Why I Hate the term “Too Posh To Push”
I hate the term “too posh to push“. I hate it with a passion. Why? Firstly, because the person saying it is likely to be judging the mother on her decision without thinking about the possible circumstances behind the decision. Secondly because those who ‘are’ too posh to push, the mothers who choose a C-section over natural birth, simply astound me. Those who choose a C-section for purely cosmetic reasons give the rest of us a harder job to do.
Yes, I am aware that those two points directly contradict one another. I hate judgement but in my next breath seem to judge others. I am not stupid, I can see the hypocrisy in my statement. But bare with me. I swear this is not meant to be a judgmental piece. Stay with me a moment while I explain.
I have had two successful pregnancies. One ended in the most blissful way possible (please don’t read that as pain free, because I can assure you it was not) and the second ended with me having to resign myself to the fact that I would not be able to give birth naturally to my beautiful baby girl.
It was not an ’emergency’ C-section in the way that some experience. I was in hospital for quite some time before I went under the knife, but by no means was it ‘planned’. My daughter was extremely sick and born incredibly premature. When the decision was made that it was no longer safe for me to stay pregnant with her, I was rushed into surgery. The day, date and circumstances were not ‘planned’ but I knew for the last few months of my pregnancy that the likelihood was that I would not enjoy a calm water birth the same way I had experienced with my first.
I was lucky, I experienced child birth once and I reconciled with myself that I would not experience it again. I had come to terms with it.
However, when sat with a bunch of mothers at a ‘coffee meet-up’ the dreaded question reared its ugly ass head.
I hate it. I knew it was coming, but somehow there is no straight forward answer to the question that would leave me feeling anything but judged.
“Were your births both natural?”
Firstly, who has the right to ask that question, especially to someone you barely know? It’s almost as intrusive as asking “so… when did you lose your virginity“. Trust me folks, if someone wants you to know HOW their children came into the world, they will offer up that information freely.
In my opinion, this question should go in the same box as “Are you Pregnant?” – one of those questions that you should NEVER ask.
My standard response is “My eldest was a water birth and my youngest was C-section.”
That – should – in most cases be enough information, right? Question asked and answered. But nope…
“Oh really, was the pain just too much that you opted for a C-section?”
No sweetheart. No-one just “decides” to forgo childbirth like that. The body is an amazing and wondrous but utterly unpredictable thing. You generally don’t get to ‘choose’ these things. I didn’t choose to have major surgery any more than I chose for my darling girl to come almost three months early. Life chose that, I was a helpless passenger on this adventure.
The whole conversation got me thinking.
Why on earth WOULD you choose a C-section? Most (normal) people wouldn’t choose to go through the pain of major surgery like that. Most people would not choose to forever bare the scar of a painful operation for the rest of their lives – or put themselves in a dangerous operating theatre without good reason.
I say most because I am aware that some celebrities would rather schedule an operation so they know exactly what day the baby is coming. However, I am pretty sure that if these women knew the extent the pain of recovery would be, or the limitations that recovery has on your day to day life for months afterwards, they would indeed most likely prefer to PUSH.
My personal experience may be clouding my judgement here but hear me out.
I am not going to deny that my first was painful. It was. At no point did I believe it was natural to squeeze a basketball through the eye of a needle. God seriously fucked up there with the logistics.
God – “I know – we will have women carry the baby”
Angel – “But how will the baby arrive in the world?”
God – “Don’t worry, they have a tiny hole down there, that is where the baby will come out.”
Angel – “Oh, OK!”
Yep – God was a man, there is NO doubt. No mention of the sheer amount of pain and force it takes to achieve such a feat. No man would ever be able to deal with that kind of pain! (Sorry blokes, that’s not just my opinion, there is plenty of research that backs that one up. There is indeed something in this world that men just can’t do!)
My first was painful. The water birth helped, the water soothed and the experience was relatively stress free – but in no way PAIN free. (For the purposes of full disclosure, I have to admit the three canisters of gas and air helped a whole heap).
But oh-my-actual-God… why does no one warn you about the side effects of having a C-section?
For weeks (not days like with a natural birth), for weeks or even months you are scared to laugh. You fear passing wind or going to the toilet. You can’t stretch your arms up or lift anything heavy (and by heavy, I mean that even lifting a mug of tea for the first few days hurts like hell) because EVERYTHING is connected to those stomach muscles they have just butchered!
You move your leg, your stomach hurts; you turn your shoulders, yep, that tugs the stitches too.
Having a C-section leads to trapped wind. In the first few days after the op you will need to pass said wind (sorry guys, there is no other more eloquent way of putting it) and that wind has to travel past the scar tissue and stitches in your lower abdomen. Holy shit, there is no pain in the world like the pain of you trying to STOP that wind moving down…
Yet – nowhere in ANY book do they warn you about that.
As for sneezing. Hold your stomachs ladies… because that will have you fearing that all the stitches will erupt and your insides will be left on the outside.
The pain eases… for some it takes longer than others and many will experience infection and side effects. Pain killers for weeks and then… for some… like me… 5 years on and I still get ‘twangs’ of pain from the area around my scar tissue.
There is even a point that I can touch on my scar and I can feel the tickle of it all the way over at the other side of my stomach!!! Explain that?! Phantom tickles. Why? Because nerve endings, muscles and skin have been cut into and will never ever be the same again.
So tell me, when a lady says “Oh was the pain too much to do it naturally again?” – do we really think that is appropriate?
My story is an easy one to explain. But what about those who had emergency C-sections to save the lives of mother or baby, or both. Why should a mother have to explain WHY she had a c-section?
On The Glass House we talk about judgment a lot. We have discussed why mothers should never judge another mother’s need to bottle OR breastfeed. Why we should build each other up rather than tear each other down. Why mothers judge so much more than fathers.
The simple fact of the matter is we judge everyone all the time. Too often and for the wrong reasons. We judge because we don’t know. We judge because we have no idea what other people have to deal with. We have no idea what is behind the closed door or the drawn curtain.
Is it any of our business if that mum gave birth at home, or in a hospital, or in a field? Why should it matter to us WHY they chose drugs over hypnotherapy or convenience over the surprise of natural labour?
It us not up to us to judge a story we know none of the facts about.
So before you look at a news headline and read “Too Posh to Push” – take a moment to think, would you like the person on the other side to judge you for the same reason?
I do get angry when I read about a mother who has simply booked in a C-section because (and they openly admit) they don’t want the inconvenience of not planning around a birth. It bothers me that many want to ‘escape the pain’ – but now I take a step back and say “but I don’t know if that mother is worried about being alone during childbirth. Maybe the father is in the military and can’t guarantee he will be there…” “or maybe hospitals are a fear, so being knocked out will be less stressful for mother and child than the anxiety of a 24 hour labour”.
The fact of the matter is that no matter WHAT the circumstance, we have no right to judge. No right to even ask the question.
I would go through the pain of natural labour ten times over every single day for the rest of my life rather than go through another C-section. But do I regret that pain? No. Because had I not had a C-section, neither me, nor my daughter would have survived another day. So before you ask the question, think to yourself, do I really need to know the answer? Does it matter?