If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "You don't get a medal for having a natural birth," I wouldn't even need to be a doula or teach birth classes to earn an income. I'd be rich. Care providers, well-meaning friends and family members often use this go-to phrase when an expecting mother expresses her interest in planning a natural birth.
Why? I'm honestly not sure. I don't recall there EVER being a point in history when women expected a medal for giving birth. For many, natural birth is about optimal health and intrinsic rewards. It got me to thinking about times in our lives when we DO get medals. Specifically, it has me thinking about all of my friends who participate in athletic events such as marathons, decathlons, triathlons, or the popular CrossFit competitions. Do they do it for the medal?
Here's what my friends had to say about why they do these athletic events:
"I like achieving "my goals" whether it is just doing 3 work outs a week or running a certain number of miles, it helps me tick. But of course, I like the bling at the end, ok that's a lie. I like the booze at the end of the race!" Kelly (Okay, this one was my favorite, because I'm the girl who asks for a margarita after giving birth)
"The first 5K after giving birth to my second gave me a very similar feeling to the birth high, although it didn't last nearly as long. It made me feel empowered and strong. I figured since I can't have a million babies, I should just run to capture that feeling again. I got a medal for my 10K. I had no idea I was getting one until close to race time. It actually means nothing to me. Everyone gets one just for finishing the race. I don't even know where it is. My kids got a hold of it. But I'll never forget the hard work I put into training for it and the satisfaction I feel for reaching goals. I don't need a medal for that." Kristi (she happens to be an awesome Birth Boot Camp DOULA and instructor out in Houston)
"Just to see what I am capable of - same reason why I did natural childbirth. I knew in my races there was no way I would get a medal, but the chance to show mySELF I *can* do this was my motivation - to see how strong I can be." Amanda
"I love the feeling of self accomplishment in doing hard things. Feeling empowered and strong in body, mind, and spirit. Knowing that I can do more than what I ever thought I could." Britain
Kelly also added, “As long as women have the proper knowledge and support and just weed out all the negative pressure, that’s what is really important.” I think this hits the nail on the head. It doesn’t matter if you’re preparing for a marathon or a natural birth. The naysayers have to be weeded out. Sometimes that means not posting your plans on Facebook so as to not give others the opportunity to bring you down. Sometimes it means firing your care provider.
Natural birth is not about medals. It is hard work that requires preparation and determination – just like many other physical feats in life. BUT, it is not about earning a medal. Suggesting otherwise is ridiculous and is demeaning to women. It is condescending and rude. Society, let’s stop using this absurd phrase when talking about birth.
If you need help with this, here is a list of appropriate things to say (with a positive attitude) when a woman tells you she’s planning a natural birth:
- Good for you!
- Have you heard of Birth Boot Camp?!
- That’s awesome!
- I hear doulas are a great resource for natural birth!
- Go for it!
- I’ll be rooting for you!
Why did you choose natural birth? Leave a comment below!