Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thoughts on Cesarean Section

So the question I want to pose is: why are there so many Cesarean Sections performed in the US now?  The rate for C-sections in the US is now at 33%!  One in three!  According to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, the World Health Organization sees 10-15% an acceptable rate.  So why?
Well, I am beginning to come to the conclusion that doctors are afraid of malpractice suits.  They see all the possible risks and things that could go wrong, instead of relying on the woman’s body (that knows what to do and has since Eve had her first baby).   Now, I understand that things have gone wrong in the past and can happen at any time, with any woman and with any baby.  But these things do not happen every day, nor with every woman or baby.  So why does it seem like all pregnant women who choose to use an OB instead of a midwife are treated like this?  Not every delivery is going to be life-threatening or cause serious debilitation.   
I had originally wanted to utilize the services of a midwife to deliver Lydia, but I got really comfortable with my doctor, who is a Christian, and who I felt would do everything in her power to keep me from having any form of intervention, let alone a C-section.  (Not that I blame my doctor, I blame myself really, for allowing myself to get anxious about getting the baby out of me.)   At 36 weeks I was measuring like I should have been.  Then at 37 weeks, I was measuring like I was at 35 weeks.  Worried, the doctor scheduled an ultrasound for 39 weeks and determined at that time that my placenta was on the decline.  She decided that she was not comfortable letting me carry too much past 40 weeks, if I did, and so we scheduled an induction for 40 weeks and 5 days, just in case.  And of course, you know the rest if you’ve read my previous entries. 
What would someone have done before the time when they had ultrasound?  Would they have induced me back in Bible times or even a hundred years ago?  I think not.  I know that medicine has come a long way since then, but, as my husband says, “they call it the PRACTICE of medicine for a reason”. 
So I am going to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) for my next baby.  I am going to consult with a couple of the midwiferies in town and discuss my options.  (On a side note, the lady that was my parent’s Lamaze coach and also the person who delivered me at the time of my birth, Beth Korb, is in practice at MAHEC, a branch of our hospital here!  I’m going to try to meet her.)  I hold nothing against my doctor, but I believe it was said best by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein in their documentary “The Business of Being Born”, that obstetricians are surgeons.  They have no business delivering babies.   (By the way, I recommend that any of you ladies thinking of having a baby watch this movie.  It is highly informative and will get you thinking.  Plus, you get to see some babies make their way into this world!)
I have been researching some about VBAC, and WebMD actually recommends that women at least try to have their baby vaginally after having had a C-section, because even a little bit of labor is good for the mother and the baby.  They call it a “trial of labor”, and up to 60% of women have successful VBACs.  Of course there are certain risk factors that make your chances of success go up or down, but that's true with any major medical or bodily occurance.
Something else that I am curious about is that the delivering doctor, who was not my OB, (I had been in labor so long that my doc's 24-hour on-call shift had ended) told me that my pelvis is too narrow and that VBAC would not be a good idea.  Where did this come from all of a sudden?  She was not the doc who examined me weekly and don’t you think that my doctor would have noticed something like a too-narrow pelvis before we started trying to deliver vaginally?  I have my annual on Monday, and I plan on discussing this at length with my doctor. 
Another thing that disappoints me about having the C-section with Lydia is that now I am no longer a candidate for home birth.  This is something that interests me b/c it seems so natural.  Where were babies born before there were hospitals?  Home.  Some people may think that home deliveries are insane, but successful ones happen every day.  It just seems the perfect place to start life out, don’t you think?  At home, where mama is comfortable and surrounded by familiarity.  At home, where you have everything you may need for your newborn.  At home, where you (hopefully) aren't surrounded by bright lights and unfamiliar faces barging in on you at all hours.
Though I am saddened by all this, I won’t let it get the best of me.  I am still capable of bringing babies into this world, and I do plan to.  The Lord has been very good to me and James, and we have been truly blessed with our wonderful daughter.  We are looking forward to the day when we get to bring her siblings into the world, no matter how they come.    
Us with Lydia, who is 3 days old in this photo.


