It’s not enough to survive; now we have to give birth ‘properly’

Cesarian birth
‘Who the fuck are you guys?’

Defend your gussets ladies, birth is under attack again. A strange doctor has written a book telling us that we risk forgetting how to do it ‘properly’, and that woman who looks like Death from Horrible Histories has been gloating that she did it ‘properly’ and is therefore a ‘proper’ mum. Crazy Katie says that giving birth naturally without (lots of) drugs makes her ‘feel like a proper mum because I gave birth to my children without much fuss.’ saving the fuss for her radio show and several news articles. Sadly if the way she gave birth genuinely makes Katie Hopkins feel like a good mum, one can only presume it’s because little else does.

I’ve had a range of birth experiences, and for the record, I felt the same level of ‘mumness’ for each of them. My first was a straight forward NVD (Normal Vaginal Delivery), supported by gas and air and screaming profanities. The second was a tranquil birthing pool birth with midwives present, but not really doing anything. I even fished my new-born baby out of the water myself, lazy cows. The third birth was a full on medicalised, chemically induced labour followed by emergency caesarean.  I therefore feel fairly qualified to say that if you gave birth naturally without huge amounts of pain relief then you are not an exceptionally all-powerful ultra-mum; you are lucky, as it is generally a far better experience.

It is a myth that C-sections are the easy way out. Maybe if people stopped making birth a big test of motherhood and defining the experience by pain and endurance, perhaps women wouldn’t be scared into booking elective caesareans. So nice one Katie- good work, Moron.

Dr Michel Odent is a strange fish. Unlike Katie Hopkins he has some training on the subject so I tried to take him seriously. Sadly this didn’t last long as Dr Odent recommends that in order to calm a woman during labour, men should never be present and that midwives should be ‘knitting in the corner’. I doubt any women would feel especially calm, left alone with a crazy knitting woman. Although, I did once have a midwife break my waters with what looked suspiciously like a crochet-hook. At the time I thought it was a genuine medical instrument, now I’m wondering if there was a half-made beanie hat hanging off the end.

Dr Odent argues that medical intervention is causing women to lose the ability to give birth, but given the horrendous maternal death rates through history and in still in developing countries, you have to wonder if we were ever that good at it. I get that birth can be unnecessary medicalised sometimes, but I’d argue that having maternal death rates in the UK closer to 1 in 10,000 from 1 in 5 a few hundred years ago, is progress. Maybe I’m missing the point, perhaps it doesn’t matter who survives as long as it’s done ‘properly’ and someone gets a sweater.

There is no easy way to have a baby. The adoption process is sufficiently tough to make me seriously prefer having a baby ripped out of my nose. You should be proud of yourself for giving birth any way. If it genuinely makes you feel superior to other women because you had an easier, more straight-forward ride, then bare in mind what you’re basically saying is ‘My mucus plug popped out like a champagne cork and my cervix is like a waterslide. Fortunately I also have a very stretchy fanny, it’s exceptionally accommodating, usually I just use it for storage’. Still bragging?