A wise man once said: “We do not do what is easy; we do what is right.” ~Anonymous
A wise doctor once commented to me: “Parents tend to respond to their children according to their own moods and emotions rather than according to principles and long term goals. Being an adult means doing what is right regardless of how you feel. It takes maturity and self control to be a parent. Pursue long term goals and don’t settle for short term solutions that will end up with long term problems.” ~Dr. Steven Smith
Another doctor, while giving orders to prep a woman for an epidural, said to me, “Women don’t labor like they used to.”
What has happened to childbirth? Like the culture, it has changed from doing what is right to doing what is easy. A woman now chooses her comfort over her health and the health of her baby. She questions her body’s ability to give birth and asks for risk-laden interventions such as drugs and anesthesia. She refuses to be an active participant in her labor and birth and gives it up to the medical profession.
These things can adversely affect the baby. This in itself is a perversion of motherhood, since the essence of motherhood is to lay down comfort and ease for the sake of her child. There is a story of a chicken found charred in the field after a fire. Her chicks were alive and well, tucked safely under her wings, hidden in the protecting feathers of her own body. Ironically, seeking comfort ultimately brings more discomfort. A prolonged labor and further interventions become more likely, and result in complications for the mother’s health, her baby, and breastfeeding.
A midwife once confided in me about the effects of meds and anesthesia on the baby and breastfeeding. She said that when women want pain meds or anesthesia, they don’t care if it hurts the baby.
Our orientation towards childbirth used to focus on what is best for the baby. What makes OB OB after all? The baby. Without a baby, it would be GYN. Of course the mother is important, for she is the bearer and sustainer of this life! But women have made it about themselves at the expense of the baby. Interestingly enough, it often backfires and they end up with longer labors, more complications, and more difficulties and distress with breastfeeding. For example, the baby’s suck may be weakened and ineffective, which may impact maternal milk supply, infant weight loss, jaundice levels, etc.
The orientation has become maternal pain and maternal comfort rather than fetal well-being. Why? Culture – the me-oriented society. Labor has become all about alleviating a woman’s pain rather than focusing on the baby. Sadly, this attitude has carried over into infant feeding and parenting. Breastfeeding is perceived as difficult or demanding, so many women give it up. Children are seen as difficult and demanding so a woman pursues a career while the children go to daycare. They do what is easy. Yes, a career is easier than the demands of parenting. But the consequences of parenting are much more important than any career rewards or recognition. You are raising the next generation!
What else has happened to childbirth? Fear. We used to trust the birth process, but now it is ruled by fear. Patients have a fear of labor. Nurses have a fear of litigation. Fear is redefining labor and it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Labor and breastfeeding used to be considered normal. We are not fearful about what is normal. Are you afraid your heart won’t beat? Are you afraid your lungs will not take in the next breath?
Parenting is neither easy nor comfortable. It is hard work for the benefit of the child. Let us approach birth this way, for it is not just having a baby, but it is also becoming a mother.
(c) Marie Farver RN, BSN, IBCLC, RLC 2013