Should We Be Proud Of Giving Birth Without Pain Relief?

Oh dear. Harry Kane is in trouble. With the announcement of the new baby Kane came his declaration of pride in his fiancée, Kate Goodland, for giving birth with no pain relief, and mentioning that they used Hypnobirthing.
There have been expressions of outrage from women, demanding to know why on Earth it should be something to be proud of.
So what are we saying?
The feminist in me is standing by those women, feeling a bit grated by a man setting the bar for a uniquely feminine experience. I hear them asking, “who are you to suggest we are somehow LESS if we got the epidural?!”.
Because really I think this is where the outrage is generated- a sense that if going drug free is something to be proud of, then taking all the drugs is something to keep quiet about, to feel shame or guilt about.
Clearly, thats not on.
But I don’t think that’s what he’s saying at all.
They already have another child, and I can’t find anything detailing how that arrival went, so let me offer you some conjecture that fits the pattern of so many women I work with the second time round.
They go into the first one naive to their conditioning. Naive to the ridiculousness of the maternity system- the lack of continuity, of evidence, and sometimes of compassion. They are led by fear, by risk and unwavering compliance.
Their experiences are often traumatic (sometimes for both parents), on account of a lack of bodily autonomy, knowledge about their options, or the fact that they even have any.
The ONLY pain relief options they understood were pharmacological, and came with the accompanying cons as well as the obvious pros. They weren’t heard. They had no other coping strategies and felt ruined and degraded by the whole experience.
And so they come to us, seeking something better. Does better mean no drugs? Sometimes, for them, yes. Sometimes it means all the intervention- an elective C-section that’s planned in detail to optimise for them and their babies.
What I believe Harry Kane is trying to express is his utter delight at seeing the woman he loves birthing on her terms. There’s no feeling like it, especially if previously you’ve lived through the other scenario, and looked back with regret. It may not always mean ticking off the dream checklist- circumstances can shift, pregnancy and labour can be unpredictable.
But when you’re equipped to make informed and empowered choices, you can STILL feel like the absolute fucking Goddess that you are- because all of it was YOUR CHOICE, and you got the best possible birth for you, in your circumstances. This is positive birth.
We have to get comfortable talking about our differential positive births, without taking them as a slight on us if we did something different. It’s HAS TO be ok for one family to be proud of their drug free birth, and another to be proud of their planned or unplanned C-section or instrumental delivery.
(Incidentally, I wonder whether we would have seen any backlash at all if he had praised her for her bravery in a high intervention delivery?).
Because ALL birth takes courage. And what I believe we should be proud of is twofold.
1. The incredible capacity of our bodies to create new life and bring it into the world, with or without help at any stage of the process.
2. The brilliance of our minds in cultivating an experience that leave us personally empowered in our own unique way.
It’s not a competition. Your own informed and equipped way is more than ok. So is theirs.
Let’s get really committed to a future where all women, and their partners, are entitled to celebrate their ownership of welcoming their child into the world, without judgement. One where the rest of us can thank them for showing the next generation that it’s possible to enter into parenting energised by our power, and in awe of each other. One where we, as women, can recognise that we know nothing of each other’s personal struggles, and simply be proud of each other.
If you want to get ready to give birth in whichever way is right for YOU – be that all the drugs, or no drugs – head to the courses page here to see everything we have available for you.
Keri x
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