Mom-zilla

We’ve all heard of Bride-zilla, and we may have even seen one or (horrors!) been one. Bride-zilla is the stereotype of the bride who is self-absorbed to the extreme, impatient with anyone who is messing with “her day” by bringing the wrong color mints or the wrong size boutonnieres or flubbing up in a host of ways that are not exactly as she ordered or dreamed of. The wedding is all about her, not her parents, her guests, or even her groom. She is distracted by her wanting to please herself.

I once had the pleasure of seeing the polar opposite of the bride-zilla, and that was a sweet bride whose groom had the flu and had to sit down during the ceremony. Then, he was so ill that he had to miss the reception entirely while she carried on! She was amazing! She pulled it off gracefully and graciously, more concerned with him than for herself. She danced with her dad and tossed her bouquet, not ruining the party for her guests by throwing a tantrum fit or a self-pity party.

Recently I’ve been noticing what I might call a mom-zilla counterpart to the bride-zilla. Have you ever noticed how much fussing goes on about childbirth? Blogs and Facebook posts are crowded with women fussing about “their day” of giving birth. It must be just so, and how dare anyone give birth or expect a woman to give birth in such a manner as to interfere with the perfect surroundings?

I’ve seen fussing about doctors, about hospitals, about tubs or lack of tubs, about  midwives or lack of midwives, about pain-killers, and monitors. You would think it was the prom rather than bringing forth a child. It is just one more opportunity to become a self-absorbed fusser. And some women get to fuss over and over and over with each child. At least Bride-zilla just has one opportunity.

Childbirth has become quite the controversial topic, and women can become dictatorial about what they want, even to the point of demanding that other women want the same things. Of course we all have to make choices, and as we do, may God bless us all. But we ought to be content with other people’s choices and let it go. Our fellowship is in Christ, not in our birthing choices.

Gratitude is always a good antidote to fussing. Thank God that we have options about where and how to give birth. Thank God that we have different preferences. Thank God that our babies have a much better survival rate than at any other time in history!

It seems obvious that childbirth should be about the baby. But so often it seems as though it’s more about mom and her experience of birthing baby than about the baby itself.

Children are a gift of God, a reward, a blessing. Let’s have less fussing at one another about how the gift arrives, and more rejoicing over the fact of the blessing!

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59 Responses to “Mom-zilla”


  • This is great. I got very interested in birth when I was pregnant with my first (and continued to be for a few years) and kept getting a weird feeling about the way people were talking. I finally realized, with my husband’s help, it was time to take a giant step back and just chill about it. I think gratitude is a wonderful, humbling, and comforting response to birth, no matter what you prefer and however it goes.

  • I love love love this.

  • God bless you! I have had babies with midwives, and I have had babies with doctors. I have given birth naturally, and I have given birth with the aid of (shhh, don’t tell) labor-inducing drugs. I have labored with the help of a giant blue birthing ball, and I have labored with the help of an epidural. I have given birth in an antique four-poster bed, and I have given birth in an electric-powered hospital bed equipped with light-up buttons. I have been given homemade herbal compresses, and I have been given prescription-strength painkillers for treating post-delivery discomfort. But you know what the really astonishing thing is? That in every case I was well cared for by competent people, and that in every case the end result was a beautiful, perfectly healthy baby boy. And that—the dramatic appearance of a brand new human life—is the kind of “experience” that should leave us wide-eyed and speechless with gratitude, no matter how it happened. Amazing.

  • I see both sides of this. I do agree that the main part is the birth of a child. But at the same time, there are other things at stake:

    - The manner in which a child is born can have long-term repercussions on the health of the child and mother, and on the mother’s future ability to bear children

    - The day of a woman’s birth is a powerful day that she will remember for the rest of her life, and which will affect her deeply. It is far more important than a wedding. Dismissing her feelings about this is neither kind nor wise.

    - Regardless of experience, a woman has the innate right to determine how her baby will be born – whether at home, with a midwife, in the hospital, under water, etc. When a woman is denied those choices, or is abused during the birthing process, that is a human rights abuse that should not be minimized or ridiculed. I think that you may be confusing anger over denial of rights with mothers fussing over small details.

    As a mother, I will fight for my rights during childbirth – because those affect my longterm health and the health of my baby. The ongoing struggle for better birthing environments, birthing choices, and birthing practices is an important one and should not be minimized. None of this makes it okay for us to condemn the birthing choices of others, but the struggle for better things is an important one.

    Diana

  • With each biological kiddo…
    I’ve gone in with–
    how-I-hope-prayed it would go.
    With ideas about how I’d LIKE it to go…

    But at the end of the day (especially after a few possibly scary scenarios)and after adoptions of kiddos where I wasn’t a part of their birth and after losing a child to disease down the road.

    I’m just so so SO thankful for the joy of a new (healthy) little one…and that is my prayer for each mama facing an upcoming delivery.

    And honestly, there’s no way to predict how the events will twist and turn throughout a pregnancy or delivery.

    It really comes down to–

    What is the wisest, safest possible way for this child to enter the world?

    And am I willing to trust God with the life of this little one?

    (Knowing that birth is barely the beginning of the process of giving them over and over back to Him).

  • I think more and more women are getting concerned about their “experience” because an increasing number of women are having a very BAD experience in childbirth. There are women out there who are stopping having children because their “experiences” in the hospital were so terrible. There are women who are so “out of it” by the time their baby is born, that they barely even notice their child for a while afterwards.

