Sunday, September 14, 2008

Terrified of pregnancy and childbirth

The other day, I received a comment which really struck a cord with me. "I find the idea of pregnancy and childbirth terrifying," - it stated, - "I may be misled, but I have never known anyone who went through a 'normal' pregnancy and birth." The commenter then proceeded by saying that if birth control and abortion were made illegal, she would choose to remain celibate for the rest of her life.

I don't know the age of the lady in question, but if you belong to my generation, if you are a single, college-educated young woman, it's no wonder you are terrified of pregnancy and childbirth! A few weeks ago, my husband forwarded to me the summary of a university lecture about pregnancy and childbirth, given at medical school, which portrayed pregnancy as something very near to an abnormal, pathological process in a woman's body. As I sat there, shaking my head in disbelief and reading about every possible nasty complication I might have experienced by this stage of pregnancy, I felt exceedingly sorry for the young childless women who listened to this lecture. Undoubtedly, they were shuddering with horror by the end of it, just at the thought of ever becoming pregnant. I know I would be exceedingly terrified of pregnancy if it was ever presented to me in such a way.

Am I saying nothing can ever go wrong during pregnancy and birth? No. Am I saying medical schools are not to teach about different problems that may arise? Again, no. But here's the catch: you'll never know the majority of pregnancies and births are routine, healthy and normal, if you don't have the chance to get to know more than a few pregnant women and mothers of little children - and that's unlikely to happen on a college campus. In an age where pregnancy is a rare phenomenon, childbirth is an artificially controlled surgical procedure, and the few babies and children are locked away in daycare, fertility simply isn't seen as a normal part of our life cycle anymore.

Even I, as much as I hoped and prayed for a baby, was at a bit of a loss when I became pregnant. I don't recall seeing too many pregnant women growing up - I'm an only child, and most of my friends had one sibling at best. None of us, growing up, had the experience of holding, cuddling, or rocking a baby. Not that long ago, when our baby niece was born and very matter-of-factly placed in my arms for the first time, I hardly knew how to hold her!

The pathological fear of childbirth, as I found out, is known by the name of tokophobia. According to this article, "one woman in six is so terrified of giving birth that she induces a miscarriage or avoids becoming pregnant altogether, even though she desperately wants children." While I'm not sure whether to believe these numbers, I know: the fear of pregnancy and childbirth is there. Many of the young women I know, while not pathologically terrified, find the thought of pregnancy, birth and motherhood disturbing, and say that they will do everything to obtain a very limited, fully controlled experience of the above (one child, elective c-section, no intention to breastfeed).

I think part of the problem is the degree of separation between sex and motherhood our culture teaches. From a very young age we are encouraged to have "safe" sex, but at the same time avoid having a baby for the next 10, 15, 20 years, because "it will ruin your life". We are encouraged to pursue teenage bodies and teenage desires; mature, adult motherhood, with its challenges and sacrifices, is something we are supposed to avoid as long as possible. So how will we welcome a baby into our life without fear?

When I became pregnant, I later realized that I - mostly due to lack of knowledge than anything else - was subconsciously preparing myself for nine months of being completely unfunctional. I had no idea how my body would work, and was delighted to find out that, despite a few weeks of nausea and some general weakness here and there, I'm still able to lead a very normal life - nurturing my marriage, spending time with friends and family, settling in our new home, cooking, baking, reading, studying - while delighting in the joys and wonders of a tiny baby growing inside me. This is how most women I know describe their pregnancies. We live in a place where you'll see women with tummies at various degrees of roundness whenever you're out and about, and they all look perfectly cheerful and healthy.

Of course, I still have before me roughly four months of pregnancy and the delivery of a baby, but now I'm able to face these prospects without irrationally fearful expectations. I know this is what God designed my body for, and therefore a normal outcome is the rule, not some rare, miraculous exception.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Women are afraid of childbirth because it is scary. My mother and my mother-in-law were both terrified, and both grew up in large families with many babies. At the time they gave birth, though, there were very few books on the subject around, men were not allowed in the delivery ward, and indeed women were often strapped down so they wouldn't 'interfere' in the process. Both my mother and mother-in-law were quite ignorant about what exactly was going to happen.

Such a climate isn't very calming. Luckily, things have changed, and women are much more informed. Still, birth is a huge experience, and for many, it is extremely painful. Many women are far more scared of the imminent pain than of the possibility of something going wrong.

