I'm not usually one to give Katie Hopkins airtime but something she wrote this week caught my attention. It's not that I think she's right, I hasten to add, but rather that the point she makes seem to warrant a discussion.
The topic of her ire? Pain relief during labour. The Mail reports:
Katie Hopkins is set to stir up more ire from mothers with her latest controversial comments in which she states those who give birth naturally are 'more of a woman'. The outspoken 40-year-old gave birth to her three children, India, Poppy and Maximillan, without any pain relief and she believes others should do the same instead of 'wimping out' by having a c-section.
Hopkins literally said she believes woman who give birth naturally are 'stronger, more powerful' women. And while her admission that she judges mums who use pain relief during labour isn't exactly new - she makes a living out of judging people, after all - my point is that I don't think she's alone on this particular point.
Haven't we all met sneery mums with similar views? And it's not just natural-birth-loving mothers who look down on weak-willed women who reach for drugs during delivery - I've encountered pro-pain-relief mums who scoff at those who give birth without drugs. Yawn.
I've no interest in hearing more from either side of that particular debate, but I am fascinated by why we do this to each other. It's utterly absurd. Can you imagine if men went round comparing and assessing their masculinity based on something so arbitrary? Oh, wait...
ANYWAY, my point is that the way you give birth is nobody's business but your own, and it's surely high time that we called time on this kind of pitting of mums against one another.
I'll never forget my antenatal class teacher pointing out - to a room full of birth-obsessed women, no less - that giving birth is the easy bit, really. Doing a decent job as a parent is surely the bigger test of a woman's strength and power, while the finer details about the hours during which your child was making his or her entrance into the world soon pale into insignificance in that context.
And besides, since when did birth become a competition? If Hopkins really feels she deserves some kind of medal for resisting the drugs during her deliveries, well that says more about her than it does about the pain-relief-utilising women she is judging. If crowing about giving birth without drugs is what it takes to make Hopkins feel strong and powerful, well that really says it all.
Your birth experience is just that; one experience out of a lifetime's worth. It's not a contest you can fail or win; it doesn't define your or your bond with your baby (although admittedly it might feel that way if things don't go as expected), and it's certainly not a measure of your mettle. So don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Some strong and powerful women use pain relief during labour. Some don't. Some have no choice. Get over it, Katie. If you can't, maybe you're not as strong or powerful as you'd have us believe.