    I would like to look back on the day my children were born with joy and happiness!

  • I agree with Diana. When I think of Momzilla’s, however, I think of women who do make the birth process ALL about them, as if they’re going to have their debut on “A Baby Story” or something similar. But, even if we were to only talk about making it about the health of the baby, one still needs to be well-informed. There are too many (even first hand accounts!) of medical institutions putting the health of the baby at risk to make room for time or mere protocol.

  • We have been living in England and, among other things, it has helped me to realize that the obsession surrounding The Perfect Experience (of getting married, of childbirth, of a baby’s one-year-old birthday party–seriously some of these things are nearly as elaborate and expensive as weddings!) is primarily an American one. I think over here most people would be embarrassed to make such a fuss. I like this post a lot. I am also wondering what prompted it for Nancy Ann.

  • This is so helpful to remember, thank you!

    I just finished reading a book by Chinese human rights advocate Chai Ling in which she tells her own and other women’s stories of forced abortions, being held down while their precious babies were torn to pieces inside them. It makes our preferences seem so petty, so small in comparison to the great gift of a baby’s life.

  • Have you heard of a “push present”? Apparently, the husband is supposed to buy his bride an expensive trinket to reward her after the horrible agony that is her (most likely fully medicated) birth experience.

    So, the curse of Eve is assuaged by 2 carat diamond earrings. Naturally.

  • I don’t know if it’s rude to put a link to another website as a comment, but I read something just this morning that was quite funny on its own, but is even more rich in view of your post here.
    If anyone would like to laugh very hard on this topic of “the well planned birth which is all about the mom”, just google “McSweeney’s/ Jamie and Jeff’s Birth Plan”.
    It’s too funny!

  • Just want to chime in full support on this one. I block all the brea5tfeeding FB posts as well. Really. The world doesn’t need to hear every detail on these things and especially not while pushing expectations on others. We should rejoice with each other at the birth of these precious ones!

  • Wonderful! And I think I have seen “Momzillas” with kids of any age.

  • I disagree in part with your post.

    I think a woman tries to make a perfect experience when there is a stressful event and she feels unsupported. A plan that she likes and is special to her will help her have confidence about and more love for the birth experience.

    Once the baby is born, the self centered focus enevitably fades.

    I am 30 and half done with my birthing experiences, and I don’t think this post resonates with me as much as the author due to different life circumstances. It feels especially unkind to assume everyone is a Zilla if they are picky about birth and hat they don’t consider baby a blessing .

  • The economic calamity that is squeezing its way down the pipe-line may also squeeze out a lot of our fussiness about a lot of things we think are so important when we have the means to make them so. Please God, the dross will go and the gold and silver of gratitude and love for His gifts will remain.

  • II think of Mary, after she was told by the angel Gabriel that she was to bear the Son of God. She said, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Mary did not consider her longterm health issues or where she would give birth, she did not even consider the personal ridicule that was sure to be present or what would become of her relationship with Joseph. She laid down all her rights, never to pick them up again. From the moment that God calls us to follow Him, He calls us to have the same attitude as His Son, who in humility gave up even His right to claim equality with God (Philippians 2:1-11). We have many ways to show the world who we belong to–whether it be by showing preference to our fiance as we plan our wedding or trusting God with the events of each of our days, including the day of our child’s birth. Christianity is dying to self, and living with our eyes fixed on Eternity.

  • Thank you! I went in with the first hoping for a natural delivery. However, it was complicated, frightening, and anything but “ideal.” Regardless, it resulted in our darling daughter. Thereafter, our boys have been, of necessity, c-sections–and one spent a decent amount of time in a NICU unit. Each time we’ve found ourselves thanking God for the wonders of modern medicine that have saved both my life and those of our babies. I have to breathe a prayer every time I hear the birth experience talked about as if it was an end in and of itself. Babies are precious and a blessing, regardless of their means of arrival.

  • Thank you for this! Like Hannah G, I’ve had the luxury of trying several different kinds of labor experiences and each time, blessed with a healthy baby. As parents, it’s our responsibility to make the decision we think is best for our family, but what is best in this kind of situation will be different with varying circumstances. There are several great options. It’s not war, it’s a miracle.

  • This is another time to honor your head, and submit to your husband. God will bless that!

    Pregnant moms can cheerfully, helpfully, gather information for discussion . . . but ultimately, it cannot become a “my body, my choice” decision. Guys aren’t going to fret over details, husbands will want to protect their wives, protect their unborn children, and ultimately get the job done!

  • I appreciate this post and all of the comments.

    I often marvel at the thought of a very young, very pregnant, travel-weary girl and her husband going from door to door seeking a place to give birth to the Son of God. And, by God the Father’s wise and loving design, He was ultimately brought forth in a presumably smelly manger, on scratchy straw, with animals braying along with a laboring Mary. That event was the moment the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Granted, we are speaking of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but truly the focus was on Him. And the three wise men came with their gifts befitting a King and were so joyful with anticipation and so fixated on His glory that they were likely oblivious to the lowly surroundings.

    Just as it pleased God to bring forth His only begotten Son in those humble surroundings, it pleases Him to bring forth each of His adopted sons and daughters in various and sundry manners. He knows about any complications that will arise and He gives us wisdom, in accordance with His will. And by His grace, He often blesses us with gifts reserved for royalty in times past.

