No drugs? Good for you

9 Aug

A friend of mine, on recounting the events of his child’s birth recently waxed lyrical about how, not only did his partner do it drug free, but she also required no stitches. “She was incredible”. Now i love my friend, but i wanted to hit him. At what point does not requiring stitches come down to the brevity of the woman? Duh. Baby too big + vagina too small = tearing. It doesn’t matter how friggin’ clever or strong you are.

As for all this showing off about being able to do it without drugs. * off.

Ok so i really do have sour grapes with this one. As many of you will already know, i had two emergency caesarians, and was pretty cut up about it both times. (Here are my birth stories if that’s your kind of thing.)

I would have given my right arm for a natural home birth the second time. I was strong. Clever. Smart. Heroic. Nature just wasn’t smiling on me that day. So i didn’t do it “naturally”. I needed a full body block and a saw. (well okay hopefully it wasn’t a saw)

Quite frankly all women that go through labour and then motherhood are heroic. No matter how it ends up. How can you compare labours and score points on who made a better job of it? All labours are so different. How far apart the contractions start and end. Whether there is a gradual build up or a sudden surge. Whether the baby decides to turn and shift half way through making the pain near constant. If you’re physically sick. Tired. Scared. Who is supporting you. Whether your bladder is empty or full to bursting. And most of all, how long the bloody thing lasts.

Oh, and whether they bring those damn drugs the minute you ask for them, or tell you it’s gone too far and you’ll just have to deal with it. (or you chose to stay at home, in which case you’ll be cursing your decision at this point)

My sister had a drugs free home birth recently. And i am enormously proud of her. Not because she heroically shunned drugs in the face of intense pain and fear. But because she just got on with what nature threw at her, the circumstances she found herself in, fought through what sounds like a fairly hellish experience, to deliver her beautiful baby safely at home.

But do you know what i’m also proud of? That she hasn’t felt the need to show off to everyone about how great she is.

And believe me she is G-R-E-A-T. A brilliant mother. A wonderful sister. My hero. But she was all that before and after.

Birth stories are not a reflection on you as a person. They aren’t “good” or “bad”. Some people are not heroes, and others failures. It’s all down to a million and one small details that converge on the day, and a big sprinkling of luck.

Oh, and don’t forget that enormous chip the size of Manhattan resting on my shoulder.

42 Responses to “No drugs? Good for you”

  1. jfb57 August 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    I’m from the generation that never speaks of giving birth. You just did it. As for crowing about how great you were – forget it. We were just glad for it to be over & more importantly, our babes being healthy!

  2. Holly at Itsamummyslife August 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    hahaha. Here here! I had drugs first time, none second time. Not heroic just the way it went at the time. The thing I learned is that no plan is the best plan and expected the unexpected. I agree with your point about birth and motherhood making all mothers heroes – regardless of drugs or not. it’s bloody hard work and we deserve lots of praise.

    people also get a bit self congratulatory about babies who sleep through the night early on. This too, is total crap.

  3. Claire (20somethingmum) August 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    I think there should actually be a law banning people from Labour one upmanship. seriously. I would actually have been mean and catty and remarked that his wife must be ahem, wide downstairs to be able to push a baby out tear free. In fact, I have actually made similar remarks when a person who was constantly trying to out do us in “best Mum ever from first contraction” kept going on about how her baby was much better off as she had no drugs and hadn’t had any tearing. I made a comment that it must be like the Watford Gap up there as she had a 9 pounder. She didn’t appreciate the remark.

    I had c-sections due to emergencies, and rather than allow people to make me feel bad I just always say that at least I didn’t get all stretched out of shape, and was in and out in an hour, none of that pushing and sweating malarkey!

  4. Tasshhaaar August 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    So agree, blah blah well done on braving excrutiating pain unecessary!
    I had to have a emergency caesarian, and I have to put up with “oh you took the easy way out “comments!
    Bothered. We all end up with the same result in the end.

