121010011 Hitomi Tee Jin Ling Argument Essay Section 8 page of 8
Giving Birth Is Not the Vocation of Women Every woman is a gift when she becomes a daughter; every woman is a rose when she becomes a wife; every woman is a God when she becomes a mother. Every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child somewhere on this globe. At the same time, as gender equality is highly emphasized today, women’s voices are heard, and more women choose to be childfree. Stahnke et al. (2020) reported that the percentage of childfree women increased from 35.1% to 48.6% between 1976 and 2016 (p. 159). According to Slomski’s research (2019), “[a]pproximately 800 women in the US die each year during pregnancy and within 42 days after delivery” (p. 1). Therefore, women should not be inculcated in the concept that giving birth is their responsibility and asked to have a birth plan because giving birth is a woman’s unique ability, which is the right that nature offers women to decide. On top of that, there are many adverse effects after childbirth; women’s physical health declines, career breaks, mental illness occurs, and marital relationships worsen.
Firstly, facing many health issues after giving birth has undoubtedly been the most significant concern, leading to the growing trend of women choosing not to have children. While most reproductive-age women remain in good health throughout pregnancy, many pregnant women experience substantial declines in functioning in the postpartum period. Haas et al. (2005) observed that pregnancy factors, especially Cesarean section, contributed to poor health status postpartum. Women have a higher risk of suffering from congestive heart failure, diabetes, and recent myocardial infarction after pregnancy (p. 48). Goldenberg and Rouse (1998) pointed out that maternal health has received considerably less attention than neonatal health outcomes after childbirth (p. 317). Besides that, sleep disturbance is the most common problem among parents, especially first-time parents. For instance, 52% to 89% of first-time parents of a 4- to 8-month-old child report that sleep deprivation is a big problem, and 58% of mothers report poor sleep quality at 2 to 5 months postpartum (Simard, 2019, p. 1). Poor sleep quality is associated with women’s health problems in the postnatal period. According to Madrid-Valero et al. (2016), sleep-related issues are associated with poorer health, increased risk of mortality, hormonal and biochemical changes, and increased risk of psychological disorders, especially depression (p. 1). Given these staggering facts, changes in the health status of women after pregnancy highly affect women’s daily lives, which is why women should have their own choices on giving birth.
Another major worry about giving birth is career interruption. As stated by Joesch in 1997, a high percentage of women took at least six weeks off after giving birth (p. 1010). Even twenty years later, many women still leave their jobs after having children in the modern world today. A poll conducted by Hamel et al. (2014) showed that among non-working adults aged 25 to 54 in the United States, 61 percent of women were due to family responsibilities and children issues (Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times/CBS News Non-Employed Poll). Besides sacrificing their jobs, women pay a high intellectual cost to meet the challenges of motherhood. Glynn’s (2010) study indicates that the remodeling of women’s brains, which appears prenatally, will cause the diminishment of the verbal recall memory during pregnancy; these decrements even persist after parturition (p. 1148). Moreover, Zhang et al. (2018) discovered in their investigation that “[t]he postpartum period has been linked with an increased risk of cognitive impairment, which primarily presents as poor memory or recent memory loss, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and distractibility” (pp. 1-2). The studies above insinuate that women will concentrate less on their jobs after having children. This is caused by both cognitive impairment and spending more time on their children. In addition, women's ability decreases, especially in resilience and working efficiency. As we can see, women’s career and occupational status are threatened even if they return to work after childbirth.