    I also weep at the mention of Chai Ling’s affliction, yet I am not without hope. But it does remind me of the many women who endure great heartache in the wake of the blessing that is pregnancy and childbirth. I know that here, too, God demonstrates His love and wisdom; but where life brings effusive joy, sorrow brings comfort and finally a quiet joy. As a daughter of God who is surrounded by many beloved sisters in Christ who have filled their husbands quivers, I have peace with the fact that He has chosen that (for now, anyway) I should go forth and multiply by sharing the gospel. He has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

    Love,
    Lori

  • Thanks! I’ve thought along these lines ever since giving birth to my first, 5 years ago – the Zilla part, at least! I love the idea of thinking with gratitude on the gift that we’re given. I’d also like to see a bit more gratitude for those who, during pregnancy and delivery, work hard to make sure everything goes smoothly and safely. More thanks, less control. (And no, for the record, I’m not a midwife or OB, etc!)

  • This is something that I will for sure be thinking about in the coming weeks, and something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, just without the label of “mom-zilla.” With the health insurance plan that my family has, if you aren’t an advocate for your own health concerning childbirth, you probably won’t get a pleasant birthing experience. So for my first two babies, I did have to take on–not necessarily a mom-zilla approach–but a confident and determined attitude about how I wanted things done. I’m now in a situation with our 3rd baby where we are in a foreign country where it seems everything is different than in the US and I will have to be a lot more vocal, and no doubt forgiving, about how I want things done. There are moms in our mostly American neighborhood who are mom-zillas when it comes to childbirth and those decisions about raising baby and it has made me think about my own attitude towards moms who have differing opinions and desires.
    I don’t think it’s wise to completely relinquish personal desires when it comes time to birth a baby. There certainly are times when you do need to be firm with your “gut instincts” and speak up. But the manner in which you speak to others and your attitude should definitely be filled with grace.

  • I absolutely agree. However, I do think a lot of moms are focused on what is best for their baby and that is what fuels the “fussing”. I’ve had one childbirth experience so far. It did not go as planned and was a little scary at the end, but all of my concern was for my daughter’s well-being–I really didn’t care what happened to me. I was specifically concerned that the decisions of the hospital staff were harmful to her, both in the moment and long-term, and I would imagine many mothers are operating under the same worry. We do need to rest in God’s sovereignty, though.

  • Thank you! I completely agree. Childbirth can be a pretty touchy subject, but honestly it boils down to simply making choices that you think are best for the safety and health of your child (and of yourself, after all, your baby needs you!). That will look different for every family. I think Nancy is making a really good point that there is a “birth experience” philosophy that can be very self-centered. I think very often women turn to this after bad hospital experiences. But the mother thinking that her birth is about HER is entirely antithetical to what motherhood will be from that day forward. If you choose natural homebirth because you feel that is best for your baby and your family, wonderful! I would like to point out, however, that self-centered birth goes both ways. C-sections conveniently scheduled around business trips are also obnoxiously self-centered. :)

  • Hi Nancy,
    As a physician turned housewife with some slight granola tendencies, I worked through this extensively with my three children. I was surprised at how important the “right” birth experience felt to me, and how much of a failure I felt like when it didn’t happen.

    My hunch is that it has two main reasons. One, women of my generation and younger are so unprepared for motherhood. We have spent years preparing for careers but never for parenting little ones. We realize very late in the game that we are not well-equipped for the undertaking, so over-preparing and planning the birth is a way of feeling like “I got this.” Of course it’s completely ineffective at making you a better mother, but it feels like a decent starting place when you don’t know what else to do. Sort of like a first-time hiker going overboard at REI when he would be better off with an exercise regimen and a little fire-starting practice.

    The other reason is our basic spoiled modern western perspective, with no understanding of actual mortality and no gratitude for health. We think we are entitled by birthright not only to a safe birth and perfect babies, but an emotionally fulfilling experience to boot.

    I blogged here about thinking through all of this during my last pregnancy: http://www.mommy-md.com/2010/01/boasting-in-my-weakness.html?m=1.

    Our culture has a pronounced false gospel of self-reliance, and it is evident in our approach to childbirth. “If I do everything right and work hard, everything will be alright for me.” Essentially, “I can overcome the fall and the curse with enough hard work and determination.” Who doesn’t occasionally try to live as if that were true?

  • Hmmm well this all makes me smile a little. First of all, I do not think that Nancy Ann is saying Moms don’t have rights to express and try to enforce their wishes. I read her post as an affront to those who are unchristian and mean to everyone else just because they are in immense pain; and I agree. I will also say that I did very little “planning” for my first birth. My basic plan was: try with no intervention and take it minute by minute! :) I had a midwife and was giving birth in a hospital just in case. In the end, there were a couple scary moments but all ended up fine with a healthy baby boy (who is this minute loudly rebelling against bedtime!) I ended up needing pitocin and an epidural. I was irritated at first that I had not gotten a water birth room (my midwife was overruled by another midwife because of my blood pressure). But who cares, after the pitocin and epidural I was stuck in bed anyway! And I have never regretted for a minute that epidural–it gave me the strength I needed to relax when possible and push when it was time. Was it what I had planned? NO!!! But I had very competent care, baby and I were both healthy, and that’s the main goal anyway! So I say yes, try to make things go as planned, but recognize that medically that is not always safe or possible. So just make sure your doc/midwife is confident and don’t “lose it” if there is a deviation or ten to your plan. :) Am I gonna try “natural” again? Sure! Will it actually happen? Dunno—that’s in God’s hands!!!