I believe pregnancy should be more visible. I believe babies are part of the natural life process. I think women should feel free to discretely nurse in public. Pregnancy and birth and babies are natural and should be seen and heard. However, it is also natural to fear the immense pain and mystery of birth.
Tammy

AnneK said...

Yeah, I agree with the first commenter. I do not think college is the reason for women being terrified of childbirth. I never learned anything in college that would scare me about pregnancy. I was never in med school anyway. I am scared of the pain. I grew up with kids and babies. Lots of them. All the time. Make no mistake, I love babies and motherhood, but actually giving birth scares me to death.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Please note, ladies, that I never said it's not OK to be afraid of giving birth. I've never given birth myself yet, and I can't say I'm facing it without any trepidation at all. What I'm talking about is pathological fear which can actually ruin women's life by preventing them from having families.

Katie said...

I was going to comment of my (different) perspective of childbirth. I've been reading many women's blogs over the past year, and it seems that even the most loving of mothers fear childbirth. From my experience, it's usually those who have already given birth who fear it the most! Brietta, one of the posters at www.momandus.com, said that she felt "trapped by her body" when she found out she was pregnant, but then again, if I had had three difficult labors (including one 51 hour labor!), then I could see myself in the same boat.

The Quiet Life said...

Child birth is not all painful. I do realise that there are women that have very painful child birth. I have given birth to my three children naturally without drugs. I can honestly say it wasn't the horror story I was told it would be. Another thing to note would be that women that give birth at home or another comfortable environment don't go through as much pain and bounce back much faster than women who give birth in a hospital. That sort of environment puts us in the wrong frame of mind for a process that is beautiful and natural.

justme27 said...

There's an interesting book out there called

Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read. It's an old book, but google has excerpts from it on google books.

http://books.google.com/books?id=NdJXcBpepGMC&dq=childbirth+without+fear&pg=PP1&ots=5YDBFNzN6G&sig=kpfV01lbHwIqN0FvW6_jkx8j3A4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result

The author presents interesting ideas on what you're talking about.

Miss J said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Anna! I am just recently realizing the terror and fear that women are trapped in nowadays. My mom had 2 drug-free hospital births and then 4 homebirths so I was raised with the concept that our bodies were made for giving birth and that birth was completely natural and normal.

Recently I was talking to a 16-yr-old girl (a homeschool friend) and she expressed such an overwhelming horror of birth. She told me that when she was younger she had expressed her fears to her mother, who told her that she simply had to "take the shot" (epidural). Then my friend found out that the epidural goes into the spine and that there is a risk of chronic backache, chronic migraines, and paralysis. She also found out that IV drugs are simply derivatives of cocaine and morphine, which can have a devastating effect on a baby's brain. She concluded that she should adopt babies so she didn't have to go through all the pain and trouble. This is SO SAD.

Another point I'd like to make is this: in Genesis, when Adam and Eve are given their curses, the SAME Hebrew word is used for both but it is translated "anguish" in Eve's case and "toil" in Adam's case. If women go into pregnancy expecting to be in agony, then they set themselves up for it. I firmly believe that childbirth is HARD WORK. It CAN be painful, but it is not always, and it is pain with a purpose. The womb is the strongest muscle in the body. It can work for days without becoming fatigued. When people run or work out, their muscles begin to ache. But I have never heard of a runner asking for drugs after a marathon. Their body may hurt in every area, but it is a natural side effect of hard work. It is expected and accepted. Why does it have to be dreaded in childbirth?

I am a doula and student midwife and I have seen many birthings. Women must rebuke the spirit of fear and walk in peace and strength, knowing that their bodies will do what they have been designed to do and that they ARE strong enough to handle it. Childbirth is a most amazing time in a woman's life; embrace it. It is a miracle known to most women only a few times in their life.

Shalom, Jessica

Kacie said...

In the USA, any instances of childbirth I've seen on television or in movies have been of women screaming in horrible pain, begging for drugs, and cursing their husbands for "doing this to them."

There aren't any portrayals of women who are relaxed or simply able to manage their labor pains.

I'm taking a Bradley childbirth course along with my husband to help prepare us for our delivery.

I trust my body, and I trust that the Lord will be with us.

I'm not afraid of childbirth, though I am anxious to find out how it will go! I can't wait to meet my little boy :)

justme27 said...

