We all know the black and white, or red and blue, of politics. As we quarrel our polemics, so much rich grey gets lost in-between. Birth politics is no different.
Consider this article which appeared in yesterday's news: less is more. It's not all or nothing, one way or the other. It's actually more sophisticated than that: Less Is More. Not only the quantifiable Less Is More, in that when women are in control of their anesthesia doses, they will use less. But Less Numbness is More Satisfaction. Imagine the larger implication: women who have epidurals can also have satisfying birth experiences.
It silences all the propaganda, from both sides: "Why feel pain in an age of modern medicine?" and "Women must completely relish all the sensations of this most natural rite of passage into motherhood!"
There is such vastness between those two corners into which we paint ourselves for the sake of a sound argument. And who gets to explore that vastness? With this finding about Less is More, the laboring woman gets to explore it for herself, and she gets to define her own world amidst those corners. Even if she has an epidural.
I have attended to women who were certain they would approach their birth in one singular way, they prepared for it, practiced, and knew -- just knew -- that this was how they wanted to give birth. And when labor came around, things changed. It wasn't what they thought it would be. And they found themselves facing decisions they didn't think they would encounter. And they find that they are not actually black and white, they are a whole spectrum of color and shades and textures -- and a whole birth experience exists that is so much more layered than what they thought.
Central to this experience, of course, is autonomy. Mom can choose if Less is More. Or she can choose if More is More. She can decide if None is Bad. or if All is Good. She can circle all those option if she wants, because there is no single right answer, and no one way to give birth. And when she makes her choices from an informed and educated place, with supportive caregivers and loved ones holding her hand, then she can define Satisfaction, as she sees it.