  • * I meant to say “competent” NOT “confident” in that second-to-last sentence :)

  • Thanks for reminding us of this, Nancy. As the daughter of a former childbirth educator and labor coach, I can say with some certainty that the best laid plans often go astray. As we prepared for the birth of our daughter years ago, my mom shared her clinical knowledge and practical experience along with the encouragement to trust and honor God in whatever circumstances we found ourselves. That perspective served us well in the births that went like clockwork and the ones that had some thrills and bumps along the way.

  • Childbirth is a wonderful time to stand in awe of God. After all He opened the womb. He knit the child together in the mom’s womb. He is the one we cry out to when we are in labor. And He is the one we thank when we see the little one for the first time.

    It is also a wonderful time for husband and wife. Once I attended a friend’s birth. I was in tears as the husband and wife first saw their baby. Though I was asked to be there, I felt I had intruded on a very special moment. It was beautiful to see their unity and gratefulness to God.

  • so if I may add my 2 cents worth. first of all I am a labor nurse. there are many types of patients and just try to support my patient in the way she wants. in the christian community there is much conversation about this to which I generally have no reply. Women have very definite ideas on how they would have there children. I have been a labor nurse for 14 years and can tell you there are only 2 ways to get the baby born vaginal and c/s. I know many of you are concerned how you get there. I have seen millions of birth plans which are all the same: no tear/epistotomy , natural, baby to the chest and breastfeeding as soon as possible. low lights quiet room etc.. sound familiar. I can also tell you that I have seen babies die because the mother refused medical care and not just one, and of course it’s always the medical teams fault that there baby died, even though they refused a c/s to TRY and save their babies life and were told there baby was dying yes this happens. I would like to add that protocols and procedures are ALWAYS the result of a bad outcome. I think I see in the christian community a kind of you are a real women because you gave birth naturally. I think God has different plans for you than me. I am a single mom trying to faithfully raise my son unto the Lord, who gave me this precious gift in my old age. I believe it is not the birth , but the manner in which you raise this child. Is it in the fear and admonition of the Lord or is it around what your hearts desire is. Nancy, I like many of your thoughts as I find them useful in raising my son in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I appreciate the articles on controlling my thoughts and preserving through exhaustion. I find many articles encouraging on pratical and selfless ways to show my son the Lord, as I am the first person he will see Him in.

  • @Patti
    I just asked my husband where my ‘push presents’ were. His response: “You’ve got ‘em. Eight babies.” He is good at keeping my feet on the ground. :o)

    I do think we need to be careful in going to the extreme of pushing our feelings aside and just ‘listening to the doctor’s advice’ though. I would liken that approach to the one I have heard Nancy and Doug (rightly) decry so often – where the husband becomes an authority unto himself. We all need to cooperate and get over our own importance.

    In Him

    Meredith

  • Thank you! Great post! Children are a gift of Lord.

  • Thank you for this article and many of the comments. My experience is that woman, even in the church, have become absorbed with wanting the perfect experience for every “special event” in their life. Oh, and it should also be recorded perfectly for facebook, pinterest, and posterity.

    Yet, I am grateful that my daughters have what I didn’t have – access to more and better information regarding birthing choices. Trying to make a healthy choice and a good experience isn’t bad,self absorption is.

    I especially appreciate Brandi’s comment above:

    “Our culture has a pronounced false gospel of self-reliance, and it is evident in our approach to childbirth. “If I do everything right and work hard, everything will be alright for me.” Essentially, “I can overcome the fall and the curse with enough hard work and determination.” “

  • “Our fellowship is in Christ, not in our birthing choices.”
    Amen!

  • I’ve been thinking about how to respond to this post for a couple of days now. Nothing that has been said is wrong (well, except maybe in Idaho you have options about where and how to give birth, but that’s certainly NOT the case for many American women), but there is so much going on that isn’t addressed, things that are the actual reason these subjects have become so important to Christian families who want their life of faith to come out their fingertips (or in this case…)

    First, children are a gift from the Lord that our culture would like to take away from us. This is one of the only countries in the world where abortion on demand from conception to 9 months is legal, and our college of obstetricians supports this evil. Our laws are anti-family, anti-church, and certainly anti-child. We live in a culture that is steeped in hatred for our babies. Naturally, we Christian women and our husbands would like to speak against this, and one way to do that is to birth in a distinctly Christian way. By this, I do not simply mean that we are nice to everyone in the delivery room. (I am also NOT saying that you can’t deliver in a hospital Christianly).

    Secondly, the mainstream American birth culture needs to be scrutinized from a godly perspective. There is an entire family to be nurtured in the birth room, a mother, father, possibly siblings. It is not JUST about the baby. When my husband and I went to the hospital for the birth of our first son, there were so many ungodly attitudes about women, husbands, and children we were overwhelmed. And because I have now become an advocate for women who want to move away from this ungodliness, I know that these attitudes are not uncommon. They are too many to enumerate here, but I think most of us know what I am talking about.

    I also wanted to mention that this battle we see going on before us has taken on religious characteristics. We have the Sky Gods (doctors almighty with scalpels at the ready and the State juggernaut supporting them, even going so far as to get court-ordered c-sections) versus the Earth Mothers (pagan “birth is safe, there is no curse” women who also mostly support abortion). Where then is the Christian family to go?