Here's a sweet little song about a baby girl. It makes me smile.

http://www.deezer.com/track/924951

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

I understand the fears of such things and used to be very frightened of pregnancy and childbirth for these very reasons and was seriously considering never marrying or having children because of it. I can honestly say I am no longer afraid of childbirth itself and didn't even find this at all frightening when I was in the midst of the experience, quite enjoy the physical aspect of being pregnant, but have a very difficult time with the emotional part, which knowing my history, it would be more bizarre if I did not. I sincerely hope to have more children in the future, but fully know that *being pregnant* again would rank right up there with the most terrifying events I ever have to experience. For most most women, who are extremely fortunate, the "what ifs" of a miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth are just that to them--what ifs; bad scenarios that happen to "other people", but that's simply not the case for a small minority, myself included. :o(

november said...

I admit, I am very much afraid of the pain of childbirth (which is to be expected as I am a huge scared-y cat when it comes to pain of all sorts). One of my friends had all three of her babies without drugs and lives to talk and laugh about each of her labors. Of course, though, she's physically very strong and I, on the other hand, am not so much. I suppose when it's my time, I won't have too much or too little; God knows exactly how much we each can handle.

A couple months back I was talking with a younger friend (she's 24) about pregancy, motherhood and those sorts of things and while she anticipates having children (four, she says), she does not want the stress on her body or her figure (she's a workout fanatic and works diligently to maintain her youthful figure). In that conversation she went so far as to call babies in utero "leeches" (!)in that they "suck out all your body's nutrients."

This just goes to show the state of the modern cultural thinking surrounding pregnancy and maternity.

Kelly said...

"I think part of the problem is the degree of separation between sex and motherhood our culture teaches." I totally agree with you Anna and the first commenter. I think first there is s disconnect between sex and childbirth that the latter is a natural result of the former. So we just don't equate one with the other any longer.
And I think, at least in my mother's and grandmother's time, labor and birth were moved from the home to the hospital who at first treated it all like a desease to be cured, or solved. Women weren't allowed to participate and my granmother and mother were "knocked out" for the entire c-section.
I was afraid of labor and birth until the last month of my pregrancy. If no one has said this to you, it is true that by the end of your pregnancy you are SO UNCONFORTABLE you don't care what you have to go through to end it.
I had over 24 hours of pitocin induced labor, without pain meds, up until an emergency c-section. And while looking back I think pitocin is evil and would never take it again, the labor was managable with proper breathing, and even the c-secion wasn't that bad.
I think we need to teach our children that pregnancy, labor, and birth is s normal process and nothing to be afraid of, with support pain can be managed and the pain is all worth what you get in the end.

Mrs. P said...

I have to agree with most of your post! Before I had my oldest son, I was beyond terrified of having kids. The pain, the whole pregnancy process, and oh goodness! Actually raising a child? Eeek!
Actually, when I look back at my birth experiences, I think most would shudder. Neither was under 30 hours, both were delivered by C-section, and in the case of my oldest son, I developed a nasty infection. But, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat! I'm praying for the Lord to bless us with more sweet little ones. It was all worth it and more for my sons. Now that they are a bit older (7 and 5 years old), I get to share so much with them.
It breaks my heart a bit to think any woman would let fear cripple her spirit enough to give up all the blessings and trials of motherhood. Yes, labor hurts. But it can also be thrilling. And you know what? In a few short years, you completely forget just how painful it all was anyway. :)

Erin said...

When the time came for my health science class to learn about pregnancy and child birth at my university here in Canada It was treated nothing like the one described here.
The lecture emphasized what a beautiful process it is. and that even though it can be very painful it is naturally what womens bodies are created to do.
I guess my class was lucky to have a lecture that did not install fear as the one describe above.

Rebecca Grider said...

I wonder if some of the fear some women experience - when it becomes pathological is perhaps due to them having children when they don't wish to. While there may be women who feel that they are derided for wanting to have children and care for them, believe me, there is a bigger stigma attached to us women who decide that they don't wish children. I am one of those women and the pressure that society places on me is horrendous. I am looked at as an oddity, abnormal. Luckily I have had years of dealing with this and am very comfortable with my decision but I still get pressure, even from parents who insist "you'll change your mind." But I digress...I think that there are women who have children "because they're supposed to," not because they wish to be mothers. I think combining horror stories that mothers inevitably share (if you wish to be scared away from childbirth, listen to new mothers "one-upping" each other about what they went through) with their honest feelings why they're doing this and I think you could find out why some women are terrified.

Anonymous said...

I am the one that left the original comment. I may have been exagerating slightly, saying that I would never have sex again, but I would be very very very careful. I am not sure if I read blogs like this one to reassure myself, but that is probably part of it as I like to imagine a family some day. I am greatful to Anna for addressing my quite intense (and admittedly potentially irrational) reaction to the idea.

