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7 Bold Responses for When Someone Says “You Can’t Go Natural” in Labor

Are you planning a natural birth? Chances are you are probably sick of hearing people say “sure, you think you want that now, just wait until you’re in it.”

When there is so much doubt, negativity and fear around birth, what are you supposed to say when someone criticizes the way you would like to experience your birth?

Here are 7 bold responses for when someone says you can’t go natural which will make them butt out and honor the choices you’ve made for your birth.

  1. “I know exactly how powerful I am. I’m only sad you can’t say the same.”
  2. “Hmmm…. Is that really how you support someone? Thanks for the input, and for showing me I need better friends.”
  3. “I love a good challenge!”
  4. Hold arms around you “your bad vibes can’t pop this bubble of peace” said like the bad joke it is.
  5. “I’m sorry your experience was so awful. Though it is common to have a hard birth, there are tons of women who consciously created positive experiences. I know that I’m made to birth this baby. I’m going to do it.”
  6. “Hmmm… I didn’t realize all births we’re the same… oh wait, they’re not. I’ll do me, you do you.”
  7. “I believe my body is capable of this.”
  8. “Do you ski?” a quick change of topic can often save the day. (okay I guess this one doesn’t really count, but it is an effective tool!)

What are you really going to do when friends or family question your ability to birth or criticize your birth plan?

It’s time for a moment of pillow talk, pull up your silk pillow and grab some finger nail polish and a cup of tea and let’s hash out what you can really do and say as if we were strategist at a Blair Waldorf party.

It really sucks when friends and family are not on board with your decisions. Especially when they are so sure that they are right that they want to prove it to you. Even if proving it to you comes at the expense of sabotaging your own experience.

The truth is, a lot of women harbor pain when it comes to their own birth experiences. Our medical system does not have a strong track record of valuing both a healthy family and a fulfilling experience. Often the very same interventions that can save one woman’s life can endanger another’s. Unfortunately, since our Obstetrical practice has its foundation in overriding and intervening with birth, many doctors don’t have experience with natural birth and don’t know how capable the human body is of delivering a baby.

NPR reported that some OB’, the doctors overseeing pregnancy and the birth of a child,  never even spent time in a labor and delivery unit before they delivered their first baby. This is part of the reason NPR found that the United States has the worst maternal outcomes in the developed world. 

OBs are doing the best they can with the education they have, but it is not enough. That is part of the reason there are over 30 countries with better birth outcomes than the US.

When people criticize a natural birth, the best thing you can do is recognize that they are stating an opinion and an experience, not a fact. Often when someone says this it is a sign they are lacking real world experience and knowledge of birth as a process.

If it is your OB challenging your ability to birth naturally or your OB states they don’t see many women succeed with natural birth this is a reflection of your them and not you or their patients. It is never too late to change your prenatal care in a low risk pregnancy.  If you have complications and have a specific specialist you must work with, know you can often have a specialist help you with your increased needs and have a midwife or doula or both there to support you through birth itself.

Here are 3 quick signs to see if your OB can be trusted to partner with you in this birth:

  • Your OB thoroughly answers your questions and engages you in thoughtful conversation. He or she helps you understand the risks of all your choices and helps you make educated decisions that you feel confident in. If you feel talked down to, belittled, rushed or silly for asking questions, this is not a good OB.
  • Your OB talks to you about lifestyle changes and habits you can establish that will help you create and maintain a low risk pregnancy. Of course, you can’t control everything, so they are there for you if your needs escalate, but they respect that the human body is designed to grow and birth babies and they c an point you to tools to help you remained nourished and healthy in this process.
  • You feel respected and honored in their presence. Do you feel the kind of trust with them that you would be comfortable having them at an event such as your wedding? This baby’s birthday will be just as sacred and an experience that will affect you every day for the rest of your life. An OB should be more than just medically focused, they should see you as a whole person and treat you as the divine woman you are.

Here are 4 ways to set healthy boundaries with your nay saying friends and family:

You know that even if those around you had a negative experience and are worried for you, you do not have to limit yourself because their experience will not be your experience. Every birth is different, and the choices you make have a huge influence over how it unfolds.

Use these tips to set healthy boundaries with your negative friends and family:

  1. Tell your friends they are not allowed to say anything negative about your birth until the read Ina May Gaskin’s book, Birth Matters.  This book helped my mom come around and see why I wanted a homebirth after the hospital put my life in danger during my first birth. Seeing the history of our medical care put into perspective, plus the advice from a midwife who has attended hundreds of births and has maternity outcomes that rival the best in the world, really puts everything into perspective.
  2. If someone won’t honor this boundary, take a break from the relationship. This is your time, it is not your job to manage someone else’s feelings but to master your own. If someone is unwilling to do their own emotional work, just say no to the relationship.
  3. Read positive birth stories and find people who did have positive births. In some communities THAT is the norm. You can be a cycle breaker and be  the one to change birth for you and your daughters.  You can find 10 places to read positive birth stories that will change the way you birth here.  
  4. Hold yourself in love, if you do choose to change your plan know that you did not fail and you never had to prove anything to anyone (unless you want to of course)

My story:

I birthed a 10 pound baby in my bedroom at home. The truth is, it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was also the hardest and most intense.

I had moments where if I had access to an epidural, I might have said I wanted it, not because I needed it in that moment, but even after prepping, I still doubted if I could do it. In my first birth which resulted in a c-section, I never dilated past 3 cm, despite being on pitocin for nearly 24 hours.  So going into my second birth, I really didn’t have a track record of positive birth to fall back on. .

But you know what, I stuck through it. I kept my head in the moment. I remembered labor would end. I used all the tools I practiced and I had an amazing team behind me who wanted everything I wanted for myself as much as I did. It was such a healing experience.

Whenever I think of that moment when my daughter took her first breath in my arms my heart swells with joy in a way I cannot describe with words.

I hope when someone tells you birth is too painful you remember that fear is the cause of the pain and joy is the reward.

I hope when someone tells you you can’t do it, you remember that maybe they couldn’t, but only you know what is inside of you. You are limitless. Neither your worth nor your success is defined by if you went natural or not, but by the fact that you took the time to listen to what your inner voice was telling you and you honored it as you faced each circumstance during your birth.

I hope when some tells you you will regret not choosing an epidural, you will remember that you get to choose your experience, you can always change your mind, but sacrificing your vision for someone else’s fear will never make you happy.

I hope when someone tells you a horror story about birth, you will recognize that many things played into that day and that even the doctor may have made mistakes or caused problems by unneeded intervention.

I hope you know that if your soul is calling for a specific type of birth, you should 100 percent go for it. Find other moms who have done it and know that if they did it, so can you.

While there is room for truth and honest conversation in the unpredictable journey that is pregnancy and birth, there is no room for negativity. Keep your vision as your top priority. Be courageous and follow your dreams.

Birth all the babies mama,

Suzzie Vehrs