    We have opted out of the State and traditional medical paradigm. Most of our friends have not, and there have only been problems with two of our friends on this score, both of them Christians. One was an Ob/gyn, the other the wife of a pediatrician. The fussing came from them, not us. I know it goes both ways, but to routinely see it characterized on Femina/Mablog/Christ Church ministry sites as a problem of self righteousness and/or silliness on the part of those who would prefer tubs and no blinking lights instead of dealing with it as the larger problem it is has been discouraging over the years.

    Respectfully,
    Mrs. Butler

  • super duper great. :) thanks!

  • I must respectfully disagree: this is not (for the Christian women I know wanting a certain type of birth) about the WOMAN. This is about the MOTHER best being able to take care of her children. Some of us live in places where we have to “fight” to get the type of birth that will allow us to care for our baby. I’m so thankful you all have more options there. But don’t judge the woman who is trying to be a good mother. Maybe c-sections cause her post partum depression and avoiding that can make her a better wife and mother. Good for her for recognizing that and taking steps to avoid it. That doesn’t mean she can judge other women who haven’t shared her desire for a VBAC or natural birth; but that does mean she should not be judged for doing what is best for her family.

  • One only has to look at the appalling infant mortality rate in the US to understand why women here have risen up to defend, perhaps even demand, choices that correlate with better outcomes for themselves and their children. It is a grievous mistake to equate their actions as mom-zilla in nature. Never in Scripture are we encouraged to blindly follow the customs of our society. “Wide is the path that leads to destruction…” comes to mind. No, I believe the Word of God encourages us to be faithful stewards of our bodies, God’s Temple here on earth, and further desires selflessness, rather than convenience, complacency, or resignation, when selecting a birth method. I would hope that no mother feels judged by those words, but quite honestly, no woman should have to say them to justify the calling God has placed on her heart to protect her children.

  • I can see that there is an audience for this post. There are mom-zillas out there. There are some women who feel it’s about them. And it is always good for us to check our hearts and make sure we have not turned the act of birth into an idol. And as far as mom-zillas go, the issues extend far beyond birth. However, I think that you have glossed over and belittled what the majority of the women who are advocating for better birth practices are saying. And I feel that this is dangerous.

    Most women are not fussing simply because of their own selfish desires. They are fighting for human rights. They are saying that there is a very real problem with the way birthing is approached in this country, both in attitude towards women and children and towards the act of birth. Our system would more happily abort our children, or prevent their coming into being than birth them. It’s much less expensive for them to get rid of the child, especially one who is “imperfect”. It’s not about the child, God’s creation. The whole system focuses on the woman and her “rights” and desires. This continues right up until the woman’s (or family’s) desires conflict with the doctor or hospitals schedule or insurance rates or profit margin. The attitude of the healthcare system is just as sinful as the attitude of the selfish mother. As well, practically, there is a very real problem. The US has the highest rate of infant mortality of the developed nations of the world. Clearly, there is a better way.

    As a Christian woman, I feel very much alienated in this issue. It’s as if we are invisible. Yet, shouldn’t we, God’s daughters, be at the forefront of this issue? Shouldn’t we care more than anyone that God’s daughters and children are cared for in the best way during this miraculous show of God’s creation? Shouldn’t we care about the attitude of our nation and our nation’s healthcare towards children and families?

    There is a battle going on for better birthing practices. Christian women do not appear on this battle field. We do not have our own voice. We are left with the choice to either submit ourselves to a very corrupt healthcare system that would just as happily abort our children as birth them. Or we can side with the very pagan “earth mothers” who also have the concept all together backwards. Both are Godless. Neither are acceptable.

    I do think Christian women need to be engaged in this somehow. And it’s not by belittling the issue or taking sides with the two already battling it out. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think it deserves some very real consideration and prayer. How long can we afford to be silent in this deteriorating society that values life less every day?

  • Childbirth is not an excuse to sin. (Neither is menstruation but that is a different topic entirely!) So many women are depicted as yelling at their husbands and being momzillas by promoting self & becoming absorbed in their own experience. Nancy is right! Of course you can try to birth how you see fit, but I praise God for our medical technology & the vast knowledge our doctors have. I trust God to work as He sees fit & all to His glory. We can each have opinions but to not act in humility & grace is sinful.

  • If this post upset any of you, I really think you need to re-read it more carefully. There’s a definitive difference between a bride making careful plans and a bride demanding that everyone give her exactly what she wants “or else.” And there’s a crucial difference between a mother making careful decisions about the birth, and a mother biting off the heads of those who dare to cross her. It’s the latter that this post is talking about, not the former.

    Nobody’s saying that the decisions surrounding childbirth don’t matter. And decisions about birth are certainly a bigger deal than, say, deciding which earrings to wear to church. But at the same time, childbirth itself is generally not as hugely monumental a deal as many woman make it out to be. Seriously. Birth will, obviously, change your life. But that is just the beginning—the relatively brief beginning—of a much bigger story. A child with an eternal soul has just entered the world, and if a day or two of discomfort and pain and distress keeps us from seeing the joy and wonder of that, then we probably need a change in perspective and a shift in focus away from our own stretch-marked navels. (Obviously this is not talking about the rare cases that involve death or permanent injury or some such exceptional trauma.)

