Monday

Non-Medicated OR Medicated, DOES NOT A MOTHER MAKE!


This past week I was privy to a conversation between two women. One of the women told the other that to be a "real mother" you have to have your babies without pain medication, at home.
I had to turn away and bite my tongue, to not say something rude and off putting.

This is not the first time I have heard a statement like this.

Over the past 10 years I have had more than one woman tell me, that I am less of a mother because of my personal choices when it comes to giving birth.

Wow, the implications of statements like this are monumentally destructive.

There is not room for this type of judgement if we want to be successful mothers and women. We need to support one another, uplift one another, and stop judging one another.

Shouldn't we feel much gratitude for all of the options that we as women have when it comes to our families? There are options today that our mothers and grandmothers never dreamed of. So many options that even after having 4 children, I am naive to the possibilities of them all.

We get to choose, each of us get to choose what we feel is best for our families. What a blessing! We should be rejoicing, not judging.

Just because a women "suffers" more pain during delivery than another women, does not make her better. Just because a women feels "no pain" during delivery does not make her better. Neither should be used to define the type of mother a woman is.

Is it really pain medication or location of delivery that determines if we are mothers?

Or, does the title of mother have more to do with our choices after our children are in our lives? Isn't that what makes a mother?
The never ending, never wavering love. The complete and endless sacrifice of all things. The giving of our time and energy and talents for their well being. The willingness to put aside any cares and concerns we have for ourselves, for our children.

Yep, let's be grateful that we can all choose, and stop judging other's choices. This will leave more time for us to raise our children and support the women around us.

Have you ever been judged because of your birthing choices? 
Do you have an opinion on the subject? 


Edit added February 1, 2012: There was a sincere effort with this post, a simply hope, for less judgment and more acceptance. It was not meant to support any specific birthing choice, or imply that one is better than the other. It was not written for validation. Hence the reason I left my own birthing choices out. I personally have given birth both ways, and have been criticized for both choices. The hope was that we could all be grateful for the fact that we can choose. What ever choice that might be. I know I am very grateful that I have been able to choose.

55 comments:

  1. WELL SAID! AMEN! After having two children get shoulder distortia (get stuck) I am so grateful for the fact that doctors were able to assist me in getting him/her out safely even if it caused me great pain while on the meds. I can't imagine what the pain would have been like without the meds. I am so thankful for the many choices available to help me and my unborn child come into this world safely.

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    1. The Goff Family,
      What a great example of the blessing of being able to choose. How grateful we should all be for medicine. So glad that everything worked out safely.

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  2. Wow. The only person who judged me, unfortunately, was ME. I was very lucky to have a doctor and delivery team - all 3 times - who supported whatever decisions I made regarding pain medication. And even so, there's always been a little piece of me that feels that I somehow 'failed' because I requested medication each time. How awful that you would be judged on something like that.

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    1. Sheri, I have experienced the exact same feelings you describe! There is no need for judgement from others, or ourselves.

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  3. Oh... I could go on and on. But I won't. I totally agree- less judging and more supporting each other can go a long way.

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    1. Andrea, I wrote about 10 drafts of this post before pushing publish. They were all longer, more straight forward, and filled with specific examples of women and situations.
      Bottom line, just like you said Less judging, more supporting.

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  4. it's like breastfeeding. my daughter nursed like a champ, my son would not nurse at all. some people couldn't believe i "gave up" (that was their words not mine). hey my kid needs to eat. why can't we all just stick together and support one another in all of our decisions. great post.

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    1. Meri,
      It hurts to see when judged on these decisions. When we had our third child, she was born at 37 weeks, but she was little. 4'13''. She was healthy, and just fine, but because she was so little, she demanded :) food every hour and a half. There was no way my body could keep up. I couldn't make enough milk for her. The pediatrician ordered formula as a supplement. There was a lady who told me "a real mother only breastfeeds". I dealt with guilt for months.

