who actually performed my daughter’s C/S usually avoids OB like the plague — she specializes in GYN surgery, and is also disinterested in office GYN. It just happened she was the on-call doctor when my daughter arrived at L&D. I know a number of doctors whose practices are almost entirely with patients seeking fertility treatment, and yet others who are experts on women in, or after, menopause. This doctor might be particularly interested in women with reproductive problems or even a more particular concern such as gynecological cancer in young women — or he might be a weirdo. Hard to say.

      • theadequatemother

        He might just want to maximize revenue too. Younger Pts are healthier and prob take less time. And if this is the US maybe he wants to avoid Medicare Pts?

        • Lena

          Yes, in the US. Medicare wouldn’t be an issue before early 60’s unless the patient were disabled, and it looks like he accepts Medicaid (which is for those with low income), anyway. But maximizing revenue could be a factor.

        • Susan

          I was thinking that too, that it could be a money thing. Which led me more into the not so sure I would want a doctor who was so revenue centered. Most women also enjoy continuing to see the doctor who delivered their children. I’d have to have a really good reference before I saw a doctor that tailored his practice that way. I have to have a good reference for my doctors anyway!

          • Busbus

            That’s not really an answer to your question, just a gyn-experience I had recently with a doctor who only does gyn and not ob. I had had this issue (not ob related) that my pro-natural ob-gyn kept brushing off, and I finally switched doctors to another gyn who doesn’t do ob at all and has a lot of older patients. She diagnosed my problem correctly at my first appointment (I’m in my early 30s, but this Issue is more common in post-menopausal women) and I was so thankful, and I’m doing much better now. I didn’t ask her why she doesn’t do ob stuff, but it did seem to me that she was just more attuned to other issues and that maybe her personality was less suited to ob patients. I thought it was cool that she was able to (presumably) focus on what she likes best and make a good practice out of it.

            I think it’s ok for doctors to focus on something they like better or do best. However, that still doesn’t mean that this doctor is the right one for you, and if something turns you off, I’d probably listen to it. It can’t hurt to call and ask, though! (I’d be curious, too :-))

          • Medwife

            Doing OB means worse hours and more liability.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            I mentioned a doctor I know who had this kind of practice above. At the time he stopped doing OB he was in solo practice, and the malpractice insurance burden was high.

          • Lioness

            If it isn’t illegal discrimination, it should be. Is age a protected category?

      • Lena

        Thank you. I was thinking it would make sense to me if he were excluding pregnant patients over 35 because of the higher risks, but an across the board “16-35 only” rule sounds so odd without something more specific like gynecological cancers more common in young women. A quick search didn’t mention any subspecializations, just the 16-35 rule.

    • Susan

      I don’t especially like the sound of that either. I guess, it could be he just isn’t in to the gyn complaints later in life. But frankly, what does he do kick you out of the practice later? I’d have to have reason to know he isn’t a primadonna or weirdo.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        He’s an “expert in low risk birth”

        • pinkyrn

          No, he is an expert in low risk Gyn, which is kind of strange.

          • I dunno. Do GPs see nothing but exotic medical conditions? Quite the opposite. At least 90% of the time it’s rather humdrum: lots of annual checkups, sore throats, requests for prescriptions for chronic conditions like high cholesterol and diabetes equipment…
            Most office GYN is annual checkups/Pap smears, evaluation for birth control of various types, IUD insertion or removal, treatment of various kinds of vaginitis, itches and rashes, urinary tract infections, the occasional STD or request for the “morning after” Pill… and some doctors enjoy that kind of work. [CNMs have only been doing most of that in the past few years, and not everywhere]

            BTW, the TV show notwithstanding, life in the ER is pretty boring most of the time, too, such as the parents who bring their toddler at 3 a.m. with a fever he’s had for two days “because it began to worry us”. It is those few minutes of excitement, however, that occur from time to time…

          • pinkyrn

            It depends on which ER you are working in. My days in the ER have supplied me with hours of entertaining, and sometimes really bizarre, stories.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Ditto!

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        Conversely, my mother’s gynecologist doesn’t deliver babies anymore, so he doesn’t have to pay the insurance premiums. Not sure if he only cares for women who are postmenopausal or just not pregnant or what.

  • Staceyjw

    First off, this post said nothing of trauma, or the reality of it.

    However, if you had birth trauma, the way to heal this isn’t to go try for another, more ideal birth. What if the next one is even worse? Trying to heal from something by pinning the solution on an event that’s fraught with danger, and the unknown, is setting yourself up for failure.

    I cannot imagine anyone trying this with other traumatic event.
    Can anyone see a veteran wanting to go back to the front lines to heal their PTSD/trauma, or a tornado survivor wanting to do it again, in hopes of healing, or a car accident victim wanting another crash? And I do not mean the frequent desire for a do over, where they could go back to the *original* event, and do it right. This is normal, all people do this when a situation didn’t lead where they hoped it would go. I am talking about setting up the exact same event, again, and hoping it goes the way you would have had you been able to turn back the clock.

    When people actually do use the traumatic event, and recreate the original experience, over and over, we consider this unhealthy and maladaptive, no matter the motive. Think of the rape survivor, that then engages in repeated, exploitive sexual encounters; no one would say this was healthy, whether it’s understandable or not. We would have several other, healthier, ways to deal with the rape, to understand how it influences future actions, and to heal.

    In the same way, no one should be telling moms that feel traumatized (or unwhole, broken, whatever) that the solution is to just do it again. But this time, she should do it the right way, which of course insinuated she did it wrong in the first place. Instead, they should support her, listen to her, and if needed, send her for further treatment, whether professional or spiritual, or both.

    I can’t tell you how to heal, and I am sure there are those that goto lucky with this gamble.

  • prolifefeminist

    “I’m sure it was not from your obstetrician, because obstetricians view C-sections as life saving procedures, not a sign of “broken-ness” of the women who have them. It couldn’t have been the nurses at the hospital, since they couldn’t care less how your baby was born.”

    I agree with you on this, Dr. Amy, but I don’t think it’s quite as simple as this. It’s important to realize that an OB with asshole-ish bedside manners, especially when coupled with a rude nursing staff, can be all that’s needed to set someone up to be receptive to the NCB “healing birth” sales pitch. Birth, as we know, can be such a “shake up” in a woman’s life. When you’re scared, in pain, and feeling vulnerable (as plenty of women are, especially first time moms), and you end up with caregivers with crappy interpersonal skills, you can walk away from the birth feeling pretty awful, even though mom/baby are healthy. NCB completely exploits that, of course – all of the examples you give are good ones. But, I don’t think we should ignore the role that crappy OB/nursing bedside manners plays in priming some women for NCB.

    FWIW, I had great hospital experiences when I gave birth (five times, five different hospitals). My CNMs, OBs, and nurses were respectful and competent. Some were amazing, and went above and beyond in a way that made the transition to being a new mom much easier. But I know that that’s not always the case, and I think we need to recognize that.

    PS – the entire idea of looking for a “healing birth” is so wrong in the first place…a new baby should be loved and welcomed for his/her own sake, not used as a tool to heal maternal wounds. I don’t take issue with experiencing a sense of “healing” a side benefit, but there are just too many birth stories out there that are all centered on mom’s healing and experience, with the baby as a footnote at his own birth! Totally backwards.

    • Elaine

      Well said. There is also the referred experience of crappy bedside manner. Before I had my first child, I was worried that I would have an experience like bad ones that others have described, because you hear so many stories. I was much more relaxed approaching the birth of my second child, because I was treated well during and after my first child’s birth.

      As for a “healing birth”, I do think that most of the moms who have another baby and state they are going for a “healing birth” probably wanted to have another baby anyway; I don’t think there are large numbers of people who are purposely conceiving specifically to have a healing birth when they would otherwise have been done having kids. At most there might be a few yahoos doing this.

      • AllieFoyle

        Yes, exactly. Maybe a few people actually get pregnant specifically for the birth, but I don’t believe they are anything but rare exceptions (and possibly have some serious mental health issues). But women wanting more children will have to go through birth again. What’s so hard to understand about someone wanting to make sure that the unpleasant or traumatizing things that happened the first time don’t again? Why wouldn’t someone want to have the best experience possible? If your experience of birth was negative, and you are plagued by troubling emotions and associations, why wouldn’t you actively try to do everything you could to make the next time as positive as possible?

    • Elaine

      As for the baby as a footnote… I do think that getting a baby out of the deal is the point of the pregnancy & birth experience, but I feel like most of the things I have to say about my pregnancies and births are about *me*, because I am reporting my own experience, in which I did and felt various things, whereas the baby isn’t doing much that’s observable most of the time, and can’t be interacted with until the very end, so there isn’t often that much to say about the baby’s side of things. And I don’t think that’s abnormal or atypical. Of course birth is primarily about getting a healthy baby, and of course if either of my kids had been in trouble during the process, the story would have focused on that, but I don’t think that because someone tells a birth story that is mostly about what she did and experienced, that it necessarily means she is treating the baby as secondary.

  • Rlbobg

    Exactly right–“unreasonably specific expectations about birth” hits it right on the head. We in the Ob world know that the length of the “birth plan” is directly proportional to the eventual length of the c section scar.

    • Jessica S.

      Ha! I’m chuckling at that. One of the things I wrote down in my “plan” (given to us at the hospital tour) was that I’m not skittish about a CS so don’t tiptoe. This time around I don’t need a plan, just a date for the repeat CS. 🙂

  • Sue

    Just a stray thought – do we ever hear about the women who had ”healing” epidurals or planned cesareans due to extreme pain, fear and trauma from a previous vaginal birth? They may not be trying to heal a non-performing body, but getting over anxiety and fear of uncontrolled pain. I suspect this is quite common, but not expressed as ”healing”.

    • EllenL

      My second birth, with an epidural, was blissful compared to the agonizing unmedicated first birth. But I never called it healing. Having a child is an huge decision and commitment. I can’t imagine embarking on a pregnancy just to erase or overcome a previous bad experience. That seems bizarre to me.

      My best friend had a very traumatic vaginal birth with her first, and it left her bitter and depressed. For her second, she choose a planned C-section. I will never forget visiting her at the hospital after that second birth. She was ecstatic. But she never said “And now I’m healed!”

      This was before the era of the boastful natural birth. We were proud of our babies – not ourselves.

    • We rarely hear about it, but it happens. And not all that infrequently. I have worked with a doctor who more or less specialized in patients who had, because of previous traumatic births [and other reasons] had pathological fear of birth. Other doctors used to joke that Dr. X would meet his patients at the L&D door with a loaded syringe even before labor began, but many of his patients were terrified, had been terrified from the time they’d discovered they were pregnant.

      • Babychu

        Yes. Many women have claimed to have “healing” csections, after a traumatic csection or vaginal birth. I will claim to have had a healing hospital experience.

    • RNMomma

      I felt very traumatized by my NCB for several weeks after. It was just shocking to me how much harder physically and mentally is was for me than what I expected (and I wasn’t buying into the pain free childbirth stuff by any means). I actually had to work through it by talking it over with the CNM and with my counselor (who I was already seeing for unrelated matters). I anticipate the next birth to be better in the sense that I won’t be as shocked (or I’ll have an epidural, still undecided), but I don’t feel the need for a “healing birth.” Besides I’ve been around long enough to know that at least for me what happened in the past can’t be erased by something in the present or future.

    • Mac Sherbert

      http://www.mommyish.com/2013/07/11/i-was-traumatized-by-my-natural-birth-stories/

      Anonymous Mom: I Was So Traumatized By My Natural Birth That It Ruined My Second Pregnancy

    • L&DLaura

      My sister. With her second, the MD didn’t believe she had quick labors and deliveries. He broke her water at 3 cm and she delivered 30 minutes later. Traumatized her. She was induced with her last and while it was her longest delivery, she says it was also the best because of the epidural.

      • toni

        Why didn’t he believe her? Why would someone lie about that and isn’t this sort of stuff in our medical records anyways?

    • Susan

      I have definitely seen that. Even people who had homebirths who have chosen the hospital and an epidural for the second or third or more… they seem to, me, to be at a different time in their lives often and are sort “over it” and ready for pain relief!

    • Jessica S.

      Oh, I’m absolutely positive that women experience this (in fact, several here have said as much). But of course, that doesn’t “count”, b/c it’s the wrong kind of healing. 😉

    • Dawn

      Yes, that’s me! After having 3 unmedicated births, I was having severe anxiety when my due date came around during my 5th pregnancy. I had planned on having another unmedicated birth, but as my due date got closer, I became more and more terrified of going through the pain of delivery again. I would wake up early in the morning having panic attacks over it, unable to go back to sleep and crying uncontrollably. My previous unmedicated births were not traumatic, and although they were painful, I don’t think that they were unusually painful for a vaginal birth. They were fast and uncomplicated. But it hurt. A lot. I remember thinking after my 4th daughter was born (my last unmedicated birth) “I never want to do that again.” Well, I finally made a decision to ask for an epidural as soon as they would let me have one, instead of planning on another unmedicated birth. It was so nice not to have that out-of-control, animal-in-a-cage feeling that I had during my unmedicated births. I didn’t have to scream through contractions on the toilet while I emptied my bladder. I didn’t have to scream through pushing my baby out. I just pushed a few times, and there she was! It didn’t hurt at all! I did the same thing with my next birth, and I’m planning on epidural for my upcoming birth in late August, too. My only fear is that I won’t get to the hospital in time because I tend to have fast labors.

      • Stacy48918

        I love your post. 🙂
        I’ve had 2 unmedicated births and I KNOW that anxiety of going through the pain again. I am planning a hospital birth this time around and I am EXCITED at the idea of an epidural and avoiding that “animal-in-a-cage” feeling, haha. Hearing your positive experience choosing an epidural after unmedicated births was really great for me to read. 🙂

        • Dawn

          Good luck, Stacy! I have really enjoyed my epidurals.

    • Stacy48918

      I want an epidural this time around but I don’t view it as “healing”. I’m not “traumatized” by having unmedicated births. I just want to avoid the pain and have a more peaceful, joyous anticipation of my child’s birth…not so much screaming, crying and vomiting. That would be nice. 🙂

  • Ellen Mary

    I’ve been thinking about the fact that weight & being a size 2 keeps coming up here. The healthy response suggested seems to be to accept one’s body rather than losing weight. But ironically, based on the tone of the current OB lit, I feel like I will only be allowed to TOLAC if I start my next pregnancy well within in the ‘normal’ BMI category. Even though I am thinner than many women I come into contact with, 6 months PP my BMI is right around 29. But the main reason I feel like that is unacceptable & urgent is that it could limit my choices @ the Dr . . .

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      What does a “normal” BMI have to do with size 2?

      • Ellen Mary

        Well my point is that if you looked at me, I don’t look on the edge of obesity at all & if I attained a BMI of 20-24, I would be between a size 2-6, I’m only an 8-10 now . . . Just that there can be medical pressure to lose weight too . . . Even for relatively average sized women . . . Acceptance isn’t going to change my risk level at all . . .

        • Trixie

          Have you actually spoken to your doctor about this?

        • Cobalt

          I’m with you on this. For me, a BMI of 23 means my ribs are quite visible. At a BMI of 21, you can count my vertebrae. I will never be smaller than a size 6 because of the width of my pelvis. I look actually healthy at a size 12 and a BMI of 27. I had blood pressure problems in my mid 20s, when my BMI was 21 to 23. They resolved when I gained weight.

          Leads me to think that BMI and pant size can be really terrible assessments of healthy weight, at least for some women. My measurements look terrible on paper, but when a doctor actually sees me, they say I am fit and healthy and basically to not worry about the numbers.

          • guest

            bmi was never supposed to be used for individuals anyway; it’s supposed to be used for populations. there’s too many other factors in play for it to be meaningful for individuals.

    • Medwife

      Forget the sizing. That’s cosmetic anyway. Sizes differ hugely between brands. A Target extra small is a banana republic medium, at least. A bmi of 26 makes you a better candidate for a safe TOLAC resulting in a vaginal birth (uh, with a live healthy baby, now that such a thing is not implied). So does spacing of 18 months between your last birth and next pregnancy, btw.

    • Jessica S.

      I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I was considered “overweight” (by like one or two BMI points, which makes it sound that much more insulting) when I got pregnant and I think I’m still in that range (although many more points, probably…I don’t know how they adjust for pregnancy though – it’s not like you can’t gain ANY weight!). I just met with an OB at our hospital to discuss delivery options next month and if I had really wanted a TOLAC, they would’ve proceeded, with caution (my success estimate was in the low 40% range). All that to say, I don’t know that a BMI of 29 would preclude you. My current BMI is 33, but I’m also 37 wks pregnant. I think I was at 26 when I got pregnant.

