Reflections on Motherhood and Life as a Doula

Monday, September 6, 2010

Birth knowledge: Generational Differences?

My mother had one vaginal birth (with a spinal) and two cesareans.  She has admitted multiple times that she never had a clue about what was happening to her body.  I'm pretty sure she falls underneath the category of women who didn't know where the babies came out until her first one actually came out.  If she had a cesarean for all three, I'm pretty sure she still wouldn't know where they come out of.  My mom's second pregnancy ended very quickly.  At about 26 weeks along, she started to cramp really bad.  She went to the bathroom and thought she had grown a penis.  She was delivering the umbilical cord - prolapse cord.  It is an absolute miracle that my brother survived, starting his life out at 2lb 2oz.  That experience for her was a TRUE emergency cesarean section.  Along comes me.  I was surprised to hear that her doctor "let" her labor with me.  After a long labor and slow dilation, he offered to let her continue or she could consent to another cesarean.  She took the cesarean.

My mom agrees that the recovery from a cesarean sucks.  She knows how much harder it is to care for a newborn when you are healing from a massive wound.  But my mom doesn't get why anyone would have to heal from a cesarean emotionally.  She liked it in comparison to her vaginal birth with my sister. 

Why do I know so many women from my mom's generation who have no regrets about their overly medical births, but just about every woman I know who has had a c-section from my generation, struggles to heal their hearts and minds and feels guilty about their children's violent births.  I know I feel this way.  What's the difference? 

My mom asked me the other day why my cesarean was such a big deal.  How do you answer a question like that? 
My hormonal blueprint was completely interrupted.  I have been taught what a woman's body was created to do, and then in so many words, I was told that my body had failed.  I watched my son enter the world, treated in an inhumane way, with horrible violence. 
How is this not a big deal?  Who can walk away from this feeling satisfied?
I explained to my mom how the smallest intervention interrupts nature's process.  I talked about what I had hoped for, what my dreams were. 
As I spoke of what I understood birth to be, my mom explained her lack of information she had going into being a mom.  She didn't ask questions, and no one offered her answers. 

I don't understand how someone can go through a pregnancy so clueless, and yet be so instinctual after giving birth (she breastfed and coslept).

Now that I have had my homebirth experience and my mom see's what an impact it has had on all of our lives emotionally and physically, I think she is starting to feel like maybe she missed out on something when she had her kids.  I feel very sad for her, but I love that she is becoming an advocate of homebirth just from watching her daughters do it. 

What will it take to get women to start asking questions?  Stop asking the doctors, but asking powerful women with positive experiences!  Women need to be confident and instinctual and we need to help them get there. 

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