Scare Tactics

The other day I was talking with some folks on Twitter about childbirth and breastfeeding horror stories. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know the ones I’m talking about. They lay the fear on thick, and use words like ‘agony’, ‘devastated’ and ‘nightmare’. And they are just as likely to come from a random stranger as your best friend.

In general, I don’t see much value in sharing horror stories. Once you’re seven months along with your planned pregnancy, you’re not about to change your mind. One way or another, that baby is coming out. And then you are going to have to feed that child, whether at your breast or not. Living in fear of the outcome isn’t going to change it for the better.

Smiling between contractions
Me, about 30 minutes before Jacob was born, not experiencing significant horror

Some of the people on Twitter disagreed with me, though. They said that negative stories can prepare women. Forewarned is forearmed, after all. If you are prepared for pain in breastfeeding or complications in labour, perhaps you will handle them better. You will know that you are not alone, and that you are not somehow abnormal. I see value in this perspective. If I had a very negative experience with a health care provider, I might share that with someone who was considering seeing the provider. Or if I knew that my friend wanted a natural birth, I might share the tale of how my own wishes for a natural birth weren’t honoured at a particular hospital.

Thinking about sharing horror stories got me thinking about my own birth experiences. I was actually not all that afraid of labour when I was pregnant the first time around. And, in general, I think that helped me out. Granted, I had a pretty short and smooth labour at around 4 hours or so, but I also gave birth to a preterm infant, hemorrhaged severely and required surgery and a blood transfusion. I think that excessive fear would have only made it worse, and wouldn’t have made the severe anemia somehow better. Being armed with someone else’s story of severe blood loss wouldn’t have changed anything for me.

Day 1 - Mom is doing better
Me, less than 24 hours after Hannah’s ‘horror story’ birth, doing OK

Thinking about it, I believe there’s a difference between sharing a horror story that scares someone out of her pants, and useful information that you can use to avoid problems. First of all, it depends on whether the input is wanted. If someone asks for your story, or you ask permission to share it, then you know that the person is interested. Second, you have to ask whether knowing your story would actually be helpful. If you experienced a strange fluke that could never be foreseen, telling random pregnant ladies about it probably isn’t going to accomplish much. I would say that my amniotic fluid infection, for instance, falls under the heading of ‘scary but not helpful’. My negative experience with my family doctor, on the other hand, might be useful to a friend.

When bad things happen, it’s natural to want to share your story. I have found sharing my own stories immensely helpful to me. All the same, it’s a good idea to use our judgment about who we share with, and in what context. Telling pregnant ladies that their lives are about to end and they are in for the worst pain imaginable accomplishes nothing. And it might not even be true, for them. Commiserating with others is cool, but I say that needlessly scaring isn’t so cool.

So, what do you think? Do you believe that cautionary tales are useful, or do you think that it’s best to keep your mouth shut about your 36 hours of labour within earshot of someone who is 8 months along? Please share!

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  1. Emily Rosenbaum says:

    I think that people sugar-coat breastfeeding sometimes, not explaining that even people who LOVE breastfeeding may not appreciate being in the glider for 8 out of every 24 hours because their children cannot handle breastfeeding with ANY distractions. I think that often, women give up because they think that there is something wrong with their breastfeeding situation — not understanding that in fact many women are in that situation. More honesty from breastfeeding advocates of the commitment that breastfeeding takes might actually be beneficial.

  2. Yeah, scary stories about labor so not necessary. Sharing how to feel empowered whether you know through omission or through your actions definitely the way to go.

    As someone who was pretty close to giving up bf after 6 tough weeks, it was friends’ support and sharing of their success through perseverance along with my husband’s support that led to over a year of fabulous breastfeeding, but the beginning was tough. It was good to know beforehand that natural it might be, but bf isn’t easy for all of us.
    .-= Tepary´s last post ..Mother and Child by Bean =-.

  3. Great post, Amber. I’ve written quite a bit about my first birth experience recently, and have thought about how ‘helpful’ or not it might be to others. I would definitely not go on and on about the intensity of the pain I experienced when talking to a pregnant about-to-be mom (unless she asked), but I do think it is important to share our stories and to be real, to not gloss over their intensity.

    I think most of us have ‘rare’ things happen to us during labour, but it is these things that make up the range of possible experiences. They are a very real part of labour, and women can gain both strength and knowledge from them.