      I’m going to go have a date with Mr. Ben and Mr. Jerry, Americone Dream style, so I’ll probably be at 34 in no time. 😉

  • Mishimoo

    I had an accidental healing birth with our eldest child despite her being an OP with nuchal arm delivery. I didn’t intend it to be one; I hadn’t even heard of the concept.

    I was told for as long as I could remember that there was no way I would be able to have a vaginal birth, that I was ‘broken’ and would need a caesarean. The CNMs and Ob/Gyn reassured me that I had a fair chance of a safe vaginal birth. We lost our first baby at 10 weeks, and I worried all the way through my next pregnancy that we’d have a stillborn baby or lose her to complications even though I was low risk. Having a peaceful hospital birth (even though I hate hospitals) with the safety of the OR being right next door proved to me that my mother is quite often wrong. It showed me that she doesn’t know everything, it helped me to begin questioning all the things that I was taught and helped me to begin to discard her nonsense.

  • Jessica S.

    Off Topic of childbirth but On Topic of trauma: something brought to mind a WIRED magazine article by Jonah Leher I read years ago about recovering from traumatic and painful events, those that often trigger PTSD. It’s a fascinating read – I love anything about the brain. 🙂 Thought I’d share it for anyone who is similarly minded. (No pun intended!)

    http://www.wired.com/2012/02/ff_forgettingpill/all/1

  • A.T.

    I needed a healing birth after my second birth, which was a very successful, unassisted homebirth. The reason I needed healing is because I was so wrapped up in fear – what if I have to give birth in a hospital? With a doctor ordering me around? Maybe even have a C-section? I was truly in a bad frame of mind. I started out seeing a midwife for my third pregnancy, but when complications arose I transferred care to an OB, and had my third in the very hospital I was dreading. It wasn’t a “fun” or “empowering” experience, but in retrospect I do feel it was very healing. It got me away from the “doctors are scary and shouldn’t be around a birth” mentality, and into one that let me realize that hey, the health of the baby and myself was more important than the “perfect” empowering birth. I know OB’s are not all uniformly wonderful, and I’m probably still a pain in the butt to them (I ask too many questions about my care, for one, so I can give a truly informed consent) but I’m no longer paranoid of them. And thank goodness I went down that route, because my baby really did need help at birth. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if I had had another homebirth, assisted or not. If I have any more kids, it will absolutely be in a hospital setting as well.

    • pinkyrn

      Wow, I find it very interesting, and impressive too, that you had an unassisted homebirth and now you have changed your mind on things. Most folks I meet are not able to entertain the other side of an argument, let alone be able to problem solve and come away with a new answer to a situation.

    • Medwife

      That’s great. Having my baby wasn’t “healing” but one personal growth type thing I took from it was resolving a similar fear of being a vulnerable patient. Yes, I was vulnerable, and yes, they took care of me and my baby. We all need that at some point in our lives.

  • Jessica S.

    “How convenient for them that after the books, websites, childbirth courses, tapes, midwifery care, doula services and affirmations failed to produce their version of the ideal delivery, the fault was with YOU not with them…And they would never, ever have to stop bleating about “birth trauma,” which they pretend is the result of obstetric care, but is the inevitable result of natural childbirth indoctrination.”

    Bingo. Problem invented, solution sold. (Reminds me of a Big Bang Theory episode where Bernadette tells how her pharm company both created and “cured” Restless Eye Syndrome. She says something like “Ka-ching, ya blinky-eyed suckers.”)

    But regarding “birth trauma”: there really is no need for the qualifier ‘birth’. Indeed, I’m probably splitting hairs, but if you’ve experienced something traumatic it needs to be dealt with – especially if it is a violation of your rights, or in instances of negligence or malpractice, etc. This is true in any situation, and there’s no need to lump it into a special category, unless you’re trying to market something. (An exception to that would be things like support groups, obviously it makes sense to seek out like-minded people.) “Birth trauma” (or the more vulgar term “birth rape”) as marketed by the NCB industry is not simply about trauma that happens during birth, but as Dr. Amy pointed out, it is trauma that happens b/c birth happened a certain way. It doesn’t allow for women who have been traumatized by home birth, or NCB ideology, or by denial of CS, pain relief, etc. *True* support of trauma, and the healing from it, shouldn’t come with exclusions.

    • Cobalt

      I really agree with this. A healing birth is not necessarily an unmedicated/unassisted homebirth or whatever the current NCB trend is. It’s one that where, afterwards, you feel healed.

      It might be that you got better pain relief, or had an easier labor, or the baby was healthy, or you had a c-section, or didn’t almost die, or got treated respectfully by attendants, or weren’t completely shocked by a completely new and scary experience, or whatever it was that your pain was centered around from prior experience. It depends on why you feel ‘broken’, on what caused the pain and how you are prepared to deal with the birth and a potential recurrence of what went wrong before.

      Having another kid JUST because you want a birth do-over might not be a great parenting choice, since babies are more than birth stories, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t feel better when the negative thing doesn’t happen again. It’s more than just giving birth again though, there is work to be done outside the delivery room.

  • SF MOM & Psychologist

    I think it might be useful and important to differentiate between an actual trauma/ traumatic response and a huge, devastating disappointment.

    I have been really interested in disappointment as a complex emotion lately in my work. I have noticed that when people (of all ages) experience it, many have a tendency to blame someone, feel angry and have a strong sense that something went WRONG. (It’s interesting to me, because we don’t do this with all uncomfortable feelings, but it’s consistent and common with disappointment). Often, when we strip away the blame, anger and sense of being wronged, we realize we are just really disappointed. I think that happens to a lot of women who had unreasonably specific expectations about birth – extreme disappointment, followed by blame, anger and feeling wronged. The problem is that if we don’t do the work to get to “extremely disappointed,” we stay stuck in anger/blame/wrong. Some commenters on this site jump to “Get over it!” pretty quickly, but many of us could offer some empathy to someone who acknowledges feeling deeply disappointed (without blaming or attacking others).

    Trauma is different. Traumatic responses are characterized by a host of psychiatric symptoms and behaviors. Certainly, some women develop trauma disorders from scary birth experiences (and many don’t … there is plenty more to say and understand about who is at greater risk for trauma disorders and why). But I could not agree more that a therapist’s office or group is a MUCH better place to work on this than in vivo, during the birth of the next baby.

    • Jessica S.

      Great points! This: “many of us could offer some empathy to someone who acknowledges feeling deeply disappointed” made me think of how I handle my three and a half year old’s emotions when he’s disappointed because he can’t do something, etc. When I get impatient and short, kind of like a “get over it” attitude, it usually makes it worse. But if I can remember to empathize and give him words for how he’s feeling, he transitions easier. (I don’t feel like jumping out a window!)

      Please note that I’m not reducing the comments here to that of a three year olds, I’m really not! I think it’s fascinating how humans at every age tend to respond well to basics like respect and validation, etc. The approach is different, but our base needs are the same. (I’m rambling now!)

      • Amazed

        There are some feelings that should not be validated, though. Especially in children. I have no doubt that my brother felt horribly wronged that he was not allowed to try his newest acquizition named teeth on me. And it isn’t like my mom didn’t try to do it peaceful – respecting his feelings, validating his emotions, trying to explain why biting me was not a way to express them… Haha! All that she achieved by being nice and respectful was that he was quick to realize that he was free to test his teeth on me, and all he would get would be words, words, words, and punishment that simply didn’t work because they mattered less than the pleasure of biting.

        She stopped respecting his feelings pretty fast. A slap on the mouth and the cold shoulder for a few hours did the trick. That was the last time he bit me or someone else. And I don’t think that in this instance, the lack of validation caused any long-term harm, let alone the fact that it probably saved him a greater damage since I was pretty fed up with my mom’s peaceful approach and had started expressing it quite bodily! Sure, he had teeth but I had, too, and I had the advantage of being bigger.

        Without being any kind of mental health care professional, I do think it might be dangerous to let children think that every emotion they feel should be respected and discussed. That might lead to poorer control as adults and create a tendency to overalalyze one’s own feelings.

        • Mac Sherbert

          Maybe the feeling shouldn’t be validated, but rather acknowledged? I think it’s important to give children words to explain how they are feeling. They need to learn that just because they are angry doesn’t mean they can throw a fit or hurt someone. They have to learn that hey I’m feeling angry right now!! So, I need to stop and make a better choice. Of course, age plays a role too!
          For example: I know you are angry, but you still can’t hit your sister. Followed by a consequence and later a discussion on how to control your anger or resolve a conflict appropriately.

          • Amazed

            For how long? Just how many other children, cats, and adults are people ready to sacrifice on the altar of acknowledging their children’s feelings?

            When children are a little older, than yes, by all means give them words to express how they are feelings. Or when they are little and no one else gets hurt. I’ve noticed that many adults think it’s extremely important to validate their children’s feelings even to other children’s detriment. Oh but he’s so sensitive. Why are you so mean, I am talking to him! I am explaining to him that good kids don’t take other children’s scalps. Just because he tried it about 117 times on your kid doesn’t mean I am not trying. I won’t traumatize my child. He will learn peacefully.

            Things change pretty fast when the child who was hurt was theirs, as well. When the only other option is to send your other child off to Grandma for the next two years or so or day and night follow one of your children to guard the other one, validation of feelings gives way pretty fast to solving the situation in any way possible.

            No one has suffered any damages because Mommy has cut them off and told them that he will not hit or bite, no matter what, without placing their feelings prior to anythung else.

          • Mac Sherbert

            I think you misinterpret. I not the touchy feely type. I never said just talking to a child is all you need to do. I don’t sacrifice anyone for my children’s feelings or even my students when teaching. Hence the CONSEQUENCE part followed by a discussion.

            “I’ve noticed that many adults think it’s extremely important to validate their children’s feelings even to other children’s detriment.” Yes. I’ve seen this too and it’s not what I’m suggesting. Just saying to kid you know you shouldn’t hit because it hurts the other kid and you were frustrated you couldn’t have what you wanted…now go play nice is not enough. There needs to be a consequence for the hitting or whatever! Time out, privileges taken away, etc. I’ve actually told children at the playground that my kids were not allowed to play with them until they learn to play nice.
            And those that try to reason with toddlers…Not getting on to your toddler because it might hurt their feelings is dangerous in certain situations!

          • Amazed

            I do agree that there are feelings that should be validated. But not all feelings. Sometimes, you just have to suck it and move on, such is life. And you can as well start as a very little kid. Being scared of dogs because one scared you when you were 2, 3, or 4 is a legitimate feeling that should be addressed with due care; being deeply hurt because your dad refused to play surgeon for about 200032 time for your teddy bear until you try not to rip Teddy’s paws off is not.

            I might be wrong but my feeling is that there should be degrees in anything, the way we delve on our own different feelings included.

          • Jessica S.

            Ugh, I do not tolerate the “fix this for me b/c I just broke it for the thousandth time and I don’t feel like trying”. And if he wants to scream about, I direct him to his room and tell him he’s free to come out, but only if he’s done screaming. It’s amazing how quickly that solved the screaming-to-get-my-way shtick.

            I meant to say this in my earlier response, but my acknowledgement of his feelings is almost always followed by “but it is what it is. You don’t have to like it, but it’s not changing the situation.” And then I try really hard to redirect his focus, I don’t know if it’s the toddler/preschool age or if it’s just him, but he can get so fixated and it’s best to just tell it like it is and move on. Contrary to what I would LIKE to do, to drive home the point so I can feel like I “won” for once. Becoming a parent has made me realize I’m very petty in a lot of ways. Ha! Anyhow, he knew the phrase “it is what it is” at like two, b/c he heard it so often. 😉 I tell him you can change how you feel about it, and that’s a great thing. Silly faces help, too.

          • Amazed

            Silly faces help with ME, about 10 times the age your son is. Why not him?

            It might be toddler/preschooler age but I am well past those and I had my latest fixation the other day. Of course, the difference was that even then, I realized the piling of objective reasons leading me to overreact and give overblown importance to something that, frankly, wasn’t worth it. Didn’t help much with my immediate feelings of the situation but steered me towards the right actions, no matter how I felt. I think that’s one of the things we learn as children… or if we don’t, we can easily stay in the phase of actual fixation. And while in a 3 year old it’s understandable, in a 33 year old it’s simply pitiful.

            I believe actions are learned. Just like people teach their children to pet the cat when they want to show that they love it. And when there is this feeling of security, I think it can be easily overcome when now or then, this or that feeling isn’t validated.

            OT: I’ve seen and heard so much of children’s jealousy that once, I asked my mom whether I was jealous when no 2 arrived. No, she said. She said I treated him as a fixture in the house until he became interesting. But I never wanted to send him back or something. Although I wanted a baby dog or baby kitten, NOT a baby brother! Frankly, I doubt someone between 2 and 5 would ever want a new sibling if they knew the full scope of what was to follow: certain smells in the house, mom too tired to play with you NOW, birthday parties for another person, your toys spit on, being trapped by the little aggressor who crawls after you… and that’s BEFORE they start teething and crying from it. I cannot help but feel for children who were assured that they’d have a playmate and receive a baby, instead. Unfortunately, that’s a feeling that often gets under either not validated, or overvalidated.

          • Jessica S.

            Ha! Don’t worry, I’m not alarmed. You are a lot like myself, in your frankness. The other day, my son told me he didn’t want baby sister to live in the house with us. I just said “oh, you don’t, huh?” and left it at that. About five minutes later, I said “Want to know something? Sometimes I don’t know about her living here either.” 😀 Of course, the next day he was back to making plans.

            I don’t usually talk much about her because I’ve discovered he brings it up a lot on his own, and that’s way better than trying to dump fresh thoughts into his mind. In the beginning, he only referenced her when seeking reassurance that she wouldn’t take his toys. I totally get that! I would be concerned, too. 🙂 I assured him no one would let her take his toys.

            I know I will drive myself crazy trying to make sure he’s geared up for it and that we do everything “right”. So I’m trying to convert those thoughts to damage control after the fact. Ha! I mean, who knows how he’s going to react and what will upset him? I might as well just clean up the messes as they come. That said, I do try to include him in getting things ready – he’s been guardian of the stuffed animals we’ve gotten as gifts and he can help us with putting together the furniture, etc. And if he’s not interested, whatever! I’m not going to try to force a bond between them – I’m worried about my own sanity and whether I’ll run away after a month of it all. Hahaha!

        • Jessica S.

          Funny anecdote on aggression: When my son hits us, or anyone else (hit is too strong of a word, it’s quite pitiful, but he doesn’t know that – it still has the same purpose), as I’m directing him to his bed for a “time out” (or to the car if we’re out), I’ll tell him “it’s ok to hit pillows, or to hit the couch, but we don’t hit people.” Once he’d calmed down, I used to tell him that it’s even better if he can use words, to say he feels like hitting and why. Well, sure enough, he would just start announcing that he wanted to hit someone before he tried to. He mostly says he wants to hit, if he’s feeling that way, instead of actually doing it, so I guess that’s good. I recognized quickly that whenever he says he wants to hit people (other than us, b/c that’s usually when he’s really frustrated or if he just hurt himself, which is bizarre) it’s usually because they’ve encroached on his space, emotionally or physically. He sometimes gets overwhelmed in new situations and needs space to acclimate. As soon as I recognized that, I was able to intervene or at least help him find a way to resolve what he’s feeling without hitting. It has helped a lot. I know all that sounds overboard to a lot of people, and frankly, I’m not calm and measured over those things half the time – I often resort to the good ol’ yelling and threats, but I’ve found that he responds better to redirection than plain punishment, at least for now. 🙂

          It sounds like I have an aggressive child but I really don’t! 🙂 He just doesn’t know quite what to do when he feels overwhelmed. I can relate!

          I like what you said about your mom ignoring him. I forget just how important that is – I get sucked into the drama and everything and forget that I’m not dealing with a rational adult, or even a budding-rational thinker if he’s in the middle of a fit. Attention is fuel to the fire and indifference is the cold bucket of water so sorely needed. 🙂

          • Amazed

            Your son sounds just about fine. At this age, they cannot be expected to be mini-adults. As long as no one is harmed, I see no wrong in trying to teach the mini-nonadult how to control his feelings.

            I remember that people were shocked my mom hit him on the mouth. There were opinions that she should have held hem by the shoulders or at least, spank him on his rear end, nowhere near the face. Her answer? “What? He doesn’t bite with his rear end!”