BeanIrene said...

You should also watch the documentary "Orgasmic Birth" ... amazing documentary. Read some of these books too if you haven't, such as "Baby Catcher", "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin" and see if they give you some more insight. I highly recommend a VBAC..and under no circumstances (unless life threatening FOR REAL) allow another section. After so many sections VBACs become almost obsolete. And the large majority of inductions, become sections. There is no such thing as a "natural" induction of labor. Good luck to you.

sarahmichal said...

I've been reading books on birthing to prepare for my doula certification. It's amazing the things that have been replaced by medical physicians. I am in no way against those who choose to give birth in a hospital, attended by nurses or even c-section. However, so much research shows that 98% of UNASSISTED deliveries go without complications. It's often made me wonder if I really had to deliver Mal the way I did... if I had chosen to relax and let my body do the work would he still have been delivered with forceps? Or better, would I have had to have a blood transfusion? I'm not sure. This all keeping in mind that there ARE high-risk pregnancies that require intervention. But we've gone from surrounding ourselves with women we trust, who have been there and done that, to doctors and nurses that are required to look after multiple laboring mothers. And we wonder why our bodies go haywire?! Because for thousands of years, we have trusted the way God made our bodies and all of the sudden... do not (yes, I know mortality rates have dropped to few). Personally, I am doing research to see if Tricare will cover a home-birth for the next time around. And if they don't? I have a very specific birth plan that I intend to have honored.

I recommend that you find Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper, R.N. (pssst, she's a Christian!) and read it. It's so eye-opening and educational... and empowering!

Julie said...

Here is my 2 cents....Did you see what I wrote on facebook? I had a horrible c-section (after fully intending on a natural birth) and then 2 planned c-sections....which were lovely in comparison to the first.
Anyhow, I do agree that c-sections are faaaaarrr to common these days and that doctors induce way too often. However, I think that they save lives too. Many more women died in childbirth in the Bible days and a hundred years ago. Many babies died in childbirth as well. I think there would have been a really good chance that Lorie and I both would have died in childbirth 100 years ago.
I dealt with a lot of disappointment in my birth story the first time around and I still dream regularly about having a baby vaginally (real dreams not like wishes)

I love your blog!

Julie said...

PS...I'm proud of you for sticking it out nursing! Lorie and I were "militant nursers" and believed in it deeply......

Blog on Stevie, you are a great writer!

Ashley Lynn Lawson said...

As you know, I had a c-section as well :) I had to have one ... My placenta was in the way of my cervics & I would have(almost DID) bleed to death durring birth & could have lost my life &/or Alexa's. I'm all for natural things & trying it out, but I think that some c-sections are important to the lives of the women & babies. They may not have done it back in biblical times, but did all those women survive? I love MAHEC by the way, they are just to awesome up there. I don't know that IF I do have another baby, if I will do VBAC or not, %60 is high, but it's just over half ... that scares me a little & with what I went through with my last delivery, I don't want to risk anything.

MotherOfPearl said...

I definitely agree that C-sections save lives. I'm sure that one saved my life and/or the life of my daughter. I think they are good and they are necessary IN SOME CASES (Ashley, Julie, etc.). I just want to know if it was truly necessary for me, as in, would I have had one at all if I had not been induced? I think I am just a little upset at myself for not having trusted my instincts. And for not using a midwife. Oh, well. You live and learn! <3

MotherOfPearl said...

Julie, I am also a militant nurser, I love that term! For me, there was no other option. I'm not downing formula (Ashley, you know my thoughts on this) but I am proud that Lydia has never had any. I am thankful that, despite the difficulties, God sustained me and made sure that Lydia was getting perfect nutrition from me in those first weeks, no matter how painful and awful it was. (Lydia gained 14 oz in the first week of life and 13 in the second! Yay boobie milk!! She also continues to gain steadily and healthily.)