    Yes, of course we have to be wise. Yes, of course we aren’t supposed to just roll over and play dead so that the doctors can do whatever they jolly well please with us during the birth. If you had a miserable experience the first time, you are certainly not obligated to stupidly wander back for more of the same. Switch midwives. Find a new OB/GYN. Be informed, and make wise decisions. Nobody’s arguing with that. There is such a thing as real mistreatment and abuse, and obviously nobody is arguing that such behavior is acceptable during labor—or any other time! (But we have to define our terms here. It is not abuse if I am denied my “right” to sip green tea lattes while the doula gives me a scalp massage as I soak in a candlelit jacuzzi to the soothing sounds of classical guitar. Not even if that scenario was an “essential” part of my birth plan.)

    Without even realizing it, many of us do, I believe, confuse rights with privileges. We in the developed world are largely spoiled and start to see all of our everyday luxuries as necessities. (Coffee anyone?) And this is no different when it comes to giving birth. Having access to a birthing tub, for example, is really great. But it is not the same thing as a right—not even if you have done the research and determined that birthing in a tub would be the best and healthiest option for you and your baby. We rich westerners need to realize that we have literally been steeped, like so many millions of tea bags, in the language of “personal choice” and “individual rights” so that we don’t even hear how ridiculous we sound to the rest of the world. “Have it your way” is an advertising slogan that we tend to think should apply to just about everything: worship styles, food selections, entertainment choices, birth decisions, you name it. Everyone’s a customer, regardless of the context, and, as we’re constantly reminded, the customer is always right. When we persist in confusing “innate rights” with spoiled, first-world expectations, we feel justified in our anger and bitterness when those so-called rights are denied us.

    But sin does not cease to be sin just because we are women and we are in labor. We don’t, on account of a badly botched birth plan, suddenly become exempt from the command to rejoice and give thanks. Bitterness is still sin after an unwanted C-section. Unrighteous anger is still an offense to God during an especially painful birth. Hatred of our neighbor—and even of our enemy—is forbidden even in the delivery room, and even when our enemy is a bossy and impatient nurse who stinks of garlic.

    This discussion reminds me of a funny video clip I saw a few years ago. You’ll have to search youtube for “Everythings Amazing & Nobodys Happy”, as I can’t share the link here. Some of it’s a bit crass, but the perspective on our spoiled, first-world expectations is spot-on. (Note: Avoid other videos by this comedian. His other material is not at all edifying, from what I’ve seen.) Anyway, the way some women talk about birth reminds me of what he says about how people talk about “nightmare” airplane trips—with absolutely no sense of gratitude or wonder at how amazing the whole event really is.

    If we make a practice of expressing gratitude in the midst of small mundane trials, we’re preparing ourselves for being grateful in the midst of a bigger trial such as childbirth. If we complain all the time about little inconveniences (The “All I Want” state of mind that C.S. Lewis describes in The Screwtape Letters), then it’s no small wonder that we become fire-breathing monsters in the face of the great troubles that can accompany birth. Time to start practicing. And when you write up that birth plan, it might not be a bad idea to scrawl “If the Lord wills” across the top of the whole thing. God’s perfect plans are often dramatically different from our own.

  • My response to the lengthy post by Hannah is to admit that it has me at a loss. I respectfully counter that a latte can hardly be compared to a birth tub, when a birth tub has been statistically shown to reduce a mother’s pain and anxiety during labor, which we know can unfavorably effect the outcome. It also undeniably supports the mother’s perineum during crowning, and has been shown to minimize or altogether eliminate tearing. As the perineum is THE critical support for every pelvic organ, and as long term damage is a reality for women who experience excessive tearing, should a woman not regard it with care and exert the utmost effort to preserve it? There is much more than “a day or 2 of discomfort and distress” at stake where many birth choices are concerned. During my own 18 years of childbearing, I have never met a spoiled birth consumer, as is being portrayed here. I don’t know a single Christian woman who considers birth as anything other than a gateway through which her child will arrive into her arms. Her need to guard that gateway is God inspired. Yes, we need to be humble and receptive to the work that God is doing in us through our trials. But I will have to respectfully suggest that many of those “trials” are actually created by a Godless medical system that has no problem murdering babies while in utero, and that it would be well advised to consider it with discernment beforehand. (I must add that I find it sad that my previous post has not been published, as it was respectful as well as relevant. I hope this oversight will be rectified, and that it will appear in the comments, along with all of the applause and agreement.)

  • Hannah, beautifully said! Although my first delivery was filled with unpleasantness and downright mistreatment, the idea of this ‘changing me forever’ or leaving me ‘scarred’ seems as far from the Christian walk as letting a mishap-filled wedding ruin a marriage. Instead of being left with emotional scars I was given a delightful and beautiful daughter (and a great precautionary tale about socialized medicine). Bitterness and discontent can find any food to grow on, but letting it feed on an unpleasant birth story is no more lovely than letting it feed on any other negative experience in life. We do not overcome trials and burdens, big or small, because we are empowered or because we are women, but because we serve an awesome God and we trust in His providences.

  • Two big thumbs up to the original post and to Hannah’s comment too!

  • While no one should try and impose their views on others or become “momzillas” about child birth, I don’t think it’s fair to say that women who would like a certain kind of birth experience are being selfish or ungodly. Ultimately, many women choose to have a (c-section, hospital birth, home birth) because they DO have the best interest of their child at heart. I also think that childbirth and motherhood are deeply spiritual experiences in that you must depend on and submit to the Lord continually. I don’t think there is anything ungodly or unchristlike about desiring things to happen a certain way. But allowing your plans to get in the way of the child’s health is a problem. And so is allowing silly issues to divide the body of Christ.