    Of course, all that said, I really resented hearing other people’s homebirth-went-terribly-wrong stories when I was planning my homebirths. I think it comes down to context, consideration and respect for other people’s choices.

    (Wow, awesome to have a picture of yourself jlike that ust 30 minutes before giving birth)!
    .-= macondo mama´s last post ..Dear Monster: Your birth story =-.

  4. One of my friends is thinking about starting a family, but she’s really afraid of giving birth. I told her about my 41.5 hour labor, in an effort to show her that it wasn’t thar bad… that what I got out of it was so wonderful that I’d do it all over again… that those 41.5 hours were nothing compared to meeting my baby for the first time!
    .-= abbie´s last post ..Breastfeeding as an Environmental Movement =-.

  5. Was it a natural birth (Jacob’s?) Because it’s hard not to think you look waaaay too happy in that picture 🙂

    I think the scary stories sometimes just take on a momentum of their own. We were just at a dinner party on Sunday where all out kids are at least seven, so the birth stories haven’t come out for a while, but suddenly there they were again. I definitely agree that you have to have a filter when pregnant people are present, but sometimes it’s just a cathartic experience for everyone to share their stories, even the horrible parts. There were ways that labour was both better and worse than I expected, and I would definitely have a couple of things to say to anyone planning a homebirth, only to prevent them from going through what my sister did. But one great thing that someone who had her baby first said to me was ‘don’t waste time worrying about labour. It’s horrible, it’s painful, it’s gross…but it’s one day of your life’. (Okay, in Eve’s case it was two and a half, but still…)
    .-= allison´s last post ..****************Ack =-.

    • In fact, Jacob’s labour was natural. I was very bipolar at that point, smiling between contractions and swearing during them. But his labour was also very SHORT. I made pickles with my friend in the morning, dropped her off at 12:30, and had Jacob just after 3:00. I honestly might consider a homebirth if I were to do it again, if for no other reason than I would rather not end up squeezing out a kid at the side of the road, if you catch my drift.

  6. I was in labor with my 1st for over 29 hours, with 3 hours of constant pushing. But I don’t think of that as a horror story, because aside from some freak-show type swelling after it really wasn’t that bad. Plus, it got me to my son. Then usually in the same context I say how my subsequent labors were much, much shorter.
    .-= C @ Kid Things´s last post ..No No No Yes =-.

  7. I’m a little sensitive to pregnancy horror stories. I had a lot of people tell me very bad birth stories while I was pregnant. Many of these stories didn’t end happily. All of these people knew I had a high-risk pregnancy and in fact some of those horror stories were told to me by nurses in the hospital. I can’t imagine what these people thought they were doing by telling me this stuff. It certainly didn’t help me at all. I’d rather they hadn’t shared.

    On the other hand, I had a terrible time breastfeeding and I do wish I had been told that breastfeeding can be really hard (and in my case unbelievably painful) but that it would get better. Because it did. But I doubt that all women would have been as stubborn as I was and stuck it out. It was very easy to think it wasn’t possible to breastfeed.
    .-= Marilyn´s last post ..Sand in Pants: Wednesday of Few Words =-.

  8. I definitely filter when in the presence of the obviously pregnant – I didn’t like being told Tales of Ye Olde Rupture when I was obviously not in a position to turn tail and run.
    But, even though I’ll tone down the gore and excruciating pain, I will emphasise that it was the most physical thing I’ve ever done; pain, blood and loss of dignity (does anyone remember that bit?). Then I will doubly emphasis how incredibly marvelous and wonderful my body was in that it got thru all of that and produced my son and we were both overjoyed to meet each other. I’m not going to go thru it again (it’s an age thing!) but I’m still so glad I did, and still think the world of this old bod for getting me thru it ‘unscathed’.
    .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..only way across =-.

  9. It’s a slightly egomanical position to think your bad story will be someone else’s. That said, and perhaps I shouldn’t, I have gently “warned” about to be new parents that the first 6 weeks are really, really hard and things get better after that. So don’t despair. The other thing I’ve said, and again maybe I shouldn’t bother, is you don’t know how exactly you’ll feel about things until you have the baby. A lot of first-time mothers make plans while pregnant as if they have any idea what life will be like after the baby arrives. Ditto for pre-adoptive parents. I found that pretty much everything goes out the window when baby comes.

