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Birth is no time for war stories


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#1 Baby BeeHinds Syd

Posted 23 June 2012 - 12:53 PM

An interesting opinion piece, very relevant to maternity care today, and how the way we perceive and express our own birth experiences can impact other women

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-...0622-20tvt.html

Edited by Water lily, 24 June 2012 - 08:04 PM.


#2 bakesgirls

Posted 23 June 2012 - 02:41 PM

It was an interesting read. Women all over the world since the dawn of time have been telling other women about how they had experienced birth. I for one, find it hard to believe that some women really have no pain and others can get to 9cm dilated before they head of to hospital. But I know that for some women, that is their experience. For me, it was excruciating- for lack of a better term, if someone had given me a gun, I would have shot myself in the head.

It's up to the individual woman who is hearing these stories, to make of the story what they will. While I was pregnant with my first, I had sooo many people tell me that it was the worst form of torture possible, and others tell me it was 'not that bad'. Yes I was scared from some of the stories, but until you have done it, there is really no way to understand what it will feel like, as every woman has a different experience.



#3 Fright bat

Posted 23 June 2012 - 03:00 PM

More disingenuousness from Tara Moss - agendas parading as objective information.

It's great she wanted more than to 'just survive it'. Most women in the world with no access to midwifery or surgical care actually DO want to 'just' survive it.

Birthing might be invigorating, powerful, empowering etc. But it's also dangerous for both mother and baby. To suggest that 'just surviving it' is somehow inadequate is extremely offensive.

#4 CherrySunday

Posted 23 June 2012 - 03:20 PM

QUOTE (MsN @ 23/06/2012, 03:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
More disingenuousness from Tara Moss - agendas parading as objective information.

It's great she wanted more than to 'just survive it'. Most women in the world with no access to midwifery or surgical care actually DO want to 'just' survive it.

Birthing might be invigorating, powerful, empowering etc. But it's also dangerous for both mother and baby. To suggest that 'just surviving it' is somehow inadequate is extremely offensive.

Birth CAN BE dangerous, most of the time, it's not.
It's tripe like that that makes women fearful of birth.

I think it's a great article.
I get really upset when lots of women seem to converge on a pregnant woman & seem to delight in telling her she's in for excruciating pain & trauma and god knows what else - usually at baby showers too sad.gif

There's a difference between the facts & a horror story.

#5 glasnost

Posted 23 June 2012 - 03:22 PM

QUOTE (MsN @ 23/06/2012, 03:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
More disingenuousness from Tara Moss - agendas parading as objective information.

It's great she wanted more than to 'just survive it'. Most women in the world with no access to midwifery or surgical care actually DO want to 'just' survive it.

Birthing might be invigorating, powerful, empowering etc. But it's also dangerous for both mother and baby. To suggest that 'just surviving it' is somehow inadequate is extremely offensive.


I don't think she was saying that women should not be grateful for surviving birth and delivering a healthy baby or for any medical assistance that we receive in achieving this. Nearly all of us have above adequate expectations when it comes to other aspects of our lives. I mean, would you be happy to accept best-case Third World food? Or put up with living in a perfectly adequate mud hut? Why can't I expect more than to simply "just survive it" without being labelled as self-absorbed or a crazy hippy or worst of all Mia Freedman's current insult, a "birthzilla"?

#6 JAPNII

Posted 23 June 2012 - 03:30 PM

Tara Moss gives me the irrits. Women will always tell births stories. Its up to the individual to decide for themselves how much they will take on.

I'm not sure the relevance of quoting statistics from China either.



#7 CherrySunday

Posted 23 June 2012 - 03:38 PM

QUOTE (JAPN2 @ 23/06/2012, 03:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Tara Moss gives me the irrits. Women will always tell births stories. Its up to the individual to decide for themselves how much they will take on.

But in a culture where we are already fearful of birth, and see it the way its portrayed on tv & in movies (i.e as a disaster that needs to be managed), how are women going to choose not to take on the negatives?

