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Competition in Labor and Birth. What's the Point?

By Devan McGuinness |

Competition seems to follow us everywhere we go. It’s a big part of life for many people and there are a lot who seem to thrive on it — need it and crave it. Competition exists even when we don’t realize we are in a competition — people will compare their experiences to yours and form their own ‘the way I did it was better then what you did’ opinions.

I honestly had no idea this type of behavior really existed until recently. I have written some articles here on Being Pregnant which seemed to have stirred up this who idea of competition — that has some people fighting for the way they labored and birthed being an ‘attack’ on how they labored and birthed.

Women seem to love to create these invisible divides between our personal choices and those of others. If you look at areas of pregnancy, motherhood and parenting you will see these divides over nearly every topic:

Stay-at-home mom vs working mom;
Breastfeeding vs formula feeding;
Circumcision vs intact;
Public school vs home school;
Home birth vs hospital birth;
Vaginal birth vs c-section birth.

That is only a small handful of the competitions women intentionally or unintentionally put themselves in. I believe that it all stems from the very personal nature of each of these topics and anytime we feel our personal, well thought out decisions are being questioned, we put our guards up. That makes sense to me.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why there is this automatic divide even when others choices are not questioned. It seems the mere mention of a home birth will set off those who had a hospital birth. The mention of a medication free birth sets off those that chose differently. The idea that if someone chose an induction or c-section that they are just ‘not informed’ or ‘not educated’ because they didn’t chose to do differently. Where does this way of thinking get anyone?

Personal choices and how we chose to define them should have no bearing on how other people define their labor and birth. If a woman defines her birth as ‘successful’ because she had an unmedicated home birth then that doesn’t automatically mean she defines your hospital birth as ‘unsuccessful’; and vice versa. There is no competition when it comes to labor and birth and truly the only thing that matters is how each individual feels about their own experience.

:: Have you noticed a feeling of competition when it comes to labor and birth? ::

Read more from Devan on Accustomed ChaosUnspoken Grief
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Want more? Find me on Babble Kids!

More on Being Pregnant:
Reader Submitted: Show Us Your Last Pregnancy Photo
25 Beautiful Photographs of Women In Labor

Image credit: winnod via FreeDigitalPhotos


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About Devan McGuinness


Devan McGuinness

Devan McGuinness is the writer of the lifestyle blog Accustomed Chaos. After surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan founded Unspoken Grief, a resource and support site for perinatal and neonatal loss. Read bio and latest posts → Read Devan's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Competition in Labor and Birth. What's the Point?

  1. Taz says:

    midwife vs obgyn, meds vs no meds, co-sleeping vs crib sleeping, the list goes on and on! it’s scary being a mom and having people asking what my plans are and knowing they mean ‘are you on my side or not>”

  2. sarahh says:

    I guess there is a fair amount of competition… I just try not to pay much attention to it. People get oddly defensive about birth, breastfeeding, etc etc etc. We’d all do well to just do what we need to do for us, our bodies and our babies, and not worry about what anyone else is doing. :)

  3. Mama Kalila says:

    Maybe I’m odd… but I don’t see it as a competition. I have my beliefs, my preferences, opinions etc… but its not a competition. There are no winners, losers, etc. We’re all moms.

  4. Melanie says:


  5. hannah says:

    I think that there is the feeling of judgement and competition only because of underlying feeling of moms second guessing themsleves. We have this tremendous responsibility and have to wonder if every choice we are making is the best choice for our child. I think that leads us to be defensive of our choices because who wants to think that their choice was not the best choice. With that being said, majority of the time the choices we make are the best for our families…maybe not other families but our family.

  6. Amanda says:

    I agree that sometimes it could simply be that some mother’s just aren’t informed about the different methods that can help with labor and birth, so they MAY tend to get a bit upset at those who do know. My thing is, ask a lot of questions and decide from there. What good would it do me to get upset at the next person and second guess myself when I was confident in what I decided. I had this same conversation with my cousin just 2 days ago and it all came down to us just being two different people with different ways of doing things. I have a high tolerance for pain, she doesn’t. So I went natural, she went with the epidural. With asking questions, I had my baby on my knees because gravity pulls down, she had hers on her back because that’s all she knew, etc. etc. In agreeance with Melanie as well, we ALL feel that the decisions we make are the best choices for OUR families. So in a society where we may be frowned upon for not being in the flow with everyone else, we just have to stand firm and continue to accept that some things just aren’t for us like they are for others.

  7. Amanda says:

    **correction, i was agreeing with what Hannah said. Sorry I read the names wrong.

  8. Mayra H. says:

    I sure felt a little attacked by my own mom when I started looking into transferring my prenatal care to an alternative clinc with midwifes just so I can have the option for an ABC room. but she just comes from the era of u take what u are given and dont question the drs since I dont have med ensurance…I was just so scared of hospital protocals that Im glad I didnt settle :) I found the nicest uncrowded clinic where the midewifes are super nice and everything is brand new :)

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