I have never studied childbirth in particular, but my experience with seeing friends and family go through this is enough. The first person that I knew who had a baby spent the final 3 months on bedrest punctuated with hospital visits to keep her hydrated via iv from the constant nausea that wouldn't let her keep down water.

Another close friend had a relatively normal pregnancy but the birth was irregular and both the baby and my friend almost died.

There are other less extreme stories, but in general, the idea that another person will take over my body and live inside me for nine months and then forcibly exit my body creeps me out enough. Not to mention that even after birth, this person will then basically control my life for 20 years, and if I ever make any mistake with them I could go to jail, or worse ruin their life. I am currently considering the birth aspect, but the problems that women go through raising their children, as teenagers, or even as adults give me pause too.

Another concern for me is that several women in my family after the hormonal changes of pregnancy go crazy. My great Aunt spent the rest of her life as a severe agoraphobic after giving birth, and another aunt of mine, well, just had a meltdown postpartum and was never the same, she went so far as to adopt a second child who was drug addicted at birth and then leave both babies to be raised by a very unwilling and incapable cousin.

Another aunt's husband turned out to be abusive after the baby was born and he thought she couldn't leave. He specifically misled her about a lot of things until the point where they had a baby. Eventually she escaped him, but with a lot of debt and heartache.

I understand the sweet and rewarding parts of becoming a mother, but the whole plan seems like it could turn out such a bad idea. Everything is lovely until just one problem or mistake and you are in the middle of a horror movie that you can expect to continue for hours or months (or years). I think you have to have a lot of confidence in order to become a mother. Maybe someday I could face it, but I am 28 now, so maybe not.

Mrs W said...

I agree with the person who said home birth is less painful. I had heard many horror stories too of pain but my pain was bearable, especially in a pool of water, and I was relaxed more because I was in my own living room. I had a posterior birth last time and so it hurt a lot more, but I'm so glad I didn't have the added stress of being in the hospital.

Anonymous said...

It DOES hurt, yes....but I remember once reading about labor being called "pain with a purpose". I think this is a pretty appropriate description. I do recall feeling frightened of pain as contractions increased when I gave birth. But the intense moments were, (thankfully!) short & the nurses were so helpful to me. I think I did well! :o)

Brenda

Deborah said...

Dear Mrs.Anna T,

Oh, if the world could have LOTS of young women like you. I have just loved following your blog and I am 53!

I find your insights, your questiongs of the "established thoughts in all topics," so very refreshing and it encourages me to see that process taking place in a public forum, throughout the world no less!!!

But about your topic. I think the fear of the pain is a prominent problem (I have had 3 children and it DOES hurt but you do it because it's so very worth it!) but I do believe that the enemies of God want to destroy HIS plan of procreation. There would be one less child being prepared for GOD's Kingdom. It is tragic and devestating to me to hear of such talk always about the negative reasons why children shouldn't be brought into this world.

What saddened me also about your post was to discover how little babies and children were in your life. I had dolls in my arms as young as I can remember and I wanted a baby at age 5! (so my Mother tells me...)

I homeschooled (loved your Charlotte Mason/homeschooling discoveries!!) 16 years. My daughters have been blessed to have homeschooling families in their lives, some families "quiver full minded," some not, but all families treasuring their little ones. I talked and talked and trained and trained my daughters for the responsibilities they would face being a Mother, if the Lord so chose.

My youngest dd is 25 with 3 children (5,3 and almost 6 months.) My oldest dd is 31 and getting married October 12th! The daughters will be married to brothers!! It is awesome. They both kept themselves pure for marriage and have gone through courtship for the path to the altar.

I believe this is my first post and you might not want another one. Sorry got so windy but you just brought out some enthusiams in me. Much needed as I have been severely sick with my Lupus this week including hospital ER visit. Sitting at the computer has been a blessing today for sure!

Deborah

Goldnrod said...

A Japanese girl used to live next door. She had gone to college in the (American) South & then married a young man from around here. She was very afraid of getting pregnant, I'm sure it was because in Japan abortion is normal to control the size of the family. I was hoping to encourage her in this area, but she & her dh moved away not long after.

TheRetroHousewife said...

Im so glad that child birth was "not all painful" for the person who commented above. For me it was unbelievably painful, it was so horrific in fact that I won't have anymore children. I think I went into my first pregnancy scared of the pain but came out of it with a pathological fear that you talk about Anna. A lot of people think Im selfish or a wimp but honestly it was just a really bad experience with pain and with things going wrong. Would I take it back? NEVER, I love my daughter more than anything in the world and she was worth every ounce of pain. Will I put myself through it for another child who isnt in the making, no.