I'm looked at like a freak when I say it wasn't as bad as I thought, and tell my 'positive' story - people say I just 'forgot' how much it hurt, or how scared I was, or simply that I must be lying  rolleyes.gif
If the positives are shut down so quickly, there's not really much to take on than the horror 'war' stories TM is talking about.
When I was pregnant with DD, I started cutting in when people offered their tale, and simply said "if you're telling me to frighten me, please don't". Most people didn't bother to continue.

#8 Guest_bottle~rocket_*

Posted 23 June 2012 - 05:09 PM

I agree with Tara Moss that interventions save lives of mothers and babies, but that interventions are occurring more often than necessary in Australia today.  

Interventions such as caesareans are heavily promoted as being safe and having no adverse consequences,  but the evidence is that they do add risks for mother and baby.  The evidence seems to suggest that in most cases, a normal birth is best for mother and baby in the short and long term.

Just because we have access to medical care not available to women in the third world does not mean that women as consumers should be silenced if they are unhappy with that care.  It doesn't mean that our maternity system is above criticism.

Edited by bottle~rocket, 23 June 2012 - 05:11 PM.


#9 katniss

Posted 23 June 2012 - 05:20 PM

I actually don't tell first time pregnant Winn about my birth experience or leave out the more excruciating details. Most of the time I tell them that everyone has their own experience & no one can predict what it's going to be like for them. I also din't offer my story unless they ask for it.

I do agree that you shouldn't scare first time pregnant women just for the sake of it. That's not fair.

Most of my birth conversations have been with women who have already given birth tho.

#10 Feral2202

Posted 23 June 2012 - 05:25 PM

So true, women 'share' their nightmare birth stories and all you hear about is 'the pain'. It's no surprise,then that we go into labour frightened and tense, both of which interfere with the natural birthing process.

I had a labour which was relatively easy. I consider that I felt more 'pressure' than pain (kind of like I was really overdoing it at the gym) and the midwives commented on how relaxed I was. I know that some women have a completely different experience, and sometimes that can't be avoided, but nobody is doing anyone any favours by recounting horror stories of pain like a badge of honour.

#11 Fright bat

Posted 23 June 2012 - 05:39 PM

QUOTE (*Browncoat* @ 23/06/2012, 03:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Birth CAN BE dangerous, most of the time, it's not.
It's tripe like that that makes women fearful of birth.

I think it's a great article.
I get really upset when lots of women seem to converge on a pregnant woman & seem to delight in telling her she's in for excruciating pain & trauma and god knows what else - usually at baby showers too sad.gif

There's a difference between the facts & a horror story.



It's not tripe. The WHO standard is that 15% of women need intervention to save maternal life. So yes, 'most' as in 85% of people don't. But I can't think of anything else an average person does that carries a 'natural state' 85% risk of death.  

I think it's fine if people who have the luxury of medical care want to achieve something more than 'survival' in their experience of birth. If that rocks your boat, fine. But to suggest that we all should, when MOST women in the world just pray to live and hold a living child - to downplay the importance of surviving as its somehow not enough is what I object to.

QUOTE (*Browncoat* @ 23/06/2012, 03:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But in a culture where we are already fearful of birth, and see it the way its portrayed on tv & in movies (i.e as a disaster that needs to be managed), how are women going to choose not to take on the negatives?

I'm looked at like a freak when I say it wasn't as bad as I thought, and tell my 'positive' story - people say I just 'forgot' how much it hurt, or how scared I was, or simply that I must be lying  rolleyes.gif
If the positives are shut down so quickly, there's not really much to take on than the horror 'war' stories TM is talking about.
When I was pregnant with DD, I started cutting in when people offered their tale, and simply said "if you're telling me to frighten me, please don't". Most people didn't bother to continue.


