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to think there's an expectation that all women want the same experience of birth?

(93 Posts)
ScarlettOHaraHamilton Sat 06-Dec-14 18:29:17

I'm hoping I can explain this properly.

I was chatting to a friend today, who is very pro home birth, about the news the other day recommending more home births. I said I remembered there being a conversation on MN a few months back about the same topic and there was a general opinion that all women wanted to experience the same sort of birth - as in, an intervention free, probably significantly pain relief free, vaginal birth.

I then said that was quite honestly the last thing I wanted to ever experience. I had 2 days of labour before having an emcs and I hated it; I will fight tooth and nail for an elcs next time. I then said that if I was in a position where I knew that an epidural or spinal wouldn't work and so I had a choice between a vaginal birth with only G&A and pethidine, or an elcs under a general anesthetic, I would chose the later (if there ever was a choice).

My friend was incredibly surprised by this. She thought that everyone wanted to 'experience' birth and that everyone hoped for a vaginal birth. Which got me thinking about other threads I've read on MN and it struck me that's probably the general assumption. And that that expectation might drive maternity planning. Which probably isn't an ideal thing - the ideal thing being to support women to try and have the birth they want, whether they is a home birth, epidural, or elcs.

Does anyone agree?

Electriclaundryland Sat 06-Dec-14 18:33:46

I'm with you. I've had 2 emcs, why I even bothered trying for a vbac I'll never know. I guess I felt I should.

Personally if i could opt for the ultimate birth I think I'd lay an egg.

purplemurple1 Sat 06-Dec-14 18:35:27

Personally I wanted to stay in when I arrived as I just felt when things got going it would be fast and I wanted an epi, I had an epi and at no point did anyone try to convince me to do anything else.
I actually got the impression the midwife at hospital was glad I knew my own mind.

Mulligrubs Sat 06-Dec-14 18:35:48

I agree with you.

I admit, the first time round I wanted an intervention free birth (not necessarily at home) but ended up with an EMCS. I will be having an ELCS next time. I will never have that experience now, it used to make me sad but it's too risky for me because i don't think I couldn't mentally cope with having a labour go wrong again. So I want to just cut all that crap out and have an ELCS for the sake of my mental health.

I do think women should be supported to get the birth they want but they should also be prepared for the fact that they may not for whatever reason. Interventions and c-sections weren't even covered in the classes I took it was all birth pool, gas and air etc which not everyone can have and not everyone wants to have.

Essexgirlupnorth Sat 06-Dec-14 18:38:41

I had a straightforward if long (48hrs) first birth and would certainly consider a home birth as would like a water birth. I would have a c-section if it was required for a safe delivery but having seen a friend recover from a section would much prefer a vaginal birth.

ScarlettOHaraHamilton Sat 06-Dec-14 18:42:17

I think midwives who are dealing with women in labor can be hugely supportive. I just get the impression sometimes that the powers that be think all women want a vaginal birth. Or sometimes that other women don't understand that not everyone wants the nice hypnobirthing waterbirth job.

If I could lay an egg I seriously would too grin

plantsitter Sat 06-Dec-14 18:43:36

I think women who have experienced labour and birth have different desires for childbirth than women who haven't, purely because it's so difficult to know what to expect beforehand. Most women I know want the least pain/trauma possible, a healthy baby, and their preferences about drugs etc respected.

I think the whole natural birth fixation is often a perfectly understandable manifestation of fear (I had it too pre DD1).

geekaMaxima Sat 06-Dec-14 18:43:45

YABU-ish. I think most women do want the same birth: one that is safe for mother and baby, and as low-stress as possible. But the low-stress part depends on where you, personally, find comfort.

I find both hospitals and mess incredibly stressful smile so a birth centre was perfect for me. From your description, OP, I can understand why CS in hospital would be the least-stressful option for you. And there are a whole host of women who would find staying at home the most comforting thing in the world.

Once prioritising safety is a given, a real choice of where to deliver will give the maximum number of women the chance to give birth in the least-stressful place they can.

meditrina Sat 06-Dec-14 18:45:24

Around the turn of the century, the strap line for 'new' 'improved' maternity services was 'what women want'

I said what I wanted, and was told it was unavailable, because it wasn't what women wanted.

Either I'm not a woman. Or it's all bollocks (or emperor's new clothes?) sloganeering.

susannahmoodie Sat 06-Dec-14 18:46:54

Well I have done it both ways and I think they are both fucking horrid, the I only nice thing is that you get a lovely baby at the end.

I had a vaginal birth with ds1, v long and back to back. Diamorphine and arm but no other intervention. 2nd degree tear and labial tear.

With ds2 I had an emcs after misdiagnosed placenta praevia - woke up at 39 weeks with blood everywhere. Op was fine but recovery difficult but only because I had a 2 year old who I couldn't lift or cuddle.

I do get a bit sad when I hear my friends who have had lovely water births, knowing I'll never have that, but I resent the idealising of a vb.

KittyandTeal Sat 06-Dec-14 18:47:32

With regards to cs, do obstetricians not have targets to keep to about the number of (especially elcs)? I imagine targets like this would also influence maternity and birth 'policy'.

I've had one pretty tough vb, I'm in a position where at some point (soonish) I'll need to decide if I want to try for another vb or an elcs. I'm hoping that whatever I decide will be accepted (within reason, obviously not if my choice is unsafe, for example an home birth would certainly not be safe for me)

However, I have a suspicion that if I decide I want an elcs I may have to fight for it.

