Mums should never feel guilt over not having a natural birth
PUBLISHED: 13:52 21 August 2017
Birth is a natural process. So is death. Yet we try and do our best to make death as comfortable and painfree as possible. So why not do the same with childbirth?
For years having a natural birth was almost a competition among certain types of women – the rest of us were just grabbing the gas and air and any drugs on offer – with the implication that medical intervention was some sort of failure. Ha!
Denise Van Outen said last week that she felt about giving birth to daughter Betsy by elective caesarean. Betsy is now seven. “I still feel guilty,” says Denise.
What on earth has guilt and shame and judgement to do with how we give birth? What an appalling downer on what should be a joyous occasion.
Yes I know there are those childbirth gurus who describe the experience – please don’t laugh - as “like the opening of a flower.” Well done them.
After twenty hours of agony I shall never forget the joy of the epidural. “You’re having a contraction now,” said the consultant as I beamed at him blearily, blissfully pain free at last. That’s more like it. Bring it on.
A natural childbirth is a splendid ideal and can be wonderful – but it’s not for everyone, especially not for older mothers. And it’s not the most important thing.
If anyone organises, say, a hip operation to fit in with their life, work and family commitments they’re considered sensible. Do the same with birth – an elective caesarean on a certain day when you can be sure of all available help – and you’re considered, well, unnatural.
Now – hooray! - the Royal College of Midwives has relaxed its hardline guidelines on natural birth. This is partly because a reluctance to intervene seems to have induced a sense of failure – as if childbirth were yet another proficiency test - and, more importantly, contributed to a number of deaths and injuries of babies and mothers.
There were other factors as well of course, including shortages of midwives and doctors. But the chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, has talked of “a cult-like fixation with so-called normal birth.”
Claims against the NHS for botched births are rising every year – up to £1.9 billion.
It’s not as if normal has always had a huge success rate. Childbirth has always been a dangerous time for mothers and babies. Which doesn’t say much for how clever Mother Nature is really when left to her own devices. There’s a serious design fault somewhere.
We now have the knowledge and experience and intervention that makes giving birth safer than it’s ever been, so why pretend we don’t?
All that matters is that when it’s all over, you end up with a healthy baby and a healthy mother. Everything else is just so much flim and flam and doesn’t matter a jot.
Maybe now the childbirth competition can be a thing of the past and new mothers can stop feeling guilty and just enjoy their new babies.