Can you name a single culture where women don't fear birth? A single one? It's messy. It's painful. It's bloody. Mothers die. Babies die. Labour get obstructed. Women tear catastrophically and have no one to sew them up. Post partum? Milk dries up and if there's no other lactating mother around, babies get fed cows/goats/water buffalo/camel milk (or die). Retained placentas cause catastrophic infection. Ever seen or heard of puerperal sepsis? Eradicated in the west. Still happens elsewhere.

Let's talk about intervention. High Caesar rate in China? Conveniently leaves out the women labouring and dying/burying babies in rural outposts. Low Caesar rate in Africa? Leading cause of maternal/infant death and other complications. Sure, Caesars can cause problems. Maybe 2% of Caesars get a complication. If the Caesar rate in Australia is 30% (which is an overestimate), 15/100 women are having an 'unnecessary' Caesar (even though the WHO standard of 15% doesn't include the Caesars necessary to save neonatal life - that's too hard to compute because unknown numbers o babies are born and die unregistered and unrecorded around the world). 2% of them, so 30/1000 women might get a complication due to an unnecessary Caesar. Without access to Caesars, 15/100 mothers die. Which stat, if you had to chose one, would you choose. I know which one I would. For at least 15% of people, labour IS a disaster that needs to be managed, whether you, I or anyone else likes that or not.

So i don't know in what fictional culture birthing is some water bath hippie love natural stress free fear free pain free ideal that apparently we should all be trying to emulate. Go ask women birthing the 'natural' way - squatting on a dirt floor in a manky hut with no doctor for 300 km, and no money to pay for one anyone if she's having a blissful birth, or if she's afraid. Ask her if she trusts her body, or believes her body was made for this. I know what her answer will be. It's not that OUR culture has stuffed it up - its a bit more that biology has stuffed it up, and despite the propaganda, women do NOT birth naturally and easily in a SIGNIFICANT proportion of instances.

All that said - we in Australia DO have a great free health system and so we ARE in a position to work forwards towards a happy medium. Where it is about more than survival. But we need to keep in mind that medicine and intervention is not the original enemy that makes women afraid of birth and we should not portray it as such - a lack of intervention is far far scarier.


#12 Fright bat

Posted 23 June 2012 - 06:14 PM

QUOTE (2handsdon'tspillit @ 23/06/2012, 05:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can you?  Are you saying all cultures fear it?  How could you possibly know that?


I don't. But I'm not the one saying that birth is all happy and natural and we should aspire to something more than just 'surviving'. I'm not the one saying that Western culture is unique in fearing birth.

If someone does make those claims, the onus is upon them to demonstrate exactly what culture we should be looking to instead.

Telling birth war stories is an age old custom in all the cultures I have been involved in. Including those oft quoted Scandinavian ones.

#13 Oriental lily

Posted 23 June 2012 - 06:33 PM

I agree MsN with what you have posted.

Telling war stories is a way for women to debrief and share. It IS a traumatic experience for many many woman. They should not have to shut up and give a rose tinted version of their birth experience. That's burying everyones head in the sand.

I personally had one very horrible scary birth and two fantastic births. My three experiences are something I am happily to share. All of it unedited because it's the truth.

As long as an expectant mother hears a good experience for every bad experience then I have no problem with it.

Tara moss ( who I actually like ) can be annoyingly idealistic.which can turn to narrow mindness very quickly.

#14 glasnost

Posted 23 June 2012 - 06:38 PM

QUOTE (MsN @ 23/06/2012, 05:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think it's fine if people who have the luxury of medical care want to achieve something more than 'survival' in their experience of birth. If that rocks your boat, fine. But to suggest that we all should, when MOST women in the world just pray to live and hold a living child - to downplay the importance of surviving as its somehow not enough is what I object to.


But who was ever downplaying the importance of survival? Tara Moss certainly wasn't in the original article. Other PPs haven't in this discussion.

Only a crazy person would put their own "birth experience" ahead of their child's survival. I hate the way in any kind of discussion around this topic anyone who dares to question medical intervention during labour and birth or is vocal in terms of what they want done to their body or their child is accused of being self-indulgent and selfish. The implication is that we should just lie down, shut up and be thankful that we aren't labouring in a mud hut in Sudan.

