I am consumed with parental guilt 24/7
Another day, another epic parental fail.
Standing in the sweltering courtyard outside my daughter Cella’s ballet class, I am painfully aware that I have once again stuffed up in my role as mummy. Around me, the other mums move gracefully through their choreographed dance of dropping their Lexus keys into their Chanel bags before kneeling on the grass to offer their tutu-clad princesses perfectly cut fruit (in matching Tupperware containers, natch). Me? I just stand there with a half-eaten Babybel cheese in my hand and silently curse myself for my inability to get my shit together. Because today of all days, in 30-plus-degree heat, I have somehow not only forgotten a sun hat and sunscreen, but I’m also sans water bottle for my own little princess. A slight problem considering we always play in the courtyard outside after class finishes.
Not unlike a truffle pig determined to root out the essence of what’s making me feel like crap, Cella chooses this very moment to race screaming out of the dance hall, panting like she’s just trekked across the Mojave Desert. ‘Mummy, I need water! I’m toooo thirsty to dance!’ She looks at me imploringly as her little pigtails shake (with dehydration no doubt). My smile freezes on my face as I notice the other mums looking in our general direction, so instead of giving it to her straight (‘You know how you didn’t tidy your room yesterday? Well, you don’t get any water today’), I make a big show of rummaging through my (non-Chanel) handbag even though I know perfectly well there’s nothing in there.
It’s at that moment I clock a pram in the corner with a bottle of water sticking out of the cup holder. The mother has taken her baby boy with her to the toilet and my primal mothering instincts kick in as I plan my next move. Throwing my bag to the floor, I clutch Cella’s wrist and half-drag her over to the pram with haste, where I quickly open the lid and force her to scull some water. ‘Hurry up!’ I hiss as she downs the liquid in large gulps, her eyes wide with shock. Bottle half empty, I quickly place it back in the cup holder and step the hell away from it. Great. I have just stolen drinking water from a breastfeeding mother.
That evening, as I tell my husband Lee about my latest escapade, he is incredulous. ‘You did WHAT?’ I don’t dare look at him, only continuing to chop carrots for dinner with a flair generally unseen outside an early morning infomercial (see, I can be efficient!). ‘Yes, I know how it sounds,’ I begin, ‘but you know what? This was about survivalism and that woman is just lucky I didn’t stab her in the neck with a biro and wrench the bottle from her lifeless hand because that was Plan B and CELLA NEEDED WATER.’ I have become defensive, and consequently, shrill. Lee looks at me with a mix of horror and fascination. ‘I seeeee . . .’ he says slowly. ‘And so, at no point did it occur to you to perhaps ask one of these mums for a swig of their water? That was never a frontrunner for a Plan A or B?’ ‘NO! I didn’t want them to judge me!’ I shriek, waving a knife around at the room like a swashbuckling musketeer. Or a demented mother sorely in need of a break. ‘Right, well, maybe you need your head read.’ And with that kind and loving piece of character assassination, he glides out of the room and leaves me to my thoughts, that constant inner dialogue that says, ‘Dear Dilvin, you suck at this. Sincerely, Dilvin.’ Christ, when will this maternal guilt go away?
If you’re a mum (and let’s be honest, if you’re reading this book, you probably are and PS: you freakin’ rock!), you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say once you have a baby, it’s as though they insert some kind of guilt chip inside you. Believe me, you can’t have missed this installation – it’s that voice of doom playing in your head telling you you’re doing everything wrong, and possibly, just possibly, that decision you make today to not give them that 90 per cent juice concentrate popper may very well lead them up the thorny garden path to a lifetime of playing bitch to somebody else’s top dog in prison. If you’re feeling the pressure to be ‘the perfect mum’ and suffering huge amounts of anxiety because you’re not, you’re not alone. The truth is, modern motherhood appears to have become a tyrannical state in which women have become slaves to l’enfant roi. This means it’s no longer acceptable to be a good mother anymore: you need to be the best mother around and certainly far better than anyone else in your immediate environment.