Otter Mom said...

I think it's totally normal to have a little fear. Especially when you haven't gone through it yet. There is pain involved and it can be messy. It's ok to be worried. But what got me past that fear was the knowledge of the tremendous gift from God I would be receiving when it was all over. And you do forget the pain. Medication during childbirth is something that is different for everyone, if you want it then ask for it and don't feel ashamed. If you are able to give birth without it, then that's great. I think a lot of women buy into the idea that they "have" to give birth a certain way and it shouldn't be like that. It's an individual experience.

Lady M said...

How very, very sad that people would view pregnancy/childbirth as such. Yes, things can go wrong. However, things can go wrong with ANYTHING!

My first 2 pregnancies went without a hitch, although, I did need assistance at the very end - the lovely vacuum hat to assist my little ones out. Yes, labor is painful, but my mom put it too me this way: Think of it as a very hard day of work (after all, it is your muscles working) and at the end of that work session, you will have the best reward ever! Yes, Pitocin makes labor pain awful (had to have that with my son and may have to have it with this little one), but I came through it. Fear will only make it worse because then you are fighting the labor the whole time.

If you are raising children outside of the instructions that G-d gave us in the Bible, then yes, raising children is tough.

But aren't we all glad that our parents had us and raised us?? After all, if they had selfishly thought that one (or 2) days of labor pains were too much to handle along with a few months of inconvenience. Trust me, rolling over in bed is a challenge right now, but I remember the blessing I will be holding in a couple of weeks and get past it, lol!, Yes, I put up with 4-5 months of all day sickness with all of my children, but it is soooo worth it. The reward is better than any paycheck you can earn. Yes, there are days you are ready to scream, but I remember more days of wanting to do that when I was a FT employee of some business than that as a parent. AND, for the ones that still think they could not/would not handle parenting, etc. Remember - your parents did it and they survived - and I bet they did not regret it either!

Part of our society's issues are they have turned out very selfish people in the name of "self-esteem" and we see this reflected in their parenting even (after all, it is ALL about them - right? Me, me, me, me - the inconvenience to "me").

My other thought is I would be thrilled if they would get rid of birth control & abortion (often one in the same whether people realize it or not). We are called to be celibate when we are outside of marriage - after all marriage is what traditionally was called for when one wanted to have children and "adult" relations.

It is amazing to me since so many people are certainly willing to do the act that creates children without a thought....I mean after all, that act was designed with pregnancy & children in mind!!

Okay, I am starting to ramble, but the "I am too scared" thing about children annoys me (or, it could be being 8 mos. pregnant, lol!). Hopefully this was some semblance of coherent.

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna- Just to chime in: I had a relatively "easy" pregnancy. When it came to childbirth, I trusted God and my body, and even though I had to be chemically induced for medical reasons, my body did what it needed to do, and I was able to give birth naturally (ie no pain medication, because I obviously did have a pitocin drip so it wasn't completely intervention-free). Trust me, it was rough--I had twelve hours of contractions no more than 2 minutes apart thanks to the pitocin--but it can be done! And more importantly, if you have the right mind-frame it's not scary! It was the single most exhilirating, magnificent, spiritual, magical, fantastic, incredible, glorious, beautiful moment of my life when I gave birth to my daughter. Even the labor is a fond memory, in spite of the pain. Actually, and this may sound nuts, I'm looking forward to my next childbirth experience. Admittedly, there can be emergencies and dangerous births, but they are rare. Personally, I believe that if more women were better educated, better prepared, and had better support during pregnancy and childbirth, there would not be the amount of intervention or "scary" births that there are. And, even with the legitimate "scary" ones, modern medicine is such that birth is almost NEVER life threatening. What a reason to praise God!
~Bethany

Cherry's Jubilee said...

Not everyone has a "normal" pregnancy. I did not. I was sick for the full 9 months...hyperemesis Gravidium. Polite way of saying Hyper vomiting rofl. In the hospital with piclines because I was so dydrated that my veins were no good. Everyone is not so lucky to have a fun pregancy. Was I blessed with a healthy baby...yes I was....I think that there needs to be an awareness that people do get sick and that is ok. I have often times felt like less of a woman because of my hormones and being sick. Sorry but I am very sensitive on this manner. cherry

Neuropoet said...