  10. I did not look like you did 30 minutes before the birth of my son. I looked more like a crazed person. With my daughter I felt nothing so I really did look that pleasant before hand.

    I think stories are both helpful and hurtful. I think there is a fine line between being informed and over informed.

  11. I think if someone specifically ASKS for your birth story, then share it but with the caveat that everyone is different and anything can and will happen no matter how much you plan.

    I shake my head at some of the over the top planning some pregnant women do for their birth…yes, it’s exciting but more often than not completely unrealistic and a waste of effort…or perhaps not, perhaps the over-plan is their way of compensating for those fears. La la la, you aren’t there nasty birth story from my 2-doors down neighbor. I have a PLAN!
    .-= Carrie´s last post ..(sort of ) Wordless Wednesday: when bubbles attack! =-.

  12. Interesting post. I think that some women have a bit of PTSD after their births and don’t intend to make it out at as a horror show but the conversation is more about working through their experience. That being said there are some ladies who love to ‘one up’ with a crazy story and those ladies need to be put on mute.

    After I had my son I remember talking on the phone to a girlfriend and going on about how painful it was and..the ring of fire oh my! It was only a few minutes into the story that I remembered that she was actually a few weeks away from her due date and so I shut up. It wasn’t intentional or malicious but it was just me working through my experience and being totally unaware of how I might come across.
    .-= Mama in the City´s last post ..The Mums Are Talking….. =-.

  13. I think the harmful vs. helpful factor depends who you’re telling your story to. I would have to agree with you that there is a right time and place for certain information, and that gory details that wouldn’t apply to most women giving birth are not necessary to share unless a good friend says, “tell me all the gory details…I need to know!” Great post, Amber!

  14. I agree with you Amber. Stories that are hard to tell or hard to hear are good only for the women who need to know and ask. One’s opinion on a provider based on one’s own experience or even one’s opinion on whether or not to get some kind of drug or even a c-section can be beneficial based on one’s own experience. But people need to tell these stories gently so not to offend or scare. People need facts, not subjective scaring.
    .-= Melodie´s last post ..Update: My Long Lost Love =-.

  15. I know I heard horror story after horror story during my pregnancy. I hated it. It drove me nuts. I think honesty is always best – but there is no reason to tell someone unless they want to know. I was a nervous wreck about giving birth and I did NOT want to hear how hard it was on someone and how they were in 75 hours of excrutiating pain. It just made me more nervous. So, I do not tell anyone anything unless they ask.
    .-= Upstatemomof3´s last post ..A Year Ago =-.

  16. Wow. At the 24 hour mark after Katie’s delivery, I was on a ventilator. That’s my “horror story” delivery.

    And honestly, no, I don’t tend to talk about Katie’s delivery with pregnant women. In fact, at my six week check, I was asked by two women who were just about ready to deliver about my birth experience, and I said I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet and left it at that.

    I’m more willing to tell the story when it’s in “defense” of why I didn’t breastfeed. As in, when someone gets in my face about breastfeeding or what a horrible mother I am because I didn’t, then I feel free to share the whole sorry story with them, you know?

  17. My thoughts have evolved about this over the years. I used to really emphasize telling really empowering birth stories to sort of “retell” the idea that birth doesn’t have to be horrible. Then after my first son was born a good friend visited. I was 36 hours postpartum and really quite a mess emotionally. I think I scared the crap out of her. I’ve always regretted not having more mindfulness (she had not had a kid at that point), but I was not really of sound mind or body 😉

    I do think we should be mindful of the stories we tell especially in front of expectant mothers, young women who haven’t experienced childbirth yet and young girls who are having their views shaped minute by minute.

    That being said I think it’s also extremely important that we tell the stories, like you mentioned, about health care providers who do not respect women’s rights and facilities that are not mother-friendly/baby safe. It’s almost two different things: scaring a poor woman for no reason about the intensity and crazy possibilities about birth or empowering women with the truth of what a battle zone the birth world is right now.

    So I’m in the middle. Yes, say it’s intense, but you are so capable and strong; but also talk about how important it is to find a health care provider who has the stats to back up their speak. The hospital might have birthing tubs, but are you allowed to use them? (weirdly this is a normal issue round here) The doctor says you can give birth in any position, but is this true? How do you find this out?

