Archive for the ‘cesarean’ Tag

At Least You Have A Healthy Baby . . .

At a recent meeting,  the discussion came up about the comments made to women who have had a cesarean, some of which can be very  hurtful, including the common “At least you have a healthy baby…”

Gretchen Humphries wrote a great essay on this very topic.  It is a good read!  For more essays by Gretchen, check out her website Birth Matters.

You Should Be Grateful

You should be grateful, after all, you have a healthy baby.

How many times have we heard those words? How many times have we said them? It seems so obvious, you wanted a child and now you have a healthy child. You are alive to enjoy that child. You should be grateful. Right?

That phrase (or the similar, “All that matters is a healthy baby”) did more damage to me than anything else said to me after my cesarean section. Because on the face of it, it seems so true. My husband and I had struggled with infertility for several years. My pregnancy came after at least 2 miscarriages and drugs to make me ovulate and then to maintain the pregnancy. I had beautiful twin boys. Why was I so upset? Wasn’t I grateful? They were apparently healthy and so was I, if you discount the physical devastation of major mixed-emotionsabdominal surgery on top of the exhaustion taking care of newborn twins brings with it. My recovery was, after all, uncomplicated by medical standards. Physically, I was healing well. Wasn’t I grateful?

So many people said it to me, I started to wonder. People I trusted, people I respected, people I loved. Women that had cesarean sections for their children and trumped the advantages of it. Maybe I wasn’t grateful for my babies? Maybe I didn’t love my babies as much as I should or as much as other mothers did? Maybe I was being selfish and petty to be so upset about the birth and not blissfully happy with my babies—after all, other women seemed to “get over it” so quickly—so quickly in fact that I had to wonder if I was really crazy to think there was anything to “get over.” What was the big deal?

Part of the problem was that I actually didn’t feel overwhelmingly grateful, nor did I feel overwhelmed with love for my boys. I knew that if anyone threatened them in any way that I’d do anything to protect them. I’d already proven that in negotiating a less traumatic cesarean than they would have normally experienced. I could protect my children but I didn’t feel a lot about them. I was depressed. So for several months I wasn’t feeling much of anything. It wasn’t hard to believe that I wasn’t grateful enough, that I didn’t love them like I should. But I still had to wonder, even as the depression lifted, why hadn’t I ‘gotten over it?’ What was wrong with me?

Then I began to realize how evil it is to tell a woman who’s experienced a physically or emotionally traumatic birth that she should be grateful because when you say that, she hears that she isn’t grateful enough for the precious baby she’s been given. And that cuts to the quick. She may already be wondering what was wrong with her that she couldn’t have a normal birth and now you’ve told her that she doesn’t love her child enough. It is evil to say, “All that matters is a healthy baby,” because you are saying that her pain, her damage, doesn’t matter. You are telling her that not only is her body broken, but so is her mind. That if she is physically healthy, that’s all that matters, and to be concerned with anything else is somehow wrong. That the means to the end doesn’t matter, she is expendable.

The truth is a woman can be absolutely grateful and full of passionate mother love for her child and be enraged by how that child came into the world. Hating the birth, hating what happened in that cold impersonal operating room or delivery room has nothing to do with the child. It is possible to be both full of rage and full of love. When that rage is turned inward, a woman is depressed, and likely to believe you when she hears you tell her she’s ungrateful and unloving toward her child. And if that rage turns back outward, it will spill over to you, because you told her a lie and she believed it because she trusted you. If that rage stays hidden, it will fester, and eventually there will be a place in that woman’s heart where she no longer goes, because it just hurts too much and makes no sense. Good mothers just don’t have those feelings, and she’s already afraid she isn’t a good enough mother. And so she loses something precious, and so do we all.

I discovered that there are a lot of women out there who hated the birth of their child; women who had bad surgeries, women who had good surgeries, rarely women who had necessary surgeries, women who didn’t have surgery at all but did have horrible things done to them in the name of birth. I’m not the only one. There is a vast hidden ocean of pain in women who’ve had horrible births but do love their babies and continue to wonder, “What is wrong with me? If I just loved my baby enough, I wouldn’t feel this way.”

