This week on Today's Parent I shared the birth story of my son, born 8 years ago via emergency C-section. In the week's leading up to his due date I attended a Winnipeg public health pre-natal course with an instructor who boasted about the so-called natural birth of her twin babies – a vaginal delivery without drugs. Because of her bias, I was completely unprepared for my C-section. I remember feeling scared as I was wheeled into the OR for my surgery, and I certainly wasn't prepared for the recovery from my C-section. All that being said, my C-section was a positve experience overall – I didn't develop an infection, have troubles breastfeeding or felt any guilt over having had my baby by Cesearan. Some women consider this birth to be unnatural and that I am a failure.
Today's Parent Odd Mama Out blogger, Tara-Michelle Ziniuk also shared her birth story this week. The vaginal drug-free delivery of her daughter would be considered natural by the same birth hardliners that call C-sections unnatural, but Tara-Michelle suffered from postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder. "In my situation, it was not true that “childbirth is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before”—something pregnant women are often told. It was actually like various terrible things I’d experienced before," writes Tara-Michelle.
I think we do all mothers a huge disservice by labelling birth natural or unnatural. When discussing the topic on Facebook, my friend Lyndsey said it best:
Whether a section or not, we all may deal with a cascade of emotions post-birth — disappointment, anger, guilt, sadness — and we need a way or means to process all of it. "We" put all this focus on big round bellies and the birth, and then leave mothers to sort it all out by themselves after the fact. We need more support for mamas in the first 3 months!
We need to change the way we talk about birth and place our emphasis and support on a mother's menthal health in the days, months and even years following the arrival of her baby.