    I attended a birth once with a doctor who swore up and down that she could labor and birth in any position she desired. She was laboring on her hands and knees, butt in the air and had really found a groove she could cope with–she started to get pushy and the nurse told me she would probably have to switch positions once the doc came in. I told her not to worry that the doc said she could birth in any position–the nurse flat out laughed at me. Sure enough the doc came in and insisted she flipped which broke the whole momentum, mom started screaming and I witnessed a doctor physically pushing and holding her down against her will. How do we tell those stories? I don’t want to freak out new moms, but I also want to them to be fully aware of the challenges they might come across that aren’t limited to the normal birth process, but rather the complete wackiness of modern obstetrics.

  18. For the last couple weeks of my pregnancy, I felt like I had a neon sign hanging over my head that said “Tell Me Horrific Birth Stories!!” (I mentioned this in a recent year-retrospect blog post, but didn’t go into detail about it –

    I specifically remember someone telling me about someone who DID give birth on the side of the road, and had to like crawl into the hospital carrying her baby, placenta still inside, umbilical cord attached. Everyone was fine, but I was like “Why are you telling me this?” I tried to tune out the stories and stay positive, and mostly I succeeded. I understood that people really NEED to tell their stories, and I’m the kind of person who people feel comfortable telling their stories to. But I wished there was a nice way to say, “I can’t hear this right now!! La la la la la!!” (while plugging my ears). There were a lot of naysayers too – women like my boss who told me, “Oh, you’ll get the epidural! YOU’LL SEE.” Totally not helpful.

    My mother believes that it is very bad to scare pregnant women, and I generally agree. When pregnant friends specifically ask me about my labor, I say it was painful, but short and natural. I say that the point at which I was begging for drugs and begging for mercy, it was almost over! I tell them I’m really glad I didn’t get an epidural. I tell them that when my husband saw that I was losing it, he said, “You can do this! Prove X [my boss] WRONG!” And basically, my desire to show up those naysayers got me through! (So maybe their comments were helpful! It turns out I’m never in too much pain to lose my competitive streak!)

    I don’t tell pregnant friends about my hemorrhage, or if I mention it, I always say, “But that’s really uncommon, so don’t worry about it!” I want my pregnant friends to feel like labor is “do-able,” and not something to be afraid of. Fear doesn’t help in labor, as we know.

    Great post!

  19. I agree with those who say it’s the empowering stories that are the helpful ones. When I’m staring down the long barrel of labor, it’s not the horror (but I made it!) stories that I want to hear. It’s the ones that remind me of our strength and grace. There are times to commiserate with the bearers of those tales later.
    When I was pregnant with Kieran, there came a point when I just told women point blank – if your story is not uplifting, I cannot hear it. I was terrified (as a person who is deathly afraid of pain and planning a natural birth), and I did NOT want any more reasons to fear my decision.
    .-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last post ..Sweet Little Parenting Lies + Wordless Wednesday =-.

  20. Just wrote about my own birth experienced as part of Momalom’s Five for Ten. I was juxtaposing a very negative experience with a happy one. I do feel that the value sometimes comes from sharing. Some women are very I’ll prepared to be their own advocates and sometimes knowing what others learned can be helpful. My own first experience and advice from others really did make a great deal of difference the second time. I say thus and believe it, but I agree there are limits. Honesty is key, preaching is not.
    .-= Christine LaRocque´s last post ..Good enough =-.

  21. Before I had kids I was absolutely stunned by the tendency of women who had had kids to go into so much gory detail about their labours/pregnancies/babyminding. I drank heavily at baby showers.

    Now of course, I understand. They’re war stories, stories of how we overcame, were powerful, roared.

    That said. Everyone’s experience is different. Everyone’s *perspective* on her own experience is different. Some people have “dream labours” and still are bitter about something, one thing. My first labour was “difficult” but it didn’t feel that way to me and I describe it very differently than another person might. I do tell my story unsolicited if someone says “Oh you HAVE to have a c-section after an induction.” I like to tell those people that I pushed my 9.2 lb baby out in 4 hearty shoves after my induction. But like you say – it’s a correction of misinformation. A gentle reminder that we are all different and mileage will vary.