I know that many women consider it normal to fear birth - but I have to admit that "fear" is not something I dealt with during birth - unless you count being worried that a doctor might do something to me I didn't want done (unnecessarily I mean). Perhaps I've never feared birth because I saw my mother give birth to my youngest sister when I was thirteen -all natural, no drugs, but in a hospital - and seeing her do it took away the fear of the unknown for me. Not that every labor is the same - goodness sake every labor is different with each child - but it isn't something to fear. Being afraid makes you more prone to feel pain anyway. Yes, labor is painful, but neither of my labors made me think I was going to die. :) Even when I was 18, and the doctor had done everything that would make me experience labor as painful - ie laboring on my back, waiting to push until he arrived, etc. - but I still did it without any pain meds, and when it was over I remember thinking, "I could do that again." Women who are given the opportunity to appreciate what their bodies are really made to do are not as likely to experience fear in childbirth. Even the first time, you might not know exactly what to do - but your body does! I do remember having a time of trepidation about the coming labor - in about my seventh month with my first child. BUT - by the ninth month I was very ready to have him out - and I no longer worried about how that happened! :) LOL!!

All that to say, Anna, that I think what you posted here is a good place for you to be mentally with your first baby. God made your body to carry, birth, and nurse children - it is the basis for the continuance of the human race! If nightmare births were the norm than it isn't likely the humanity would have lasted! :)

hugs,
~Jenny

Kristi said...

Wow. I didn't realize there was that mindset out there, at least to such a degree. Maybe because I was homeschooled and not exposed to some of it.

At any rate, I did want to say that my three home births have been wonderful experiences. Yes, there is pain, but it is pain with a purpose that helps your body know what to do at different times. I never had to have any drugs, even during the most intense labor. It's not that I looked forward to the pain part, but the eagerness to meet a new child helped me to look beyond the present physical pain. it helps a lot, too, if you have someone reminding you to relax through the contractions.

Your body was designed by God to carry and give birth to children. Put your trust in Him to bring you and your baby safely to the other side of childbirth. I just wanted to encourage you with a good report!

Coffee Catholic said...

I'm not surprised that young women are so afraid of pregnancy and childbirth. In this day and age we are taught to avoid suffering at all costs ~ any kind of suffering, not just physical! The "pain of work" is especially to be avoided! Abortion and birth control are a convenient way of avoiding the pain of work that comes with pregnancy, birth, and raising a child. Suffering is a normal part of the fallen human condition. To live a life avoiding suffering is to become a ninny. Our culture/society needs to buck up!!

Coffee Catholic said...

P.S. With childbirth there's such a thing as "Fear-Tension-Pain" syndrome. It's where the mother enters labor already afraid and tense and this causes so much needless pain.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Deborah - thank you for "de-lurking" and participating in the discussion. It's always lovely to hear from new friends, and I hope you continue to comment in the future. Feel more than free to write as much as you like!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the writer who said that if birth control and abortion were made illegal, I would choose lifeling celibacy. Of course, I would. I wouldn't see any other option.

Sure, most women in industrial countries manage healty, normal pregnancies. And there are painkillers one could take during labor (although I would also worry that these would be made illegal too, for the health of the baby.)

But still the point is that without birth control and abortion, and without celibacy, many of us would be constantly pregnant. Some of us (depending on our fertility) would be forced against our will to have families of 10 children or more. That's a hell of a thing for the government to impose on half itse citizenry, even assuming all these pregnancies would be smooth-sailing.

And, while I don't think women need to be unduly alarmed, there is a risk to pregnancy. My mother loved being pregnant and tells me she never felt better in her life. I have always assumed my experience would be the same. But for many, many women, pregnancy is at best uncomfortable, at worst involves life-threatening risks. I don't trust the government to decide for me when a pregnancy is sufficiently life-threatening to warrant termination. Especially a government that has already decided to value a fertilized egg more than an adult woman.

-- Pendragon

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe some people want to get rid of birth control!! Would you outlaw it? I guess these aren't the same people that say the gov't intervenes too much (or do they just want the gov't to intervene when it's comfortable for them?)

I've gone through 5 natural births. I'm relatively tough when it comes to pain. And it's true, as one poster said, that by the ninth month you are so bulky and uncomfortable you are just dying to get that baby out. But still, I spent the last trimester of every pregnancy really stressed out about the pain awaiting me.

I would also opt for celibacy if there were no birth control around. And people have done this for ages. Birth was even scarier a century or two ago, when I believe it was the number one cause of death for women. Women who had given birth to the necessary heir, particularly in the upper classes, just stopped having sex. Thank goodness we now have other options.