To take you back, you’ll probably first become aware of this chip the minute two lines appear on your pregnancy test. Your mum back in her day might have had a quick squeal followed by a victory B&H and shandy then carried on with her regular day-to-day life, but you? You can look forward to running the next nine months like a hardcore boot camp that would make even the toughest of SAS men cry like a little girl. With a stack of parenting tomes by the side of your bed, you will soon realise being a good parent isn’t just about providing love, warmth, food and shelter anymore, but about following each mandate from positive parenting advocates with religious fervour. For the record, you will no longer: eat any food that is likely to give you joy; drink coffee or tea; sleep on your back or right-hand side; enter any body of water warmer than 37.5 degrees; touch a cat, dog or unwashed person; or cry too much or laugh too loud lest the baby gets anxious or confused. You might have a moment when you realise you’ve accidentally eaten a rogue delicatessen olive but after two phone calls to your obstetrician and the poisons information line, they will dispel any fears that you’ve harmed your baby. Oh sure, occasionally you might wonder why it is that French women continue to eat brie, Turkish women continue to eat fetta (and chain-smoke a carton a day) and the Japanese continue to dine on sushi throughout their pregnancies but you just can’t risk it because what happens if your unborn baby contracts listeriosis and dies? That would be entirely your fault. Guilty, guilty, guilty.
Of course, once the baby is actually born, that’s when the fun really begins. You must give birth vaginally and drug-free just so you can tell everyone how awesome you are and how it didn’t even hurt at all. You will buy only environmentally friendly nappies made from recycled elephant dung and breastfeed exclusively until your child comes home from high school one day and insists he is done with it all. If you’re of weak character and choose to introduce solids early, you will only purée and feed organic, fully sustainable products you’ve purchased from a ritzy shop where everything comes in big brown carrier bags and they have a concierge at the door. You will not let your baby self-soothe, but you also won’t be too ‘attachment’. You will not work too much, or too little, and your house shall be impeccable yet not so clean that your little ones can’t build up their immune systems. You will drop the baby weight immediately after birth but you must not attend a gym or class during your child’s waking hours or you’re not being attentive. Any arguments you might have had about personal choice? You’re a mum now, remember? You’ve joined the club so that shit doesn’t fly anymore. Check your brain at the door.
And it’s with this long introduction that I say to you: Welcome to motherhood! Are we having any fun yet?
Right, so how do we stop feeling so damned guilty all the time?
Ever wanted to grab a psychologist by the throat and scream, ‘What the hell is wrong with me?!!’ Happily, there’s no need for violence on anyone’s part, as Jodie Benveniste, psychologist and director of parental advice website Parent Wellbeing (parentwellbeing.com) was only too happy to impart her wisdom on this eternal guilt we call motherhood. ‘Parents can feel guilty about anything and everything!’ she confirms. ‘Not getting to the school play, buying cupcakes from the shop instead of making them at home, pursuing a career, having a lunch with the girls instead of spending more time with the kids, or not really enjoying time at the playground or endless hours of block building – these are just a few examples.’ Sounds familiar, but why do we feel like this ALL THE TIME, and why the hell aren’t our male counterparts buckling under the same weight? According to Jodie, we often feel guilty as parents because we really want to do the best by our children. We want to give them the best opportunities and for them to grow up happy and healthy. Dads, apart from the odd hero we all want to marry, appear to be more pragmatic – ‘In general, they don’t worry about what they haven’t done for their kids, or how they haven’t done enough, they just get on with doing and being with their kids.’ THOSE BASTARDS! Still, they might be onto something because all this crazy mum guilt is helping no one. As Jodie says, ‘Feeling guilt all the time can mean we don’t enjoy and appreciate parenting as much as we’d like, and we don’t acknowledge what we do well with our kids,’ she says. ‘This can affect them in a negative way, if guilt leads to overcompensating. We can be too indulgent with our kids, buying them lots of stuff to make ourselves feel better, or we can be too permissive and fail to set strong enough boundaries.’ Just as I’m about to go outside and slash my wrists (one more thing to be guilty about), Jodie adds, ‘But on the upside, guilt can help you to stop and reflect and decide whether you are being the parent you’d like to be.’