    Just hearing something can plant it in your brain and change your experience. “Oh everyone gets the epidural eventually.” Some random stranger at a bus stop said that to me FOUR YEARS AGO and I still remember. I would rather have someone remember me saying to them, “You’ll do exactly what you need to do when the time comes.” (and also, read Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent, it is the most empowerful thing evar.)
    .-= clara´s last post ..There’s A Country Song in Here Somewhere =-.

  22. I’m fine with people telling me their horror stories of pregnancy and birth when pregnant or not even if I didn’t ask. I just assume it was traumatic for them if they feel the need to get into that great a detail with a complete stranger. I don’t share my pregnancy/birth stories with others unless they ask me about it specifically and then I keep it to the minimum, but I always feel the need to tell them how few pushes it took for me because I hear so many I pushed for 5 hour stories. With my oldest I pushed twice, with the youngest I pushed once.

    I have a friend who is very young, no children and still very undecided on the whole thing because all of the horror stories she’s been told. I remind her often that all pregnancies/labor/deliveries are different even mine have all been different.

  23. What if, every time we went to get into our cars, people raced up and told you all about the worst crashes they were ever in/saw/heard about through a third party? In as much gory detail as possible? Good god. This drives me nuts, personally. You’re much more charitable than I in trying to see the value of it. :O) (And that’s what makes you such a lovely person, too.)
    .-= Dou-la-la´s last post .."First Hug" – Only YOU can prevent . . . uh, whatever this is supposed to prevent? =-.

  24. I don’t think that you should share stories just to scare someone. When I am asked about being pregnant and childbirth I don’t answer to scare someone. When I was pregnant I had a few women tell me stories and I know it was to scare me. I thought it was totally wrong and off side. Keep your negative thoughts to your self>

  25. I agree with you that horror stories are not helpful and that we should be aware of our audience when sharing stories. I think you are right that some stories are helpful and some are not.

    That being said, I do feel like there is a lot of myth around the postpartum period. Most women seem pretty aware that labour is difficult. But I feel that there is a perpetuation of the myth that the postpartum period is all roses and sunshine. I can’t tell you the number of women that stopped me when my daughter was under 4 months and told me “It is such a wonderful time, just enjoy it” while I was thinking “how am I going to stay sane on 3 hours of sleep?” I was in survival mode, not enjoyment mode.

    I also think that maybe women would feel more confidence in themselves and the ability to make breastfeeding work if they knew that a good number of people experience breastfeeding challenges. Yes, most people can breastfeed, but many that do make it work experience at least some challenge. It seems in the fervour to promote breastfeeding we may be setting women up with unrealistic expectations. The result is the feeling that if they experience problems that they are alone and there is something wrong with them.

    Fear is never good, but realistic expectations are important.
    .-= Kathleen (amoment2think)´s last post ..ControverSunday: Discipline =-.

  26. I felt betrayed when struggling with breastfeeding and early infant care. All my family ever thought to tell me beforehand was “you’ll do fine” or “you’ll be a great mom”. And you know what? The amount of pain and endless stream of what felt like failure did NOT feel fine or make me feel like a good mom. I with SOMEONE had shared a horror story or two with me so I didn’t feel so alone in what felt like my own personal hell at the time. In retrospect it wasn’t that long or that unbearable, it was the feeling that I wasn’t living up to my expectations of what motherhood was “supposed” to be like that made it so unbearable.

    I agree that filling a first time pregnant lady full of tragic and terrible stories is not productive, but maybe a few pointers like “it WILL all be messy” , “pain is NORMAL”, “things happen that you could never guess”, “sometimes things do need to be LEARNED — aka breastfeeding is tough to get the hang of but well worth the initial pain for the incredible rewards”, “it WILL get easier!!!” could be useful.
    .-= *pol´s last post ..I’m BAAAAACK! =-.

  27. I remember the first time that a friend of mine had a natural birth; when she told me the story – in labour for 6 hours, baby born at hospital naturally, home soon afterwards – I was in awe. At that point, I hadn’t started really thinking about how I would want to bring my children into the world, and was sort of in the “everyone else seems to get an epidural, so I assume that’s what I’ll do” camp.