I am one of those women who would likely have 10 kids by now, one after another, if there were no birth control. I am not lazy or bucking my responsibilities by limiting my pregnancies. I am facing reality and dividing my energies in the way I see most fit.
Tammy

Lady M said...

I just wanted to clarify that I did not want to make all birth control illegal (although with abortion, yes, make it illegal and unfortunately, many kinds of birth control ARE abortifactants, people just do not know it). There is a time and a place, IMHO, for some kind of birth control, but that is a whole other discussion.

Mrs. Parunak said...

Dear, dear Anna,

I love your blog and I am so thrilled about your little girl. I just want to add my reassurance. I have had three homebirths (and another coming up, Lord willing, in May), and I promise you, you have nothing to fear. Birth is a natural process. Yes, things do go wrong sometimes. And yes, some women experience awful pain. I would never want to minimize that, or take away at all from their struggle to give life to their children. BUT, birth is a natural process, designed by God, it really does work most of the time. People have tragic heart attacks, but we don't live in fear of every heartbeat, wondering if it will come. People have asthma, but healthy people breathe thousands of times every day without trouble. And women give birth every day without complications. Birth is extremely powerful, and I promise you that you will come to a place where you are CERTAIN that you cannot do it, but then you will find that you already have, and your baby will be in your arms.

meganl said...

I gave birth to my first child last November. Perhaps due to my "scientific" mindset (I'm a graduate student in infectious diseases) I felt that our local hospital, with caring, personable nurses, a doctor I trusted and had met many times during my pregnancy, and the means to deal with any problems that may arise (like my bleeding more than I should have) was the best place for my childbirth to take place. But I did not want to do anything to alter the natural course of things unless necessary, so I didn't even get an IV. It's a good thing I had decided against an epidural, because things went so fast I wouldn't have been able to get one anyway -- I went from 4cm and fully dilated when I arrived at the hospital to holding our little daughter in 2 hours.

Let me be frank -- for me, the labor (which was pretty much entirely "transitional" labor) was intensely painful. I cannot begin to compare it with anything else. The best I could do was breathe as deeply as possible between contractions (while muttering "I can't do this! I can't do this!" and my husband responding "You are doing this."). Fortunately, it lasted only 1 hour of my life. The pushing was very hard work, but there was almost no pain. And the result...completely worth it.

But even now, nearly a year later, the ghosts of that pain still haunt me now and again. I haven't forgotten it, and perhaps never will. Still, I've put in an order for at least 3 more beautiful babies, and plan to have them the exact same way! :-)

CappuccinoLife said...

Well, I am a mom three times over and I still get a little tremulous just thinking about labor. I think that's natural. And I have had very good, very short labors actually, including one that was intense but painless (the other two did hurt!)

However, I do agree with you that actual terror, and avoiding it at all costs because of that terror is pathological and very sad. :(

Birth is simply not a health emergency in this day and age, and if some complication does happen, we have everything available that we need. In studying birth, it seems to me that it is most likely to have problems when people are "modernized" at some level but haven't quite caught up with modern technology (for instance, women in the developing world using formula instead of breastfeeding, and then having pregnancies very close together, or people getting away from their native diets and becoming dependent on "white man's food" which results in malnutrition that can cause severe complications in pregnancy).

Anna, I think you are right, as you so often are. Nervousness is one thing. Downright terror is something totally different.

Rebecca Grider said...

I was very intrigued by the lady m's comment about getting rid of birth control and abortion.

In regards to birth control, that leaves everyone with either multiple births or celibacy.

I understand that many women leaving comments and Mrs. T believe that one should accept as many children as God sends to them and while it's not my personal belief, I appreciate and respect the love, care, excitement and sense of purpose they put into this part of their life. I think we can all agree that everyone who reads Mrs. T's blog is joyous over her pregnancy and wishes her the best.

However, when one speaks of wishing to rid the world of birth control, you are also wishing terrible lives for some unborn children. Some people are not meant to be parents. Hopefully, birth control keeps some of the more horrible people in the world from having children that they'd abuse and destroy.

I don't think I'd abuse a child but the thought of having one makes my head hurt. I couldn't stand the constant need, the constant need for attention and the fact that my life would have to revolve around this child. I don't like children and I am not interested in them. I don't want to be a parent at all so I've always thought it would be better for any of my unborn children to prevent their conception to begin with. They and all children deserve parents like I see in the comments here, in the mother we all know Mrs. T will be: endlessly loving, patient, adoring, supportive, interested and delighted in that child. I cannot imagine that reaction in myself for a child - wanting a child and wanting to be a mother were just things that never came to me growing up. I pursued other things in my life because being a mother was as foriegn and idea and desire as being from Mars.

