Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Words Hurt

There are some words that bother me to hear when people describe their births.  The first is: "unsuccessful"  I read all the time when someone's birth ends in a repeat cesarean that they had an "unsuccessful VBAC"
Stop and think of all that word implies.

failedineffectivefruitless, profitless, unproductiveabortive
"an unsuccessful attempt"

Its a word we need to use less when describing the birth of our children.  I didn't have an unsuccessful vaginal birth, I had a cesarean birth.

The word "unsuccessful" does not describe the BIRTH of anything.  Birth its self is the emergence of a baby or other young from its mother, the start of life as a physically separate being.  It took me a long time to describe my cesarean as a cesarean birth, don't beat yourself up if you are not there yet either.

The same goes for describing a birth as "successful"  You can have a successful vaginal birth, along with a successful cesarean birth. Success with birth is not defined by a baby exiting your vagina without medication. There are so many components to birth.  So many ways to be proud, to succeed, and to be empowered.

Another word I hate:

A lot of times, when the topic of how you birthed your babies comes up, I'll mention my first was a cesarean. The person I'm talking to will quickly respond "oh, I had all mine natural."

Ugh.  Again, words hurt.

When I think natural, I think organic, untouched.  I do not think of most of the vaginal births you see on tv.  Women with epidurals, synthetic hormones, nurses screaming at them to push while lying flat on their backs.  The definition of "natural" is "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind." 

Epidurals are a great tool and option to have.  But they are still an intervention, and not without risk.  They tend to lead to more interventions.  Pitocin is a great tool to have as well.  It is definitely over used, but it does come in handy. 

People are so quick to tell you that cesareans are common and "easy", so how are they more unnatural than the birth I just described?  31.3% of women give birth via cesarean.

I wish that instead of trying to define births, by declaring them "natural or unnatural" or "successful and unsuccessful" that we just support each other in birth.  That we support choices, that we all strive for informed consent, that we help women achieve the empowered birth they deserve instead of tearing women down for making a choice that isn't our #1 choice.  I am also not saying that you need to feel the way I do about these words, just that you know the implications of the words that you use.

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