I recently read an article on the Sun Magazine’s website about how hospitals have begun turning post-partum and birthing rooms into retreat-like suites. One couple likened the rooms to giving birth on a cruise ship. While I like the idea of comfortable accommodations and a relaxing setting, what got me were some of the reasons behind making these aesthetic changes, and I quote:
“Women like pretty,” said Susan Bowen, Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson administrative director.
Another statement jumped out at me as I continued to read the article:
Joan Diamond, perinatal nurse manager at Hopkins, said mothers are looking for childbirth to be more of an experience. Many are getting manicures and pedicures before they deliver. And it’s not unusual for them to fix their hair and makeup soon after baby arrives so they can feel more comfortable posting pictures on Facebook and other social-media sites. Wanting a luxurious room fits with that trend, Diamond said.
I have to be honest that the superficiality of this “trend” got me to thinking. Are we women choosing our care facilities based on outward appearances? Or are we asking questions up front of ourselves and then our care providers about the care and treatment we will receive? Are we understanding our own birth philosophy and finding a provider and facility that matches our desires, whether we want a more natural approach or prefer an epidural the minute a contraction hits? As a commenter on Facebook said, “Perhaps we as medical ‘consumers’ we need to change what draws us in.” Because, we as consumers do have the power of choice.
But a second thing struck me as I read the article. I thought back to a picture that was taken moments after my son was born. It was of a puffy, swollen, exhausted new mom with blood shot eyes. Huddled around me are my husband, midwife, nurse and OB. I look a bit beaten up. A while later, I recommended my midwife to a friend of mine. After meeting with the midwife she said, “I saw your picture hanging in the examining room. Do you want people to see you looking that way?” I said, “Yes.” Is it my most glamorous picture? No. But it is the reality of the moments following my first birth — one of the happiest, most empowering moments of my life.
And, so, I want to throw this out there: Can we make a pact to be comfortable enough to show our raw selves in the reality of our after-birth moments? I’ve seen enough pictures of celebrities looking thin and gorgeous moments after birth. But that’s not real. Can we say it’s okay to show a little blood, sweat and tears coupled with relief and euphoria? Can we upload a pic to Facebook without looking like we just came from the spa and in doing so, better show ourselves and moms-to-be a more realistic picture of child birth? What do you say we get beyond the surface and down to the nitty gritty? Are you with me?