        • Who?

          I think that’s true. It’s important to be able to recognise and name the emotion-anger, fear, anxiety-but also important to know that it is not always necessary or acceptable to act on it. It’s perfectly acceptable to run the other way if you see a snake; however hitting everyone who annoys you is a short path to a very unhappy life.

          It’s also important for kids to understand that others have feelings at least as strong as their own: so respecting wishes that are expressed and paying attention to signals are good skills to learn. Recognising and being able to name your own feelings can help you do the same with others.

          Self control is a survival skill as well as a social skill.

        • Lioness

          I cant believe you are promoting slapping a one-year-old on the mouth as some kind of positive story. then again, it sorta fits in on this post whose entire purpose is to dismiss trauma and ill treatment.

          • Amazed

            Haha, I knew there’d be a bleeding heart coming here enraged.

            Focus on your own kids and the big books telling you that slapping a child on the mouth is a legitimate lifelong trauma. Those who write them have made billions exploiting the naivety of the likes of you.

          • Medwife

            Punishing a kid for physically hurting another kid, by hurting that kid? That is fundamentally stupid. And people who say they’re not hitting out of anger but out of a place of discipline are full of crap. They’re displaying the emotional maturity of a toddler. I’m not a bleeding heart. I call bullshit when I see it.

          • Amazed

            What the hell has punishment to do with it? In case you haven’t noticed, the aim was NOT to punish one kid, it was to protect the other. Stop the behavior now, punish later. Yeah, I can see you didn’t notice. How many of your own kids are you ready to let being bitten by a sibling while you explain peacefully? Leaving work, of course, because that’s the only way to be with them constantly to tear them apart.

            You might be interested to know that the same poor kid took a momentous slap full on the face a few years later, when despite all the talks and hunded of walks gone smoothly, he tore himself off my mom’s hand and ran in the street. I guess you’ll now think he got the slap because he was being punished? There was nothing educational about that, just someone who lost control at seeing a huge truck barely managing to stop mere inches from her kid.

            And you know what? Fundamentally stupid you might label it but it worked, although unintentionally. He was 6 yo then. Now, he’s made it to 28 without trying to throw himself under trucks anymore.

            Works for us. You can see bullshit wherenever you wish. I, for one, see it in your own post.

    • Guest

      Thank you for this. So many issues could be worked through with the help of people like you, in positions like yours. Thank you.

    • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this response about the difference betweenreal trauma and disappointment!

    • Sue

      Fascinating insights, SF. Do you think this could also be applied to anti-vaxers who are parents of children with developmental issues or disabilities?

      I have previously seen their targeting of vaccination as a way of finding an external locus of blame, but I wonder whether the angry anti-vax behaviour could also be a manifestation of deep disappointment, combined with a reluctance to express it. (Who wants to articulate openly that they are disappointed with their own child?)

  • Cobalt

    Medical interventions can be lifesaving. It can also be really nice to not feel like you need to be saved. Having something go well, not just in eventual outcome but in not needing to panic over the eventual outcome is nice.

    An imperfect example: if you are in some sort of accident doing something you enjoy or want to do, and are injured and need medical intervention, it is scary and painful and can be really traumatic. Even if you end up fine and your eventual outcome is good, the fear and pain still existed. Who are you going to turn to for help if you are still afraid the next time, the doctors telling you “Hey, why are you so upset, all that matters is that we fixed you up with just some scars. You lived, didn’t you!” Or the wooers saying “You can do this, you can overcome, you don’t need to be afraid.” That message, even if it comes with really bad advice (like you don’t really need a seatbelt/helmet/whatever) is comforting. And if it works (and statistically, sometimes things really will be just fine), you have a convert to wooism.

    • Stacy48918

      “Medical interventions can be lifesaving. It can also be really nice to not feel like you need to be saved. Having something go well, not just in eventual outcome but in not needing to panic over the eventual outcome is nice.”
      No one wants to be in a life-threatening situation. But someone that gets in a horrible car wreck this weekend isn’t going to plan a cross country road trip next summer with the idea that it will “heal” their trauma from the accident.

      • Ellen Mary

        Actually though, planning a road trip would be a healthier response given our car based culture, than firmly resolving to never drive again.

        • Stacey

          What she should have said, was “planning on a road trip, where they would crash”.
          You would have to drive again, and driving again is not an issue.The issue is the attempt to recreate the actual event. That is unhealthy.

      • AllieFoyle

        Actually… the treatment for someone who has been through a traumatic experience is often re-experiencing it in some form. The issue with trauma is that affected people will experience intense emotions –the same ones they experienced at the time: fear, horror, shame– involuntarily when they are reminded in any way of the original trauma. They also begin to avoid things that they associate with the trauma because they are connected with those emotions and memories, so it becomes an important part of their healing to re-experience the situation in a safe, positive way. That doesn’t mean they redo a car accident, but it might mean discussing the upsetting parts in a safe setting or purposefully driving again even though it’s terrifying at first. The healing comes from replacing or de-intensifying the strong emotions and associations with more neutral or positive ones.

        • Cobalt

          That’s the problem with the current childbirth options presented here. The mother’s feelings are either dismissed (a healing birth is a fantasy to be mocked, now get out of the doctor’s way) or exploited (you WILL have a healing birth if you do exactly as I say, regardless of how wacko it is).

          A pregnant woman is not just a body to monitor and treat, nor is she just a mind to be won over. Both the mind and the body can suffer, both should be treated by actual professionals.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            You are misrepresenting what we are talking about. No one is mocking women’s feelings. I would never mock the feelings of someone who is depressed at weighing more than she wanted, either. But that doesn’t mean that the answer to her depression is to lose weight until she gets it “right.”

            Similarly, no one is mocking the idea that some women feel “broken” after not having an unmedicated vaginal birth. But that doesn’t mean that the answer to her feeling “broken” is to have a do over so she can get it right. The answer is to examine the culture that convinced her she was “broken” in the first place.

          • AllieFoyle

            You’re talking about a very specific scenario, but there are all sorts of shades of gray in women’s experiences. Are there women who fit your characterization? Certainly. But it feels at times that all sorts of experiences are being lumped together and dismissed without any real attempt at or interest in understanding what was so distressing to that individual and how that experience has affected her. It seems like the message is that birth-related psychological trauma is not possible except in extreme situations, and that if a woman is suffering psychologically it’s her fault in some way or the result of NCB brainwashing.

          • Cobalt

            The ‘broken’ is not always from an external source. Do NCB fundies create that feeling so they can exploit it? That absolutely happens.

            But not every woman only feels bad AFTER jumping on the NCB train. Sometimes they jump on because they feel ‘broken’ and the NCBers are the only ones who will listen. And IF nothing bad happens the next time, she may very well feel better. Did the NCB make her feel better, or would the lack of need of intervention alone have made her feel better? She’s probably going to say NCB because they were the ones promising healing. If the NCB ‘fails’ and interventions are required or there is a negative outcome (and it will happen to a given percent, nature is ‘good enough’, not perfect), that’s when it really hits the fan.

            And, Dr. Amy, you OWN the snarky schtick. Your mocking tone and ‘in your face’ writing style are what you use (by your own admission) to drive attention to these issues to try to get some actual rationality, science, and safety on board. And if you don’t mock these women (and truly you typically go after the ‘professionals’ who are lying to them, not the mothers themselves), some of your commenters will. The comment section sometimes feels like there are only two choices: pure rational/unemotional/medical/scientific and woo-town central for crunchy nutjobs who have feelings. People just aren’t that simple.

          • pinkyrn

            No, people are not that simple.

        • Renee

          And there is the difference! Dealing with the feelings and emotions to heal, not recreating the original event.

      • Cobalt

        More like if you enjoy horseback riding, and you’re riding and you end up badly hurt but ok after medical help. When you go back to riding, and need to deal with your fear from ‘what happened last time’, are you going to get a coach that says to stop whining because there is an ambulance standing by and the doctors can just intervene again or a coach that welcomes you ‘as is’ and promises to guide you beyond that fear? And how much does it matter if the fall was caused by something beyond anyone’s control?

        Getting back on and trying again is something we drill into our kids when they fall off their bike, or horse, or whatever. It’s the same impulse. And the random chance of it being successful is high enough to reinforce the behavior.

        • Sue

          Sure – but the analogy would be that if you got hurt because you weren’t wearing a helmet, or you jumped a fence that was too high, you might modify your behaviour within the same activity to avoid repetition of the accident.

        • Trixie

          The difference is that getting back on the horse doesn’t involve conceiving a child and bringing a human into the world for the sake of a birth experience.

          • Elaine

            I don’t think that most people who go for a “healing birth” conceived again solely or mostly for the sake of said birth. I think most of them probably wanted another child anyway. This logic seems unnecessarily dismissive.

  • Stacy48918

    For an ideological movement that believes that “pregnancy is not a disease”, it’s rather ironic that they also hold to the ideal of a “healing” birth.

  • smeather

    I do believe that one can have a “healing birth” after a traumatic one. I have had two children and plan on having a third. I loved, loved, loved labor and delivery with my first son; even though his heart had a hole in it and labor was really hard on him. It was the best twelve hours of my life. I was induced by the doctor breaking my waters, I had the epidural for eight hours, and I had him vaginally. I laughed, called family members, and enjoyed talking to visitors. After having him, my husband cut the cord, I held him after he was checked, and then he was taken to the NICU. I didn’t get to breastfeed him for 3 hours. In my mind(at that time) everything went perfect.
    Then I began talking to the NCB community, and I began to have doubts of my first labor. A good friend frowned as she listened to my birth story; she felt sorry for me. My failure at breastfeeding past the one month mark was caused by the birth experience; not because my son had jaundice so severe that he was hospitalized at two weeks. I watched my friends face as I told her my story, and I could see the disappointment in her eyes. She felt bad that I didn’t get to experience the “natural” childbirth experience.
    And soon, I started viewing my labor like other natural advocates:
    I was induced and that is bad!
    I didn’t get to walk around during labor; not fair!
    I got an epidural; the drugs caused my son’s jaundice.
    I didn’t get to breastfeed immediately after birth; I failed at breastfeeding.
    I didn’t get immediate skin to skin; we bonded slower probably.
    My son wore a hat; it hurt bonding.
    And soon I began to feel sad. I wanted to go back and change things. I wanted my next birth to be the exact opposite. I wanted that fairy-tale story. It wasn’t until I read his birth story again, that I was reminded about how happy I was. It was NOT traumatic. I WAS happy. I cried, I laughed, and I experienced a miracle. I was on cloud nine, and when he was born I told my husband, “I want to do it again!” It was THAT good.
    No one should tell you how to feel. I understand that being “educated” on childbirth is important, but shoving your ideal birth down other people’s throats is wrong. I still see natural birth pictures come up on my Facebook Newsfeed and the comments break my heart.
    example #1:
    One photo portrayed a lady and husband crying with happiness in their own bedroom. The baby had a hat on his head.
    One commenter wrote: Beautiful photo, but a hat disrupts bonding.
    Example #2:
    A Photo captioned, “Successful VBAC done completely natural” portrayed two crying parents and a doctor cutting the cord.
    Commenter wrote: Congrats! I would love to see the father cutting the cord and not the doctor.
    These are comments I have seen in the past three days. These comments make people doubt their experience. These comments make people feel guilty. Who wrote “the perfect birth?” I would really like to know. What if I wanted the doctor to cut the cord? Why is your view the only right way? It makes me so angry to watch women being bullied by other women.
    If women stopped dreaming up births, and just enjoyed the experience, I think birth would be less traumatic. I am SO thankful that I was not apart of the NCBC during my first son’s labor, because I know for a fact that I would have been frustrated and traumatized by a perfectly normal birth experience.

    • Jessica S.

      Thanks for sharing this. That’s so frustrating about the FB comments and the nit-picking in general. Good observations.

    • Sue

      Thanks for the insights, smeather. We have often remarked on the phenomenon of retrospective disappointment – women who were perfectly happy with how things went until later convinced that they had been ”wrong”. Such destructive behaviour!

    • pinkyrn

      Hats interrupt bonding? Where do they get this shit?

      • Amy M

        Carla Hartly. I think she made it up. Maybe she was bored and looking to stir the pot some. Maybe she’s jealous because she doesn’t know how to knit. Maybe no one gave her a really cute hat for her baby when it was born (because it was born at home, so there was no one who had a hat to give) so she decided hatless babies were morally superior in order to justify her situation. Who knows?

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          I think she made it up.

          Of course she made it up.

          • Amy M

            Yes, I know it was made up, I meant I think it was her, as opposed to some other charlatan.

        • pinkyrn

          One of my coworkers came up with an interesting statement, “dead babies don’t bond well.” I think a lot of wisdom is packed into that sentance.

      • may1787

        “They” say that the head releases pheromones and if you cover it with a hat you are disrupting the ability for the mom and baby to bond. Umm, yah, tell that to the thousands, nay millions, of moms who “hatted” their babies and have amazingly strong bonds.

        • pinkyrn

          OK thanks. I thought it probably had some long explanation. The lotus birth has a long explanation. Delayed cord clamping has a long explanation.

  • OBPI Mama

    I had a traumatic homebirth for my first son, resulting in his injury. Having my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th babies via c-sections in a hospital, born healthy, was wonderful. It felt great to have healthy newborns there (and not be stitched up so much that sex hurt for 2-1/2 years or have my tailbone break up again).

    It did not heal my ache over my first son’s eventful entry. It did not impact it at all, other than make me realize how blessed I was to have healthy newborns and how different it was to have a “typical” baby. The c-sections were peaceful, but that didn’t erase the panic that I remember during my first birth. No event can heal what happened in the past. Prayer, talking with someone I trust, and going through a grieving process of sorts over the events and loss of “normalcy” that occurred helped me.

    I guess I don’t quite understand the “healing” birth thing either.

  • Bomb

    I had a very traumatic first birth. The second birth didn’t fix that. The third didn’t fix that. As the fourth looms in the not too distant future I am still stuck with the same anxiety and panic attacks I did with the 2nd and 3rd. I don’t understand the concept of healing birth. Should we send soldiers back to war because the first one was traumatic? My hip replacement was traumatic so I want another one to “heal?” None of this makes any sense to me.

  • poop on dr bitch amy

    a lot of moms feel like they need healing all on their own, without the influence of NCB advocates. I have heard a lot of pro-active management care moms who have nothing against csections say they feel jipped of experiencing contractions, giving birth naturally, and spending the immediate bonding time with their babies.

    • Ellen Mary

      So much wrong here. I will say ‘jipped’ is a misspelling of ‘gypped’ which is a slur against gypsies . . .

      • poop on dr bitch amy

        so my spelling is the extent of the “so much wrong”?

        • poop on dr bitch amy

          If you’re gonna get on that train, then use completely proper grammar, please.

        • indigo_sky

          I think it was actually the use of a racial slur that she was objecting to. The spelling comment was just pointing the word back to its origin.

        • Trixie

          “Gypped” is a racial slur. It’s like saying “Indian giver.”

    • Mom2Many

      I’m really trying to read what you write without a bias…but seriously, with a name like that…it’s really hard. Still, this may be one of the first comments that I can almost agree with…
      Would it kill you to switch to a grown up name? Even if it was something like “Skeptical of the SOB?” This community thrives on differences of opinions, as you have experienced first hand, most of what I have seen has been respectful and mature to you, perhaps it is time to respond in kind?

      • poop on dr bitch amy

        your reply is about my name? ha.

        • KarenJJ

          Maybe drop the ‘bitch’ – either you’re using it as a misogynistic insult or you are using it in the ironic way by trying to co-opt the “strong woman” subversive use of the word – but I don’t think so judging the rest of you posting.

          I could get more on board with “poop on Dr Amy” because
          a) she was a practising obgyn and
          b) she’s a mother of 4.
          The chances she’s been pooped on are pretty high.

          • Trixie

            PODBA has poop in her big girl panties and needs to go change them.

          • Sue

            Winning comment, Karen!

        • Jessica S.

          You’re chastising her for commenting about your childish screen name? That’s rich.

        • Staceyjw

          Its obnoxious. You have every right to have it, butnexpect people to think you’re an ignorant, rude, person with second grade level maturity.

          Really, poop on someone? GMAFB

          Plenty of people replied to your comment anyway, BTW.

    • Awesomemom

      One could say avoiding the pain of contractions would be less traumatizing than feeling them. I would also much rather have a healthy baby and give up some time to the doctors after the birth than whine that I didn’t get to hold my baby right away. I knew that if I was patient I would eventually get to hold them.