      I have a close friend who tried to breastfeed for three weeks. To the point that the baby was drawing blood. It was horrible for her. But there was so much pressure on her, that to be a "good mom", she had to breastfeed, so she just kept suffering. Finally, she told everyone pressuring her to "jump in a lake" and did what was right for her and the baby. She will tell you it was the best decision she ever made. Now she is always willing to speak up for what is best for her family.

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  5. Amen! It always amazes me how much women judge other women, especially when it comes to childbirth and raising infants. Did you have a "natural childbirth"?, are you breastfeeding?, do you make baby food at home?, does your baby sleep with you? I'm also surprised at the amount of judgement that comes from women who have not yet given birth to, or raised children. To be completely honest, I love when a women who has preached natural childbirth her entire pregnancy ends up having an epidural. Somethings work for some mothers, and not for others. What makes a mother is doing what is best for your family. I am a better mother when I am happy and less stressed.

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    1. Whitney, I agree, when I am less stressed, I am able to make better decisions for my family. They might be different than the way someone else might do things, but they are best for us.

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  6. That might be the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard. What if a woman adopts? That makes her less of a mother because she didn't feel the pain of childbirth? Come on. That's just silly. I've done it both ways and I will choose an epidural every time. I still have bad feelings about the day my second son was born because I wasn't prepared for a natural childbirth and it was so awful, and that's not fair to him. But I do have to say, five years later, I'm really proud to say I've done it, even if I didn't have a choice. But that doesn't make me any more of a mother than a woman that hasn't done it without drugs.

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    1. Emily, you said that perfectly. Sorry to hear your second wasn't the best situation. I feel that way about our third. Spinal Headache. Worst thing EVER.

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  7. I completely agree and have had people make similar comments to me as I have now had two c-sections. Why can't we be each others champions and cheer leaders. Why do these things have to be a competition?

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    1. LC,DC and ML,
      I agree, time to stop comparing, and start cheering. We are all in this together. Let's help one another.

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  8. that lady needs a swift kick in the ovaries. why oh why does this stuff matter? i've been told because i'm an adoptive mom i am not a mother at all!

    point is this : you love, nurture, care, protect the little one's in your life that you love, son, daughter, niece, nephew, best friend's child, biological or not.

    that makes you a mother.

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    1. Kenna,
      I am sorry you have ever had to hear comments like that. Your right, "you love, nurture, care, protect the little one's in your life that you love, son, daughter, niece, nephew, best friend's child, biological or not." Hope Boog is doing well. He sure is a cute little "dude".

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  9. My response to something like this, after I pick my jaw up off the floor, is "Luckily for you, I'm not so judgmental and small minded. I believe that women should uplift and support each other because being a mom is a hard job no matter how you come by it."

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    1. Jennifer, I sure wish I would have said that when I was in the situation. I am going to memorize it so that when it happens to me again, I know just what to say.

      Being a mom IS hard. Judging other's just makes it harder. We should try to make each other's lives easier.

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  10. That is the most ridiculous statement ever! I totally agree with you Heather, I dont have children myself but I think that the choices women make to bring their children into the world safely are what makes a "real" mother, not how much pain you can handle at the time.

    x

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    1. Ez, I agree. A "real" mother is the woman who makes choices based on what is best for the child. Since when does pain make someone a mother.

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  11. and remember Sheri Dew's talk several years back, "Are We Not All Mothers"?
    well said, Heather.

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    1. Kirsten, AMEN!!! Are We Not All Mother's? We sure are.

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  12. I can't believe someone said that!! Makes me angry! I am SO glad I had an epidural. My daughter's heart rate dropped twice and if I was feeling all the stress from the pain I think it could have been much worse than it was. Luckily I had the epidural and couldn't feel anything so all I had to worry about was listening to the doctor so that we could help get her heart rate back up.

