Those scary childbirth stories aren't helping anyone

Even if you’ve never been pregnant, have no intention of becoming pregnant or do not have the anatomy to get pregnant, it’s likely you’ve heard your fair share of birth horror stories. One good tale about the pain, the complications or the danger of birth could turn you off ever wanting kids, but what if you’ve already made the commitment (i.e. you’re eight months along and it’s too late to turn back now)? One mother is calling for women to stop freaking each other out about giving birth, especially when you’re past the point of no return. 

Milli Hill is the author of The Positive Birth Book and in her research (and personal experience) she found that as much as it may seem like all of labour is painful, you actually spend less time pushing and in excruciating pain than you do resting between contractions. 

“In my own experience - and that of the many mums I’ve spoken to - in the time between contractions you often feel incredibly strong, excited, or even euphoric,” she writes. She then backs it up with the stats, “In an average eight hour labour, a woman can expect to be ‘in pain’ for only around 23 per cent of the time. The other 77 per cent is ‘pain free.’”

Hill points out that all these negative stories about how bad giving birth was are setting women up to fail. Like in sports, if you go into the game assuming it’s going to be bad, it most likely will be. Hill wants us to stop telling women how horrible it is to push a baby out of your body and focus on the positives (like the 77 per cent where you’re just excited). 

It’s a compelling idea, but might sugar-coating the experience be harmful too? Childbirth is one of those things that women were traditionally discouraged from talking about. Could it be a good thing that women are sharing their personal horror stories? 

There’s been a trend lately of publications like Buzzfeed, Vox, Cracked and other websites that “tell it like it is” doing articles and videos about “the things they don’t tell you about childbirth and pregnancy.” These reports aren’t designed to scare women, they’re designed to inform them. Lots of women want to know what they’re getting into and there are some pretty gross things that we don’t always share with each other. Is there a way to balance educating each other with not scaring the baby right out? 

Do you think we need to change the way we talk about childbirth? Have you been scarred for life by a story you heard? 
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