And, for those who wonder, I was raised by a very terrific mom who taught me that I could choose whatever life I wanted. If I told her I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom she'd start buying me cookbooks and clipping coupons for me. If I told her I wanted to be an astronaut, she'd drive me to Space Camp. So please don't think I'm brainwashed in some way - I simply have chosen a different life and I think that the children I might have had are better off for not having me as a mother. I have a lot of good traits, but the ones that make a good mother are not my strongest and I believe that responsible people are parents for the right reasons, with the right hearts and have strengths much different than mine.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Rebecca,

No woman is born a mother, and sometimes our motherly instincts need to be "kicked in". I remember when I discovered I'm pregnant, I though, "a baby! What on earth do you do with a baby??" :-))) - but now I'm feeling incredibly motherly towards this sweet little girl in my tummy. Nature just does its work.

Rebecca Grider said...

Mrs. T,

I think in a lot of cases you're right. I just don't think that's something that will happen in me and I would prefer not to give a child a substandard life with a mother who wouldn't be whole-heartedly excited about her/his birth.

But there are other women capable of such things that I shan't repeat so as not to upset you while you're in a delicate condition (wink!) which I've read of in my work that have convinced me that some people are so horrendous that parenting should be the last thing they do. Hopefully, there are some people who do use birth control enough not to have children they'd not cherish.

And by cherishing or by me saying I couldn't give enough to a child I am not talking of material things; I'm talking of attention, care, patience and being delighted in the role of a mother. Just as I know I don't wish to be President or in the armed forces or even a chef - there are some things for which I don't think I'm suited and motherhood is one of them.

But in you was at least the desire to begin with, even if it seemed to be overwhelming at first - you still had the desire to create a family with your husband. For me personally, I feel that I would be remiss in having a child "in case" I had that illuminating feeling of maternal instincts.

Of course, for all who read my comments, these things are not said to denigrate those who feel differently - if your desire is to have children and create a family, terrific, I just want the ability to choose differently.

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

I agree with you. Acknowledging possible problems is one thing; going overboard HYPING them is something else...

MarkyMark

Lady Violet said...

I will admit I have some fears mostly because of my health issues. I'm afraid birth will be more complicated or painful than normal. I am exicted to be pregnant one of these days but also a bit afraid. I have been present at only one birth but it was absolutely amazing! It was normal, uncomplicated and beautiful.

Julie said...

I have to say the thought of child birth does scare me.. BUT! I have had enough friends go through it that I know I can do it. They don't gloss over the pain, but the joy is evident as well. I pray God will open my womb soon so I can be blessed with many babies.

American Maiden said...

Hello,
I have visited a few times and been encouraged by your posts. My mother had two miscarriages, eight children, and eight c-sections. when my baby sister was born there were some major health complications and as a result my mother can't have any more children but to this day she still dearly would love to have more. I personally can't wait to marry and start my own family (all within God's timing of course).
It's tragic that young women are being frightened out of pregnancy by overemphasis of the negative.

Anonymous said...

I realize this is an old thread but I wanted to comment. Motherhood isn't for everyone. I am highly tokophobic and I have been tokophobic all of my life. I am now 48 and intentionally childless. If I could not have had an abortion, I planned to commit suicide. No amount of cajoling is going to convince someone like me to complete a pregnancy. I would have killed someone else to have an abortion if neccessary, I am that frightened and repulsed by childbirth. My entire life I have been disgusted by it, it is vile and gross to me and I would never subject myself to it. I commend those who do it, but the way I see it for me, is that we don't need prisons for women--we have motherhood. Glad you others are willing to do it so I don't have to do it, because I just simply would not do it!

Lynn said...

I grew up being terrified of pregnancy. In fact, I pretty much vowed to not get married, since the only reason for marriage was having kids (I was all of 13 when I decided this).

Only recently, as I have been doing extensive learning and growing in the Christian Faith, have I realised that God designed women as the carriers of life. We are blessed with the opportunity to grow LIFE inside of our own bodies. At the risk of sounding like a 13 year old again, how cool is that?

Reading this post and the one where you listed the reasons why you love being pregnant have opened my eyes even more to how amazing God's design is.

Thank you and God bless!

-Lynn

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