I was freed by the knowledge that there is nothing wrong with me! I underwent the surgical removal of my children from my body—a procedure that has nothing to do with birth, that completely circumvents what my woman’s body is made to do. If it felt like an assault, then it was an assault, a very sexual assault. And if I’m not upset about being assaulted, then there really is something wrong with me. And that nothing that was done to me has the power to keep me from loving my children with passionate mother love.

I am grateful, grateful beyond words for the blessing of my children. They are miracles. The day they were taken out of me was one of the worst days of my life. Yet I am grateful for them, though not for what was done to me. My physical body might have recovered well enough to be called ‘healthy’ but my spirit was deeply wounded and then neglected. I was not healthy. I know my children suffered because of that. I have a lot to be grateful for but not for their birth, never for their birth. Understanding and accepting that makes me truly healthy. Admitting the horror of their birth frames the love I have for them in a way that astonishes me—-amazed at what I went through because of my love for them, I now know I really would die for them if needed.

Now, when you tell me that I should be grateful, I realize that you are showing me how frightened you are. That you are afraid to look at my pain. That you are afraid to admit that maybe I have good reason to be angry, that maybe women are truly assaulted in the name of birth. You are telling me that it’s okay for women to have birth ripped from them, that it isn’t acceptable to look for a better way or to mourn what was lost. I know you now. You may not know yourself, but I do. And I pity you.


Copyright © 2001 Gretchen Humphries. All rights reserved.


Modern medicine increasingly intervenes in the birth process

Journalist Mary Beth Pfeiffer knocks another one out of the park with her second article in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Modern medicine increasingly intervenes in the birth process which examines the role modern medicine and interventions have placed in decreasing the gestational age at which babies are arriving!  pregnancy-calculator

“In the decade through 2002, something momentous happened to babies in the wombs of American women, especially white women. The average time fetuses spent there decreased from 40 weeks to 39.

The decline, reported in a 2006 study in the medical journal Seminars in Perinatology, appears to have little to do with nature.

Instead, earlier births may be the outcome of “increased use of induction (of labor) and other obstetric interventions such as cesarean delivery,” said a January report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Prematurity rose 20 percent since 1990, the report said, and the rate of low birth-weight babies hit a 40-year high.

“We are shortening the gestational age,” said Dr. Carol Sakala, program director for the research and advocacy group Childbirth Connection. “That is a big interference with mammalian evolution, human evolution.”

Is it possible that modern medicine, in a few short years, has managed to override the powerful and significant forces of evolution!

Birth by surgery: The skyrocketing cesarean rate

The Poughkeepsie Journal ran a great article, Birth By Surgery: The skyrocketing Cesarean Rate, by journalist, Mary Beth Pfeiffer recently that lamented the increasing rate of cesarean births, and shared the story of a woman in NY who had an unnecessary surgery for a suspected large baby and went on to have a vaginal birth with her second child.  Pfeiffer hits on all the hot topics, including defensive medicine, lack of options for VBAC women, malpractice concerns and malpractice insurance costs, benefits and risks to women and babies and more!  a-guide-to-pregnancy-complications-ga-7

From the article….”Two weeks before Kristi Ashley gave birth to a son in 2007, an ultrasound exam estimated the baby at a hefty 12 pounds, 10 ounces — too big, her doctor believed, for a safe vaginal delivery. After the child weighed in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces in the delivery room, Ashley came to believe that the planned cesarean section she had, with its attendant pain, long recovery and what she called “emotional damage,” may have been a rush to judgment.”

This is a worthwhile read, and most interesting are the comments published by readers after the article’s publicication!  Check it out and let us know your thoughts!

April is Cesarean Awareness Month!

April is Cesarean Awareness Month!  This is an opportunity to share with friends, colleagues, relatives and birth professionals that you come in contact with the impact of unnecessary cesareans on mom, baby, family, society, etc!  Tell your stories, provide resources and evidence based information, (lots of info here on our site,  or steer people to the ICAN National Site) and a tell the world the impact your cesarean birth has had on you!  Consider writing your birth story (Cesarean or other…) for the next edition of ICAN Seattle’s birth story book.