Jodie’s (perfectly legal) top tips on how to keep those guilty feelings at bay
* Acknowledge the guilt, then let the feeling go. You don’t have to buy into it.
* If you find yourself feeling guilty about not getting something done, ask yourself: ‘What good things have I achieved today?’
* If you find yourself feeling guilty about doing something ‘wrong’, ask yourself: ‘What have I done right today?’
* Remember that you don’t have to be a perfect parent.
You just need to love and nurture your kids.
I have an elective caesarean (and I love it)
I am five years old the day I unintentionally make my first birth plan announcement. It’s a scorching hot day, and my gaggle of girlfriends and I are lying on our backs on the steaming-hot asphalt making pictures of the clouds. The girls have finished arguing over whether Cheer Bear or Love-a-Lot bear is the superior Care Bear (Lovea-Lot, hands down) and have moved on to the more sombre topic of having babies. ‘I’m going to have babies with Troy Cuttleridge when I’m eighteen,’ giggles Brooke, who no doubt thinks having babies is something that happens after you hold hands for an extended period of time. ‘Yuk!’ exclaims Julie. ‘I’m going to have lots of babies by myself and I’m going to have lots of money so I can wear nice perfume!’ (Tragically, little Julie has since realised her dream.) Listening to them talk about having babies, I can’t help but shudder. I’m still far too young to know what a birth plan is. I have no idea hordes of Western women write detailed documents complete with subheads and bullet points explaining how, when and where their babies will be born. But one thing I’m already certain of: there is no way on God’s green Earth that a fully formed human being is ever going to exit my body via my vagina like my mum said they do. I sit up and wipe the gravel from the back of my legs. ‘I’m not going to have babies until I’m thirtytwo,’ I declare, ‘and the baby is not going to come out of my vagina, either; the doctor is going to cut my tummy to pull the baby out while I’m sleeping.’ I don’t know it’s called a C-section but I have a general understanding of how it works, so enthralled am I by my mother’s crazy vertical 70s-style scar and accompanying story of my own birth. The girls look at me, shocked, probably quite unaware until that very moment that babies actually come out of vaginas. Brooke looks like she’s about to cry. ‘But Mum said we hatch from very small eggs.’ Ah, but wouldn’t that be lovely?
My own mother told no such tales of course; she was honest from the get-go. ‘Oh Dilvin, it was horrendous! I was in labour with your brother for twenty-six AGONISING hours before they took pity on my broken body and performed an emergency caesarean on me,’ she would tell me between sips of her black Turkish tea. ‘The experience was so awful, it was like I was dying or being ripped in two by a pack of hungry wolves.’ Yes, yes that does sound bloody awful, I would think, leaning in, fascinated yet crossing my legs and wincing all the same. I noticed that as soon as she moved on to the story of my far less dramatic birth, however, I would instantly relax. ‘With you, it was different – I didn’t feel a thing! They put me to sleep, and when I woke up, you were handed to me all clean and ready to be fed.’ Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out how I formed my opinions on childbirth. Wow! I thought, imagining being handed a ‘here’s one you prepared earlier’ baby in cute clothes as you tap-dance your way out of hospital. That’s the way to do birth! Of course, what I didn’t know then was that Mum graciously left out the part where she almost died from complications after the fact, so I was convinced this no-pain, civilised birth option was the one for me. Without knowing it, I had created my birth plan, one I would carry in my back pocket well into adulthood.