    Childbirth is all about bringing life into the world. But it is also certainly about the mother- just as the groom, bride, and Christ are all important on one’s wedding day. It can be a day where God is glorified, or where a woman is sinful and selfish in action and word. Can’t it be about how God has used this woman? Can’t it be about how he was glorified despite the trial that was faced? I will be giving birth again soon- and whether it is natural or not, I hope that God will be satisfied with my behavior through out the ordeal. I still have some ideas about how I would like my day to go. I don’t think that is in any way selfish or sinful, unless it becomes more important than honoring God in the process.

  • I have been a Mom-zilla in this area. My firstborn was breech so I had a c-section. I didn’t like it one bit. My second child was a successful VBAC and I became a pretty big advocate thereafter. That is until my third boy came along. I went into labor with him and hemorrhaged badly from a ruptured uterus. It happened so quickly and if my doctor would not have stepped in, he and I both would not have made it. I NEVER thought this would happen to me. I was so upset about it afterward (which was wrong) and it took many months of prayer, continual repentance, talking with my husband and him telling me I was wrong, for me to let it go. I hadn’t realized how much I wanted the right birth experience for ME. That was clear once it was taken away in an instant. I was SO angry.

    I’m not belittling what a horribly traumatic night it was for me. It was very horrible. But Joshua was saved. I was saved. And like my husband kept telling me, “It was a rescue, not a disaster. Be thankful.” My fourth child was a little girl. She was a c-section. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’m due with my fifth in five weeks…another c-section. My heart is finally settled about the whole thing-I’m thankful. I’m thankful I’ve been able to have more children after Joshua’s birth.

    What finally changed my heart was a conversation with a mom who had lost her baby in childbirth. There I was, talking about how I didn’t like the outcome of Joshua’s birth and she had lost her child. I had mine, perfectly healthy, in my arms. I knew I was an idiot. It was clear. She was gracious and I said very little (thank God), but I was humbled. And after that, I knew I needed to let go of my wants and desires and trust that God had my heart and best interest in mind regardless of how much I wanted to labor.

    God does as He pleases and no amount of statistics, or any sort of formula will give the outcome you want. I was the perfect candidate for another successful VBAC. And it didn’t happen. That’s what God had. I worked as hard as I could to get it and it still alluded me. Self-reliance isn’t the answer. When it came down to it, I thought I deserved it because I had worked for it. That was evident after the fact. When a mom gets herself there, it’s wrong. Planning, preparing and then trusting God with the outcome, no matter what, keeps hearts soft.

  • I must disagree with “respectful mom” I find her information to be incorrect. First of all the perineum does not support every pelvic organ you have ligaments that hold up your uterus. the concern with tears is that you may have a 4th degree tear which tears into your rectum and can cause infection and fistulas from your bowels to your birth canal. The perineum can be supported in different ways to such as mineral oil and gel, which is applied frequently in fact at almost every vaginal deliver to prevent tearing, also the perineum can be supported by controlled pushing which stretches the tissue slowly so as not to have a tear. As for the godless medical system it may be godless, however plenty of God-fearing and loving people work and raise their families and are pictures of Christ likedness in this godless system which I might add we have a godless nation and world. So are we to be light in darkness or stay in the belly of a whale. I believe God to have all wisdom and knowledge and we are warned throughout the Bible not to be puffed up. I agree their is much arrogance in the medical field. I do believe God in his love for us and mercy has given the information that the medical community so enjoys. They may not glorify God, but God is making His witness be known , so that they cannot deny HIm. Trust me there are many Christian witnesses to the glory of God, some glorify God and some show harshness and unforgiveness. When you enter the medical institution remember you are a witness to a godless system. Why not choose to glorify God and be a loving light!

  • I say Amen! All of motherhood is about giving up our rights to love someone else. Birthing maybe especially.

  • I’m 37 and pregnant with #6. I cannot tell you how this issue seems to have gotten worse over the last decade! I know the way I do things and that they work just fine for me, but it’s crazy how these (mostly)younger moms will tell you that you are dead-wrong for your choices. Truly, it makes me grin as I stand there with 5 healthy and happy children ranging from 16 down, but I know it damages those that aren’t yet confident enough to blow it off. Needful post!

  • I second Sheryl’s posts. I’ve floated down to the Ob floor when they’ve needed help (I’m a med/surg nurse). One lady had a 6 page, typed, single spaced birthing plan. Holy cow I thought.I’ve got other patients, not just her.Though the mom with the birth plan is important, so are my other patients. They are just as important as she is. So when you are labouring and wanting your plan followed exactly, remember the nurses/doctors are trying to attend faithfully and skillfully to other patients. Also, the community I’m in is big on midwives and doulas. I’ve seen several times where a mom laboured far longer then she should have because the midwife didn’t want to her patient to go to the hospital.The best situation I think is where a midwife is paired up with an OB/GYN who can step in if needed. Also many hospitals now have at least one birthing room with jacuzzis/low lights/balls, etc.. Also, I’d like to comment on 2 non-medical things. First, I’ve noticed these posts say very little about the dad. Birthing day is his day just as much as it is yours. He is fully responsible for half that baby. It is his! Second, women who have “natural” deliveries seem to take great pride in that. They make sure to mention it. That makes women feel less like women or like wimps it they had a C-section, epidural or really any medical intervention. If you feel you need to mention that you went “natural”, do a heart check and make sure there isn’t some pride.Same goes with the whole breastfeeding discussion.