  5. Mediocre Mum August 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    I was hoping to get as many free drugs on the NHS as possible!

    • Janelle August 10, 2010 at 7:38 am #

      LOL! that made me laugh.

  6. Josie August 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    I 100% agree with you. Childbirth is hard and it f*cking hurts. Any mother that manges to get her baby out is a hero, however it happens and whatever help they need along the way.

    • Insomniac Mummy August 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

      What Josie said.

      Parental oneupmanship, in its many guises, annoys the tits off me!


  7. Alethea August 9, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Completely agree!

    I guess I would fall into the so called bad birth category but it has not once occurred to me that I was a failure. Bloody hell I have the most beautiful child in the world to prove how brilliant I was that day!

    I went into the third trimester grinning like an idiot, shunning all drugs prepared to ‘push for my supper’ but ended up having everything medically available and sunroof delivery; and quite frankly I do think I was heroic if not quite Superwomen that day.


  8. TheMadHouse August 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    You know what I went through the whole on my NCT class without c-sections being discussed. I had a terrible experiance with both the boys and Maxi was born by crash section. I was made to feel inadequate by the other NCT mums. It was terrible. I beat myself up for so long about it all.

    The main focus should be on the mum and baby being fine, not on how.

    I hate the way we woman constantly judge each other.

  9. Susie @ newdaynewlesson August 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    LOL-I am right there with you. I have done it 5 times.

    Once 41 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing, an episiotomy form here till tomorrow, a vaccum delivery and then going back in to get out the placenta. (an epidural for a few hours only and they had the nerve to let it wear off to push. ) 3.6 kilo

    The second time. Two weeks of contractions. 4cm the week before birth. 3 hours of labor, only 2 in hospital , a tear and a doctor I wanted to kick in the head. 3.895 kilos

    The third, induced. About 12 hours of labor. No epidural because it seems i have a clotting problem (one it seems I always had and the almost bledding to death with my first should have prompted some tests, but no). I had an amazing ethiopian midwife and even though she was over 4 kilos I had no stitches (though she did have a broken collarbone -one that took me over two days to convince the docs she had) 4.070

    The fourth almost 24 hours, induced. Midwife from hell who when my hubby left the room said-you haven’t given birth yet because you don’t really want to give birth. WTF???? (and I don’t curse) No epidural again. They broke my water twice but seems his head was blocking it all and he got the midwife back for me because as soon as his head came out he drenched her with all the amniotic fluid built up. Have no recollection if I had any sticthes but the midwife as I was being wheeled out said you are not in touch enough with your body-you should go to Feldenkries. Geez. 4.160

    The fifth I went into labor after a car accident at week 38. After 3 hours contractions stopped but they had to induce me because of the trauma and they couldn’t be sure everything was ok. 12 hours or so of induction. A midwife who I kept telling I don’t want stitches to (and I didn’t have). She was amazing. She said for me to tell the nursery doctors to check her heart because she heard something on the monitor and she indeed had something that they tested and it passed.
    Also good I gave birth because the placenta was showing signs of aging. 9all for the best at its best eh?) 3.3 kilos

    So yes-I am with you on this one.

    One sister had two home births. The other had 2 c-sections with live births, and then she lost a baby at 36 weeks (no heartbeat at checkup andnhad another c-section) (this was a few weeks ago)
    wrote about it here: -about the loss -about how hard it is to be so far away from her now

    I would gently in a week or two say something to your friend who made those comments.

    And sorry for this long answer lol.

    • Janelle August 10, 2010 at 7:41 am #

      OMG, that must be one of the most horrendous experiences… lost at 36 weeks then c-section. that happened to a friend of mine too. soo sad.

      • Susie August 10, 2010 at 9:50 am #

        It was horrible. Still is. 😦

  10. Chris August 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    I think Josie put it perfectly. Childbirth isn’t a competition. I can’t help but feel some of the boasters are secretly insecure and are trying to check everyone else out clumsily. I too would kill my husband if he went about discussing my under-carriage!

