Becoming a mother is one of the most transformative experiences that a woman can have– both physically and spiritually. It's also fraught with challenges that can shake up the most confident person. That's why it's important to be armed with facts about childbirth as you get closer to your due date. A quick online search or a walk-through your local library’s parenting aisle is sure to show you the sheer amount of knowledge that's out there.
But please remember to not believe every single thing you hear or read. Sadly, there are numerous old wives tales and plain lies out there that masquerade as information. The only thing such statements do is add to the concern of an already worried mom-to-be. As a mother of two, I’ve heard a range of these- so here are some gems that most mothers are sure to encounter.
Only "Normal Delivery" makes you a real mother
This one is usually said to bolster moms-to- be who are wondering about the choices that lie ahead. This statement might sound like a fact, but let's take a step back. If only normal delivery makes you a real mother, are babies born via c-sections made of plastic, or does the procedure turn them into robots? What about parents who adopt? What defines "real" anyways? This statement is so absurd that I'm amazed it's still making the rounds today.
C-sections are unnecessary
This one is usually accompanied by a firm finger waggle- and the complete absence of a medical degree. The only people qualified to make this statement are obstetricians and gynecologists. Yet you would be hard-pressed to find one who would call c-Sections unnecessary. C-sections are medical procedures that are opted for to get the fetus out when the mother has a pre-existing condition or complication like a hyperactive thyroid, diabetes, a narrow birth canal, or predisposition for preeclampsia. C-sections are also opted for mothers who are pregnant with multiple babies, if their baby is very large, or if the baby's in distress. They're also an empowering choice for mothers who are well within their rights to choose how they want to deliver. C-sections have saved the lives of thousands of babies and mothers- does that sound like an unnecessary procedure to you?
Labour pains are born out of fear
This one is such an outright lie. If fear causes labour pains, then no one would watch a horror movie ever again! If this were true, then we're also denying the pain of a number of women who suffer from pain during menstruation. The truth of the matter is that labour pains are caused by the pushing and stretching of muscles and tissues to move the baby through the cervix. Any time your muscles and tissues are required to stretch and push, your brain will release pain signals. It's the intensity that causes the pain. Yes, fear and stress can cause this pain to be greater. That's because just like any other real-life scenario, stress and fear do cause one's muscles to tense up. The more relaxed the muscles are, the easier it is for them to stretch. But even the most zen of deliveries involve pain. The way you choose to respond to that pain is what makes the difference.
Missing out on the pain makes you a bad mother
This one is like a primer for the "Mom Guilt" that hits you as soon as you take your baby home. This one implies that unless you sacrifice yourself wholly for your child, you're a bad mother otherwise. Therefore, opting for an epidural, anaesthesia or an intervention to get your baby out makes you a bad mother as well. Going by this logic, taking a pill for headaches or using anaesthesia for surgery makes you a bad human being. To this I say, labour pains are just a drop in the bucket compared to the heartaches that come with parenthood. It's entirely your choice to get pain relief or not. It has nothing to do with making the birth of your child less or more than what it is.
Hospitals are for sick people not the miracle of birth
This one is bandied about by those who advocate for natural home births. It is usually followed by statements like, "My Mother was born at home" or "My Grandmother gave birth to seven at home." It implies that home birth is the best and only way one can bring a new baby into the world. This might have been true in another era, when women had no other option but to give birth at home. This was also at a time when there were no medical options to save the mom or child at an advanced stage. An emergency at that point in time meant death or several deaths, as well as mental and/or physical complications for the infant. If you have a grandmother or a relative who gave birth at home, just ask them if they know someone who had to go through an emergency medical situation at home. Chances are you'll get enough proof that a home birth isn't always the best option. This isn't meant to disparage those who want to give birth at home. It's just a note to be mindful of those who want or require the support of medically qualified staff and modern medicine to welcome a new life. Not everyone takes the same path to motherhood.
Please remember that as new moms and mom-to-be, there's so much misinformation that you'll have to wade through it all to get to the actual truth. But as long as you're willing to stay true to your instincts and do a fair bit of research, you can protect yourself from being overwhelmed by the contrasting opinions and theories that will pepper your journey.