    After reading your first paragraph my thought was the same as yours....how does pain from labor really have anything to do with being a good mother? You aren't even taking care of a baby yet at that point!

    I feel bad for woman that are so judgmental. It's one thing to know what you want and to believe that it's the best, but realize that what is right for you isn't always right for someone else.

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    1. April,
      What a blessing modern medicine was for you and your daughter! Glad all went well.

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  13. I think you make excellent points about not judging one another as women and mothers. I wouldn't say that the decision to have an unmedicated birth doesn't matter, but women who choose natural birth can feel proud of that without putting other moms down.

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    1. Kelsie,
      What a positive way to put things. Women can all be proud of the birthing choice they make, without putting anyone else down because their choice might be different.

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  14. Wow!! That is cruel. It's saying, she's a better mom than me. I GLADLY took the epidural, especially since I had Pitocin. :( Yes, I hope to do it naturally next time around, but if the pain gets to be to much, I'll request something because I want to be able to push the baby out.

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    1. @Charis's Mum Cruel is right. We all go into it with what we hope happens. But then have to go with what is best for our children.

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  15. So ridiculous! Would she dare say that to an adoptive mother? Ugh. I can't stand judgemental people.

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    1. I know, I have actually heard women say this to adoptive mothers. That is arrogance that I just don't understand or agree with.

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  16. i think youre absolutely right Heather, the title of mother is something that comes after the birth. I had 4 children, 2 with drugs & two without & that was due to medical necessity, not for pain relief.
    Just days ago here in Australia a woman, who was a huge campaigner for home births, very sadly passed away due to the complications she experienced during the home birth of her second child, if she was at a hosipital she would still be alive right now & her little girls would have a mum to love & cherish them.
    Some people have no idea!!!!

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    1. Trish, what a sad story. It can be hard when we think we are doing what is best, but things don't go as planned.

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  17. I was gung ho about trying to be all natural with my first baby in October of last year, but things didn't end up working out the way that I had planned. Baby decided to come a month early. I ended up on Pitocin and eventually (after 14 hours of agonizing pain and at the pleas of my midwife AND my nurse) ended up getting an epidural. The epidural was the best decision I ever made. The epidural made it possible for extra internal monitering and they found that my contractions were off the charts and way too hard to be effective at making my labor progress. I was on my way to a C-Section and the drugs were my saving grace. Even if my plans had worked out, I never would in my wildest dreams judge anyone as a "bad mom" or as less of a mom for having had drugs to help in the delivery of their child. I believe that there are personal choices we have to make after studying the facts. After studying the facts, I had wanted a drug free birth but was open to what was necessary to keep my baby and myself safe. That is what makes a mother, being willing to give up on her own plans for the safety and security of her children. We live in an amazing time when there are so many options that make delivering children a safer experience. We need to be open to our options in order to keep them safe, and ourselves safe. I ended up hemorrhaging after my daughter's delivery because of the contractions being too hard for too long, and I didn't get to see her sweet face until she was 8 hours old because of it. If, perhaps, I hadn't been so stubborn about the epidural I would have been recovered more quickly after her birth and I would have been able to be at her side in the NICU much sooner.

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    1. Sister Brittster, Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad that everything worked out. You said it perfectly "That is what makes a mother, being willing to give up on her own plans for the safety and security of her children." Love that!

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  18. wow. to the chick's comment and to the judgmental comments that are going right back at her.

    she is only a product of her culture, she "knows not" what she's doing by saying those things.

    I'll give the commenters on this post the same benefit of doubt and choose not to be offended by their attacks on the natural choice.

    Heather: I understand your need for validation, however a post that asks for judgement may not have been the best way to seek it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Amanda, There really was a genuine hope in this post, that we could all be more supportive. No validation needed. Thanks for pointing out how even trying not to judge, can appear judging.

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  19. Let's rise above this gossipy bull. It compels women to justify their choices when they have absolutely no responsibility to explain themselves to others who are so wholly unconnected and unconcerned.

