Why I’ve Distanced Myself from NCB’ers

NCB’ers (otherwise known as those in the natural childbirth movement) stand up for many things – none of which they are shy to share. Back when I was pregnant, I knew I didn’t really fall into a category, but if you had asked me then I was aimed for what I believed was a natural birth. I didn’t want an epidural, Pitocin, or any “drugs”. I was going to use the heck out of that jetted tub. I was seeing a midwife – but little did I know that my CNM would be seen as a “medwife” – not someone with my best interests.

I struggled in labor, and things did not go as I had planned. After hours and hours of stalling at a 9, I think everyone in the room knew that something had to be done because this was spiraling backwards – not moving forwards. An epidural and a low dose Pit drip was administered, and I spent about an hour and a half wide awake before it was time to push – finally out of misery and knowing so well that my baby was on his way. Bonding? It was excellent. I spent the whole night staring at him, studying him – the perfect little baby that was so unbelievably cute and that no one could take from me for a second – except when I wanted a shower, which took me about three minutes… a personal record. I went home with nothing but a raving review of my midwife and the immense pride I felt for the amazing birth I had – no matter how long, miserable, horrible it was – and for my perfect son.

My love for this perfect birth led to reading. I began to toy with the idea of becoming a CNM myself. I studied, I read, I researched. I accidentally stumbled onto a popular birthing facebook page one day, which then lead me to a blog about the things that health care providers say. I began reading to discover what I wouldn’t want to say to a patient someday. Soon I began to read it and believe the comments. That’s where I lost myself, I think.

I began to doubt my CNM. Was she a “medwife”? Had she not had my best interests in mind? What would have happened without the Pitocin? Sometimes I would stare at my son and feel as though I failed him. Who knows what all those “interventions” did to him?

As I became more involved, reading more blogs, following more facebook pages, I also became more involved as a nursing student. My class reports – no matter what class – centered around childbirth, pregnancy, or women’s health. In reality, I think they kept me grounded – scientific research isn’t perfect, but paired with an intelligent and skeptical mind, you can really analyze anything.

I went on to give birth to my daughter, with the same CNM in the same hospital, but no Pitocin, no epidural, and not a mere utterance of such from the nurses or CNM. In fact, the only debate I really remember is me in transition saying “I can’t do this… I’m not going to be able to” and my CNM saying “You can, you’re doing great, and that baby is coming in less than half an hour” – and she was right. I think the sheer terror of the potential of hours and hours of horrible labor were behind the words I spit out, and her confidence was all I needed. Although I’ll admit my husband replying with “You’re silly, you ARE doing it” were pretty darn nice, too – but hey, he hasn’t witnessed 1,000+ births. What does he know?

My faith was somewhat restored in my CNM. I was confident and pleased with birth #2, and I can’t say I’ve doubted it for a second. And while hours and hours of labor isn’t fun, I would never be able to say that one birth trumped the other. Both gave me beautiful children, and isn’t that the priority?

Yet I still continued to follow these pages quite regularly. One night – one particularly bad night, when my three year old was simply a terror, I finally ended up shutting myself in my room, where I sat on the floor bawling. My husband was left to diffuse the situation outside first, then cautiously enter, unsure of what was really wrong or what to do. He sat next to me and I crawled in his lap and cried “What if this is my fault? What if this is my fault for failing when I was in labor?” I sobbed for I don’t know how long. It felt like hours. Hours and hours where I sat there blaming myself for all that happened in my labor with my son, and how his spirit, his intelligence, his curiousity and his damn stubborness was surely my fault for not having the “perfect” birth that NCB’ers talk about, by themselves in a rented pool in their living room, or with a home birth midwife – a REAL midwife – not a “OB in disguise” like I had.

It took a couple of days for me to level out before I realized the error in everything. NCB’ers tell you to have an empowering birth – one that makes you feel incredible about yourself. I did – twice – and then spent some time where that was taken away from me, and I began to doubt that the incredible feeling I had for weeks after delivering both of my children was well deserved. They then mentally vaccinated me with horrific ideas of all the things that would be wrong with my son because I had “failed”, and all the things that were wrong with me because I wasn’t patient enough, didn’t wait, didn’t “know enough” to manage the pain – and I began to feel as if I wasn’t even a woman, and had no right to birth a baby. They left me bawling on the floor one night, convinced that the Pitocin used to get my labor moving again was so dangerous, so harmful, and so awful of me to do that I had destined my son to be a mess – without little regard for things in natural labor that cause issues, too, like hypoxia in labor having a very strong correlation in a lot of research to be associated with schizophrenia. Do you ever see a NCB’er mention that?

I have such a smart son, and such a clever little girl, and while neither are perfect, both are beautiful, healthy, normal kids who were born in beautiful, healthy, normal ways – and never again will I doubt what I did for them. I will not let anyone lead me to believe that anything I did in labor made me a horrible mom, or destined them for anything. And never ever EVER will I doubt my CNM’s – to this day I think I got better care than I could have imagined, and the best partners in my labor that I could have asked for. My births were perfect, even if they weren’t perfectly natural, perfectly intervention free, or perfectly at home. They were perfect for me, perfect for my husband, perfect for my babies… and no one else has any room to say otherwise.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 22:56:17

    Great post!! I feel the same way about my OBs and my births — they were perfect for me. And really, 3 years after the last one, the birth doesn’t seem to matter much.

    Reply

  2. Melanie
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 00:25:11

    Bless you. I too wanted a ‘natural birth’ with my first son and had pretty much the opposite. But it was still wonderful. I was taken care of and my son and I came out strong, happy and healthy at the end.

    Same with the second one – a very different ‘experience’, but the outcome was the same. Anther strong, happy and healthy baby.

    I’m having my third in a few weeks and all I’m thinking is ‘let’s do whatever we have to do to get this little one out. I want to hold him and meet him and get on with it!’

    I’m so sorry you ever had to feel bad about getting your babies out. When you consider all the choices and consequences we will impose on our children in the decades after they’re born we just have to do the best we can with what we’ve got at the time, love them to death, and be kind to ourselves.

    Reply

  3. Charlotte
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 00:54:32

    “NCB’ers tell you to have an empowering birth – one that makes you feel incredible about yourself. I did – twice – and then spent some time where that was taken away from me, and I began to doubt that the incredible feeling I had for weeks” Love it. Well written post.

    Reply

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