    • Jessica S.

      I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the obnoxiousness of your screen name. 🙂

    • Kupo

      The good points about my intervention birth: all I had to do was lie there and someone else did the difficult bits – insert epidural, apply epiostomy, record blood loss, repair me, hat my baby. The hard bit for me was the afters – caring for my newborn for the very first time. I was such a n00b.

      After my next (non-intervention) birth, I was actually made to wobbly-walk to take a shower! oh the inhumanity /s.

      I have all praise for both medical teams as they gave me the second-best things to remember them by – cute belly buttons on both my babies!
      (The first-best things they gave me was my healthy babies, natch.)

    • Stacey

      You are implying that “feeling gypped” (a slur towards gypsies, actually) means you feel unwhole, or are in need of healing. Bullshit. ANYONE can feel like you missed out on something. This doesn’t mean anything more than normal human disappointment.

      I was denied an MCRS with my first, but ended up with a Cs anyway, after 36 hours of labor, 4 of pushing. Sure, it was pretty irritating that I was so wholly dismissed. But this did not require healing. This is different.

    • moto_librarian

      More likely than not, these moms have been guilt-tripped to the point where they feel like they have to say that they’re sorry that they missed out on the pain. I’ll add my two cents for you: I’m sorry that I didn’t have an epidural with my first child. Pain is overrated.

  • BabyChu

    What is bothering me about this whole discussion is the “trauma police”. Who is anyone to what is and isn’t traumatic to someone? This is partially why so many people walk around depressed and refusing to seek mental health services because people tell them how they feel about something or their experience isn’t valid because someone had it worse or base it off of their own opinion. It wasn’t traumatic or cause me any emotional unhappiness when my grandmother died. She was old lived, her life was sick and I knew it was coming and thought it would be better for her. For other people people their grandparent dies they are hysterical.

    • Life Tip

      For the most part, commenters here validate and agree that many childbirth experiences can feel traumatic to the individual. The problem discussed in this post deals with the need to have a certain kind of birth to “heal” the trauma of the first, an idea that implies there was something wrong with a woman because her body required interventions to have a baby, and the only way for her to feel whole again is to have a natural birth.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Feelings of self loathing for not being the “ideal” weight are real, too. That doesn’t change the fact that they are culturally mediated and that the appropriate response is not to encourage feelings of self loathing but to teach women not to judge themselves by their weight.

      Similarly, feelings of being traumatized by not having an unmedicated vaginal birth are real, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are culturally mediated. The appropriate response is not to encourage feelings of trauma, but to teach women not to judge themselves by their births.

      The natural childbirth industry benefits by encouraging women to feel traumatized just like the diet industry benefits by encouraging women to loathe their bodies if they are not the ideal weight. We need to stop both.

      • Babychu

        Personally I think a lot of medical professionals bear the responsibility in this too. I believe by a lot of them not showing respect to women giving birth, they are driving them into the arms of NCB which is waiting in the wings for them with open arms. My issue with my first birth is the way I was treated. I think if I was talked to like an adult, and not had my pain dismissed and my concerns(which turned out to be legit) dismissed, it would have been a different experience. Many of us didn’t even know what NCB was. I had no idea I would stepping into a hospital and have to beg doctors to help me. I had no idea I would be told I was being over the top, huffed at, eyes rolled at, told I was pushing wrong, hollaring too loud, told to shut up, given paper towels to wash up with, left with an infection, and not fed, even broth, for 2 days after not eating for 2 days during my labor.It was horrible and I immediately hopped on the BofBB wagon, Drs and Hospital personel, OBS are eeeeebil and treat you like shyte.

        • Jessica S.

          I certainly hope you did something afterwards to right those wrongs, filing numerous complaints at least? That sounds like an awful experience.

          Of course, and I’m sure you know this, it doesn’t make the NCB narrative correct. Most hospital experiences are not going to be terrible, but when they are, there should be accountability.

      • AllieFoyle

        SF psychologist mom makes a nice distinction between disappointment (which we can still feel empathy for) and trauma, and it’s probably worth remembering that women can have bad experiences that fit into either or both of these categories. Disappointment can be culturally mediated, just as beliefs about body appearance can be media-driven, but trauma and eating disorders are really issues with biological underpinnings. Social and cultural influences can contribute to them, but you can’t pin either completely on culture.

  • Giliell

    Birth can be godsdamn traumatic and it can turn so quickly. I have a couple of friends who can justifiably claim that their births were traumatic. Almost dying certainly is. But that was not the fault of obestetrics. Obestetrics made sure they are still alive, that they are mothers of babies, toddlers, grade schoolers. It’s the damn romantisiation of childbirth that makes sure those women don’t get the support they need afterwards, that they feel broken on top of having had to go through all of that. Because if birth is oh so easy and natural the fault must lie with them.

    • Jessica S.

      I love this comment!

  • Adelaide GP

    I wonder if “birth trauma” is only associated with primips, ie do you ever see it out of order, ie not in a first, yes in second, not in third etc. I suspect it’s mainly with the primips, and therefore possibly related to the shock of going through the reality of labour and the early post natal period, which to be honest, is a massive upheaval of your life, and different than you expect when you don’t have children at all. Subsequent births are easier because you know what to expect and the experience of being a parent is just your normal and reality already. ( very generally speaking, of course: adverse labour and traumatic NICU experiences aside, which is a very real stress and needs to be supported in ways other than just giving birth again)

    I agree with Zornorph , that it is a lot to put on to the child, an expectation that their birth will somehow “heal” you. It’s not really a babies job to do anything but “be” !! ( and feed, burp and poo!).

  • Guest

    I don’t think that any reasonable person would dispute that there are very traumatic birth experiences that may leave a woman/family physically, emotionally, and/or psychologically scarred. Even though I had excellent medical care, a premature baby, tornadoes, and over a month in the NICU was more than enough to reconsider having any more children. After such experiences, it is easy to association childbirth with many negative emotions. However, I reject the notion that a subsequent birth is the appropriate time or place to handle these issues.

    I say with deep sincerity that these issues are best dealt with on their own, away from the any relation to pregnancy/childbirth, possibly in a counseling or therapeutic environment with a professional (having dealt with depression for much of my life, I am a big fan of counseling in general). You might never get the birth you want. But at least you will have the tools to mentally and emotionally deal with those circumstances you can’t change, and hopefully the agency to speak up and/or adjust those elements you can change. Then, should you have an easy and uneventful delivery, it would be quite a relief. However, your good mental health would be wholly separate from the fickle fates of childbirth.

    • Mom2Many

      “After such experiences, it is easy to association childbirth with many negative emotions. However, I reject the notion that a subsequent birth is the appropriate time or place to handle these issues.

      I say with deep sincerity that these issues are best dealt with on their own, away from the any relation to pregnancy/childbirth, possibly in a counseling or therapeutic environment with a professional…”
      Oh my gosh, I love how you’ve said this. It was what I was trying to explain further down thread when I referenced my miscarriages, but you’ve done it far better than I did.
      And wow, sounds like an eventful birth…..a tornado? Hope everything turned out okay! 🙂

      • Guest

        Especially with loss, feelings can get quite complicated. I have just enough experience to know that it can be difficult to celebrate one child while not feeling as though it is being disrespectful to another child who lost their life. My parents adopted my sibling and I after the death of their first child. I think that it is complicated enough that no internet chat could ever really do it justice. I am sorry for your loss.

        Yes, our state had a very intense tornado season last year that just so happened to coincide with the last weeks of my pregnancy. On top of a a pregnancy going south, we were dealing with the very real threat of severe weather for about 10 days, and a tornado blew through hours after I was admitted to the hospital.

        The scary diagnosis that led to her being premature, childbirth, and NICU stay was a long and tough road, but once we got her home motherhood (parenthood, because I’m sure my husband agrees with me) has been a delight! My daughter is very healthy and happy!

        My feelings about childbirth and tornadoes, however, are a mixed bag 🙂

        • Jessica S.

          “On top of a a pregnancy going south, we were dealing with the very real threat of severe weather for about 10 days, and a tornado blew through hours after I was admitted to the hospital.”

          For Pete’s sake, that’s terrifying!!

    • jenny

      I couldn’t agree more with this post.

    • OBPI Mama

      I LOVE your post! Yes, yes, yes. I wish I would have sought counseling after my first son’s birth, but I muddled through after burying it all for awhile. I think the suggestion of counseling is spot on.

  • Captain Obvious

    I have many women with uterine didelphys or bicornate uterus. Babies end up malpositioned and sometimes preterm. I guess there are some lemons. :-/

    Not to mention the 10-15% of infertile couples.

  • sleuther

    Yeah, two c-sections here and I never considered my body broken in any way, shape or form…. I have a scar. That’s pretty much it.

    My mother-in-law, who had two vaginal deliveries (one with epidural, one without) had uterine prolapse and went through a lot of hell (i.e., wearing two Super-Plus tampons all the time despite being post-menopausal, so her insides wouldn’t fall out) and then finally got a hysterectomy.

    So it’s not like natural childbirth doesn’t have associated “broken” things…..

  • jenny

    I didn’t intend for this, but I think my son’s birth was a little bit of a “do over.” This time, we won’t be fooled by my labor, and this time my baby will not die. “Healing” is not how I would characterize his birth or existence, although we all cherish him with just a little bit more wistfulness and tenderness than I could have imagined. It seems like a big task for such a little baby to pin all that healing on him, so we really try not to.

    • Jessica S.

      Beautifully put, Jenny. 🙂

  • pinkyrn

    Do primips have more episodes of feeling traumatized? I can see where some women would feel trauma from an emergency C-section or a vacuum assist ( or forceps). Crap with some of the things I have seen intrapartum women go through, some times I think I have PTSD too.

  • Busbus

    I can honestly say that getting out of the NCB subculture and mindset was healing for me. No, it didn’t change the pain I was in during both of my homebirth or the fact that I had unfriendly providers during the first birth (and quite possibly an insufficiently educated one at my second – although thankfully everything went well and I never had to find out). But it changed the way I thought about it. After my first birth, I was consumed with feelings of failure and wondered what I had done wrong to be in so much pain.

    After my second homebirth – which was just as painful and harrowing, in spite of the perfect NCB setting – I started to question my belief that there would have been anything I could have done to make this less painful or my recovery any easier. I am happy for anyone who looks back on their labors fondly – be they medicated, unmedicated, c-section, whatever. But for me, the realisation that it was expectations that were unrealistic, that most women go through labor in agony (and, especially before the introduction of or in the absence of good medical care, with a significant amount of fear and worry), and that there was nothing I or anyone could have done to make my unmedicated labors any less painful (short of pain meds or an epidural) – THAT was healing for me. It let me find peace with my two births and how they went. I finally stopped mourning the “dream birth” I felt so long I was supposed to have.

    And finally, leaving the NCB mindset behind has given me the freedom to choose what I really want to have should I ever be pregnant again, without being bullied or scared into NCB-approved choices by outdated literature and an obsession with minute risks of labor anaesthesia. Even while planning for my second homebirth, I still believed that epidurals were BAD BAD BAD, that they would interfere with bonding etc., and despite my fear and trepidation after the horrible pain of my first labor, I believed that I was making the right choice for my baby by staying home and removing the temptation to get pain relief. Armed with actual scientific knowledge, I now feel free to make the choice to get an epidural should I ever be in labor again, and that freedom – to make my own choices free of shame or fear – makes me stronger and more empowered than anything my NCB-courses taught me.

    • Stacy48918

      “I can honestly say that getting out of the NCB subculture and mindset was healing for me.”
      This! I was “lucky” with my first birth and had a “good” homebirth but I did have a lot of anxiety about how my body would perform. I still had that anxiety with the second. Now, pregnant with my third, I really don’t care how the birth itself goes. As long as both baby and I are alive and healthy after, I really don’t care. So liberating!

  • Mariana Baca

    I think the issue is that birth is “supposed to be” a happy day, sort of like Christmas — maybe some annoyances and lots of work, but happiness should result. It is not like a bad dentist appointment that isn’t “supposed to be” euphoric. You just need teeth cleaned or fixed.

    Many things can make the day fall short of that. Being annoyed at providers, mistreated by providers, failed expectations, bad pain management. Some of the mistakes are egregrious. Some are just annoying, Some are in their head. Some are sometimes unavoidable, like trauma and pain, and not mistakes, just part of the fact that birth is traumatic.

    So that is the idea of healing birth, to have a birth that is closer to the ideal, however that happens.

    I don’t think it is wholly NCB behind the mentality that birth should be happy. Logically it doesn’t make sense to undergo another traumatic experience hoping it would be better. But because we think it “shouldn’t” be traumatic, people want to correct that.

    • Carrie Looney

      Is there a confusion there between the ideas that the birth of your child is supposed to be one of the most wonderful and transformative days of your life – and that the birth itself should be wonderful? The former can certainly be true without the latter being true.

      • Young CC Prof

        Yeah, I think the same thing. Seeing your child should be wonderful, but it’s inevitable that some things about that day are going to be less than wonderful, and it helps to have reasonable expectations.

        • Guest

          I think it’s important to review labor expectations and pain management at antenatal visits and early in labor. Not just for providing anticipatory guidance, but to ensure mothers feel an active participant in their labor process and aware of all options available. Did so with a primip in labor yesterday and she pretty much summed it up perfectly “…I’m not here for the experience, I am here for a baby”. During rounds this morning, she was thrilled with her birth experience. However, the experience wasn’t the key factor that made it wonderful. It was the 9# of chubby cheeked boy in her arms that did!

          • AmyP

            This is very true–and don’t expect that even a hospital-based childbirth class is going to cover everything adequately.

          • Life Tip

            One problem is that many NCB pushers claim that any discussions of expectations other than an ideal birth is “fear mongering”. I had a grown ass adult friend post a pregnancy question on Facebook asking others to share birth stories. But then she started deleting anything negative and asked for positive stories only because she didn’t want to “burst her birth bubble.”

            What better way to set yourself up for a failure and feelings of trauma?

          • jenny

            Out of curiosity, how did you do this?

      • Mariana Baca

        Yeah, plus if you are in a bad state from one it can be hard to bounce back once the birth is over. But I think making the two experiences the same is part of the problem.

  • I’ve had quite a lot to write regarding the last few posts by Dr T, but since my daughter gave birth this week, I’ve been rather busy. I’ll try to find the time soon.

    It fascinated me that a number of the medical and nursing staff were at pains to reassure her that her repeat C/S (PROM at 39 weeks, cervix long, closed, posterior and her previous birth was elective C/S for primip breech) was ” a real birth” (!!!) and one doctor even told her that they would try an induction if she really wanted a vaginal birth (!!) and was surprised when she told him she had no problem with an ERCS–in fact, she got the impression that he was disappointed she didn’t want to try for a “natural birth” ( Naomi would have taken an epidural if she’d had a TOLAC)

    It just goes to show how pervasive the NCB woo has become, even in Israel.

    • AllieFoyle

      Congratulations!

      • Thanks to all. He’s a lovely little boy [3.2 kg], and my daughter spent only three days in total in hospital; she will go to the local Well Baby Clinic [Tipat Halav] tomorrow to weigh him, and have the clips removed from her incision at her local HMO clinic on Tuesday. Even she was surprised, and she had an easy recovery from her primary C/S, at how well she feels this time and how easy the breastfeeding is.

        She reported that, at meals in the PP unit’s dining room, she overheard numerous women comparing how “terrible” their NSVD labor experiences had been [“I was in labor for DAYS!”] and “felt quite smug”.

        • Medwife

          I did not actually feel smug when I was up out of bed after my quick labor, comparing myself to the c/s patient next door who was still bed bound. I felt LUCKY because that’s what I was. Sad to see women being trained as soldiers in the “Mommy Wars”™.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            My wife stayed in bed for a day after her each of her c-sections, but was able to get up on the second day, to the extent she wanted. Yes, she stayed in bed the first day, but, then again, where was she going to go? She was perfectly content to stay in bed for a day with our new baby and have the nurses take care of her.

            IOW, she wouldn’t even consider your ability to get up out of bed to be any better than her situation in the first place. “Lucky” implies you are better off. If that was my wife next door who was still bed bound, she wouldn’t have considered your ability to get up to be good luck. No worse, of course, because you still had the ability to stay in bed if you want, but seriously, she didn’t have anywhere to go.

          • Medwife

            So your wife and I enjoyed our postpartum states. That’s the goal. Smug: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/smug

            It’s the whole “superior” thing rubbing me the wrong way. Let’s just be happy for those women who come through childbirth healthy and happy and, for those who don’t, not look down on them.

