Home Birth vs Hospital…can’t we all just get along?


Anyone see this article in the New York Times today? It’s a profile on Ina May Gaskin, the woman responsible for bringing midwifery and home birthing back into the lives of modern American women. The comment thread has me thinking about how some (not all!) of us treat one another when faced with women who make choices that are different from our own. This is particularly true when it comes to parenting.

Between breastfeeding vs formula and natural vs medicated births, it seems that the opportunities for women to judge each other are endless. The war on women’s health that is being perpetuated by (mostly male) politicians is so egregious that we need support within our ranks, not antagonism.

With the recent public dialogue about breastfeeding into toddlerhood, we’ve seen how we might not always have each other’s backs when it comes to parenting and the choices we make.

When I was pregnant I had a conversation with a lady about whether or not I would have an epidural. I said, “I’ll go as far as I can, then we’re plugging in.” She responded, “No! It’s such a wonderful experience. Be brave!”

Be brave?! Those last two words were exactly the amount of judgement that I DID NOT NEED. So I’m a coward? It was innocent enough, but her words stuck with me. Like gum on my shoe. I didn’t ask for her opinion, or her birth story.

Are you “mom enough” to give birth with no pain meds?

Are you “mom enough” to make breast feeding work?

Are you “mom enough” to stay home with your kids?

Instead of posing these types of divisive questions with their implicit judgement, we should ask ourselves if we’re “woman enough” to look at our fellow mothers with kindness (not condescension/disdain) and know that no matter what our choices are, we all love our babies, and we’re all doing our best.

6 responses »

  1. I definitely share your pet peeve here, especially around the word “brave.” As a homebirthing mom, I’m often told I’m “so brave!” for staying home to birth my children. But by saying I’m being “brave,” I can’t help but feel like they’re saying, “staying home despite the obvious risk to your children.” And then I can’t help but be deeply offended.

    We all ought to lay off all words of judgement (no matter how innocent our intention) and stick to straight praise and support for other moms. You’re not cowardly for wanting an epidural. You’re simply seeking the kind of birthing experience that is right for you. And knowing what that is and being confident in your choices is brave. And wise.

    And that “mom enough” cover? Omg. Don’t even get me started on the word choice there. UGH.

  2. thanks for the comment, i’m glad to hear opinions from all sides of the birth world! no matter how you do it, someone’s gonna have an opinion to the contrary and will most likely feel the need to express it.

    the lady who suggested that i “be brave” probably didn’t have to deal with 60 HOURS OF LABOR at home like i did before going to the hospital for relief. it was brutal. i probably could get through (and did, for longer) 10-24 hours of hard contractions without drugs.

    that’s not to say that i wasn’t planning the epidural, ’cause i was. they just wouldn’t admit me earlier. my birth was no less magical or special, and i daresay that the magic really began when dr happy walked in with his epidural.

    but i know that isn’t for everyone, and i can understand the desire to be completely present in every sense as well.

    anyway, thanks for participating.

    i will get around to telling my birth story here! good times.

  3. you’re such a good mother, picci… we love you so much and some day I’ll tell little Georgia what a hero you are to both of us… 🙂 we love you!

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