As referenced on the ICAN website, the Cesarean Awareness Ribbon debuted in April of 2004 for Cesarean Awareness Month. The burgundy color of the ribbons represents birth and the wearing of the ribbon upside down symbolizes the state of distress many pregnant women find themselves in when their birthing choices are limited. The loop of the inverted ribbon represents a pregnant belly and the tails are the arms of a woman outstretched in a cry for help.  cam_small1

And finally, consider joining ICAN as a member!  During the month of April, there are special membership prices for anyone joining or renewing their ICAN membership.  Membership in ICAN is a tangible way of demonstrating your support for ICAN and Cesarean Awareness, allows ICAN to continue it’s outreach programs and advocacy and also supports our local Seattle Chapter!  Join directly through ICAN Seattle, and our chapter benefits with additional funds staying in our chapter treasury!  Becoming an ICAN supporting suscriber is only $25 for an entire year of membership, $5 off, in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month.  Contact the ICAN Seattle chapter leaders to subscribe through our local chapter!

The History of VBACs and Cesareans in the USA

Another fantastic post by The Well Rounded Mama! A History of VBACs and Cesareans in the USA

A must read for anyone trying to figure out how we ended up were we are today, in the land of the VBAC Ban.

I really love what this VBAC mama blogger has to say! And I love that she provides all the evidence to support it! Enjoy!

“The Problem Is Only Beginning To Mushroom”

“The problem is only beginning to mushroom,” stated Carolyn Zelop, ACOG member,in regards to the increasing risk of cesarean deliveries. She was interviewed for the recent Time article, “The Trouble with Repeat Cesareans.”

I have linked to the study Zelop was referring to on our Resource Index page, but am quoting from the abstract here:

RESULTS: The prevalence of delivery hospitalizations (per 1,000) complicated by at least one severe obstetric complication increased from 0.64% (n_48,645) in 1998-1999 to 0.81% (n_68,433) in 2004–2005. Rates of complications that increased significantly during the study period included renal failure by 21% (from 0.23 to 0.28), pulmonary embolism by 52% (0.12 to 0.18), adult respiratory distress syndrome by 26% (0.36 to 0.45), shock by 24% (0.15 to 0.19), blood transfusion by 92% (2.38 to 4.58), and ventilation by 21 % (0.47 to 0.57). In logistic regression models, adjustment for maternal age had no effect on the increased risk for these complications in 2004–2005 relative to 1998–1999. However, after adjustment for mode of delivery, the increased risks for these complications in 2004–2005 relative to 1998–1999 were no longer significant, with the exception of pulmonary embolism (odds ratio 1.30) and blood transfusion (odds ratio 1.72). Further adjustment for payer, multiple births, and select comorbidities had little effect.
CONCLUSION: Rates of severe obstetric complications increased from 1998–1999 to 2004–2005. For many of these complications, these increases were associated with the increasing rate of cesarean delivery.

As the cesarean rate in the USA races higher by the day, indeed we must be headed toward some sort of explosion! Implosion? I don’t know what to call it, but Zelog’s reference to a “mushroom” brings to mind the image of a nuclear explosion. And that scares me! A lot!

“Immediately Available”

Please check out this wonderful post by The Well-Rounded Mama, speaking to the VBAC ban by both hospitals and OB practices all around the country! I think she hit the nail right on the head! What do you think?

The Rest of the Story…follow up to “The Trouble With Repeat Cesareans”

There is yet one more piece to the story that recently ran in TIME Magazine. The author Pamela Paul shared her own VBAC experience and the back of the story in The Huffington Post: Childbirth without Choice . As a result of her personal challenges to have a VBAC in a supposedly VBAC-supportive hospital, Pamela recognized that this was an issue that needed to be addressed. The recent TIME piece has gotten lots of coverage, and lots of people talking. That is a good thing!

More on VBAC Bans nationwide

As a follow up to yesterday’s post on the TIME magazine article The Trouble with Repeat Cesareans,  here is a link to the data collected from ICAN on VBAC bans across the country.

ICAN’s 2009 Survey on VBAC Bans

I noticed that one of our local hospitals contained incorrect data (Swedish Medical Center stated allowed, but there are two campuses, and VBACs are not allowed at Ballard) and have emailed ICAN, who will be making the correction shortly.

And, should you be denied a VBAC at your hospital of choice, here is some more information about what you can do!

What you can do if you are denied a VBAC chance