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    1. Amanda, Love this point..."it compels women to justify their choices when they have absolutely no responsibility to explain themselves to others..."

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  20. While I definitely share your passion and understanding, I truly believe grace needs to sway both ways. There are women who truly believe natural births are the path to Saint Motherhood. They are wonderful mothers, as are those who opt for medication. My response to these women has simply been ~ "How amazing! You have a ton of endurance and obviously a much higher pain threshold than most." The bottom line is simply this, a happy baby has a happy mama. And if joy comes from an medication, then may drugs a happier mama and baby make!

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  21. I just have to say--I wonder if the same doctor Dayton delivered your baby as mine this past summer. :) He was wonderful and helped me deliver vbac. I am so grateful for the opportunities available for birth now. After having my first c-section, I often felt badly. Others would say things that just made me feel like I wasn't quite as good for not having given birth vaginally. But really it doesn't matter how the baby comes but how you love and take care of it. Having a c-section didn't make my love my son any less. Neither did a vbac make my love my second son more. Thank you for this post!

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  22. Hello! I just found your blog today and I must say its wonderful and refreshing! I find it absolutely annoying that you had to add your clarifying statement to this post. It is really sad that people/Christian people have yet to figure out that God asks us not to judge one another - that's his job. I will never understand people who are so passionate to the point of being rude. Usually people who feel the need to be so outspoken are lacking self approval and friendship in their lives. Its sad really. I don't care how the baby gets here so long as its loved and nurtured once he/she has arrived! Keep up the great work and I thank you for promoting the importance of building fellow mothers up, not competing!

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  23. Hello! I just found your blog today and I must say its wonderful and refreshing! I find it absolutely annoying that you had to add your clarifying statement to this post. It is really sad that people/Christian people have yet to figure out that God asks us not to judge one another - that's his job. I will never understand people who are so passionate to the point of being rude. Usually people who feel the need to be so outspoken are lacking self approval and friendship in their lives. Its sad really. I don't care how the baby gets here so long as its loved and nurtured once he/she has arrived! Keep up the great work and I thank you for promoting the importance of building fellow mothers up, not competing!

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  24. Great post and such a bummer that you have to add any clarification to your intentions. Keep up the good work promoting the importance of building our fellow mothers up instead of competing.

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  25. New reader here. Just wanted to comment and say first that I am so disappointed that someone actually said such an awful thing. As a natural/home birthing advocate I in no way think that a mother is anything but a mother regardless of birthing methods/outcomes. I, of course, was criticized for my choice to birth at home so both are clearly 2 sides of the same coin. What I advocate is that the mothers are the ones empowered, making her own choices and doing what she feels is right. Not what I, or the doctor, or your own mother thinks is right. And even if that power is taken away from her (because sometimes having our say is a hard fight to fight) it STILL doesn't make her less than a mother.

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  26. Love this post. I have had 2 of my 5 babies naturally and I'm kind of glad I did experience both ways. Now when those who oppose medication question me I answer that I've done both but my favorite delivery was when I was able to get an epidural right away before I started to feel any real pain(2 of the 3 I had to wait before I could get meds). I've found that that comment usually stops the conversation in its tracks. If all my labors were short like the two I didn't have meds with I probably wouldn't have worried about epidurals, but I've had 20 to 30 hour long labors and it can be exhausting.I don't know how people in the old days (or even now) can last that long in that much pain. I'm so grateful I've had the options that I did.

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  27. Love this post also. I have learned much over my past 14 years of child bearing and mothering. I have had a stillborn, a c-section, a medicated vaginal delivery and a "natural" delivery. All I have to say is a happy, healthy baby is worth whatever means to get them hear. Who are we to judge? A mother is what happens with the child after the birth not how they got here. I have 4 adopted nieces and nephews. Their mothers are amazing and have had to suffer much pain of heart and mind beyond the physical pain of birth. STOP IT now. Judging others choices is never the right way....WE do not have their circumstances, and all the facts... ONLY one person has that ability and right.

