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The Childbirth Competition

Childbirth is not a competitive sport.

We live in a society that is permeated by competition. We compete on the jobsite, in school, and with our next door neighbors(keeping up with the Joneses). Our television shows involve people competing over more serious things like dating prospects and marriage partners to seemingly more benign competitions over things such as dancing, cooking, and singing.

After talking with women during my 16 year career as a mom, I realize that this sense of competition extends even into the birthing room. Yes, women actually compete over childbirth experiences.

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember a college friend who had birthed her child before me relaying to me that ?real women didn?t use pain medication during childbirth.? Another friend, on a different occasion proudly reveled in the fact that she had birthed her first child in 8 hours, when the average amount of time for a first labor was 12 hours. She had beaten the average!

I remember the emotional pain I felt when others were judgmental about the fact that it had taken me almost 24 hours to birth my 5 pound child and that I had to push for almost 2 hours. I remember being shocked that others were shocked because I hadn?t firmly decided against pain medication prior to the birth of our child. I had after all, they pointed out, attended Lamaze classes. What else did I need?

At this point, dear reader, I have either angered you immensely, or you are nodding along in agreement.

I want to tell you that it is ok if you birth your child in several hours, or if it takes you a longer time. It does not mean you are less of a woman if you only have to push once and your child arrives, or if you push for several hours until that child is delivered. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of pain medication during childbirth and educate yourself about your options. If your doctor tells you that medication during labor is safe(and I have had labor situations where the doctor advised against pain medications), then it is ok to take that option. If you choose during the labor to get pain relief, this does not mean that you are a bad person and that you have failed somehow. It does not mean you are weak or wimpy either. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, or judge you over a birthing experience, it is ok to walk away or change the subject.

Remember, childbirth is not a competitive sport; neither is parenting or housecleaning.

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