When my husband and I announced that we were expecting our first child we were thrilled and touched to receive countless well wishes and messages of encouragement.
“You two are going to make wonderful parents!”
“So happy for you both!”
“We’re so excited for your new adventure!”
There was nothing better than feeling like we had an army of friends and family who were going to be a steadfast support system during this new chapter of our lives. We felt so incredibly blessed!
Then we decided that we wanted to have a non-medicated, husband-coached, ‘natural’ birth using The Bradley Method ©. As we begun preparing for natural childbirth, suddenly congratulations turned into are you nuts?
A number of people called me crazy for not wanting to use pain medication. A bunch gave me a what an idiot look while wishing me a very sarcastic good luck with that. And a select few unashamedly told me I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Seriously. Thanks friend.
I soon realized that if I wanted to have the successful un-medicated birth I truly wanted, amidst opposition, I needed to eliminate the negativity or at least embrace the fact that my passion far outshined someone else’s antagonism. Two natural births down and I feel pretty confident in my ability to deal with opposition from any source.
Opposition from family
This can be on of the hardest types of opposition to deal with, especially because the people you call family should be your greatest support system. Even if they have a strong opinion that differs from yours, what matters is that they can put their own birth plans aside and support you in what you really want. I’ve heard horror stories from friends whose unsupportive mothers and mother-in-laws spent the entire time in the delivery room challenging every aspect of their birth plan. No one needs to fight that kind of battle while trying to bring a baby into the world. I was very fortunate in that while my mother was very open about the fact that she wouldn’t have given her epidurals up for the world but she knew I was passionate about not using medication so she put her own thoughts aside and supported every single decision my husband and I made. I don’t think we could have had her in the delivery room if it were any different. At the end of the day, if they aren’t going to provide positive, unbiased encouragement, they don’t need to be a part of the birth.
Opposition from friends
Opposition from friends is a little easier to deal with than opposition from family, but it’s still difficult when you want those that are close to you to be loving sources of encouragement. I have a vivid memory of a friend and coworker, who had children of her own, putting her hands on my shoulders and telling me that I would never be able to get through labor without an epidural and I would have a horrible birth, which I’d regret for the rest of my life, if I even tried. I was so offended I wanted to punch her in the throat. But because HR would have frowned on that I took a deep breath, gently removed her hands from my shoulders, told her that I would appreciate it if she didn’t talk to me about my pregnancy (or hers for that matter), and went back to my own work. She still tried to give me unsolicited advice on how difficult pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting are but that one negative interaction made it very easy to brush her off completely. Pregnancy is one of those times when you may learn a few things about what friendship means and there is nothing wrong with putting distance between yourself and the people that aren’t going to encourage you during what should be such a wonderful time in your life.
Opposition from medical team
There’s a fairly simple solution to dealing with a medical team who isn’t supportive of the way you want to bring your child into the world. Find a new one. It may seem harsh but if your medical team is going to try pumping you full of unwanted meds the whole time you are in labor, they are not the people you want helping you to bring your child into the world. One of the couples in our first child birthing class switched doctors a week before having their baby because he started questioning the decisions they had already agreed on months before. Childbirth is a very emotional experience, and many women question themselves and become discouraged during intense transition contractions so the last thing you want is a doctor that is going to try taking advantage of your vulnerable state by suggesting things that you feel strongly opposed to. Find an OB or midwife who will do everything they can to give you the exact birth you want, while focusing on baby and momma’s safety of course.
Your birth experience is just that, YOURS. It’s not your mother’s. It’s not your college roommate’s. It’s not your OB/GYN’s who would rather just schedule your cesarean section now because your due date is kind of close to her family vacation. It’s your baby and your birth experience so do everything you can to surround yourself with those family and friends who will help you make it exactly what you want. Attending natural childbirth classes is a great way to get the information you need to have a successful unmedicated birth and find like-minded moms who are 100% on your side.
So what about you SmartMom? What kind of opposition did you face during the months leading up to your un-medicated birth? How did you handle it?