Twenty-five years later, Lee and I are driving to the hospital in a state of utter tranquillity. ‘This doesn’t feel quite right,’ I say to Lee as I watch our daughter’s feet kick at my incredibly large tummy. ‘I feel like you should be driving erratically at high speeds while I yell at you through gritted teeth or something – isn’t that how it normally works?’ Lee looks over at me somewhat mortified by the idea. ‘Fuck that!’ he says. ‘This is much better. At least we know what’s going to happen next and no one’s freaking out.’ And we’re not. We giggle like excited teenagers all the way to the hospital, repeating, ‘I can’t believe we’re going to finally meet our baby!’ So far, so good, I think.
We arrive at the hospital at 5.30am, and by 6.30am, I’m being calmly wheeled down the corridor towards theatre to deliver our first baby. The operating theatre, I note, is fi with enough people to make up a small music festival. Four men in blue scrubs come over and lift me by the corners of the sheet I’m lying on and shift me over to the operating bed like I’m some kind of beached whale and I groan with horror before breaking into a fi of laughter. Just then I hear the unmistakable first twangs of Duran Duran’s ‘Planet Earth’, and I know everything’s going to be okay (Duran Duran’s greatest hits album Decade was part of my birth plan – because really, how can you not feel happy when ‘Save a Prayer’ is blasting and you’re conjuring the imagery (mental or otherwise) of a team of strapping lads in salmon-hued suits happily cavorting on a sandy beach overloaded with elephants and small Sri Lankan children?) My obstetrician’s head pops up over the sheet they’ve placed across my chest so I can’t see what’s going on at the business end of my body. ‘Don’t get too comfortable,’ he says with a smile. ‘We’re going to have your baby here in fi e minutes.’ He pops back down and I wonder if he’s working extra quickly to get the hell away from my choice of music. I look at the clock and it’s 7.25am. ‘Wow, I can’t believe this is fi y happening,’ I say tearfully to Lee as he sits beside me, clutching my hand. ‘When will you be starting?’ I call down to my obstetrician.
I’m numb from the waist down and shivering from the anaesthetic but other than that, I feel great and want to know what the hold-up is. ‘We’ve already started, Dilvin!’ comes back the somewhat muffled voice and I am stunned. Aside from the slightest bit of pushing and pulling, I literally cannot feel a thing. I do see a few bloody instruments about so I can only assume they’re rummaging around my uterus like they’re digging for change in a purse. Lee and I talk softly for a little bit longer and a few minutes later my obstetrician sings out, ‘Here she is!’ He holds up our little baby, perfectly formed and beautiful, but silent and slightly floppy, and quickly whisks her off to get some oxygen. Just as I begin panicking, a large cry breaks through the silence and a beaming Lee pops back over with a super-healthy Cella in his arms. Everything’s perfect and we’re fi y a family. I got the birth I wanted. The problem was I didn’t have the birth everyone else wanted me to have . . .
EIGHT MONTHS EARLIER
Two pink lines are staring back at me from the pregnancy test. You’re pregnant, you fertile fox! it announces, followed by, Prepare yourself for a caesarean! No, it’s not some super-clever device that can accurately predict what’s going to happen down the track (wouldn’t that be awesome?), but at that very moment I am already certain that the only way this baby is coming into the world is by having a pair of middle-aged hands slide on in through my sunroof and pluck her the hell out of my womb. I don’t see a problem with this so I make my intentions clear to everyone from the start – taking extra precautions to impress this nugget of information upon my obstetrician the first chance I get. ‘Doctor Albert, I would like a caesarean please,’ I casually request at my first prenatal appointment, somehow making it sound as though I’m merely choosing a dessert from a menu. Doctor Albert leans back in his chair and looks me over thoughtfully. ‘Hmm, and why is that, Dilvin?’ Taking a deep breath, I launch into a sorry saga about my scoliosis (my spine is bent into an S-shape), the fact that no woman in my family has been able to birth vaginally and just generally, about how terrified I am of the whole freakin’ process (I don’t mention the pack of hungry wolves). ‘I see . . .’ he says as he stares off into the distance pensively like he’s starring in a Rick Astley video. ‘You do know caesarean sections aren’t without risk, don’t you?’ he asks, incredibly serious in his manner. ‘Oh, absolutely!’ I exclaim. ‘I work for a pregnancy magazine – I know everything there is to know about caesareans so believe me when I tell you I’m making an informed choice.’ This is true. I have interviewed every birthing expert in Australia in my time there so it’s not like I’m going into this blindfolded. Doctor Albert studies me for a bit longer but eventually pushes over the consent papers and some information leaflets. ‘I know you’re well versed in what the procedure entails but I think you should take these home and read them anyway.’ I throw them in my bag and nod in agreement as I sign my name on the dotted line. Immediately I feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Phew!