    • Young CC Prof

      Yay for new grandbaby!!!!

    • Mel

      Congratulations!

    • Mishimoo

      Oooh! Congratulations on the new grandbaby. Hope everyone is well.

    • moto_librarian

      Congratulations on your new grandchild!

  • Smoochagator

    Many women need a healing birth after the loss of a child, or after a negative experience with another birth professional (OB, CNM, or lay midwife). It’s possible to have a traumatic birth that was no one’s “fault” – perhaps the labor was extremely painful, the mother had a bad reaction to anesthesia, and her child had an unexpected NICU stay. After such an experience, a no-fuss, no-muss birth experience could be incredibly healing. Even an elective C-section after a very painful vaginal birth could be healing! Some women may even need healing from hurts that have nothing to do with birth itself – maybe a woman was a victim of childhood abuse and the act of becoming a mother assures her that her past hasn’t completely broken her. Maybe a woman with low self-esteem and a negative body image is in awe of what her body accomplishes during birth.
    My point is – childbirth CAN be amazing and transformative and healing, and it can be terrifying and traumatic. Sometimes we have absolutely no control over which way it goes, and it is important to remind women, as Dr. Amy has done here, that a negative birth experience does not mean you’re a bad mom. I think it’s also important to allow women to hope for transcendant and healing birth experiences, but to remember that not everything has to go according to plan in order for that to happen.

    • Siri

      Yes!!

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I really take issue with the word “healing.” Yes, you can feel happy, you can feel grateful, you can be pleased that it was not traumatic, but what was broken in the first place that would require you to be healed?

      • pinkyrn

        I am thinking a lot of these women have wicked postpartum depression and they are selecting the birth experience as the cause which in fact may not be the case. Sometimes a little Prozac goes a long way.

        • me

          That attitude prevented me from going to anyone to talk about what happened at my first child’s birth. I knew I wasn’t depressed (I’d suffered depression before, it wasn’t nearly the same). I was angry. An episiotomy had been cut without my knowledge or consent and had done third degree damage. The recovery was very painful and lengthy. I was angry and confused and didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone (not the doc that did it, he’d try to defend himself; not my friends or family, most I wouldn’t want to discuss something that personal with, and those I would feel comfortable talking to would have had episiotomies that were done without their consent and it extended to do serious damage to really understand, a psychologist/counselor would likely slap the PND label on me and prescribe happy pills, not actually helping with the problem). Now I realize a lot of this thinking wasn’t entirely rational, but I wasn’t in an entirely rational state of mind.

          Time and distance helped. The NCB woo that I discovered prior to the conception of my second child helped, at least in the sense that they acknowledged that women can feel the way I did and it doesn’t suggest that you don’t love your child. What didn’t help was their propensity to blame “medical birth”, thereby reinforcing the fear of doctors and hospitals that I’d developed during the first go-round. Fortunately I didn’t get so sucking into the woo that I gave birth OOH; I did go with CNMs the second time, and did have an unmed birth. and it was “healing” in a way. I regained my trust in medical professionals; I can now believe that not every provider will do things against your consent unless you are constantly vigilant.

          Anyway, long way of saying that while, yes, certainly a good deal of mothers who feel badly about the events surrounding their L&D have PND (tho which came first could be difficult to tease out) I know I refused to talk to any professionals out of the simple fear that my concerns and feelings surrounding my oldest child’s birth would be simply written off as PND. Would Prozac have helped me? I kinda doubt it. Feeling like I could talk to someone (other than NCB nutters) who *wouldn’t* dismiss my feelings as mental illness might have gone a long way.

      • Smoochagator

        I think because as a doctor, you have a literal understanding of the word “healing,” and some of us touchy-feely types throw it around in a much more figurative way. What term would you find acceptable? Or do you think it’s unacceptable at all for a mom to say, “My first birth SUCKED, but the second one was soooo awesome, and I feel a lot better about life and motherhood and myself”?

        • Life Tip

          There’s a difference though, between being happy that your second experience was better than a previous negative experience vs. believing that your inability to produce a live baby through a vaginal birth meant that your body was broken or that you were less of a mother, and now that you’ve had your ideal birth, you are somehow whole again. A big difference.

          The first is a normal, human reaction; humans prefer to avoid pain and suffering. The second implies that your sense of worth as a human and as a mother is tied to how well your reproductive system works.

          • Ellen Mary

            So does anyone have a blog for men who feel like their body is broken because of Erectile Dysfunction or low sperm counts or conditions where one testicle is absent or has been removed? I just don’t see a huge push to deconstruct those ideas & I wonder why?

          • Babychu

            Yes. There are many men that have emotions like this around being circumcised as a baby against their will. And having ED or other performing problems.
            Google around, specifically circumcision. There are some youtube videos too.

          • Sue

            There are certainly ”intactivist” sites where men rue the loss of their foreskins without their consent, as infants.

            And ED clinics must be one of the real growth industries.(both Erectile Dysfunction Clinics and Emergency Departments are growing, now that I think of it! Oh, and pun not intended!).

            I don’t think I live in a different world to everyone else here, and I’ve encountered both issues many times.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Words have power and it is important to respect that power. The use of the word “healing” is not accidental. It is in keeping with the NCB insistence that your body is not a lemon and that you are not broken. It implies, quite deliberately, that if you have a birth that deviates from the NCB prescribed ideal it is BECAUSE you are broken and you need to prove that you are not by having an unmedicated vaginal birth.

          It is important to recognize that these experiences are not universal. They are very particular to Western, white, relatively well off women of modern cultures, hence my contention that these ideas are culturally conditioned to serve the purposes of those who profit from NCB.

          • Trixie

            I think where “healing” gets scary is when they talk about VBACs healing you from your prior cesarean. It reinforces the magical thinking that healing emotional scars can heal physical ones. I mean, assume for a moment that VBAC actually did heal emotional scars from prior cesareans — you still have a scar in your uterus that can rupture. You are not like everyone else and no amount of feelings will change that. You still need to be in a hospital to give birth.

          • Ellen Mary

            See what is the purpose of phrases like ‘you are not like everyone else’? Even tho this blog is supposed to be the the AntiNCB I really see a lot of health shaming here too. First: I am like everyone else. Most women who have enough births will eventually encounter a CBirth, statistically, in the year 2014 in the US. Secondly: don’t we agree that basically everyone needs to birth in a hospital or at least accredited facility? So again, just like everyone else.

            I just watched a video of older women that was supposedly all affirming talking about saggy breasts & cellulite. I just don’t see how saying these things about ourselves is supposed to be empowering.

          • Stacy48918

            “health shaming”??
            What does that even mean?

            I think what Trixie is getting at is:
            1) having had a C-section, no amount of mental visualization can wish that scar away. It is now a part of your medical history and carries certain risk factors
            2) others’ good VBAC (or HBAC) experiences are not transferable to you

          • Trixie

            What are you even talking about?
            The purpose of the phrase is that having a prior c/s scar makes you higher risk than someone who doesn’t. No matter how many mantras you repeat to yourself. NCB woo makes it sound like you can make your uterus less likely to rupture through magical thinking. You can’t.

          • Ellen Mary

            Well since many, many US women have Cesarean Scars, IDK why ‘you are not like everyone else’ was necessary, especially since it was followed by ‘you need to birth in a hospital’. First women with a prior C are like a lot of other women & doesn’t everyone technically need to birth in a hospital in the world of SOB?

          • Trixie

            Sigh.
            The risk of homebirth goes up dramatically with a prior cesarean. NCB shills convince women that “they aren’t broken” even when they ARE, in fact, damaged by a previous birth. You aren’t like everyone else; your risk of rupture is much higher. You can’t trust your body not to rupture. And the hideous implication of this is that those who do rupture are at fault for not believing hard enough.

          • Ellen Mary

            I wish you would drop the ‘white’ here. There are plenty of women of color in the NCB movement & the correct term is Caucasian anyway. It is jarring everytime I read ‘white’ because it just isn’t 100% true & feels very racial to me. There isn’t anything wrong with being Caucasian, it doesn’t imply elitism like you seem to think & the NCB movement is just not all one race. You can make your scathing socio economic analysis without the race card.

          • Ellen Mary

            It does not imply that you had a non-NCB birth because you are broken, the implication is that a non-NCB birth breaks you. I think if you asked any NCB advocate they would say the system is broken. I think it is sort of a cheap trick to say ‘hey, she said you had a C/S because you’re broken’

          • Jessica S.

            And most of those people saying the system is broken are not correct. The system is far from *actually* broken – hospitals by and large are more than accommodating to a woman’s requests: birthing positions, equipment, partners, pain meds or not or whatever. It’s when patients that have “educated” by the NCB movement and think they know better than trained professionals, that’s where the disconnect of a “broken system” happens. Women should question their doctors and nurses! No one is saying otherwise. Women should seek out reliable information (like from practice bulletins and such, from reputable sources, with many contributors) so they have an idea of what to expect. No one is suggesting otherwise. But it would be asinine to not defer to the professionals once you’ve asked your questions and run them through your base knowledge. I think it’s important to stay aware so you notice if you aren’t being given adequate care. The NCBers who cry “broken system” make it seem as if most hospitals and doctors are suspect. And that’s simply ridiculous, something they believe because their OWN broken way of thinking.

          • Young CC Prof

            Definitely. Are hospitals perfect? No. However:

            1) The vast majority of the time, they do more good than harm.

            2) The medical system already has mechanisms in place to produce continuous improvement, both on the global level through research and on the local level, through investigation of any mistakes that do happen.

      • Babychu

        I think they are using healing, as in emotionally healing. When you experience trauma, fear, pain there can be an emotionally struggle afterward that can follow a person through the rest of their life and manifest in bad ways. My first csection left me completely traumatized. I really thought i was dying and my child was dying, and begged for a section, telling them she was in there ” right” begged for help, and was left ridiculed, dismissed and chastised for being a first time mom, whiny baby. The pain was outrageous and broke through several epi top offs. Turns out she was OP, and crooked, and I had a bicornuate uterus. They were too lazy to get a kink out of my IV and just removed it and I got a raging infection. Baby didn’t pass meconium and was shipped to another hospital. So I lay for days, shellshocked, in my own filth because no one helped me down the hall to wash, with an infection, starved because they kept accidentally taking my food to other people, never having touched my baby. The experience left me emotionally broken, PD, PTSD, lots of therapy and I felt like yes, my body itself was broken (my messed up uterus), blamed for the positioning problem. My second section was “healing” in that it closed some emotional wounds and made me feel good about birthing a baby. Not that I had a baby to “fix” myself but it did help with those past traumas. It was WONDERFUL. It was like a cloud of fear and disappointment lifted off of me. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been affected by it.

        • AmyP

          Wow, worst hospital ever.

          I didn’t have anything happen on that scale with my first (although there was stupid stuff involving meals and medication), but I did way better with my second and third at different hospitals.

          I think the second and third hospitals and OBs may have been genuinely better, but a lot of the difference was that I was better. I knew to be assertive and what normal looked and felt like and what I wanted and needed, so I was able to be a better patient.

    • Smoochagator

      I should clarify, however, that we shouldn’t necessarily go into birth expecting it to “fix” us, because we can’t guarantee that, nor should we “use” childbirth or, God forbid, our child as a means to an end. But it is okay to hope for a better experience the next time around. It is okay to say, “Oh my goodness, that was so much better than last time! I really feel like a part of me was broken and now it is mended.” The need for emotional healing is real and valid. What is dangerous, downright heinous, is how some predatory “healers” to convince the brokenhearted person that healing can only be found by doing things THIS way or THAT way, and if healing isn’t found, it’s the broken person’s fault. Makes me think of “faith” healers who say that if you can’t pray away your cancer or disability, that means your faith is weak or you are committing secret sins. And I think that’s exactly what Dr. Amy is getting to – the predatory aspect of the NCB movement.

    • Mel

      “Many women need a healing birth after the loss of a child”

      Life and grief don’t work like that.

      I don’t mean to be rude or callous; I speak from what I saw after my baby brother died. My little brother David died suddenly at 11 months old from a birth defect. My mom was 5 months pregnant at the time from a surprise pregnancy. My parents spent the rest of the pregnancy consulting geneticists to try and figure out if the birth defect – David was anatomically normal except he had no spleen – was genetic or just a terrible developmental accident. The consensus was that the birth defect was developmental in nature – the splenic artery clotted off during development and the spleen never developed – and that the next baby could be monitored through an ultrasound soon after birth to see if the spleen was present and blood tests to be sure the other organs were working.

      We just had to wait for that “healing” birth.

      Believe me, I wish our lives had magically returned to normal 5.5 months later when Michael was born.

      It didn’t. Honestly, it never has. A new normal, yes, but not the same as it was before.

      For example, when Mike was born and Dad called Nanna who was watching my twin and I, I panicked. This was before prenatal ultrasounds and Mom was sure the baby was a little girl. When I heard I had another little brother, I was sure he was going to die. I was four years old.

      Anyone who’s making money on”healing” births after losing a child: Go to hell.

      • Smoochagator

        Mel, I was 24 weeks pregnant when my two-year-old son was murdered. My daughter has not replaced my son or erased my grief. I was very scared as I approached her due date, scared that I would resent her or be an emotionally absent or inadequate mother. The rush of love that I felt for her after she was born was comforting – I realized that I wasn’t completely ruined by my son’s death, as I had feared. I could give birth to a dozen children, and there would always be someone missing from our family. But having another little person to hold and dote on has done a lot to heal my heart.

        Some women never want to try for another child after a devastating loss, but a lot of women who experience infant loss, miscarriage, and stillbirth, refer to the next child they have as their rainbow baby – a bright spot of hope after a storm. I don’t speak for all grieving mothers when I say that birth after a loss can be healing, but I know that I speak for some.

        • Lion

          I’m so sorry.

        • Cobalt

          I honestly believe that discovering we were pregnant after losing our oldest child in an accident has kept my husband alive and sane. Creating life after witnessing death (or other great tragedy) can be an instinctive and healing reaction. Does that mean we no longer grieve our daughter? Absolutely not, as grief is a part of love and you cannot ever stop loving your children. But we are healthier mentally now that we have our son than we were before he came to us.

          Healing does not mean without scars.

          • Smoochagator

            Yes, exactly.

          • Sue

            I am lucky enough never to have experienced this sort of tragedy, and thank you all for your insights.

            Could we think of the sequence of events this way? A death and a birth are independent events, one devastating and the other joyful. There is no way that they can ”balance”, or one could cancel out the other. They both contribute to the sum of life’s experiences, but there is no ”nett” emotion from adding or subtracting one from the other.

            Would this make sense?

        • jenny

          I have trouble with the rainbow baby terminology, I think because it feels disloyal to my oldest child, who went through all the hell of losing a younger sister as well as the mostly happy and functional parents she’d had. We were grieving so much and I wanted to love on her more than ever, but I truly felt broken. It took time to be able to take care of her in the way that I felt she deserved. I had to lean so much on friends, and we put her in full time preschool so that she could be looked after by fully present adults. She really missed out. What Mel writes above about worrying (his? her?) brother would die really struck a chord for me. My daughter tells me all the time how happy she is her little brother didn’t die and how sad she is her sister did. We are all very tender with my son, my daughter included, and he is a bright spot to us. But to call my son our “rainbow baby” just…. seems to do her an injustice.

          What you write here makes so much sense, and is very touching and beautiful. I’m glad that your daughter’s presence in your life is a bright spot of hope for you and I’m so sorry for your family’s tragic loss.

          • Mel

            Her. Mel is my preferred nickname for Melinda which a lot of the little ones in my life cannot pronounce and a remnant of pre-teen rebellion against my mom’s “If I wanted to call you by a nickname, I would have named you that in the first place. 🙂

            A wise therapist told me that I was grieving both the loss of David and the loss of how my family was before David died. She’s right.

            My life is a good one and generally a happy one. I love my family. I miss the relationship that David and I could have had. I’ve tried to support others, especially surviving siblings.

          • jenny

            Mel,it always reassures me to read your posts.

          • Smoochagator

            Jenny, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. I know that I almost could not function after my son’s death – I took a three-month leave of absence from work and pretty much hid in my house for days on end – and I can’t imagine having to care for a little person through that time. I am grateful for the fact that I was pregnant when it happened because I honestly am not sure I wouldn’t have hurt myself if I hadn’t been. Or that my marriage would have survived. Grief is just plain old ugly and very, very personal. Not everyone experiences it in the same way, which is why I said that I can’t speak for every grieving mom out there. We all find different ways to process what we went through and find healing.