  11. Pip August 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Def a step too far when the man talks about number or lack of stitches……

    I have to admit to a little gloating about my easier second birth (a want people to try to VBAC and not assume once a section always a section) but those people who love to show off about their easy especially first births still wind me up 1) I am jealous that I didn’t have that opportunity due to my em c-section 2) I think they are bloody insensitive to how others may feel. They do not realise how lucky they are.

    • marketingtomilk August 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

      Pip – i don’t blame you gloating a bit at all. You had a positive birth experience after a really shitty one the first time round, and i’m so pleased for you. And i also think it is hugely important for women to know that vbac is perfectly possible.
      But do you know what- i realise now that my 2nd caesarian was an amazing experience, overall, so much better than most of the natural births i read about.
      so any strict categorsation into natural = positive, unnatural =negative is pointless and damaging.

      • Pip August 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

        Agree on that last point – prob one of the reasons I felt such a failure after birth number 1 😦

  12. Kate August 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    stitches or not is just luck, right? Not any indication of a badge of honour. Well, anyway, not last time I looked. That would be an interesting blog badge. 😉

    We should all be supportive of each other as mums no matter how we birth. Those with “bad” (read incident packed, not necessarily going to plan) births often need the most support as sadly, they do feel failures as women that things didn’t go to plan.

  13. Paula August 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    Drugs, as many as possible, as often as possible – that pretty much summed up my 3 labours. Even with number 2 and 3, who shot out, I was not being denied my right to the wonder that is Pethidine….

    The act of giving birth is simply the fullstop on a LONG gestation period. The child is the celebratory point, the means of delivery simply the aid to that process. High five to everyone who has already said it – enough competitiveness already – for crying out loud!


    • marketingtomilk August 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

      ahhh pethidine. The nearest i’ll get to heroin. (not that i’m condoning that, but there’s got to be a reason people do it, right?!)

  14. Naomi Richards August 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Its great if you can give birth without any drugs but I believe better out than in and was quite happy to use the sunroof option. Giving birth is no competition although I did say ‘I was too push to push’ – just like Posh!

  15. @HelenW71 August 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    It is absolute rubbish to intimate that one woman is in any way superior to another by how she gives birth. Let’s face it, once they’re in there’s no “easy” way that they’re coming out!
    I have friends who have given birth every way possible and actually the most harrowing accounts are the emergency sections on the grounds that there is a real risk to Mum and/or baby. To be faced with that crisis must be terrifying and call for serious amounts of courage.
    I am having an elective section on medical grounds (I have a muscle & joint condition) and when I admitted this at my first antenatal class at the weekend there was an audible intake of (disapproving) breath. Quite frankly my No1 concern is that my baby is born healthy, I don’t give a monkey’s if anyone thinks I’m too posh to push.
    Well done to any woman who gives birth I say – horses for courses and each to their own.

  16. Pants With Names August 9, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Oh big GRRRR to a man saying that. I think one of the reasons people talk so much about labour – especially a first one – is that before you do it you have NO idea how traumatic it is. I did all the classes, read all the books and was still very freaked out by it. Think half the boasting is down to post traumatic stress. Still is enormously irritating to be on the other side of. Is he also competing on the number of sleepless hours/bouts of mastitis?

  17. Elle August 9, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Well, you never know how it’s going to pan out, it’s all very well making plans…
    What matters is a healthy baby at the end of the day!
    My pregnancies were such high risk and I was so ill, there was no way birth was going to be natural.
    I had 2 very premature babies and I’m lucky we’ ve all survived.
    Sadly, this was not the case third time round.
    with my first two babies, I did feel a bit sad I was not able to have a relaxed pregnancy and more natural birth.
    However I would give anything to hold and cherish the little one who didn’t make it.
    So I really don’t want to hear about natural births and so called heroes , thank you very much.
    Great post!