SaucyJack Sat 06-Dec-14 18:48:04

Agree with you.

I've had three drug free births- none by choice.

I didn't get a medal afterwards, and I don't feel any of my children's births were bettered for being in excruciating agony.

ScarlettOHaraHamilton Sat 06-Dec-14 18:48:12

I definitely agree with prioritising choice and that all women should be able to have the birth that they want, health concerns given obviously. I'm not disagreeing with the push on home births at all. I just hope they don't overlook that a proportion of women have no desire to 'experience' childbirth at all.

There's something in all the talk about birth at the moment that leaves some women feeling as if they have failed if they haven't managed an intervention free VB - possibly that's tied to a general, maybe societal, expectation that childbirth is an important part of being a mum and something that you need to do in a "right" way, as opposed to just the right way for you.

ScarlettOHaraHamilton Sat 06-Dec-14 18:50:49

meditrina - I said what I wanted, and was told it was unavailable, because it wasn't what women wanted.

Yes, yes, that's what I mean. That and the "idealising of vaginal birth".

Of course VB is what we're designed for and an intervention free VB is often the safest and leave damaging method of birth.

stargirl1701 Sat 06-Dec-14 18:53:36

My first birth was probably the ideal one. 18 hours total, delivered in the pool and no real pain just intense pressure. Only paracetamol and TENS used.

I thought most women would choose that. If that had been your first, would you still want a section? I think you want an ELCS now because of what happened with your first. Surely your birth preferences change with every pregnancy depending on the last one.

ACardiganForCat Sat 06-Dec-14 18:53:54

I think all women want a relaxed, as pain free has possible (haha) birth with a quick recovery. The differences occur when a) The definition of relaxed is different for different people and b) the recovery has to be weighed up against the other two factors.

So for example, Jane might feel comfortable in a hospital and is scared stiff of a vaginal birth and so would rather an elcs and a longer period of recovery but Gertrude wants a home birth because she's scared of hospitals and would rather then have less acccess to pain relief and the potential to have a quicker recovery.

Givemecoffeeplease Sat 06-Dec-14 18:54:05

The problem is, before you have a baby you have an idea in your head of how labour is. It's often so much more violent, painful and brutal than you can comprehend. I had a VB with a healthy baby but was taken aback by the pain - GAWD the pain - and the rawness of it. The nakedness, the blood, the animal noises, the poo that you are so worried about but on the day matters not-a-jot...

In essence, I had an idea of my birth (and I was well read and well informed) that was so removed from the reality. How can you pls an ideal birth when the "unknown unknowns" are so huge?

Givemecoffeeplease Sat 06-Dec-14 18:54:34

*plan not pls

ScarlettOHaraHamilton Sat 06-Dec-14 18:57:21

Star, had I thought there was any chance of getting an elcs for a first birth on the NHS, or the money to go private, I would have done it. I wasn't terrified of the thought of a VB but I hated the thought of it, if that makes any sense. I have never in my life, before getting pregnant or while being pregnant, wanted to push an 8lb baby out of me. I remember watching the episode of Mad Men where Betty gets pretty much knocked out before having her baby and thinking, "wow, I'd like that" grin I know that puts me in a significant minority, but I surely can't be the only woman in Britain who felt like that.

StarlingMurmuration Sat 06-Dec-14 18:58:14

I felt like that was the expectation from my NCT classes... Minimal intervention, minimal pain relief etc. I ended up having an epidural because I had sky high blood pressure, then a forceps delivery and episiotomy, and I did feel like a bit of a failure compared to the girl who had a water birth with only gas and air.

Chunderella Sat 06-Dec-14 19:00:00

There certainly can be, yes. It's not universal, but the expectation certainly exists, so yanbu.

Ragwort Sat 06-Dec-14 19:00:12

I was dreading a VB, to be honest I was a reluctant mother (a whole other thread) and the last thing I wanted to do was give birth vaginally.

I asked for an ELCS - was refused and ended up with an EMCS - which I was delighted with, totally knocked out, no memories of the birth which is fine by me grin. But how much did that cost the NHS rather than give me the ELCS I had requested?

Needless to say that was my first and last pregnancy.

WidowWadman Sat 06-Dec-14 19:01:02

I wanted to have the pain free empowered vaginal birth with maybe a sniff of entonox for a giggle with my first. Hahahahaha. Had all the works plus EMCS. Never regretted not having a vaginal birth, but severely regretted having been too scared to ask for pain relief for way too long. Booked my appointment for ELCS as soon as I could with number two.

Dragonboobs Sat 06-Dec-14 19:03:04

Yes. Am going for a vbac after csec for breech birth last time. BUT am 32 weeks and baby is breech this time too. In exactly same position DS was. I'm fairly sure baby won't move. So looks like another csec which I'm absolutely fine with. I just want a healthy baby! But I keep getting loads of sympathy confused about how awful it must be to prob have another one and what a shame it is! I don't care though!

anothernumberone Sat 06-Dec-14 19:03:30

There are 2 different considerations here IMO public health policy and a woman's choice. I think public health policy should always be based around the optimum way to give birth thus encouraging normal birth (and the recent study from NICE showing for a low risk pregnancy that it was safer to have midwife led birth). This has implications for how the overall system should be developed.

On an individual level though once women are armed with the relevant information the women's choice should be heard first above anything else.

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