        • Mel

          Smoochagator, I apologize for hurting you. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your son and glad your daughter brought you some healing and ease.

          I didn’t mean to imply that you were in the wrong at all. I am sorry that I wasn’t clearer on that. Mike was a joy in a very dark time. I think parents need to make the choices for their families.

          My anger is reserved for the well meaning, but agonizing folks who want to know why the loss of the other child still causes pain….After all, you have another baby. Or recommend another baby to stop the pain. Also, anyone who says “I couldn’t handle it if I went through your situation. ” Plus, anyone who tells me how strong our family must be. I still hear these comments and David’s been gone for 27 years now.

          • Smoochagator

            Don’t apologize – I understand exactly what you mean about those people who just don’t “get” it and say things that are, as you said, well-meaning but hurtful. When people say they can’t imagine how awful it must be to lose a child, I want to say, “No, you can imagine it. It’s just as terrible as you think it would be.” And I hear a lot about how strong I am, but I’m not sure that I’m any stronger than the countless men and women who have been through the same thing – and it is many more people than we realize, I think. No child can be replaced. No loved one can be replaced. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, especially for the fear you experienced as a young child. It’s hard enough to go through grief as an adult, but I think it must be doubly scary and confusing as a child.

  • wookie130

    I used to belong to a dog lover’s forum, and there always seemed to be a bitch who needed a c-section in order to save her life, and the life of her pups. So, take THAT, Ina May!!! I’m sure water buffaloes and rhinoceri would opt for c-sections if they knew that they were medically necessary during birth as well!

    • Siri

      Everybody’s got a water buffalo; mine is fast but yours is slow…

      • Mishimoo

        Where we got them, I don’t know but everybody has a water buffaloooo!

        • araikwao

          Oh whoops!your comment hadn’t loaded when I made mine!

          • Mishimoo

            You know the song too?! 😀

          • araikwao

            That Silly Songs with Larry album was part of the soundtrack to my late teenage years! I used to be able to do “I Love My Lips” word perfect. (Which also features a buffalo..)
            Hey, wait, where did my comment go? Never mind, it was pretty much the same as yours.

          • Mishimoo

            Mine too! One of my best friends and I used to sing The Water Buffalo song on our way between classes or when we were bored. We still do in chat sometimes, even though we’re on the other side of the country from each other.

          • Siri

            Everybody’s got a baby kangaroo…

      • araikwao

        Oh, where do you get them? I don’t know…

    • pinkyrn

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Kingdom Remember the show Wild Kingdom with Marlon Perkins? It was popular when I was a kid. In the natural world each week the viewing audience could watch animals eat each other. Cause that is what happens in the natural world.

      • Amy M

        I thought it was Marty Stouffer? *That was Wild America, sorry

    • Mel

      I’m grateful we don’t have to worry about traumatizing our cows when we help in delivery. Once they see the calf, 95% of them are so busy licking the calf, they could care less about the 10 minutes before that. (The other 5% are busy lapping up amniotic fluid or attempting to eat the amniotic sac and/or placenta. With the second group, a tug of war ensues to prevent them having the sac/placenta cover their windpipe and suffocate.)

      Now, we worry about traumatizing anyone who sees a calf jack being used since it looks much worse than it really is.
      (http://beefmagazine.com/health/calving/using-calf-puller-0301?page=1)

      • Trixie

        Man, I love large animal veterinary equipment catalogs.

        • Stacy48918

          LOL!

        • Sue

          Like those long-long-long gloves so you can bury your arm in up to the armpits? Eeeewwwwww.

          • Stacy48918

            Aw…my Saturday morning palpation times were some of my favorite vet school memories. If it’s a cold winter morning at least your arm is warm!

            Medicine is amazing and we have some very advanced technology. But so often very simple physical exam techniques are the crux of the case.

            And holding an ovary in your hand, counting follicles…cool!

          • Trixie

            The husbandry section in general is pretty phenomenal.

      • Jennifer2

        I will never be phased by a speculum again!

  • NoLongerCrunching

    Do you think that mothers cling to this idea because they don’t want to accept that they fell for the lies? A big part of the attraction to NCB is being able to feel smarter, more educated and let’s face it, a superior mother than other women. Accepting that you’ve been duped would mean accepting that you’re no different than other mothers, and are actually less educated and more of a sheeple than women who trusted the real experts in birth.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      That’s part of it, but I think the larger part is failure to question the cultural pressure. It’s like hating yourself because you aren’t thin instead of questioning the culture that insists that thin is superior.

      • Ellen Mary

        Right but then there is the part where obesity has legit health risks. There is a body positive woman who is very very large on one of my forums that insists that her weight doesn’t make L&D one iota higher in risk for her . . . We all know that is not true, although I am sure some of the risks do come from provider prejudice, certainly not all of them do. So you can question the culture that says that thin is superior to a point, but if you reject it as being in any way advantageous, then it becomes its own issue.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Not being a size 2 is not obesity. Plenty of women feel terrible about being 5 or 10 pounds above the perfect weight and they face no health problems at all.

          My point is that in both cases the feelings of disappointment and failure, while real, are culturally determined. The answer to feeling bad about your birth experience is not to have a do over so you can get it right. The answer is to reject the philosophy that tells you you did it wrong.

          • NoLongerCrunching

            In fact, isn’t actually healthier to be a little overweight?

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Right now I weigh 119, but I like the way I look when I weigh 130, both weights are a healthy BMI for me and neither puts me in a size 2.

          • Amy M

            I can agree with that Dr. Amy, but its easier said than done. How many women on here who used to be very NCB have said how they got into it because all of their friends were and how long it took them to find their way out and how hard that was? And how many lost their friends along the way? That’s really tough—in the case of NCB, rejecting the philosophy is rejecting the constituents, and any woman who does so will find herself shunned.

            I’m not saying women shouldn’t reject the philosophy–the idea that birth SHOULD be a certain way or you fail as a woman is absolute crap, but how can we convince the ones who are deep in to see that?

        • Carrie Looney

          Again, it’s a matter of perspective. Focusing on being thin above all else, seeing thin-ness as the ideal and the only thing to strive for, leads to unhealthy choices, eating disorders, etc. Seeing health as the ultimate goal, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise and having your body land where it does – that seems to be the parallel to having your child in the easiest and healthiest way for you and your own body/situation, rather than clinging to a VB as the ideal at the expense of health.

        • Trixie

          That’s not what she’s talking about. Take me. I’m almost the exact size, weight and height — although not in as good shape as — a famous plus size model. PLUS size. And I have a normal BMI and am in perfect health. But to look like the girls in magazines, I’d need to lose about 45 lbs.

        • Guest

          OT on obesity risks. Sobering article on stillbirth risk in Gray Journal, in the last month or two, according to BMI and gestational age. In addition to fetal growth disorders, IUFD, CS rate, postoperative complications, preeclampsia, diabetes and sleep apnea risks, providers have some very disturbing stillbirth rates. While there may be some overt discrimination obesity, the risks are very real in this population so not really provider prejudice.

          I haven’t heard obesity as a risk out factor for HB, but it most certainly should be on the list.

        • Staceyjw

          You just can’t let Dr Amy make a point without derailing, can you?

          She said NOTHING about anything in your post. Hating your weight because of cultural constructs is one thing, and the discussion of actual health is another.

          I notice you do this all the time. You take one word or phrase, from a post and expound on it, in an unrelated way. Pretty much every comment you post, which never seem to be on any of the posts about facts, killer MWs, or actual deaths, does this.

          I know I can’t be the only person that notices this.

  • Zoey

    You know, I had what might be called a “healing birth.” It was a elective repeat C-section. My first birth was a days-long failed induction with inadequate pain relief that ended in an emergency C-section. Following the birth, I was very anxious about the idea of giving birth again, and not because I had failed to achieve a natural birth but because the feeling of being out of my mind with pain for such a long time and having nothing help me WAS terrifying. I chose a repeat C-section because I could have access to pain relief and control over the experience. I look back on my second birth fondly, and it helped me “get over” my crappy first experience.

    However, this doesn’t really fit into the NCB ideology cookie cutter experience of what I was supposed to want. How could I *not* want a healing VBAC even though I was a suitable candidate? It’s almost like different people have different wants and needs for their births or something. It’s a shame that NCB advocates can’t understand this.

    • jen

      This is EXACTLY what happened to me. Four day induction, crash c-section at 3:30 am, separated from the baby for far longer than I wanted to be (no issues with him; the hospital had a policy where you were separated from the baby and it went to the nursery while you were in recovery) to having a scheduled repeat c-section that I can only describe as lovely. I freaking loved my OB, my nurse was the sweetest thing walking this planet, and I felt totally “with it” during the surgery and got to see my placenta afterward. (I’m a lawyer. The chances I would be able to see a placenta in my line of work are minimal at best.) It was so.so.so good and the best day of my life. I loved and was so grateful to have such an amazing experience after having such a horseshit one. Both kids were healthy and loved equally but I count the second one as the best day of my life. I had no desire to have a VBAC, mainly because I was hopeful that my OB would be able to fix my first scar a bit. And she did!

      • Carrie Looney

        “I was hopeful that my OB would be able to fix my first scar a bit. And she did!”

        Are you willing to talk more about this? Are you talking about the external (skin) scar?

        • Haelmoon

          I excise all previous scars so that women are left with only one scar. I do a little cosmetic work on the way out to try and prevent the common pukering of the scar I frequently see. I have even had a plastic surgeon completment my technique (patient with bad scar first c-section, was going to have it revised by plastic surgery, but then had a surprise pregnancy and repeat c-section – didn’t need any revision afterwards). It is important to make sure there is a layer of subcutaneous fat (especially in the thin women) between the skin incision and fascial incision so that they are not fused. I always close a layer called Scarpa’s fascia.
          However, i can not prevent hematomas, wound dehiscense and other complications (especially keloids). A large part of how the scar heals is based on genetics, and I cant fix that.

          • Carrie Looney

            Thank you for the infomation!

          • Trixie

            You know, when my very competent OB saw me at 6 weeks after my c/s, and noticed one side of my scar was a bit thick compared to the other side, she was visibly a little irritated with herself. I found it endearing.

          • Stacy48918

            I get irritated if my incisions look off too…and my patients are just going to grow hair right back over it anyway!

            I get REALLY irritated if it looked beautiful post-op and the bugger chews the stitches out the next day because the owner felt bad having to put an E-collar on their dog… I worked hard on that! 😛

          • AmyP

            It took me a while to figure out you’re a vet!!!!

          • Mishimoo

            Or if the owner allows them to jump out of the car, ripping open the stitches from being spayed.

          • Amy M

            My mom had a Shepherd that evidently hated the way the vet did the stitches and kept chewing them open. After bringing the dog back once or twice with the same results, my mom (who was a medical technologist at the time) finally decided to do it herself, and the dog left it alone after that. This was before I was born, so I don’t know how true this story is, but that’s what she tells me.

          • Theoneandonly

            I’m only just 12 weeks pregnant and haven’t had the opportunity to ask my OB yet, but this has piqued my curiosity. I had a C-section (failed induction due to ICP) in February 2012, and then a ruptured ectopic last December which resulted in a laparotomy almost the length of my C-section but about 5mm higher (the C-section is just within the pubic hair, the laparotomy just above – the registrar for the laparotomy said he didn’t want to bother clipping in the emergency situation – lots of internal bleeding)
            Anyhoo – for the OB’s on this board, should I choose/need another C-section what would you do with my 2 scars? Would you re-cut the C-section and leave the laparotomy? Would you cut them both out?

        • jen

          What Haelmoon said is very much what my OB seemed to try to do. She mentioned something about making sure the subcutaneous fat was doing the right thing and I am very thin so now I know that is important. She also used a weird (or what I thought was weird) close — I had a permanent stitch that she removed on post op day 3. I didn’t have any dissolving stitches (like my first c-section) or staples on my skin scar. My brother is an OB and husband is a doctor and they both said that no one really closes c-sections that way because it takes forever, which it did. No idea what my uterine scar was like, this is my last kid so I don’t really care; I just assumed it was fine. I was only interested in the cosmetics of the outer scar. I just had this feeling that the intern closing me on my first section did a shit job and it wasn’t just genetics and my Jedi master OB confirmed that for me when I got my amazing scar.

    • pinkyrn

      I used to work in a large hospital that has specific nurses do all the repeat elective c-sections during the day shift. I have met a lot of folks who were very happy to have an elective c-section because it was way less traumatic than the stat section they went through for their prior birth. It was not at all uncommon for her partner to say, “This is so much better. It is nice not being scared shit my wife or child is going to die.”

  • Ellen Mary

    Do you expect real answers here? Clearly you do not. I am grateful that I have OB providers that do actually recognize birth trauma as real. My mom is a nurse who has had many surgeries & recognizes surgical trauma as real also & says she has experienced it after every surgery, some of which were nearly elective.

    The most traumatic part of my hospital births & conversely the most healing part of my out of hospital birth was the humiliation factor. After the birth I would imagine myself shaking uncontrollably on the table or trying to have a meaningful informed consent discussion in a room full of uniformed professional strangers, while wearing an oxygen mask & no pants & it was traumatic & something I had to recover from. Another traumatic part about both births was being confined to the bed. In my second hospital birth I managed that trauma by requesting an otherwise undesired epidural, because I am convinced that the combination of being restricted to a bed + unmedicated labor is straight inhumane & that is how I spent my first labor, for 12 hours. I honestly was not at all traumatized by the unmedicated labor in which I was not bed restricted.

    Was it as traumatic as a perinatal loss or crash transfer? No. But discounting legitimate trauma as the exclusive product of Birth Woo is doing no one any favors.

    • Bombshellrisa

      I understand how feeling humiliated factors in, but being restricted to bed is “traumatic”? I will never be able to forget the way the birth of my dd went (not awesome except for the getting a beautiful baby part) and how helpless I felt when I went into labor at 35 weeks with my water breaking as I lay in bed and then driving to the hospital and being told I was dilated to nine. It was stuff I didn’t expect and it threw me for a loop, but the way I felt can’t be healed by having another birth that went well. I can’t call what happened traumatic, although with my dd’s birth I was triggered and the nurse caring for me was using the “distraction” method of labor pain relief and the two doctors there when I delivered were male (which was upsetting but could not be helped). Not what I expected or wanted, but going back and having an epidural and a female doc can’t “undo” what has been done.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        Not what I expected or wanted, but going back and having an epidural and a female doc can’t “undo” what has been done.

        My sister’s first was stillborn. Does her three beautiful girls that she had after that make that stillbirth ok or somehow better?

        That seems to be the idea here, and I just don’t know.

        • AllieFoyle

          Of course not. But it’s common for people who’ve undergone something traumatic to replay it over and over, often imagining alternate versions where things played out differently. Feeling that “if only this had/hadn’t happened” there might have been a different outcome, and wishing to go back in time and change things. No, it’s not strictly rational, but it is normal and human.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            But back to Risa’s point. Does a do-over that goes well actually “undo” the trauma of the first one?

          • AllieFoyle

            Well, how nuanced do you want to get here? Nothing can ever undo an event that has already occurred, but memory, trauma, and all experience, to various extents, are encoded in the brain via neural connections, patterns of activation, etc. The brain is a plastic organ and these patterns and associations can be altered through new inputs. You’re never going to “undo” a tragic event, but the way the brain encodes it and a person experiences it can change over time and with new experiences.

          • Siri

            In my experience, yes. Feeling safe and accepted at work can make memories of bullying in a prior job less painful. Finding a great new partner can heal feelings of rejection by a previous partner. Hell, a sunny holiday can help the memory of a washout fade away, and a great dinner can cancel out the memory of a rubbish one. This is pretty basic human psychology; have you really never experienced it?

          • Mom2Many

            I feel like I sort of understand what Bofa is getting at here. I mean, I have had several miscarriages, one of them being the twin of my now teenager. Having had a healthy pregnancy/birth after that one, is it sensitive to my surviving twin to rave about the healing birth of his sibling 2 years after his traumatic pregnancy? Was I relieved at the healthy pregnancy and birth? Duh, of course I was relieved! But healed? I just feel like using that word is missing some key nuance of the word.

          • doctorex

            I don’t think so. Indeed, the very theory of trauma is that it comes back up over and over again because it couldn’t be integrated into your experience of self. I think the whole idea of healing birth trauma is kind of crass. Particularly when ncbers compare their trauma to the holocaust or to rape. I mean in therapy the person counseling a sex abuse victim might hope that they can change the way abuse conditioned their sexuality, but can you imagine it being anything but crass if we told rape victims they just needed to go out and have totally caring and sensitive sex and it would solve all their problems.