    • marketingtomilk August 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

      Oh Elle, my heart goes out to you.
      Thank you for the perspective. Boy could we all do with a bit more of that most of the time.


  18. Rachel August 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    okay….. I had the BEST labour. No stitches, no pain relief. I loved it. Such a positive experience.
    HOWEVER. My best friend had a horrible time, and was stitched to high heaven. I was in tears when I visited her.
    Now, I don’t think I’m the dogs bollocks for having an intact twinkle. I think my mate is the dogs bollocks for going through all that, and still holding it together.
    Women give birth every day, and we’re all amazing. It’s the best thing ever. All bodies are different, all babies are different, and I can’t stand these bints who harp on about meditating during birth and “I saw a vision of a rainforest and the eagles were soaring and flowers were blooming and I breathed….and there he was, in my arms, serene as an angel…..”
    F*** OFF. No you didn’t. Stop it. You probably were so high on gas and air you THOUGHT you envisioned the Amazon when in actual fact it was the dried up obligatory cactus on the windowsill of the hospital room.
    There’s no shame in anything that happens in labour, drugs etc. Whatever women need to do to get through and bring themselves baby out the other side safely.

    • marketingtomilk August 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

      And how amazingly lucky were you?! Excellent stuff.
      Some honest talk from an honest mamma.
      I can always rely on you

      • Rachel August 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

        Hey youuu….
        I just say it how it is, and if people don’t like it, they can jog the f*** on…. I could totally plug my blog there 🙂

        My labour was lovely, but of course there was blood and *stuff* and there was a scary few minutes immediatly after delivery where the midwives were panicking over B not making any noise and was a very nightmarish shade of navy blue, and of course my twinkle was very sore and despite needing a poo so bad I held it in for like a week for fear of my guts falling out through my butt, but soooo whhaaaaat……

        I was really lucky, 5 hours 19 mins, which is good for a first baby, but it wasn’t cos I was strong or brave or in tune with sodding nature, it JUST HAPPENED THAT WAY.

  19. Harriet August 9, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    To be fair to your friend, she probably was “incredible”. Just not, as you say, because of how her labour, (with that baby, on that day, with that team of midwives, in that hospital, on the right Tuesday in August with the moon in capricorn…) happened to turn out, but because she gave birth, and she and the baby are fine.

    None of that has got anything to do with who, or what, she is. She’s just, as we all are who survive the experience intact and with healthy babies, incredibly lucky…

    Her husband’s comment doesn’t, therefore annoy me. He’s proud of his beautiful wife and his beautiful child, a he should be. Where I get annoyed (aka f*cking pissed off) is with the lobbies that tell you that one sort of birth is better than another, or one sort of way to feed your children, or one sort of whatever the latest parenting guilt trip is… Your friend’s husband has just swallowed that. Give him time. When number two is just as perfect, and just as wonderful, but comes out differently, I hope, and am confident, that he will still think of his wife as “incredible”

  20. Petit Poppet August 9, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    I liked reading this. I had planned a homebirth, natural yadda yadda… I ended up in hospital as my girl was 14 days late. I was pleased that i coped with labour well and things went smoothly meaning I didn’t even think about drugs but that doesn’t mean I was ‘better’ at labour than anyone else, it means I was fortunate.

    Don’t even get me started on stitches!

  21. Motherfunster August 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    I totally agree. We should all be proud however we deliver. See my gallery post on Nature on http://www.motherfunster.blogspot. A natural delivery is a great thing but it is not a failure to need medical help.

  22. Muddling Along Mummy August 9, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    Its definitely not a competition and I think that every birth, no matter how it looks on paper, is life changing for the woman and often hides some big issues that have to be dealt with internally

    On paper my births look blissful but each has their own things that caused me problems – I wouldn’t dream of comparing and belittleing another woman’s experiences in some kind of masochistic one up man ship

    Sooner we all get around to supporting each other through these shared experiences and stop making it a competition the better (and sooner the NCT starts informing and not dictating even betterer)

  23. kelloggsville August 9, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    My birth was drugs all the way, epidural asap, picked up infection in hospital and then was too ill to breast feed and we (baby and I) both ended up on drips. If I’d have had a natural home birth like my friend, it would never have been like that (apparently!!!!!!!!!).