    Flash forward three years, and I was able to have a wonderfully calm natural birth of my own, only 9 hours of labour (not as good as my friend’s 6 hours, but I”ll take it), delivered by two wonderful midwives, and we were home 4 hours later. And I’ve got to say it: the pain wasn’t that bad. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s important for pregnant women (or women in general) to hear the GOOD stories, since the “horror” stories seem to get more press. I strongly feel that trusting that your body can birth a baby is essential to having a calm, natural birth, if that’s what you’re aiming for. If you go in expecting excruciating pain and dreading the entire experience, then the experience is bound to live up to your expectations.

    This isn’t to say that unforseen circumstances don’t arise, since we all know they do; but between a ridiculously high C-Section rate, media that portrays birth consistently as an excruciatingly painful experience, and friends who like to share their horror stories, it’s a small wonder that most women go into birth expecting it to hurt like hell and be impossible to do without interventions.

    On the other side of the coin, I have to agree with a previous poster about breastfeeding — hearing stories of “perseverance” was absolutely paramount to me. I had a lot of trouble at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey (a crack on one nipple that got infected, at one point I cried everytime my boy latched, and the crack took TEN WEEKS to heal). But knowing that it would get better, eventually, made me stick it out. I’ve said many times that breastfeeding was way more difficult than childbirth for me. I will have to make sure however that I always qualify that with “but after we overcame our difficulties it was so worth it in the end”.
    .-= Anna´s last post ..We’ve been googled! =-.

  28. I think I totally agree. My childbirth educator (or midwife maybe?) emphasized that if my birth did not go the way I wanted I should talk to someone about it. Women need to talk about their “horror stories” to mourn the birth they dreamed of and didn’t get. But they meant I should talk to one of them, or some other seasoned mom in our natural parenting community who would lend a sympathetic ear. Not a mom-to-be trying to stay positive about the possibility of having a natural birth. (Luckily I had a good birth the second time so this wasn’t necessary.)

    In my area we have monthly Blessingway meetings for pregnant moms and new parents to come and share helpful info and *positive* birth stories. I’m pretty sure the leader of this group started it because there is such an overabundance of negative stories everywhere a pregnant woman goes. My homebirth story was featured one month, and I told a bit of my first, not-so-great birth for context, but I kept it really brief. When looking at the pain aspect, I think it’s important for women to NOT hear the bad stuff and to stay positive and relaxed. Fear = pain when it comes to labor.
    .-= Jenny´s last post ..New on Etsy: Unbutton and nurse your baby! =-.

  29. No horror stories, please. Not unless the first-time mom requests them or could learn something from them (like you mentioned about a particular hospital or provider.) She’s got enough worries as it is.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..And Now I Need To Make a Lab Coat =-.

  30. I don’t tell my horror stories to pregnant women, and I try not to tell my horror stories at all – I learned that people really don’t understand. When I do, it’s usually either because in that particular moment it’s helpful to me to talk about it or because I react to highly annoying natural birth mantras. Having said that, I do believe people learn only from their own experiences, and so whether the stories are scary or not they are just conversational, and sometimes thought provoking, but actually “useful/helpful”?
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Corner View ~ collection =-.

  31. Allison McCaskill says:

    Yes — instead of just browbeating overwhelmed women and making them feel even more inadequate. (My roommate was laid into by the hospital lactation consultant while I was in a drugged post c-section state in the next bed. It was horrifying.)

  32. I agree with Ms. Anne Dou-la-la. I do not see any benefit in the horror stories. I believe in the power of words and how they can infuence, subconciously, and I don’t know why you would want to let someone else’s experience cloud and possibly ruin your own. My entire pregnancy I told everyone that I was going to have a natural birth (not that I wanted one, but that I was going to do it) and that I was going to breastfeed. I had people tell me to keep some formula around, just in case, because their cousin’s best friend’s sister wasn’t able to breastfeed, but I waved my hand and said that I was not going to have those problems. Once you let those ideas into your head, I totally believe they can affect your outcome.

    As far as labor, no one tried to scare me with their “nightmare birth” story. In fact, most of the people who talked to me about labor when I was pregnant (both friends and strangers) told me that it wasn’t really that bad. Surprisingly, most people I spoke to were very encouraging about my wanting a natural birth. Whenever folks ask me about birth I always say it’s not that bad, it’s exactly what your body was built to do. And yes, I had a natural birth and I am still breastfeeding, 2.5 years later.

