The Romanticizing of Childbirth

5 years ago today, I felt my first real contraction. Or ‘surge’ as they like to call it in hypnobirthing. 5 years ago today, that ‘dream’ of what I thought Motherhood, childbirth, breastfeeding… was going to be like… slowly started to fall to pieces.

If you’re currently recovering from childbirth, there’s about a 95% chance you’ll agree with me when I say that there has been a bit of a pendulum swing in the childbirth arena.

The evolution of the story of childbirth:

As little girls, we were told that Eve (who we all now despise) ate that damned apple from the tree and sent us all into punishment for eternity… that punishment being – you will have a painful childbirth.

As teenagers, we watched movies, like this one below… which took it to the next level, making us fearful that we’d even have a vagina left after attempting to get a baby out of our bodies.

And then we became women. Lost as f*ck in this new world our generation is dealing with. You can’t ‘just be a housewife’ anymore because that’s not woman enough (did they even watch the above movie?)… now you have to ‘get a real job’… but wait… you also have to be a housewife, what a prize – but don’t complain, you’re a woman!

You can do it all… it’s the feminist movement now. Oh and by the way… all that shit you were served about birth being painful… no that’s not true anymore, we’ve changed it…

Birth is about all women coming together, supporting one another, hugging, gently caressing, and singing together, breathing your baby out in unison, with candles and birth affirmations and sometimes dolphins in a pool…

But wait what…

I was taught that women are out to get each other? We’ve been competing on what we look like for so long – mirror mirror on the wall… But now we should all support each other. Okay cool… sounds good, we’ll just change AGAIN.

Enter pregnancy… hypnobirthing, love, “PAIN-FREE BIRTH”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against hypnobirthing at all. In fact, if I ever decided to have another baby again. I’d be the first one signing up for that class, I just wouldn’t be as naive as I was before. And I’d be speaking up saying ‘Hey!’ Stop saying “PAIN-FREE BIRTH”. Because that is BS. We can use hypnobirthing to be aware of where we are in our birthing experience, breath through contractions, or surges, or whatever you want to call them, and get us to a point, but then you know what – we actually need to lose control to get those babies out! And that’s IF those babies even decide that they are coming through that way… because I’m telling you… those little things come with plans of their own!

In the almost 5 years I’ve been running Ubuntu Baba, let me tell you I’ve met and spoken to THOUSANDS of Mothers. I can count ON 2 HANDS, the amount of women who have told me that they’ve had 100% pain free births. And I am genuinely happy for them and their experience. And I am so glad their experiences exist. Everyone should know about all the possibilities of childbirth.

But that means that we are selling a dream to the rest of the Mothers out there. And what does that leave us with? A generation of Mothers who feel like total failures after the birth of their dreams does not come true, because let’s face it, they have a 5% chance of having the elusive pain-free birth.

Can we all start to tell the truth about childbirth please?

You’re ALLOWED to tell it as it is. You’re ALLOWED to fall apart and scream. And you’re ALLOWED to become a Mother in your own damn way. And you’re also allowed to hate the experience if you want to. It doesn’t mean you’re going to hate your baby, just because you hated the pain of getting them into this world. I mean please leave a comment below if you enjoyed your pregnancy hemorrhoids? Hmmm… anyone??? Doesn’t mean we all hated being pregnant! (But if you did, you’re allowed to hate that too.)

Each birth is different. Some are painful, some are intense, some are quiet, some are loud, some are violent, some are loving, some are emotional and some are life-changingly beautiful.

So today, 5 years on, after I felt my first contraction… I’m not going to reminisce and tell you that it’s easier to talk about. It’s not. Childbirth broke me. But it also created a new person who has now been through THAT, and lived to tell the story. A new person who can share in absolute honesty about what it means to be a Mother and the struggles we all go through.

I believe in women. I believe in love. I believe in supporting one another. I believe in creating and allowing space for us all to share our birth stories and for them all to be heard. Because every single one of them matter deeply to the next generation of women who are fighting for their place on this earth.

Much love to all the Mamas out there, and please know that your story matters and you don’t have to brush it off. It is who you are, and the only advice I can give you – is that acceptance is your key to moving forward.

To end off I’d like to share this beautiful video we created together with Shané Cronje entitled ‘Journey to Motherhood‘. This is the first of a series of 2 dance videos, the second one we filmed earlier this year and are almost ready to share it with you – it’s so special and I really can’t wait to share it with you. ❤️

Shannon McLaughlin

About Shannon McLaughlin

Shannon is a Mama to 5 year old Leo, who is the inspiration behind her baby carrier business, Ubuntu Baba. She is passionate about helping new Moms adjust to 'life with baby' through the art of babywearing and talking about the reality of motherhood in the 21st century.

3 Comments

  • Tess says:

    Thank you for that Shannon – I couldn’t have said it better myself. I did the hypnobirthing thing and experienced a very painful and intense birth earlier this year, and felt like a failure for a while afterwards (and some bitterness towards the teachings of hypnobirthing) – but your blog has helped me accept my experience, thank you xx

  • Anne says:

    The birth of my first born was highly traumatic….The worst pain ever experienced!!
    Second one was the opposite…I was super prepared. Did hypnobirthing classes. It was a beautiful home birth(with everything arranged the way I wanted)obviously still with the short pushing phase rather being uncomfortable…Everything’s possible during childbirth. You poo and yes, hemorrhoids suck!

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