Apart from that, women are compelled to juggle heavy responsibilities resulting in role overload and even the prevalence of mental health issues after giving birth. The research of Söderquist et al. (2009) indicates that depression occurs in 20 women out of 100 between 6 and 12 months postpartum (p. 678). Besides being a wife to their husbands, women have added the role of a mother while at the same time trying to retain their own individuality. As stated by Ayers et al. (2019), women’s stress after childbirth mainly comes from lacking support from others, feeling guilty, and negative self-appraisals (p. 7). After having children, men bear the responsibility of being the primary breadwinner and are busy working. The quality time between couples reduces, and thus women feel less mentally supported by their husbands. For women with their first child, lacking knowledge about being good mothers makes them feel guilty about their children. Choi and Becher (2018) concluded that women might feel overwhelmed in mothering as they persistently perceive that the requirements of being a good mother exceed what they can give (p. 2). Correspondingly, becoming a mother changes women's identities. Women must modify their understanding of themselves and reevaluate how their autonomy, physical appearance, sexuality, and occupations influence their identities differently from before motherhood (Laney et al., 2015, p. 127). While doing this, they might lose themselves and become immersed in self-denial. As a result, a strong sense of depression after giving birth and being a mother reduces women’s mental stability.
Last but not least, deterioration of marital relationships commonly occurs after having children. Waldron and Routh (1981) agree that many couples, particularly wives, experience decreased marital satisfaction upon the first child’s arrival (p. 785). From women’s perspective, the transformation of the family division of labor to a traditional way forces them to give up their careers and stay at home to take care of their children. At the same time, men gradually feel the constraints of their lives brought by the child's arrival. But ironically, having children is positively associated with a lower divorce rate as children become a necessary and the only bond in the marriage. According to Bernardi and Martínez-Pastor (2011), for women married after 1981, having children primarily decreased the risk of divorce (p. 789). Once women have children, they might need to live a miserable life in an unhappy marriage and the toil of raising children. On the other hand, Stritof (2022) asserted that sex is crucial in marital relationships because expressing love through sex raises commitment and emotional connection between husband and wife and thus increases the likelihood of them staying together (para. 5). However, as stated by Barrett et al. (2000), “[o]f the women who had attempted to resume sexual inter-course, 67% (282/420) reported that sexual intercourse was less frequent than before their pregnancy” (p. 188). This is because most parents’ attention shifts to their children, while some women have health issues after childbirth and cannot afford sex practices as frequently as in the past. Therefore, we can conclude that having children may decrease the intimacy between couples. The arrival of children brings negative impacts on marital relationships.
On the contrary, some may say that giving birth should be women’s most outstanding achievement because a baby fills a place in women’s hearts they will never know and brings plenty of benefits to them simultaneously. With this concept: “I grew up with you, you accompany me to grow old,” many women chose to give birth as they wanted to participate in the growth of life and be called “mom.” However, giving birth is not the only way to participate in a child’s life and avoid loneliness in old age. Some couples decide that becoming parents is more important than becoming pregnant after soul searching (American Adoptions, Inc, 2020, para. 20). Their goal is not to experience pregnancy but to become parents and add a child to their family, and being pregnant is not the only way to do so. Instead, they can adopt children. For those couples who face difficulties having a biological child due to infertility or have medical conditions that make pregnancy impossible, child adoption will be a choice. In other cases, some couples may be fully capable of having a healthy pregnancy, but they are worried about passing down genetic disorders or diseases (American Adoptions, Inc, 2020, para. 3). This is one of the most common reasons that couples choose adoption. Thus, we can see that giving birth is not necessary for women. Also, about 117470 children in the United States were waiting to be adopted in 2020 (Foster Care in the U.S. - Number of Children Waiting for Adoption 2020 | Statista, 2020). Rather than adding another human being to our struggling earth, adopting a child is a way to alleviate the population crisis.
After childbirth, women have problems with careers, relationships with their husbands, and both physical and mental health. Hence, giving birth should not be the vocation of women; it is a choice. Whether or not to be a rose or God is all up to women themselves. They have the right to make their own decisions. As a child, please understand that being a mother will need much courage; your mother needs you more than you need her. As a woman, please remember that: “Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic… Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body” (Gaskin, 2003). It is hard to be a woman. We must think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl, and work like a horse. However, being a woman is our superpower; we are strong with our voices. Please do not say yes when we want to say no. That is how women get respected!