Why natural childbirth advocates think other women’s births are their business: Duchess of Cambridge edition

Duchess princess

Oooh, oooh, oooh, have you heard that the Duchess of Cambridge labored at home for hours? Have you heard that she didn’t have an epidural? Have you heard that she “bonded” with her midwives?

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that the famously private Duchess is unlikely to share the intimate details of ANY aspect of her life with the press (a future British queen “bonded” with her midwives? seriously?), and examine who cares about these details and why.

As I’ve written many times, natural childbirth is not about birth and it’s not about babies. It’s an opportunity for some mothers to judge other mothers and thereby feel superior to the crowd. They have such low self-esteem and are so desperate for validation of their own beliefs, they have resorted to pretending that the Duchess mirrored their own birth choices.

For all we know, the Duchess ruptured membranes at home, drove to the hospital for an induction with Pitocin, received an epidural and had her baby in hours.

If so, the birth of the new princess would have been similar to the births of many other women, yet apparently those women don’t feel any need to speculate about the Duchess’ birth. I haven’t seen any women fantasizing that the Duchess had an epidural like they did, or was induced like they were, or gave birth in a hospital like they did. Most women don’t need anyone, not even a Duchess, to validate the choices they made during the births of their own children.

Which makes it even more remarkable that natural childbirth advocates apparently need everyone to do so.

It started as soon as the pregnancy was announced. Twitter was full of homebirth advocates fantasizing the the Duchess would have a homebirth. That was never in the cards. The Duchess, like any mother anxious to get the best possible care for herself and her child, gave birth in a hospital, with obstetricians supervising her care. Midwives may or may not have caught the baby, but it was hardly midwife-led care. That’s because when it’s REALLY important to ensure the survival of mother and baby (because they are part of the royal family), midwife-led care is viewed as unacceptably second rate.

It is unfortunate that non-royals do not have the same easy access to obstetrician led care, the safest form of care. Midwife-led care predominates in the UK National Health Service (NHS) because it is cheaper. As always, you get what you pay for and those who can pay more choose obstetricians.

No doubt the Duchess was attended by nurses, but you don’t see nurses framing that as a validation of nursing. Assuredly her room was cleaned by the hospital cleaning staff, but you don’t notice them framing that as a validation of cleaning.

Yet midwives and their advocates are gleefully proclaiming that midwives delivered the princess, in order to validate midwifery and natural childbirth. This, in spite of the fact that they are usually whining that women deliver their own babies, not attendants. In this case, to validate themselves, they are willing to make an exception.

I have no idea how the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth and it’s none of my business. It’s not the business of natural childbirth advocates, either, but they can’t help speculating on other women’s intimate moments. They need to know because they need to compare themselves.

The truth is that for most women the baby was the most important product of the birth day, not the bragging rights.

So keep in mind that every time you see an article from a natural childbirth advocate praising the Duchess for her presumed choices, you’re viewing her insecurity on display.