        • Therese

          I’ve definitely heard of people talk about how it was healing to have a baby after a previous loss.

        • AmyP

          If your first was stillborn and then you couldn’t have any children at all and you wanted them very badly, yes, that would be worse than having a stillborn followed by three healthy girls. It would give you a little distraction, at the very least. A lot of people are eaten up from the inside by infertility.

          I did very well to have a healthy baby as soon as I could after a late miscarriage.

          It wasn’t a complete cure, by any means, but it did help a lot.

      • AllieFoyle

        She said unmedicated labor + being confined to bed was inhumane. Not my experience either; I wasn’t interested in or able to do much more than scream, but I can imagine severe pain that makes you feel compelled to move around and not being able to could be overwhelming.

        Why do we always have to question whether other women’s experiences rise to some arbitrary level of awfulness? People are different; their experiences are different too. I can’t imagine Anna T’s practically painless perfect births or Ellen Mary’s c-section grief, and I’m sure they can’t imagine my experience. Doesn’t make any of them less valid.

        • Mac Sherbert

          Sometimes I think they forget to ask WHY they weren’t allowed to get up. With my first my back started to hurt and I wanted to walk around. Plus, I was bored just sitting in bed. My nurse said NO!. I was confused I had seen other women up walking around…come on.

          So, I asked her why not? Answer…I was dilated, had ruptured membranes and a high baby. She was worried about cord prolapse. She didn’t want a rushed trip to the OR.

        • Bombshellrisa

          I don’t question the fact she (or anyone else) can feel traumatized by what happened during a birth. What I don’t believe is that having another birth that goes well will fix that. I think someone who has experienced any kind of trauma should be seeking out a good psychologist or psychiatrist to help them talk out and process their feelings so they can move on from what happened to them. It does take work and time to do that (especially finding the right mental health provider) but it’s worth it.

          • AllieFoyle

            I agree, but I also think there’s no reason to be dismissive of women’s experiences and the suffering or distress that sometimes ensues, or to mock them for wishing things had happened differently or for finding a subsequent experience healing.

      • I was lying on my back for my first birth and it was horrible (and so was the whole birth, luckily she was fine and will be 5 next month). The second time I wanted to move around. I delivered on the bed but kneeling and holding on to the bed (that was sort of broken down so that I could hold on to it). The third time I got pain relief and being in bed wasn’t so bad, I was actually very comfortable.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Yes, I expect real answers so please answer. What was broken after your first birth?

      Humiliation is not the answer because it has nothing to do with birth. You can be humiliated by any form of medical treatment but I don’t notice anyone suggesting that they want to have a “healing” triple bypass because their first one was humiliating.

      What I am getting at here is the indoctrination factor. It was NCB that told you were broken because you didn’t have the birth they THEY approve and it is NCB that tells you you can be “healed” by finally having the birth that THEY approve.

      It’s no different that the fashion industry. They set the standard; they tell you when you fall short; they tell you when you you’re allowed to feel good about yourself again because you have met THEIR ideal.

      • Ellen Mary

        I am really over NCB: I wasn’t scared of losing my NCB friends when they were wheeling me into the OR, I was afraid of losing my *actual life* because that is an actual risk during a surgery & I perceived it as even greater during my first ever time in the OR.

        I already had partially broken up with NCB by not choosing HomeBirth even tho I was a low risk candidate in a legal state with insurance coverage for it . . . I was also deeply afraid of feeling my surgery, which did end up happening but it was actually fine. But because I was caught off guard by the surgery (as any low risk first time mother with 2 previous vaginal deliveries would be), I was crying & depressed & defeated during it & feeling that way during your child’s birth is itself traumatic. I deeply agree that planned Cesareans can also be healing for this reason.

        You would not have a healing triple bypass if the first was humiliating, but getting respectful medical care in future encounters (which would certainly be necessary) could be healing. And while I deeply appreciate the ability to be awake & aware for my Cesarean, the actual triple bypass itself can’t really be traumatic because you are under general for it?

        • Ellen Mary

          Sorry, typo, that should read third time mother.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          You’re values indicate that you aren’t over NCB at all. You still accepted the indoctrination that not having a vaginal delivery meant you were broken and you could be “healed” by having one.

          • Ellen Mary

            I didn’t have a Cesarean because my body was broken, I had one because my baby had a double cord knot. Now did my body somehow contribute to him getting that knot? IDK. I know male gender is a risk factor & I had no control over that. I do wonder if I hadn’t consented to membrane stripping, I might have not had PROM, & my baby might have been able to get further along in labor without decels, but at no point did I think my body was broken & that was the indication for my cesarean.

            NOW my uterus has a scar on it, that is the broken part, but it is healing & still that scar could mean I get morbidly adherent placenta or a scar pregnancy next time, or Adenomyosis later. If I wind up with a hysterectomy during my next delivery I will consider my reproductive organs ‘broken’ because they will be?

        • Bombshellrisa

          It can be very traumatic coming out of general (so I have been told). Pretty sure anything where you can’t control what is happening to you can be traumatic.

        • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

          I’m starting to take real issue with this whole traumatic birth experience. Let me explain trauma. Trauma is getting hit head on by a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road and breaking your femur, radius, pelvis, face and 4 vertebrae and then being trapped in your car with sheets covering your body while they use the jaws of life to remove you and hoping you don’t die
          Trauma is waking up 2 weeks later and not knowing what the hell happened to you and having your mom and brother explain that your friend died and you are very hurt and had 5 surgeries already and will be in the hospital for a very long time. Trauma is the course of your whole life being altered by a horrible event, not having an undesired c/s and a healthy baby.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          I had a tonsillectomy when I was 17 that was pretty traumatic even for my parents and I was under general anesthesia. They said it would take 30 minutes and it took 4 1/2 hours. I partially woke up and dreamed I was dying hovering above my body. Then when it was over my tongue was double it’s normal size and bleeding from being clamped down so long and I had to stay in the hospital for 3 days instead of overnight. I mean this is much simpler than open heart surgery.

    • Siri

      Sorry if this sounds snarky, it’s not meant as such – why didn’t you just get out of bed? You are an autonomous adult. Not hospital property.

      • Ellen Mary

        You can’t get out of bed & stay on good terms with your care providers once they decide you need to be on your left side for the baby. If you are allowed out of bed in a hospital birth it is only because the monitor tracing is awesome. Otherwise: back in the bed. I don’t know the answer but I know I hate it & it feels awful.

        • Mac Sherbert

          So they weren’t making you stay in bed to be mean or because they thought the bed was the only place to labor. They were doing it for the safety of your baby.

          I’m sure it did feel awful, but what if they had let you get up and the baby suffered damage or the monitor tracing got so bad you were then rushed to the OR?

          • AllieFoyle

            They could have been doing everything right and it could still have been legitimately traumatic for the person experiencing it.

          • Lena

            “Legitimately?” No. Come on. It takes an amazing lack of perspective to feel traumatized by something like that when for a normal person it would, at most, be an annoyance to be confined to a bed. Let’s stop coddling the demographic that already has the easiest life.

          • AllieFoyle

            No one is “coddling a demographic” here. We’re talking about a real person who had an experience that she found traumatic. She suffered and struggled psychologically and it seems to have damaged her relationship with the medical establishment, and could perhaps have driven her to NCB circles and dangerous practices. She shared a painful personal experience here in earnest answer to Dr. Amy’s question and has received little but mocking and condescension in return. If you’re only interested in mocking other women, then go ahead, but if you’re actually interested in understanding why some women feel hurt or damaged by their births and feel the need for healing then maybe try a little harder to consider the perspective of the human being you are discussing. She isn’t whining about lying down; she’s saying she found it traumatic to be in severe pain and confined to one position for 12 hours!

          • Lena

            I really have a hard time with the idea that everyone’s suffering is equal. She’s complaining about being in pain–which is to be expected when one is in labor without pain relief–and being confined to a bed. If she was actually traumatized and not just being hyperbolic*, that’s…a bit much, is as kindly as I can put it.

            *I wonder if it’s just a case of too many people using the word trauma inaccurately.

          • AllieFoyle

            Severe pain, especially if it lasts a long time and you are unable to control it, can be traumatic. Maybe it’s less objectively traumatic than other things, but this is a discussion of why women might feel psychological distress after childbirth, and why they might be attracted to promises of a healing experience or a philosophy with a narrative that acknowledges their distress.

          • Ellen Mary

            I think they have a pretty low threshold for making mothers stay in the bed, as it is not really considered an intervention . . . Just my opinion though. The reason for it made me very unlikely to defy it but it didn’t make it feel any better. I’d love to see a study on whether the actual gains are worth it.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            But if you weren’t primed by NCB to resent being asked to stay in bed, would you have resented it the way that you did?

          • Ellen Mary

            Yk, that is a question for the philosophers. If I had never heard of NCB, I would have never had a birth in which I was free to move around at will. So I wouldn’t have known how much more tolerable that was. But if I had never heard of your blog, I might have hired a round the way Midwife for that birth instead of an OB, so maybe I would associate being allowed to move around with loss? Hard to say. Being stuck in bed while contracting is just painful . . . Epidurals make it more tolerable. Next time I may seek out a facility that allows ‘walking’ Epidurals.

          • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

            I think you would have had a better experience if your expectations for a natural birth were not so high and you gave yourself a little more flexibility when it came to how you needed to give birth.

          • Ellen Mary

            It is a very reasonable thing to expect a vaginal birth after two vagibal births, the second wholly uncomplicated, after a wholly uneventful pregnancy. It is a statistically extremely reasonable expectation.

          • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

            It was definitely reasonable, but people expectations are not always realistic when the situation changes. Statistically, shit happens and the more times you give birth the more likely something different will happen. Birth wasn’t meant to be perfect and claiming trauma from having an unexpected c/s and a healthy, living baby being the result is wrong and takes away from people who experience real trauma like death or disfigurement.

          • Ellen Mary

            Who is the judge of who qualifies for trauma? I could say & have said that others have far worse trauma, but dealing with the trauma I do have has been beneficial for my family . . . I mean by your logic, maybe no one with access to Western Medical care gets to claim trauma because people have it far worse overseas or even in Mexico . . .

          • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

            Common senseand realism.is the judge
            Your application of trauma is not logical or rational to people who have experienced real trauma that was disfiguring, life altering and beyond repair.

          • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

            Logical common sense and rational thinking are the judge.

          • Mac Sherbert

            They probably do have a low threshold. As a special education teacher I prefer an OB and hospital with a low threshold. It’s not uncommon for parents to never really know why their child has the problems they have. I don’t need studies after talking to those parents. Even if there is a very slight chance my baby might not be getting enough oxygen keep me in bed.

            If you want to take that chance, then that would be your choice. And maybe they should have let you take that chance? However, I don’t want my doctor making choices for me based on women who want to have an unmediated birth and need to move around. I think that is the real issue…NBC advocates tend to want thing done to suit them, but forget that not all women want that. They want things to change based on their beliefs when most women are just fine with the way things are. So, they sell false and misleading information to women…they tell women they should be unhappy with how they were treated. In some cases it’s very close to brainwashing.

        • Siri

          There is so much that’s wrong with that statement! I know the answer; get different care providers who treat you like an adult. What you’re describing is blackmail and malpractice; utterly unacceptable. But I do also think that as patients we need to pluck up courage, or arm ourselves with advocacy, and stand up to care providers like that; literally stand up in the case of enforced bed lying.

        • wookie130

          See, this is where I just don’t get it. I mean, it’s no fun to have to stay in bed. Lord knows, I was pretty bed-ridden after my c-section, and it’s just uncomfortable, boring, what have you. And as a youngster, when my mom made me stay in bed when I was sick, that was hard too! But traumatic? Am I out of line when I say that I think that’s just over the top? In my experience, while it was no fun to be sore and confined, I just took that time in bed to drink in my baby, cuddle her, rest, and I guess I just sucked it up, as I knew it was a temporary state-of-being. I mean, in my rational sense, I knew that I wouldn’t be laying in bed forever from my c-section. Perhaps I’m just not empathetic enough towards the feelings of others, I don’t know. I just know that it was not an emotionally-scarring experience for ME, and that I fail to wrap my head around the comments of people who speak of this in terms of “trauma.” I really do not get it.

          • Ellen Mary

            It isn’t staying in bed. Heck I am in bed now! It is being confined to a bed *while laboring* & ernestly trying to deliver a baby, without pain relief. I didn’t care one bit about being in bed after my cesarean.

          • wookie130

            I can understand this, Ellen. Like I mentioned to Allie above, I was just looking at the “lying in bed” component of the whole thing, and not considering the fact that you were having an unmedicated labor also!

          • AllieFoyle

            You don’t see how lying in bed in a restorative way when sick or recovering is different from being in severe labor pain confined in an uncomfortable position for 12 hours?

          • wookie130

            No, Allie, in that case, I suppose I do. I just was more or less looking at that “confined to the bed” aspect in terms of my own experience…but I suppose laboring in the bed unable to move would be quite awful for a good number of people.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Maybe you picked the wrong providers. The only time I had to stay in bed on my left side is when my blood pressure shot up to seizure range.

    • wookie130

      Forgive me, but I guess people just have different levels of sensitivity. I too was all shaky on the operating table, afraid, pants-less, etc., but fully accepted it as part of MY birth experience. I had never had surgery before, so naturally I was nervous, and wanted it to be over, etc. But traumatized? No. And once my daughter was pulled out, and shown to me for the first time, I was about the happiest human this side of the Western hemisphere. Seeing that pink screaming little she-person for the first time erased all of the fear, the anxiety, and whatever else I was feeling moments ago…it was beautiful, actually. I’m looking forward to doing it again in August, and I don’t feel that I need my son’s birth to “heal” me, or that my vagina needs to endure anything at all. My son will be enough, thank you very much. I pray he’s as healthy, noisy, strong, and squirmy as his big sister was last year. Trauma? I just think that this point of view is a bit melodramatic, and quite honestly, silly. It certainly the diminishes what I perceive to be REAL trauma, such as nearly bleeding to death, drowning, being assaulted, losing your home in a fire, etc. Again, I do apologize, as I realize everyone has their own perceptions of different experiences, but all of this “birth trauma” stuff…I don’t know. It seems a bit over-the-top, attention-seeking, and…self-victimizing.

    • My hip replacement two years ago was far more traumatic than any of my three C/Ss. the degree to which I had to be dependent on male nurses for intimate care was surprising and not pleasant. More than once I had to practiaclly beg for pain relief. It really wasn’t a pleasant experience, but somehow it didn’t cause me permanent psychological damage, and it certainly eventually improved my quality of life, altho it took considerable time until this became apparent.

    • Jenny_from_da_Bloc

      Nobody said trauma wasn’t real, I think the issue that people are taking with the healing birth is that birth was never meant to heal. Maybe having a different experience would be more desirable than an ECS or an epidural, but it is the whole concept that anything other than a natural birth is traumatic. A birth experience is all based on perspective and someone with the same or similar experience wouldn’t be traumatized because their baby was born healthy while someone who was dead set on the so-called natural birth will claim to to traumatized. Trauma is a very serious word and people who have experienced life changing trauma might take issue with someone claiming to be traumatized by an epidural, c/s or nubain when everything turned out great in the end. Real trauma usually does not have a happy or desirable ending or outcome.

    • Haelmoon

      Just because the experience was traumatic, it does not mean that a “redo” will fix the problems of that last experience. My first was a crash section for cord prolapse. I am high risk for airway complications (an the anaesethiologist knew it personally because he had previously cared for me in surgery when I needed to be reintubated after the surgery was done). I had to have a spinal because thee risks were very high to my health if I went to sleep, inspite of the abnormal heart rate my daughter had. Needless to say, they started as quick as possible, with the spinal not being fully effectived, and I was snowed with ketamine once she was out. It was a horrible experience and evening traumatizing (I knew exactly what as happening because I could feel the levels and I am an OB, there was not hiding the risk here). Another birth would not make that experience any less traumatizing. That will always be a scary momment in my life, and instead of trying to fix the experience, I have used it to move forward, and hopefully become a better doctor because I actually know what is means to be afriad for my life and my daughter’s life.
      My next two births were definitingly not healling, inspite of being “perfect” from an NCB point of view – i had a VBAC (but complicated by prematuiry and chorio) and an unmedicated VBAC breech (completely unplanned and VERY VERY scary given that it was almost unassisted). Nothing with heal those experiences. I am envious of women with uncomplicated deliveries, but I have moved on – I still have bad dreams from time to time, but I am healthy and my kids are healthy. The experience matters, but the outcome matters more!!