#15 F.E.B.E

Posted 23 June 2012 - 06:49 PM

Why can't we aim higher than just survival? We have the knowledge and the technology.

#16 Fright bat

Posted 23 June 2012 - 07:10 PM

QUOTE (mamasaurus @ 23/06/2012, 06:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But who was ever downplaying the importance of survival? Tara Moss certainly wasn't in the original article. Other PPs haven't in this discussion.


From the article:

"There is a dominant philosophy in the Western world that says birth is something women survive, not something they actively take part in or, heaven forbid, enjoy. As fewer women experience natural birth, with caesarean section rates having more than doubled in the past 15 years (now 31per cent, more than 40per cent in private hospitals), fewer Australian mothers will have a different tale to tell.

Those who chose natural births, particularly outside hospital, are commonly dismissed as hippies, insane or worse, so it can be easy to forget that the "survive it; don't expect to enjoy it" philosophy is not held by everyone who has given birth, let alone women in countries where natural birth is more popular. In Nordic countries the caesarean rate is less than half ours, at 14per cent, and in the Netherlands, 30per cent of mothers experience planned home births in the presence of midwives."


This is what I reacted to. Surviving it is an achievement on its own, independent of enjoying it. I genuinely don't think its a "Western' concept either... or maybe it is.... "birth is something women survive" in the West, its not in other parts of the world.

Also, a Scandinavian home birth isn't necessarily enjoyed any more than an Australian hospital birth. A Caesar is not necessarily enjoyed less. It is these assumptions that make me see red. Could you box the notion of an 'enjoyable' birth in any more limited terms? And then pass it off as moderate opining?



#17 Soontobegran

Posted 23 June 2012 - 07:26 PM

Another Tara Moss 'reinventing the wheel' article.

This type of discussion with regards to birthing experiences happens in ALL cultures and has done so for as long as I have been involved in obstetrics.

As for fear of childbirth.........it doesn't matter how prepared/educated/informed we are we ALL(regardless of culture) have a fear of the unknown, for some it is mild, for others it is crippling.

EB editor.....we do have the technology that increases survival but with technology comes intervention...is that what people really want?




#18 Soontobegran

Posted 23 June 2012 - 07:29 PM

QUOTE (MsN @ 23/06/2012, 07:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also, a Scandinavian home birth isn't necessarily enjoyed any more than an Australian hospital birth. A Caesar is not necessarily enjoyed less. It is these assumptions that make me see red. Could you box the notion of an 'enjoyable' birth in any more limited terms? And then pass it off as moderate opining?



So very true MsN.
It is a shame that so many can't understand they can not comment objectively about another's birthing experience.

#19 Pooks Combusted

Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:05 PM

I was glad women had told me it could be hell.

#20 AliasMater

Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:09 PM

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 23/06/2012, 08:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was glad women had told me it could be hell.


No one told me it was hell so I went in cocky and completely unprepared for what I was about to experience!!

BTW, I have friends in The Netherlands. I was curious and mentioned that their system, where homebirthing was (apparently) preferred/encouraged/normal was idealised and raised time and time again by certain folk here. They were confused and amused by that statement but said they were very happy and lucky to have their babies in hospital.

Edited by Bek+3, 23 June 2012 - 08:10 PM.


#21 Lokum

Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:19 PM

QUOTE (Pooks_ @ 23/06/2012, 08:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was glad women had told me it could be hell.


I wish more women (incl my own mother) had told me their warts'n'all stories. I was so into squeezing stress balls, and counting, and breathing and moving and stamping through contractions. I believed they'd start irregularly, and move to regular, 5 min apart etc.

It turned out my mother had a similar birth with me, with contractions 90 seconds apart from the start, lasting 45 seconds each. It took her 20 hours to make any progress, then it all happened in a rush. NOTHING like the books and birth classes which were going to 'help' me.

