Birth Or Bust?

While pregnant, we dream of motherhood: of holding a beautiful baby in our arms, dressing him in tiny clothes, and pampering him with unconditional love. We offer our bodies wholesome foods, hydration, and healthy exercise, and tend to refuse even a Tylenol.  Our bodies work.  A healthy baby grows. Mommies-to-be feel confident and in-charge.

For many of us, that confidence is changed, altered, damaged under the awful bright lights of the hospital delivery room, where we are told that our bodies need a rest, need help, or just aren’t working well enough. IV drips are routinely used, “just in case.” Pitocin speeds up labor that “isn’t progressing” on the doctor’s schedule or due to the epidural that slows down labor, or simply because we’re lying on our backs instead of letting gravity help the baby move down. These birth interventions often lead to the use of vacuums or forceps, and for about one third of American women, spiral into c-sections. New mothers may think our bodies don’t work. Mommy and baby need medical care.

Breastfeeding starts out on breasts engorged by those IV fluids, leading to a shallow, ineffective latch. Babies sleepy from the drugs used during birth are disorganized and need lots of skin to skin contact, not nursery bassinets, to learn how to breastfeed. Babies pulled from the womb may have sore necks or bruises from the pressure of forceps. Babies lose weight as they pee to rid themselves of the IV fluid transferred during labor, and the artificially inflated birth weight becomes an issue leading to unnecessary worry and formula supplementation.

Dreams are aspirations; they are the bold declarations of what we want.  Self-esteem and confidence drives our level of commitment to claiming our dreams. When interventions during labor convince moms that their bodies don’t work, is it surprising when they need extra support to breastfeed?

Did your birth experience affect the dreams you had of motherhood, breastfeeding, and parenting?