Once I have a date locked in, that’s when I notice the game change. I’ve never been shy about making my birth plan public, but now that it’s real and ‘happening’, every man and his dog wants to weigh in with an opinion about what a horrible, selfish mother I am. ‘I don’t understand what the hell is wrong with you!’ says my brother Dave for the umpteenth time, as he visits one afternoon. ‘As a woman, don’t you want to experience giving birth?’ He is shocked that I would want to miss out on the seemingly fantastic opportunity of squeezing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon. Clutching my fists, I stare evenly back at him. ‘I don’t know, Dave, don’t you want to experience having someone hit a rusty nail through your penis to prove to yourself you’re a man?’ I shoot back. The atmosphere is tense that evening but I hear the same sentiments echoed everywhere I go. ‘Oh, I’d do anything for my children, even go through all that pain,’ says one woman at a barbecue, tone implying that I wouldn’t. I just smile tightly and change the subject even though I long to slap her across the face with a pair of leather gloves.
So here’s what I know about caesarean births so far: I know the rate of Australian women having them is skyrocketing – 31.6 per cent in 2010 compared with 25.4 per cent in 2001 (well above the World Health Organization’s recommendations that C-section births should not be higher than 10–15 per cent). It’s more prevalent in private hospitals (27 per cent) than in public (18 per cent) and midwives are quick to blame this erroneously on golf-happy obstetricians keen to schedule in births to keep their private time free. This is not the case – obstetricians just tend to be more risk-averse. And I know that while caesareans enable patients to plan the birth, reduce the risk of injury to pelvic muscles and allow the safe delivery of high-risk babies, the risk of maternal death or injury is also higher, as is the chance your baby will end up in neonatal intensive care with breathing difficulties (but often only if baby is delivered before 39 weeks). I know all of this, but nothing changes the fact I am utterly petrified of giving birth, and cannot – will not – entertain the idea of having this baby any other way. It has nothing to do with desecrating my husband’s much-loved playground (‘I suppose it would be a little like watching your favourite pub burn down,’ concedes Lee when I ask him about it) or being ‘too posh to push’; I am literally struck down with fear and I certainly don’t see my choice as anything to be ashamed of or hide from people. But somehow I get the feeling I should.
While I’d had a clear idea of how I wanted my birth to unfold since the age of five, ie safe and snug in an operating theatre, I’m fairly sure I’m in a different category to what’s become quite a phenomenon among mums-to-be these days. You may have heard of the term ‘birthzilla’. It’s a term that was only coined recently, but it’s a behaviour that’s been around quite a while. The practice of obsessing over a birth plan and identifying ways to make your experience ‘perfect’, or just so much better than everyone else’s, the trend has picked up speed in recent years. Back in our mothers’ day it was all about how much pain you suffered (‘I laboured for five days straight and they wouldn’t give me so much as a Panadol’ and ‘Since I had my baby five years ago, I can’t even wee straight’ – you get the idea). But today? Among the ‘birthzillas’, it’s all a massive competition about how well you coped and how damned wonderful everything was. ‘The baby weighed 4.8kg and I laboured for 32 hours but I made sure I gave birth vaginally with no drugs!’, ‘Oh, giving birth was nothing! It just felt like a bit of faint period pain!’ and ‘I enjoyed giving birth so much, I almost orgasmed with every contraction!’ That’s not me getting all trigger-happy on the exclamation marks, either, this is how they’re often squealed at innocent bystanders (and journalists) by these kinds of women.
