When I hear about a woman who has just had a baby I want to ask,
“Did you have the birth you wanted?”
“Were you well prepared?”
“Did it go as you planned?”
I had a bit of an epiphany today when I realized these questions (all quite similar) are the wrong questions to be asking. What matters most is how she felt about her birth experience.
A birth might be as “textbook” as they come. Everything might look just perfect according to her birth plan. It’s still quite possible – and not at all uncommon – that a woman might not be feeling good about the experience. For whatever the reason, this is her truth–her valid feeling. To ask about how a birth went, rather than how she feels misses something. It misses something very important, the essence of her.
In the end, isn’t that what we care about? Isn’t that what matters? That the woman, the mother, is feeling as “good” (as she defines it) as possible. That she feelings willing, capable, and confident as a mother, as a woman, as a being.
Our culture often doesn’t value our feelings (“keep those emotions to yourself please”). This truth about our culture is even more true if you are a woman. It is one of the many ways that we continue to silence and marginalize women. This applies to birth as well. Yet how we feel about our experiences, about ourselves, about others is essential to how we interact with the respond to the world. We must value this.
I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to ask the questions that matter. And most of all to be prepared and comfortable with the possibly difficult (emotional, real, and raw) response that this might yield.
“How are you feeling about….”