No birth is without risk. Every mother makes the best decisions she can for herself and her unborn baby. There are literally hundreds of benefits, risks and side effects to almost every choice she can make during labor and delivery. But there seems to be one universal side effect that accompanies every single birthing decision:
Choose a natural birth and people will try to tell you not to be a martyr and that you are being reckless or selfish. Choose medication and others will tell you that you are a wimp, a chicken and not trusting your body.
If a woman “fails” to get that unmedicated birth she wanted, she often feels guilty. The mother who got a c-section looks back on the events and wonders if she did everything she could to have a vaginal birth. Both feel like they have failed. Other people tell them - whether by word or attitude - that they have failed. That they weren’t good enough.
But let’s face it. Birth rarely - if ever - goes according to plan. How, then, is so much guilt allowed into the birthing room?
There is no one “right” way to birth. The “right” way is to take into account your personal beliefs, your birth desires, the safest course of action and balance all these things with the course your labor takes.
A “good” and guilt free birth isn't made up of a specific process. A wonderful birth is about making informed, involved decisions about what is best for you and your baby in your specific situation. It’s about striving for what you want, understanding the risks and benefits of your options and making the best decisions based on the course your labor actually takes.
In an ideal world you could decide exactly how you want your birth to go - whether that be an epidural as soon as you arrive at the hospital and a completely pain free delivery or a completely unmedicated birth. Sadly, I think every one of us knows that we don't live in an ideal world and that’s where the guilt creeps in.
So when you think about your birth and all the guilt that so often comes with it, think of it as a process and not an outcome. Were you respected by health care staff and your support persons? Did you make informed decisions about your options, even if they didn't follow the course of your original desires? If the answer is yes, then you should have no guilt about your birth because you did everything you could with what you had.
You had a guilt free birth.