I guess it’s to be expected, but celebrities like to weigh in from time to time with their (always wonderful) stories. ‘It didn’t hurt in the slightest,’ revealed model Gisele Bündchen after her eight-hour home birth. ‘It was more like meditation,’ said Jessica Alba of her ‘amazing’ birth. My personal favourite is when Kate Winslet admitted publicly that she had lied to the media about having a vaginal birth with her firstborn because she was so ‘traumatised’ over her caesarean. ‘I’ve never talked about this. I’ve actually gone to great pains to cover it up. But Mia was an emergency C-section. I just said that I had a natural birth because I was so completely traumatised by the fact that I hadn’t given birth. I felt like a complete failure . . . I felt like, in some way that I couldn’t join that “powerful women’s club”.’ Fortunately for Winslet, she gained entry into womanhood some years later when she gave birth again – this time vaginally. ‘It was an amazing feeling having Joe naturally, vaginally. Fourteen hours with no drugs at all, but then I had to have an epidural because I was so tired. I honestly thought I’d never be able to do it. It was an incredible birth. It laid all the ghosts to rest. It was really triumphant.’ Quite. Well thank Christ for that, now we can all sleep better at night.
It often feels like unless you have a perfect, drug-free vaginal birth, you’re not a very accomplished mother. Hell, you’re not even a very good mother. At work whenever I did a callout for mums to email me their birth stories my inbox would be full of women who define themselves by the type of birth they had (evident from their signature or website they’d invariably send me the link to). You know the type – Josie, 34, free-birthed Benjamin, 18 months, and Jupiter, 3. I would have home birthers, calm birthers, active birthers, women with stories about giving birth to ridiculously large babies without the need for pain relief!!!! (their words and punctuation, not mine), but never would I hear from the women who’d had a C-section (unless they’d laboured for 46 hours first and it became an emergency, they would tell me sheepishly, almost embarrassed by their perceived failure). No hands up from women who used every drug under the sun, no epidural stories – nothing. It’s only after I’d do a second callout and change the text to read, ‘looking for women who’ve had a caesarean delivery or had gas, pethidine and epidural or all of the above’ that I would get a response from these women. If I enquired any further, they would respond, ‘I didn’t think you’d want to hear from someone like me.’ Someone like me – seriously. I couldn’t help but notice these women never had a link to their websites, no ‘Catherine, mother of Ruby, via C-section’ in their email signatures. It was almost as though it was their dirty secret to hide, and that their birthing experience wasn’t valid.
But you see, here’s the thing about giving birth: going through hours and hours of prolonged agony doesn’t make you a better mother, nor does having a quick operation; the real trick is what you do with your baby once it gets here. You may feel like you’ve missed out on the experience of birthing vaginally, and while most medical professionals are in favour of everybody having the birth they want (within safe guidelines), it helps to remember that for millions of women around the world, their only birth plan is to not die. So let’s keep some perspective on what a First-World creation this really is and screw the dolphin sounds CDs and ancient singing balls.
In the end, I am really fortunate and recover from my caesarean quickly – I’m up and about the next day, walking from my hospital room to a nearby cafe with Cella to have a well-deserved cup of coffee, and the pain medication stops soon after. I count my lucky stars things have gone so well. I feel so great that by the time I check out, I don’t bother filling the prescription for Panadeine Forte they’ve given me. Just like I’d imagined back when I was five years old, I practically tap-danced out of the hospital with a baby in my hands. I’m not saying this to beat my chest and pass myself off as some kind of hero because I know a lot of women don’t have such a positive experience, but in case you’ve noticed a lack of encouraging caesarean stories out there, I have one and I want people to hear it.
As for what happened next, well, that’s another story . . .
Why do so many women turn into birthzillas?
