Good enough birth
Why do we make having a baby into a competitive activity, wonders Tracy Engelbrecht.
Moms love to talk about their birth experiences. Whether they were awesome or awful, we relish the chance to share. I enjoy hearing those stories and sometimes share my own. But lately, I’ve noticed a bit of nasty creeping in. It used to be called ‘Having a baby’. Now it’s called ‘Your Birth Experience’ (see above, I just did it myself too - eeuw). A bit of a misnomer, as your child is the one in fact being born, but anyway.

I’m all for the freedom to experience this occasion in the way that makes you comfortable. However. It’s supposed to be about what YOU want, regardless of fashion or mothers-in-law. And the more information and choice we have, the more we seem to compare ourselves to others.

It turns into a competition to have the Perfect Birth Experience, instead of the perfect birth experience for you. No capital letters required.

Caesar vs Natural

The obvious example is the Caesar vs. Natural choice. Both sides seem to take offense to anybody choosing anything other than exactly what they did. Almost as if it’s a direct personal attack on their own choices. Defensive or smug seem to be the only two options available.

But surely there isn’t a right or wrong, just what’s good for you? And even if you do happen to disagree with somebody’s choice, honestly, what difference does it make to you?  Where you there? Were your nether regions flapping in the breeze, delivering her child?  Do you have her scars? No? So why not just listen politely, be happy that you chose what you did, and go on your merry way? It doesn’t have to turn into a bitch-fight.

The only things that come close to the hype around achieving the perfect birth are weddings and matric dances.  These days, they’ve become grandiose productions that would Andrew Lloyd-Webber blush. Remember when your granny was allowed to make your dress and table centerpieces crocheted by Auntie Cookie were the height of chic? You made do with what you could and enjoyed every minute for what it was. We used to pop sprogs the same way.

Maybe our grannies had it better, in a way. They lay on their backs and did what the bossy nurses told them; they didn’t get the choices we do. So instead they focused on what came after the birth – the real important palaver of raising a child. More with the marriage and less with the wedding – that sort of thing.

Most memories of the births of my two children are beautiful. Still, there are things that didn’t go the way I wanted and some bits that were downright awful. In the end, good and bad combined to make occasions so personal, so momentous, so intimately mine that I can’t call them anything but perfect. For me.

And you know what?  Face to face with baby for the first time, none of it matters. The ‘Hello Baby’ moment is what counts, and it’s the same for all of us since the dawn of time, regardless of how we got there.

That first moment can’t be improved upon and it can’t be spoilt. Except possibly by our own expectations.

Are we too competitive when we share birth stories? Is there pressure to do it a particular way?

Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht

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