My birth-shaming experience
How your baby exits your body may lead to some insulting comments.

So, the other Saturday I was at a kid’s birthday party. Cut to cake time and I’m cornered by a mum I hardly know. Like, hardly. She’s cooing over my latest baby and in less than two minutes she goes from, “Aw, she’s sweet!” to, “Did you have a natural labour?” 

I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not. How your baby exits your body is pretty standard mum conversation. I say yes, natural labour. Then, yes, with all three of my children. Her eyes light up, she feels safe to continue, “Well. I just heard that (another woman I hardly know) is having an elective Caesar! For her first baby! As someone who had all natural labours I just don’t understand how a woman can choose to go against nature like that?” And so on, and so forth.

Birth shaming

Blatant Birth Shaming! I despise it but I didn’t  want to go all Uma Thurman in Kill Bill on her at a kid’s party so I just said, “Oh well  at least she won’t have to save up for a post-baby designer vagina like you probably do.” and I made my exit.

Personally I’m pro-natural. You’d have to be to go through labour three times.  But that’s for me. For you?  I’m pro-you deciding what’s best and everyone else keeping their nose out of your business.

Like I said, I am no longer surprised when people ask me whether I had natural or Caesar. When you have kids it’s like your body becomes this walking infogram of maternal statistics. Accumulative hours spent in labour? Stitches per episiotomy?  Gallons of breast milk pumped? How many (or few) times you’ve had sex since the baby? And I’ll tell you anything, I seriously don’t care. I like a good “how much agony was your first post-baby poo?” conversation as much as the next mum. Nothing is sacred anymore, I totally left my dignity in the labour ward with kid #1 and haven’t gotten round to collecting it. So I mean it when I say I’ll tell you anything, but don’t you dare judge me or my decisions. Especially you, fellow mums.

Fellow mums, even those who are complete strangers, I expect so much more from you. I expect sympathetic looks when my child throws a tantrum at the till. I expect a tissue and a subtle boob glance when I have wet milk patches on my top. I expect a “you go gal” glance when I bribe my kids with sweets so they’ll stay in the trolley. You may not know me, but as a fellow mum you know what I’m going through and I expect your support.

There are loads of things mums judge each other about: co-sleeping, vaccinating, working and of course, the use of disposable nappies (Don’t even get me started… Your little precious uses those fabric nappies you scrape the poo off? How charming for you. My kids use disposable ones. So many of them there is probably a whole landfill somewhere adorned with a bronze plaque engraved with our surname. Deal with it).

All of those things piss me off to equal extents, so why am I getting my (massive, tummy control granny-fied) knickers in a knot over this? Because as the Caesar rate increase in South Africa so does this new phenomenon, Birth-Shaming, and I think it should be nipped in the bud, its bloody nonsense. Think about it logically guys: I pushed babies out of my privates. That makes me a superior being? Seriously? I involuntarily pee every time I sneeze and my fanny probably resembles a pancake run over by a truck. (I say probably because I’m far too scared to take a proper look).

If the vagina was on the other foot…

My gynae (a man) told me he seriously wishes it was men who gave birth to babies. He reckons it would make his life a heck of a lot easier. “It would be all elective Caesars or early epidurals. None of this screaming nonsense.”  He shouts over my screaming during my first labour.  I guess he could work on his bedside manner, but he has a point. Men, for all their faults, would not judge each other for having an elective Caesar. I’m actually laughing out loud at the thought of a man refusing any kind of anaesthetic during a vasectomy. Can you imagine? “No thanks, I want to go au-natural. Just pass me that leather strap over there to bite down on, that’s great. Now, hack away at my balls, don’t mind me, I’m sure I’ll pass out before long.” Yeah, that would never happen.

Have you ever received unwarranted criticism?

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