Q&A with Doctor Gino Pecoraro, Obstetrics & Gynaecology spokesperson for the federal Australian Medical Association.
Why do you think some women feel so traumatised if they have an emergency C-section and miss out on the experience of giving birth?
It’s complicated, but one of the major reasons we know of is that people often find it difficult to relinquish control in a world where you’re taught you must always be in control. The problem here of course is that when it comes to the human body and the process of giving birth, there’s very little you can have any influence over, and that 20-centimetre canal the baby goes down is often described as the most dangerous journey you’ll ever take in your life. Another reason women feel traumatised is they build up how the birth is going to happen in their heads and if they think about it often enough, they’ll eventually come to focus on the journey rather than the outcome.
Taking this into consideration, I often think we’re the victims of our own success – two short generations ago having women and babies die during the birthing process was not at all unusual and women have forgotten this. You’ve got to remember giving birth is not like a movie scene where everyone has a script – your baby certainly hasn’t read it and won’t know how to act accordingly.
Birth plans – are they a waste of time?
It’s always useful to consider how you might like things to go and to spend a lot of time with your obstetrician or midwife posing questions, but it’s never a good idea to set your heart on something. Also, I strongly caution against presenting your birth plan to your obstetrician typed on coloured paper, sprayed with perfume and bound with ribbon like it’s gospel. If you do this, it’s an absolute recipe for disaster because it will often end in disappointment and a sense of feeling cheated. The very best birth plan you can have is to say, ‘I want to know what’s going on, I want to be comfortable and safe, and I want a healthy baby at the end of it.’ That’s all.
Why do you think how you give birth has become such a competitive sport among many mums?
Everything comes down to media influence and the fact that reality has been sacrificed on the altar of reality TV. Women today see one of the Kardashians give birth on Foxtel and think, ‘Gee, that looks nice, I’d love my delivery to be like that,’ but what they don’t realise is that everything has been carefully crafted by a public relations crew! It’s certainly been my experience when looking after high-profile patients that what they put out publicly and what really goes on rarely, if ever, correlates. And if I’m going to be brutally honest, women are also quite competitive by nature so this is just one more avenue where they feel like they can strike blows and claim scalps.
What are some of the pros and cons of C-sections and vaginal births?
Pros of C-sections
* Control over when the baby arrives and how long the birth will take.
* No chance of infecting the baby with an STD the mother may have.
* Safer for the mother when the pregnancy is complicated.
* Less traumatic for victims of sexual abuse.
* Alleviation of fear.
* Less pain during the birth.
Cons of C-sections
* It’s a real operation with risk of haemorrhaging, complications and problems with anaesthesia.
* If the surgeon is inexperienced, other risks may include damaging the bowel or bladder during surgery or cutting too deeply and scratching the baby.
* Post-operative pain and immobility.
* Respiratory problems can occur with the baby.
Pros of vaginal births
* It’s the way nature intended and if all goes well, you’ll be up and walking around quickly.
* A lowered risk of respiratory problems for bub.
* Your baby will ingest a protective bacteria as they make their way through the birth canal.
Cons of vaginal births
* It’s painful.
* Can result in tearing and episiotomies which are also painful.
* A breech position can cause distress to a baby, and a C-section will often be recommended.
What’s the best advice you could give pregnant women about their birthing choices?
There’s no right or wrong way to give birth – there’s only the way that’s right for you. Do your research early; attend birthing classes so you know what to expect; and talk over your concerns with your doctor, but be flexible and realistic. There’s no use in saying you want a drug-free vaginal delivery if you have placenta praevia, for example. Trust in the people looking after you – your obstetrician will have studied a good 15 years to impart their wisdom and knowledge and a few lines you read on a website is no match for this experience. And if you don’t get the birth you want, that’s okay. Just remember you’re only in labour for one day and that’s no reason to let the disappointment from this affect the rest of your life.
Excerpted from Good Enough by Dilvin Yasa. Copyright © 2014 by Dilvin Yasa.
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