Because I'd only focussed on/heard the 'your body is made for this, you can manage it this way' stories, when mine was really different and harder from the start, I was terrified. I thought it was a precipitate labour, or that there was something really wrong with me.

I wish I'd known that 90 seconds apart contractions from the start are possible. I wish I knew how much more an induced labour can hurt from the start. I wish I'd known that once my waters broke the pain would go through the roof. It wouldn't have hurt less, but it would have been less of a shock and fright.

I also think my constant debriefing to anyone who would listen for 3 months was really important. I still share stories, but usually with other mothers. I AM reluctant to terrify a first timer, but on the other hand, I feel it's sometimes like sending lambs to the slaughter.

#22 kpingitquiet

Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:20 PM

I generally tell my pregnant friends that I went in prepared, educated, excited...and it completely sucked except for the end result. I then let them know they can come ask me after their baby is born, if they want the details.  Basically, I'm honest when they ask, but they can have their own experience before they hear the blood and guts of my personal nightmare.

Btw, I was grateful for access to positive and traumatic stories when I was pregnant. I felt it made me better prepared for the wide range of possibilities. Birth is far from airy and rainbow-lined. Sure, it can be positive (or so I've heard) but it's still a bloody, messy business.

#23 Baby BeeHinds Syd

Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:39 PM

QUOTE (Lokum @ 23/06/2012, 08:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I wish more women (incl my own mother) had told me their warts'n'all stories.

I believed they'd start irregularly, and move to regular, 5 min apart etc. I wish I'd known that 90 seconds apart contractions from the start are possible. I wish I knew how much more an induced labour can hurt from the start. I wish I'd known that once my waters broke the pain would go through the roof. It wouldn't have hurt less, but it would have been less of a shock and fright.


Those are all things your midwife or care provider should have discussed with you as part of normal antenatal care and discussion

#24 MiSS_E

Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:43 PM

Maybe the women who don't want to hear 'war stories' could just politely interrupt the person telling them and let them know they aren't interested in hearing it. I know it can get tedious when it happens often but that seems to happen with all parenting topics once you have a child. Those of us who do want to know can listen all we like. There is no right and wrong with the sharing of personal experiences IMO it's up to the listener as to what they want to hear.

#25 Fright bat

Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:45 PM

QUOTE (MakeLoveNotBacon @ 23/06/2012, 08:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Actually claiming birth is dangerous for mum and baby is offensive.

The rest of your post is irrelevant and illogical.  We are not in "other parts of the world" so why can we not aim for more than "just surviving"?


I'm not 'claiming' it. There is a lot of published literature, a stack of public policy, and about 100,000 years of human history to back my so-called claim.

You can certainly aim for more than 'just surviving'. But let's not talk as if, for many, 'just' surviving wasn't enough. I know plenty of people, right here in this country, who hope for nothing more (even though their risk of death is low). I know people who value and enjoy their elective Caesar. I know some who did almost die. I know someone whose wife DID die (leaving three kids and a newborn behind).

It's not about empty scaremongering, it's about a reality that is horrendously real for lots of people.

And we all have a choice. As a PP said - if you don't want to hear the negative stories - ask people not to tell them. If you want a homebirth, or a water birth, or whatever... Have it. Likewise, if you want an elective Caesar (or heaven forbid, are actually one of those 15% of women the WHO deems need it a a lifesaving procedure) your birth  should not be belittled or called less enjoyable or valuable.

Most of Tara's article was irrelevant. Why was the relevance of her discussing the Caesar rate in China? Or the empty implication that declining vaginal birth rates = declining 'enjoyment' of the birthing process.

My post WAS relevant because what Tara is implying is that 'natural' birthing is better, less scary, and more enjoyable for women. My point was that in most places where intervention free birthing occurs, it's way more scary and less enjoyable.

If you don't want to get the negatives, stick your head inthe sand and don't. If you want to try for a more 'elevated' birth experience, then do. Just don't get all preachy about it.




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