    My theory on stitches is that they sew you back in to some semblance of order. Those that don’t get stitched up are more likely to have a much saggier …..oh you know what I am saying….anyway this just prompted a conversation with my hubby about previous partners and he agrees!!!!!

    So in the long term your sex life benefits. Get over the guilt and get out the silk ;0)

  24. Mwa August 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Ha. I’m so having an epidural. I don’t care who finds me a wooss. Thanks for the equation up there. I am very familiar with it.

  25. Notesandredshoes August 9, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    There is a time and a place for class a drugs: childbirth.

  26. erinmidwife August 10, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    Every woman who gives birth is a warrior. Every woman has her own unique journey she moves through in the process, physically and emotionally. Our stories are our own. We should never use them as a means to judge or diminish anyone else’s journey. We have no idea what journey the woman next to us went through. Thank you for sharing.

    • marketingtomilk August 10, 2010 at 10:26 am #

      I absolutely love that. “We are warriors” Not bloody half.
      Thanks Erin

  27. Pumpkin and Piglet August 10, 2010 at 6:36 am #

    It makes me sad that some people view the whole of mother hood, even from delivery, as a competition. I had what is classed as a ‘traumatic’ labour – 4 days, midwives not believing I was labouring until they hooked me up to the monitor, baby stuck, heart rate dropping, forceps, emergency c-section and haemorrhage.

    I have been told that I haven’t given birth ‘properly’, well you know what, as far as I’m concerned I have. My baby was born in the way she needed to be at the time. Yes, I had visions of delivering ‘normally’ whilst I was pregnant but my sole aim was to get my baby girl into the world safely!

    None of it really matters, not whether you had drugs/stitches/pushed/c-section/breast feed/bottle feed or do those ‘extra’ activities to apparently increase your child’s intelligence. All that matters at the end of the day is that you love your children and do the very best for them that you can. That’s what all of us are trying to do, our best.

  28. Janelle August 10, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    notes and redshoes….. thats what i said. 1st baby emergency c-section, was geared up for vbac for 2nd, at 39 1/2 weeks had failed natuaral inducton… went to 41 weeks, labour came fast and hard and i demanded drugs after only 2 hours. baby couldn’t come down, cord around neck, epidural didn’t work, they had to put me under anesthetic. i was so releived… can remember lying on the operating table feeling them pin prick where they would cut, and STILL being able to move legs, then they gave me the anesthetic drugs and i was so happy to drift off out of the pain and trauma of childbirth.

  29. Simone August 11, 2010 at 2:34 am #

    Hey, looks like you’ve struck a chord with this one Henri!
    I can say that I have done it all.

    ONE emergency ceasarian (after two days with no prgress, not one bloody centimetre and a baby in distress thanks very much!) TICK

    ONE baby pushed out without drugs (not for the lack of my asking tho, oh no; but I was too far gone, sorry. Suck it up and PUSH) TICK

    ONE large baby boy who will not come out without help. Sit on the edge of this table in the altogether and let us stick a giant needle in your back while 1500 men watch. Now we are going to cut a hole in your tummy and pull that sucker out. By the way we will be doing this at 2.30pm next wednesday, if that suits? TICK.

    Yes, done it all. And lived to tell about it. USed to be a time I would have dies from two of those births.
    Thanks goodness for doctors with scalpels and fetal heart rate monitors and epidurals.
    I live to tell the tale

  30. Simone August 11, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    ahhh please excuse my heinoius spelling, I have a 2 year old climbing all over me!

  31. Very Bored in Catalunya October 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Not sure how I missed this one first time around, but Amen Sister. Amen. Me & you are going to get along quite nicely me thinks…. x

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