  • amen and amen. a lot of these comments show just how necessary this post is.

  • Wow… what a hot topic! Amen to the post though. In the end, God is in control, your birth experience does not determine your relationship with your child, does not make you a good or bad mom. I was very well informed, had midwives, took Bradley classes etc. You can plan up the whazoo but in the end you aren’t going to be able to control what happens. I had 4 very different birth experiences, 3 were crisis situations with one emergency C, one was very, very natural, all were anticipated to be normal births but you never know. And the completely natural one lingers in my psyche as being the most traumatizing. So there it is, in the end God gave me 4 healthy children through the means of modern technology. I am thankful for this, and don’t linger over the disappointments.

  • At one level, I really do understand this perspective. There are plenty of people to whom I would very much like to request that they get over themselves.
    This is a tough area to be neutral on, though. Maybe there are birth plans out there that are ridiculously detailed and so inflexible that they could put the baby and mother at risk of injury or death.
    I’ve had what might loosely be called birth plans for both of my children and it was actually helpful and reduced stress for me to have the exercise of running through the sequence of labor and delivery and how I would like things to go, in the absence of any problems. It actually helped us to be more flexible when the time came. There were unexpected things that came up with each birth and we dealt with those in the moment in order to have the best possible outcome. I was, for example, disappointed in myself that I needed pitocin augmentation for my first labor but by the time we decided that it was necessary, I would have done anything to have the baby safely. Believe me, I’m well aware of the need to trust God with the whole process.
    The transition to motherhood was so incredibly challenging in so many ways, however, that I’m glad that I had those hours of labor and a successful birth to look back on as a reminder that I was strong and capable even when the baby was up for the tenth time that night and I wanted to scream with frustration and exhaustion.
    Now that we are expecting #3, I do have some preferences about how the birth go. Our insurance doesn’t cover a home birth so we need to have a plan for when to call for backup childcare and when to go to the hospital. Based on my previous experiences, I know that I relax and dilate much faster in a warm tub–leading to faster and easier delivery which is good for both the baby and me. I want to try to not tear during the delivery this time as the resulting scarring from previous times has caused some difficulties for our marriage.
    Are these preferences selfish? Maybe, but they are also the result of learning from my previous experiences not so that I feel the best about it but so that the baby, my husband and I come out of a physically, emotionally and sometimes spiritually challenging event in the best shape possible.

  • I have to say that I am a Christian – and I fully agree that the birth of a baby is about the BABY – but I have to say that it is also a profound experience for the mother and father as they become parents, whether it’s the first time or any subsequent times thereafter. And it is also a major physical experience for the mother. You mentioned in this post that infant survival rates are at an all-time high. Did you also know that maternal mortality rates related to child-birth are at an all-time low?? There is something wrong with the way our country and the medical professionals handle the birthing process, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with being informed about those circumstances and trying to make educated decisions about how you would like your birth to happen. Of course, God is in control and if the safety of the baby is at stake, all of your “wishes” and “hopes” go out the window. Forget having no IV if your baby is in danger! Get the baby out safely by all means! And I don’t know a single woman who has written a birth plan that would say otherwise (and I know plenty of those women!) Yes, I believe sometimes some women can become too obsessed about their birthing process and get to wrapped up in little details. But to say that a woman is fussy, a mom-zilla, or self-centered because she has written a birth plan? I totally disagree. Maybe that is the case sometimes, but I believe that to make a blanket statement about women who write birth plans is unkind.

  • *Correction – sorry – I meant to say that infant mortality rates are at an all-time HIGH, not an all-time LOW in my comment above.

  • Sarah, Mrs Wilson doesn’t say she has a problem with birthplans, she’s addressing the fussy attitude that often accompanies them. She even says how great it is that we have options, and different preferences. And the Femina girls have made it clear that they totally agree that birthing can and should be made better and safer! Reckon the phrase “hold it loosely” seems to sum it up!

  • I messed spelling up my name! Can you post this one and delete the first? Thanks!

    I have to respectfully disagree. While there are some moms who do have unreasonable birth plans that have no room for contingency or emergency, in most cases a birth plan is simply sharing what a mother is desiring as far as interventions and plans for when things go well or in case of emergency. They’re ensuring that they can do the job needed with minimal worry and interference later on, the variables planned out.

    It’s doczillas and nursezillas who don’t respect a mother’s plan and choice and make the laboring woman do things for their convenience like making the laboring woman stay in bed, be hooked up to monitors, lay down instead of standing and kneeling, get hooked up to an epidural so they don’t have to hear a woman laboring, etc.

    In my first 2 births, by doctor and nurses did not respect my wishes for minimal intervention and bullied me into many interventions and ultimately led to c-section. With my last, I changed to a OB who respected my wishes and agreed that my surgeries were unnecessary and supported me when laboring, not telling me what to do.

    It is not selfish or all about mom to have a drug and intervention-free labor and delivery. It is not selfish to want to not heal from surgery when you have a new baby and possibly older children. It is not selfish to lay out what you do and do not want done to your new baby like delayed cord-clamping, no eye goop, delayed shots, etc. It is best for baby to be born with the least intervention as possible, to immediately be laid on mommy to encourage nursing, to get as much blood as possible by not getting the cord cut immediately. It’s best for baby to have a healthy mom who is ready to care for baby and not be healing from surgery or have complications from epidural, allergic reaction, or other side-effect from intervention.

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