The Natural Childbirth Movement, which first began to truly make its mark on society in the 1960s and 1970s, is facing backlash after many women are saying they're tired of being considered less than their mothering peers if they had medical intervention during birth. With the use of epidurals and other pain-relieving drugs becoming popular, the movement aimed to steer women away from that and encourage mothers to resort to a more primal birth experience. While that sounds like a good thing, the movement has also brought a lot of judgment and attitude towards women who couldn't have a natural birth (whether by choice or not).
In our society, women are often praised for their ability to endure childbirth without pain medication and/or medical intervention. The suffering is regarded as the ultimate sacrifice that a woman can make for her child and her agony supposedly shows just how much she cares for her baby. According to The Irish Times, "the 'natural birth' movement eschews and encourages women to eschew the benefits of technologies such as drugs and Caesarean section at a philosophical level. It views these things as bad except as a very last resort, and argues that women's bodies are naturally responsive to the deep, instinctual rhythms and impulses of vaginal birth." Women who experience that level of pain are often put on a pedestal and viewed more favorably than women who couldn't endure it or simply didn't want to endure it.
In terms of the positive aspects of the movement, speaking from experience, natural childbirth connects you to nature. It lets you experience a level of pain that disconnects your mind from your body and surpasses the definition of pain that many people understand. It allows you to see the capabilities of your body because you feel yourself losing control over it. In saying that, however, what the movement doesn't warn you about is that natural childbirth is mentally traumatic because there is no way of prepping yourself 100% for that level of pain unless you have experienced it before.
Mothers who choose the natural childbirth route often (but not always) find themselves not enjoying their birthing experience because of that loss of control and stepping over the understanding of the "pain threshold". The fact is, natural childbirth has the ability to cause PTSD and other mental issues including developing a fear of pain. Gynecologist Dr. Amy Tuteur states that "the mother's well-being during and after birth has a material impact on the baby's well-being" and that shouldn't be ignored. A mentally stable mother is always the best option, whichever birthing method is endured.
While anyone who wishes to go the natural route when it comes to childbirth should be commended, those who receive pain medication or have to endure a C-section should be commended as well. The truth of the matter is, no matter what your childbirth story is, all women sacrifice their bodies in some way when bringing a child into this world and it isn't easy. So whether you endured 12 hours of active labour without pain medication, slept most of your labour with an epidural, or were cut open to save your/your baby's life, mothers are warriors who sacrifice themselves for their children (pain or no pain).