    • guest

      I think the problem might be that we, as a culture, need to recognize that most, MOST births are inherently traumatic. They are painful and hard and it seems like most – again MOST – women lose control during labor. It’s humiliating and hard and incredibly painful. Do I think doctors (OBs here, yes – but probably most doctors, really) need some training on how to empathize with patients – absolutely. But the healing birth idea seems to indicate that we have some control over how our births happen, and, I think for the most part – we don’t. We just get lucky or we don’t.

    • Rlbobg

      It is unfortunate that you gave birth in a room full of strangers (& most people AREN’T wearing pants when they give birth but they usually are covered up in some way). I think a major problem is giving birth withOUT knowing, and feeling comfortable with, your birth attendants. The idea of “having a close and trusting” relationship with your Ob or even your hospital-based CNM is too often absent. Bringing that back might do a lot to remove the fears of “what the hospital birth experience will be like”.

    • Renee

      No one said anything about actual trauma.

    • Sabrina Hunt

      Seriously? It’s “legitimate trauma” to have to stay in a bed? I really don’t understand this. Surgical trauma, ok. But would you have considered it a trauma to be put on bed rest? Or would you be acting in the best interests of your child? I do not believe you have ever suffered a real trauma, if this is how you define it. Did your child live? Then you can get over it.

    • Lioness

      I agree with you 100% about the traumatic aspect- humiliation.
      My birth had 2 traumatic aspects to it- the humiliation aspect and the fear for my baby’s welfare as he was in distress. The fear aspect resolved itself seeing how he turned out just fine. The humiliation aspect still haunts me. So over the long term, the humiliation aspect turned out to be more traumatic.

  • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

    Here’s one of the problems I see: the premise is completely wrong!

    My body IS a lemon! My knees are knobbier than all get out, and I can’t see worth damn without help. Aside from lots of other problems.

    Now, Ina May might tell me that such imperfections don’t make my body not a lemon. But if that is the case, then why should any other imperfections, such as infertility or not being able to deliver a child safely without intervention, make it a lemon?

    Come on, who in the blazes thinks their body is perfect in the first place? And once you accept that your body isn’t perfect, then it’s merely an issue of degree.

    Again, they will claim that some things, like bad eyesight, are just a “variation of normal.” But then, why wouldn’t childbirth with intervention just be a variation of normal, too? I am not completely blind. I can see without my glasses, I just can’t see well. Why can’t we say the same thing about childbirth without it being some major insult?

    • the wingless one

      My body is also a lemon! Lupus nephritis, my immune system left to it’s own devices likes to attack my joints, RBC, and kidneys for the most part, but sometimes amuses itself with other organs too. It’s possible, but unlikely, that my son and I would have made it through pregnancy (and for him, the first few weeks of his life) without all the benefits of modern medicine supporting us.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    OT: If you are being served ads before blog posts it’s not because I put them there. I don’t know if it’s malware of from my webhost, but I will find out and get rid of them.

    • Trixie

      This is minor, but I noticed lately that when I have Disqus notifications, and want to click on one to see where someone replied to me, it opens a brand new tab. It used to just go to that part of the thread. This gets cumbersome if you have more than 1-2 notifications.

  • Deborah

    “Your body is not a lemon… Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo…”
    How about hyenas? They’re way more natural than we are and make our “curse of Eve” look like a walk in the park.

    • Happy Sheep

      It’s funny how she says that, but hasn’t looked at the morbidity and mortality for those species. I am not a vet or zoologist, but I can guarantee it isn’t 0.

    • NoLongerCrunching

      She didn’t mention gorillas, but they have a giant hole in their pelvis that their baby can pass through easily. Yet even they need c-sections sometimes.

  • Zornorph

    I’ve never really understood the idea that a ‘do over’ of an experience that went badly would heal it. Is it sort of a ‘get back up on the horse’ kind of thing? Or more like you didn’t win the race so you spent another year training in hopes of winning the first place medal the second time?
    I do think it’s very unfair to the child who was the product of the first pregnancy, though. Women who need ‘hearing’ births tend to blog excessively about such things – one day the child is going to read those words – would you really want to know that your birth caused so much distress to your mother that she had to have another child to heal from it? All I can do is compare it to those children whose mothers died in childbirth and then found themselves blamed by either the father or other siblings for ‘killing’ their mother. I think it’s the height of selfishness to subject your child to such issues.

    • AllieFoyle

      I think I can answer that. I’d never have another child just for the purpose of having a healing experience, but I did think about, and on some level, wish to substitute the birth experience I had — which was natural, painful, damaging, and left me feeling violated — with one in which I was treated respectfully, had my choices honored, was not humiliated or violated, and wasn’t in pain or fear. My experience of childbirth and pregnancy was (and probably will always be, to an extent) tainted by those negative feelings. It would be nice to be able to think of the subject (which comes up often in conversation, tv, books, movies, etc.) without being flooded with shame, sadness, and anger. If I were going to have another child, I think it would be genuinely healing to be able to have a calm, respectful c-section and create new, positive feelings and associations to supersede the old memories and emotions. It has to do with the experience and the psychological state that contributed to, not a lack of love or sense of resentment for my child, who had absolutely nothing to do with the care I received.

      • Amy M

        This is kind of what I was thinking…to replace the bad/negative feelings about a situation with good ones. This could apply to any traumatic situation, not just childbirth. Of course, one shouldn’t have a baby JUST for this reason, but if the first birth left a woman with bad memories, or even trauma, and she goes on to have more children, perhaps the subsequent births could go better and be associated with more positive feelings. Then the woman wouldn’t have look back on birth with horror, but maybe, if not good feelings, at least indifference as “just one more day” in her life.

        • araikwao

          My thoughts exactly! I have spoken with a number of women who have expressed similar ideas, none of them (overtly) NCB devotees.

    • Siri

      My first, much-loved, wonderful child was born by forceps after a long, unrelievedly agonising labour. My second, much-loved, wonderful child was born spontaneously after a still painful, but much shorter labour. Yes, the second birth felt healing; no, neither birth affected how I felt about my children. Before going through labour I would have shared your point of view; now I feel differently. I’m sure you’re a wonderful parent, but you’ll never find yourself in labour!

    • AlexisRT

      I wanted a second child for the sake of having a second child, not so I could do over the process of getting it. But I was going to have to go through that process whether I liked it or not, so there was a certain amount of preoccupation with how that was going to go. The question of “healing” or not only arose after the decision to have a second child had already been made.

  • AlexisRT

    I guess I disagree with both you and NCB advocates here. I did find that my second birth was healing, psychologically. It was not healing for the reasons they said it would be. It was healing to be empowered and to make decisions and to have a birth that went well. That birth was a C-section, that I chose and planned, and that did not have the problems that my first pregnancy and birth had had. What had gone wrong with my first was not the C-section; it’s that I was not involved or informed in the process leading up to it and was presented with it as a fait accompli with no explanations and no support.

    There’s a book I was flipping through at the library called A Good Birth. She annoyed me in the introduction by calling for a peace between “sides” (wishful thinking about what they wanted, I think, and the terms the argument is fought on). But it did have some good things to say about process and outcome–that what is important in process is not physical means, but the psychology behind the decisions. What makes a birth “good” is not the means of exit but the decision making going into it.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      What was broken or disordered or pathological that needed to be healed?

      • Busbus

        I think the main idea is that of you had a bad birth experience, a good birth experience will finally let you enter the circle of those who “know” that birth can be “wonderful”. In NCB culture, there is definitely an in-group/out-group thing going on, where the “initiated” who had a “wonderful natural birth” are celebrated and held up as examples for the less fortunate ones.

        Dr. T, I really commend you for bringing this topic up in such a straight-forward manner! The only reason there is talk of “healing” is because there are such unrealistic assumptions about how birth is supposed to be. No one says, you had gall bladder surgery and it was awful, how about trying for a healing gall bladder surgery next time around? That would be ridiculous. People would simply commiserate and say, thank god it’s over!

        The other thing I hate about the “healing birth” idea is that in NCB, a healing birth is almost universally defined as an NCB-approved birth. If it was really about women’s well-being and not about pushing ideology, there would have to be a recognition of the fact that for many women, a pain-free, medicated birth our even a planned c-section might be exactly what they need, especially after a traumatic first birth.

      • Siri

        I went into labour as a naive 21-year-old who’d never suffered anything worse than headaches and flu; the long labour and forceps delivery (no pain relief, extended episiotomy) left me reeling. I was shocked at the horrible realities of childbirth, and it bothered me greatly to think that my baby and I might not have survived ‘in the wild’. My sense of self, my faith in my body, my bodily integrity, all took a bashing. My next birth WAS healing, in that it restored my faith in my body; woo did not apply, as I was always anti-NCB even before I had my first. (I would have loved an epidural, but never got one).

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          But if you had had a more realistic idea of childbirth, as are foremothers did, instead of the culturally pervasive NCB fantasy, you would never have assumed that you should have any faith in your body in the first place.

          • AllieFoyle

            But why do you assume her reaction was culturally-based, instead of a natural human reaction to a horrifying, painful experience? She said she was anti-NCB and would have loved an epidural. I doubt that being more aware of the dangers of childbirth would have made a harrowing and painful forceps birth much less psychologically traumatic.

          • Mac Sherbert

            I think you are right on that. I have a non-woo friend that refuses to have another baby after her last unintended unmediated birth. To quote “I never want to be in that much pain again.”

            Pain and fear can happen regardless of expectations, environment or providers.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Because it’s not a universal experience. It seems to be restricted to Western, white, relatively well off women who have been exposed to the culture of NCB.

          • Ellen Mary

            Is it? Or are these women disproportionately represented on the Internet?

          • Young CC Prof

            Over 90% of the women in the MANA study were white, and most were married.

          • AllieFoyle

            It’s not universal, in that not every woman has a traumatic experience with every birth, but I imagine that there are many women all over the world with genuine psychological trauma from birth. You may not hear about them because they’re overshadowed by wars or famines or disease outbreaks or it’s taboo to discuss or just the fact that no one cares very much about women’s psychological health in general, but I’m sure they exist.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            You may be sure that they exist, but the fact that you can’t point to any suggests that they are quite rare.

          • AllieFoyle

            There is very little literature on maternal mental health in general and our understanding of PTSD has been very limited until recently. It was believed and taught that women were protected from depression during pregnancy until recently, when interest in and identification of PPD have increased. There are a few studies about perinatal PTSD and they are limited to the developed world, but I can dredge some up for you if you like. We can’t meet the most basic needs of women in many parts of the world; is it any surprise that there isn’t extensive documentation of their psychological reaction to childbirth? Should we assume they don’t suffer?

          • Stacy48918

            “Should we assume they don’t suffer?”
            Of course not. But with the scores of women on birth blogs and websites and message boards claiming “birth rape” and “PTSD” I’d like to see ONE actually back it up with a diagnosis from a true mental health professional. Not Dr. Google and their NCB friends.

          • AllieFoyle

            The last 10-15 years have brought increasing recognition that PTSD is indeed a “real” illness, that maternal mental health is a serious concern, and that women can and do suffer PTSD after childbirth. Studies from the last few years indicate that the incidence is probably around 1-3%, and in some populations up to 5% or more. Probably many more women suffer symptoms but don’t meet the full criteria. This has mainly come to light in the last few years, and in many places there simply isn’t enough awareness and capacity within the mental health system to identify and treat everyone. Hopefully this will change with time. The movement toward patient-centered care may lead to better outcomes as well.

          • me

            In many places women don’t report rapes, incest, or other sexual abuse. since you can’t point to any, do they not exist?

            We are fortunate enough to live in a time and place where women have a voice. You’re right, we can’t let the fortunate few who have a voice speak for everyone. However, it would be a mistake to assume that just because women who are far worse off don’t complain about childbirth, that they don’t exist. A decade ago autism was rare. Now it’s commonplace. Did the rates increase largely because of better diagnostics and awareness (now Autism has a “voice”)? Or did the rates increase because of something else? Are well-to-do women in complaining about trauma from their birth experiences because this is a new phenomenon they created, or because they are secure enough in other aspects of their lives, and have enough equality within the overall culture that they can speak out about it?

          • AllieFoyle

            Post-traumatic stress disorder after childbirth in Nigerian women: prevalence and risk factors.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16487199

            RESULTS: The prevalence of PTSD was 5.9%. The factors independently associated with PTSD after childbirth include hospital admission due to pregnancy complications (OR 11.86, 95% CI 6.36-22.10), instrumental delivery (OR 7.94, 95% CI 3.91-16.15), emergency caesarean section (OR 7.31, 95% CI 3.53-15.10), manual removal of placenta (OR 4.96, 95% CI 2.43-10.14) and poor maternal experience of control during childbirth (OR 5.05, 95% CI 2.69-9.48).

            CONCLUSIONS:

            The prevalence of PTSD after childbirth in Nigerian women is slightly higher than those found in western culture. An effective model for the prediction of the development of PTSD after childbirth needs to be developed and evaluated, and interventions aimed at reducing the incidence of PTSD after childbirth need further research.

          • AllieFoyle

            Prevalence and risk factors of childbirth-related post-traumatic stress symptoms.
            Modarres M1, Afrasiabi S, Rahnama P, Montazeri A.
            BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2012 Sep 3;12:88. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-12-88

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22938705

            CONCLUSIONS:
            The findings indicated that the prevalence of traumatic birth experiences and post-partum PTSD were relatively high among Iranian women. The findings also indicated that obstetric and perinatal variables were independently the most significant contributing factors to women’s post-partum PTSD. It seems that a better perinatal care and supportive childbirth might help to reduce the burden of postpartum PTSD among this population.

          • Amy H

            You need to hear my grandma, whose doctor got mad at her mom and left her to labor unattended till it was time to catch the baby. I don’t know if there was pain relief available 60 years ago, but she definitely considers birth traumatic. (Her mom had 10 successful home births (successful means healthy babies) but I don’t guess she talked about it.)

          • me

            Is it actually only restricted to well off women, or do the less well off women lack a voice in the conversation? On the one hand, they have bigger fish to fry, so to speak, so they are more likely to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and move on. OTOH, who would listen to them anyway? I have a hard time believing that Western, white, relatively well off women (and only those exposed to the NCB culture) are the only women in the world who have been left psychologically traumatized by childbirth. That’s a bit like Grantly Dick-Reed’s theory isn’t it? You well-to-do white women only whine about makin’ babies because you have been conditioned to. The noble savage doesn’t gripe at all!

            Seems like your treading a thin line with that notion.

          • Siri

            Don’t you think most kids of that age feel pretty bullet-proof? I know mine do! (20, 22 & 23). And I think most of our foremothers would have embarked on childbearing in a state of ignorance much greater than mine was; I had access to books, classes etc., while they would have been kept in the dark by their elders. Lastly, NCB at that time was very much a fringe thing, and not something I considered relevant.

          • Therese

            Don’t you think modern medicine deserves some of the blame? If we would just let more mothers and babies die in childbirth, people wouldn’t have the assumption everything is going to go well in the first place.

          • Babychu

            I assumed you walked into a hospital and pushed a baby out with some moaning and groaing, and the angels sang. Let’s blame the media(A Baby Story anyone?)for that. How about a doctor that told me a bicornuate uterus didn’t mean anything and it was fine? Not NCB because with my first I had no idea what NCB was and did absolutely nothing to prepare for birth besides go to the hospitals birthing class once or twice.

      • AlexisRT

        My body wasn’t “broken” in the way NCB means the term (it is and was dysfunctional, because preeclampsia) but my brain certainly was.

        The problem with natural birth isn’t that they tell you you can have a do-over. You don’t really get the do-over, but you do get to do the same thing again. The problem is that they define a “bad” birth in a very rigid, limited way, and the correct process for doing it right, which will heal you, is the same for everyone. If you choose right and don’t give in, you will have a vaginal birth and you will know your body isn’t broken. That’s not how it works.

        Getting to go through the decision making process again and make the choices for yourself and weigh the evidence–it did help me get over my endless loops of what-ifs and should-I-have-dones. That’s healing, in my mind. If I were to have a third baby, I would not have the same set of anxieties and preoccupations I had had about my second, because whatever my first did to me mentally is gone. Keep in mind that the defective decision making in my first pregnancy went back to the first trimester, and was not solely a question of whether or not I pushed the baby out. I suspect I would have had issues regardless of the means of delivery.