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  28. This is a bunch of CRAP. I am SO tired of women tearing each other down! We are our own worst enemies. There's always a new debate...working moms v. stay at homes, breastfeeders v. bottlers, cry it out v. attachment, and now this.

    My best friend is soon going to become pregnant with our first child. I cannot carry a pregnancy and I do not want to use my egg because I do not want to pass on a condition that I have. Since my husband has had a vasectomy, the cheapest route was to use donor sperm. Our child will have NO blood relation to either one of us.

    News Flash: This child will be no less "ours" than if I had birthed him or her myself. It's not the process that makes a mother, it's the love. Get up multiple times a night for feedings and changings, have baby puke all over your clothes, do a thousand loads of laundry, comfort a sick baby, take a million photos, encourage and pray for a baby, teach and delight in a child...and then tell me you're not a mother.

    Seriously, we are setting ourselves and our progress as women back a century with all this back-biting, judging, and hostility. To the women that want to get snarky: There's clearly something you feel is lacking in your mothering, or you wouldn't need to take time out of your day to make someone else feel lesser than you in that regard. Your high and mighty attitude does nothing but make you look foolish and silly.

    And to the women holding their own, whoever they may...you women who mother no matter how your child came to be yours...May you always know your inherent worth and beauty. I raise a glass to you, and to me, and say this: Cheers to us for not falling victim to the hype. May be always be smart enough to look past the haters and see only the wonder of being a mother.

    And to the writer: My hat's off to you, kindred spirit.

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    1. Just came across this post today and my first thought was of the poor mothers who would read that who had not carried a child. They are no less mothers than the ones who pushed a baby out (w/ or w/out drugs) or had a c-section. It's all in how you mother the child, not in how the child got there. You said it best!

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  29. wowowowowow! I am all for natural birth. Natural living. extended breast feeding etc. But never would I tell a mom her choices different then mine make her a bad mother! that's horrible!!
    I gave birth naturally in a tub of water and people thought i was NUTS! telling me the drugs were invented for a reason and that i don't get an award at the end (i call the kid an award!) they gave me such a hard time. I did it anyway and proved them wrong. Plenty of my friends give birth with drugs in a hospital and so be it. they are still a mother no matter WHAT!

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  30. AMEN!!!!!! Someone once told me she wouldn't have felt like a real woman or would have felt like she had cheated if she had had a medicated birth, and I have heard so many other comments like that. My philosophy is do what works for you and let other do the same.

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  31. I've come to realize there will always be abrasive, opinionated people who make weird blanket/judgmental statements like that. I try to not let it bother me anymore. Hopefully the day will come when they grow up and realize that's not the best way to relate to others. I certainly won't hold their past mistakes over their heads. I hope the same kindness will always be extended to me.
    I totally agree with your point: This motherhood thing is hard! We get nowhere tearing each other down! Great post. :-)

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  32. In the Netherlands, it's more or less the norm to have babies at home (where no pain medication is at hand) Nowadays, about 50% of the babies are born that way, the other 50% in hospital....

    I chose to stay at home, just because.. well, you're at home! In your own bed, your own environment, not some sterile room with lots of people and things like that. No pain medication was a bummer, but it was still better than the creepy hospital for some reason ;)

    As for being more or less of a mother.. umm.. well.. ANYONE can have a baby. Even serial killers have their babies. It's what you do with them AFTERWARDS that makes you a mom or not.... right?

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  33. This is my first time to your blog and I love it. I'm so glad that other women can be candid and talk about real issues. Kudos to you!!

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Hi Hi! It always makes my day to hear what you have to say. Let's keep this conversation going. Thank you for your comments. Don't want to leave a comment here, email me at blog.familyvolley@gmail.com.

 
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