Is choosing C-section the easy way out … or the hard way?


Ideological consistency has never been a hallmark of the natural childbirth movement, (childbirth is painful/no, it’s orgasmic; I didn’t need any pain relief/I couldn’t have done it without the birth pool; I am a warrior birth goddess who can withstand any amount of pain/I can’t bear to have a heplock), but it often seems that the inconsistency reaches its apogee around the issue of C-sections.

The phrase “too posh to push” suggests that choosing a C-section (for breech, after a previous C-section, without a medical indication) is the easy way. It implies that women who choose C-sections are lazy and can’t be bothered with the hard work of pushing a baby out through the vagina.

Yet ask a natural childbirth advocates why she fears a C-section and will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid one, and she’ll tell you that it is because C-sections are so painful, and the recovery is so long and difficult that it compromises the ability to bond to and care for a newborn.

So which is it? Are C-sections easy or are they hard.

Lactivists seem to have a similar problem with the issue of breastfeeding. They can’t seem to decide whether breastfeeding is easy (I did it because it is soooo convenient; you never have to mix formula; it’s always the right temperature and amount) or it is hard (I never gave up even though my nipples were bleeding, my baby was screaming from hunger, I nursed every 2 hours and pumped every hour in between).

Lactivists have a similar problem with formula. It’s easy (don’t give women formula samples or they’ll use them because it’s easier!) or hard (all those bottles to wash! it’s so expensive!).

So which is it? Is breastfeeding easy or is it hard?

My theory is that the real dichotomy for natural childbirth advocates isn’t easy/hard, but right/wrong. Vaginal birth is “right” and C-sections are “wrong” and they will say whatever it takes to shame women into doing things the “right” way. So choosing a C-section is sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but always wrong. Similarly choosing to formula feed is sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but always wrong.

In both cases, advocates will say whatever it takes to sway the listener since advocates couldn’t care less whether a C-section or formula is easy or hard for a particular mother. They don’t care about her and they don’t care about her baby. They care only about themselves and their desperate need to validate their own choices by having everyone else mirror them back.

The truth is that individual women have individual circumstances that make individual choices easy or hard for them. Natural childbirth and lactivism have no room for individuality; they are all about conformity. Hence the ultimate ideological inconsistency: childbirth is natural, but you must read books, websites, hire a childbirth educator to teach you and a cheerleader (doula) to encourage you, use a birth ball, live blog and live tweet the event, hire a photographer and post the video on YouTube … just like they did in nature.