  33. Great post! I think that part of it is motivation of the story teller – are you telling it to freak people out or make them feel like you are a big victim? To elicit sympathy? To make people feel like no one has had it as bad as you have had it? Or are you sharing your story to help others? To prepare the way ahead for them and smooth out some rough patches? i think that comes across to new mothers.

    Personally, because I had such an unorthodox birth with my youngest (we delivered him ourselves in our parkade when we didn’t make it to the hospital on time) it often comes up in conversation because people are just stunned that I’m not scarred by the whole experience. It was a great birth and I am very positive about the experience over all. So even if I share my story – and it’s not perfect – I think my heart for mamas to have a positive birth experience without trauma and as natural as possible comes through (I hope!).

  34. Yeah, I never get that either. I mean, the stories where women purposely seem to be trying to scare someone else. Nothing positive comes from that at all.

    I always share my birth stories (when people ask!) because I was truly blessed and they were fantastic experiences. I have actually had some friends come to me for advice and I always tell them to focus on the positive and try positive visual imagery (I think it really helped me). I realize there is only so much you can “create” by thinking positive thoughts, and if something is to happen out of the ordinary, than that is just life, BUT I feel a lot of good can come from thinking and planning good things for your birth experience.

    Getting negative stories from people doesn’t really serve that purpose. When asked about giving birth I immediately look at a woman and say, “You can TOTALLY do this”. And of course she can 🙂
    .-= A Crafty Mom´s last post ..The Front Garden =-.

  35. Maybe part of it is in the telling. Birth can be a difficult experience. Telling it as sharing and telling it as horror a story can be two different things.
    .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Little =-.

  36. I think it depends how it is shared….

    So of ten it seems like there is a group of women all adding the worst bits of their labour or birth or experience. How painful it was, how terrible all hospitals and OB’s are, whatever it is that group generally ‘believes’ about birth. In that case I find it judgemental, and unhelpful.

    But if it is shared in a ‘this is my story’ kind of what – especially if someone shares what they learnt from their experience I think it can be very helpful.

    I especially find it difficult for people to ‘scoff’ at stories of ‘painfree’ or happy births. I learnt a lot from my first somewhat traumatic birth (twins born at 29 weeks via c-section) but also have lots of positive things to share from that story… though people do seem to love the scary gory difficult bits. When I say my second baby was 10 pounds 3 oz VBAC without medication and pretty much pain free people roll their eyes at me or make sarcastic comments about being ‘so lucky’. I am lucky… lucky to have had both births!
    .-= katepickle´s last post ..Super Powers Anyone? =-.

  37. Thanks for linking my story – and (without reading any of the comments) I’ll give my opinion. I’ve had so many jillions of people email me over the last few years (many this week as a matter of fact) and thank me for sharing what I went through to get my VBAC. It has helped a lot of women figure out what THEY can do to get the birth they want. I’m endlessly annoyed by people sharing their birth horror stories when those stories are designed to put women’s choices down (i.e. “oh, you’ll be asking for the epidural, the pain is too much, blah blah blah.”) Those stories illustrate the choices that those women made which may have had a serious negative impact on THEIR birth. Yet they perpetuate the myth that other women can’t make better choices, or that those choices won’t help their situation. There are many, many things that can happen during a pregnancy/labor to make it harder or easier for a mother to handle it. There are also many factors out of our control. But the more solid, accurate information we have, the better equipped we are to make the choices that will get us the results we want.

    I try to share information that will help empower women. It might be scary, but if they want a VBAC (for example) they NEED to know what they have to do to make that happen. Putting your head under the rug could most likely result in another cesarean. I know it would have for me.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last post ..Jillian Michaels, Body Image, and Mother-Shaming =-.

  38. I think it’s helpful to share about negative experiences if they will help the mom -to-be in some way. But if it’s merely a scary story that has no point other than shock value, can it!
    Old School/ New School Mom’s last post … Aris TGIFMy Profile

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  1. […] hear about actual birth outcomes, rather than stories of what could have happened. We hear a lot of scary stories about birth in our culture. It’s true that birth can be scary. But it can also be miraculous and […]

  2. […] people from outside of a family feel concerned about what you’re doing or your child is doing. They interpret your child in the light of […]

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