tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

Penal populism is not what you think

I find myself vaguely disturbed in my travels around the internet, when I read stuff about pregnant women who have elective caesarians. It seems that having a baby this way is no longer something that's done in an emergency situation, or for a reason as such, but something that's done to avoid the ickiness and pain of childbirth.

I find that... odd.

So I did a bunch of reading, and what it seems to come down to for most women who choose this is one or more of three reasons:

1. Being able to time the birth is convenient.
2. Avoidance of pain.
3. Retaining 'vaginal tone' - staying 'honeymoon fresh*' as one website described it.

Other things I've gleaned:
1. It's not as safe as natural birth, contrary to popular opinion, and is more expensive.
2. In the US in particular, obstetricians often prefer it because it's legally 'safer'.
3. It is mostly married, white women who choose elective caesarian births.
4. The recovery time for a caesarian is longer than for a natural birth, and often includes inability to lift things (including baby).
5. Having the procedure can increase chances of complications with a second pregnancy.

So, it would seem my feelings of weirded-outness by this trend are not completely unfounded. Part of me has been wondering if I'm just being staunchly anti-tech - after all, if we have the technology to make something like childbirth pain-free, easy and convenient, why should women be expected to go through it the 'natural' way? There are plenty of examples of new innovations that have been considered unnatural (the GE debate springs to mind), that have the potential to improve life for those who opt for it.

I also wondered if I was doing that Holier Than Thou thing - The Kid was born naturally, with no drugs, and yes I do feel mildly smug about that. But I'd like to think that I'm mature enough not to insist that others should make the choices I have. So why do I have a problem with elective caesarian?

Yeah, I do kind of see it as a copout. I know that's unjustified, and probably more than a little conservative of me. And there's a feminist in the back of my mind (how the hell did SHE get in there??) going "Well, you know, why should women be forced to suffer pain and non-honeymoon-freshness if there are ways of avoiding it? I bet if men gave birth, this would have been sorted years ago."

To which I reply "So for whose benefit is this honeymoon-fresh business anyway, and most of the justifications for different treatment of women that have been given over the ages, when boiled down are based in the fact that women are the ones that spit out the kids. So if men gave birth there'd be more women CEOs and men would be fighting for equal pay for work of equal value. Nyah."


I don't really know where I'm going with this. The stuff up there speaks for itself in terms of evidence as to why elective caesarians aren't necessarily all that and a bag of chips. But my feeling is more base than that. It's an emotional one that somehow sees it as a way of avoiding the necessary, as a kind of personal weakness, and as something that's not doing the human race any favours. If someone wants to have a go at explaining to me why this feeling is wrong, I'm all ears.

There are some that think death is unnatural and should be treated like a disease. Others think it's part of the natural order of things. If technology were created that stopped death, would it be any different to embrace that? I feel that elective caesarians are wrong**, yet the idea of not-dying-through-technology appeals. Ohai, I'm Tats and I'm a little confused about where my moral high ground went.

* I think I vomited a little in my mouth.
** Gut feeling, people. Didn't say I'm unequivocally right.
Tags: ick, ohai moral high ground, squick, talking out your confusion
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