Birth is messy. It’s goopy and bloody and painful and awkward and drawn-out and downright scary. And hey, it’s also totally beautiful.
But birth is rarely perfect. For every awesome birth experience, there’s a dozen more where complications – big or small – arise.
This is so normal, and women have been overcoming these things since the dawn of time. But sometimes the current social media climate of #empoweredbirths and stunning birth photography can make women feel like failures when things don’t go quite to plan.
We’ve all seen the gorgeous photos on Facebook of exhausted women clutching glistening pink newborns, triumphant ecstasy plastered on their faces. Often it’s paired with a 700-word caption detailing every moment and emotion of a surreal, perfect birth experience.
It’s no wonder these posts go viral; of course they’re wonderful testaments to birth. And they SHOULD be shared far and wide, if only to celebrate and de-mystify the awesomeness of bringing a precious baby into the world.
But it kind of makes the ordinary hospital birth pale in comparison.
If it doesn’t go viral on Facebook, was it even a real birth experience? Are we even strong, empowered mamas if we don’t give birth in the ocean under the light of the full moon with a dolphin midwife in attendance?
Yes, we are!
Of course we are. Whether bub arrives at home in a tub surrounded by loved ones, in a birthing suite with the assistance of gas, morphine, epidural and whatever the hell other drugs we can get our hands on, mid-flight over the ocean, behind a sheet on an operating table, or right in the entrance of Target, we are flippin’ fantastic. And we don’t need a hashtag to prove it.
Pregnancy and birth (no matter how that birth happens or whether you even bother with a birth plan) are two of the freaking hugest sacrifices that a mother can make for her child. They’re massive sacrifices of self.
And sure, when it all goes perfectly to plan, birth is awesome.
But even when things sway from the carefully constructed birth plan, birth is still awesome.
What makes us amazing mums is not HOW our child arrives. Free birth, natural birth, with pain relief or without. Water birth, caesar birth, VBAC birth. It doesn’t define us as mums and no one of these is more worthy than the other. No, what makes us amazing mums is our love for our children. Our insatiable desire to see them be strong and healthy, to raise them to become wonderful and smart human beings. Our willingness to sacrifice so that they will have.
And whether we breastfeed or formula feed, whether we co-sleep or sleep train, whether we cover little bums with cloth nappies or ones destined for the tip, whether we home-cook organic baby food or buy it in jars, whether we work or stay at home, we are bloody brilliant. We are raising HUMANS. We are committing to 18+ years of sharing our homes and lives with little people who lack social skills and butt wiping skills and sleeping skills and driving skills. And on top of that, we lovingly commit to teaching it all to them.
Yep, we ordinary women with wonderfully complex lives of our own put huge chunks of those precious-to-us lives aside in order to be the best, most attentive, most loving mums that we can be.
Birth, however it happens, is only the beginning.
There’s no way to see it otherwise – every mum doing the best she can is EXTRAORDINARY.
Motherhood is about raising children. It’s not all about getting that perfect birth experience. And the older our children grow, the more apparent this is.
So if you’re holding onto regret, shame or disappointment over the way your child came into the world, let it go.
Release yourself. Mums have enough on our plates to worry about; we shouldn’t let this be one of them.
Because YOU brought that child into the world. That was all you, mumma. With every minute of morning sickness and fatigue, every kick to the bladder, every swollen ankle and every uncomfortable night of sleep, you were already a bloody awesome mum before bub even took his first breath.
Birth is significant, but it doesn’t make a mum.
Your love for your child makes you a mum. And you deserve all the respect in the world for that. Birth plan or no birth plan.
Birth comes in all shapes and sizes – check out these birth photos that prove it (and be prepared to have your breath taken away!)