Who's Afraid of the Big Bad C-Section?

by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

 

My sister-in-law just had a baby and she had four hours of labor, pushed for one hour (with seven minutes between contractions so she could rest) while talking to her doctor and holding her husband’s hand, and her beautiful baby boy slid out like a tiny miracle.

 

Everything was perfect.

 

I’ve had two c-sections.

 

Until the other day, I didn’t think I was missing out on anything. But to hear her talk about what an amazing experience it was left me wondering if I’d gotten the short end of the child birth stick.

 

“It was the most natural experience of my entire life,” my sister-in-law gushed when I entered her hospital room. She was flying high, by the way, and her mood wasn’t due to morphine like mine was when I was wheeled out of recovery trailing my catheter tubes behind me.

 

“It’s like, now I understand what our bodies are made for. It all makes perfect sense,” she said tearing up at the realization.

 

It’s not like I don’t know what our bodies are meant for. Because I do. I know what a vagina is for. I just didn’t use mine for that. And it’s not that I never wanted to. I didn’t request a c-section because I was planning a fabulous vacation and needed to know my schedule. Although if you read the news these days they’d have you believe that despite the risks involved in major surgery, women are lining up around the block for their C’s, poo poo’ing vaginal deliveries like they’re last season’s hemline.

 

According to MSNBC, the US’s C-section rates are among the highest in the world and only increasing. A lot of these C-sections are repeat C’s which according to the author of this article are highly unnecessary. The problem apparently is that these darn doctors are saying once a C always a C when women should at least try to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section). I guess being one of those women this article is referring to: a repeat C offender, I feel at once ripped off and defensive.

 

When I got knocked up with my first baby, I already knew I’d be having a C-sec. I’d been treated for a large uterine fibroid multiple times and my top notch female surgeon told me –no vaginal birth. “Are you certain?” I’d asked, not because I was so upset at the thought just because I figured I should know the reasons. “I shouldn’t even try?”

 

“No. You have scars on your uterus and if you went into hard labor, your uterus could rupture. Even though there’s only a small chance of that happening, if it happened you could lose the baby and you could also die. You don’t want to take that risk.

 

“So you’re saying I should definitely give it a try then. Ha ha.” Obviously I didn’t want to take that risk so I put it out of my mind, never second guessing it until I was pregnant with my first child and other women asked me about my birth plan.

 

“I have to have a C-sec,” I’d tell them.

 

Jen Dunlop Jormakka
11.24.10

The most important thing is holding your baby after s/he is born, not how your baby arrived. No one can predict how a birth will go, so I think it's best to be fully informed and then realize anything can happen!

http://whendoibecomecompetentagain.blogspot.com

MaryA
10.26.10

I loved my c-sections! The two best days of my life were the days I gave birth to my gorgeous daughters - took about 10 minutes via C section. No pain at all and I was on my feet the next day.

Having a healthy baby is most important and in case new moms don't know this - it is no longer about "you" and "your experience." Thank god for modern medicine and C-sections!

geekymummy
10.12.10

how lovely that you got to see your sister in law so soon after her birth while she was still flying high. She was very lucky, and of course so were you, to be having babies in a time when C sections are safe and routine.

We don't all get to experience everything in life, sure natural childbirth can be amazing, but so can sky diving, eating at 5 star restaurants in Paris or running a Marathon. All our experiences are valid. Birth experiences can be tough to talk about though for fear of "showing off". I was met with bemusement when I started to wax lyrical about my natural birth here at the office, so I shut up!

iubaker1
09.21.10

My daughter was breech which was discovered during an ultrasound early November for a baby due in January. I did downward dog poses until I was blue in the face (courtesy of my prenatal yoga instructor)with no budging of said baby - and to this day said child is that stubborn. We met with my ob/gyn to discuss the options for a breech baby - the procedure for turning the baby - the complications - had to be done soon before the baby got any bigger and it would not work due to lack of space - start my labor and cause an emergency c - section, side effects from the medicines etc and also what is refered to as the dreaded scheduled C section. I will have to tell you, major surgery or not I was a whole lot more comfortable with the thought of a c section planned out at the end of my pregancy than the thought of an emergency one with 8 weeks to go till my due date. Then again my goal was the same as another posters - a healthy baby and healthy me at the end of delivery - so I missed out on the birthing room - no in-laws allowed in surgery so it worked just fine. However, I followed every piece of information I was given ahead of time and told my fellow classmates from our birthing class to pay attention to the information about c-sections so that no matter what you had planned you were prepared for any issues.

mfelter
09.21.10

My 7 year old son asked about the mechanics of birth. I told him that some women push their baby out through their privates, and sometimes doctors take the baby right out of the mommy's tummy (ahem - both of my sons). Either way, the baby comes out and is now part of the family. Very simple explanation. Worked for him. Why can't it work for other women? Don't know.

Rita
09.18.10

It's really crap for woman to criticize other womens choices. Some aren't even choices.
I have given birth vaginally and had two c-sections.My first c-section wasn't a choice,my daughter was butt first (my oldest loves to tell her she's been a butt head since birth!) and had already had her first bowel movement. So I ,very quickly ,was rushed to my first surgery ever. She also was born with spina bifida. When I forgot about potty training and had started sleeping through the night I had the brilliant idea to start all over and have one last baby(I really love her,and would do it all over again to be her Mom.I'm just feeling my age).
My doctor gave me the option of vaginal delivery after c-section,but unlike all the women who criticize,I didn't forget the pain of 24 hr labor of love (or the toxemia that almost gave me a stroke-I kid you not-or the episiotomy that took forever to heal properly),and I chose to go with a second c-section.Do not regret it at all. There are pros and cons to either way and who are we to decide what is the "right" or "wrong" way for another person. Frankly,after having a child with serious health problems and after hearing that my scar could possibly rupture(however unlikely)during labor I was spooked and a c-section was oddly comforting and made me feel I had some "control".So,the snarky comments I did hear didn't really bother me.It has always been that people feel the right.I would never tell someone I barely knew that their choice of clothing or hairstyle wasn't a good one,but some people feel free to let you know what they think of your birthing/feeding/parenting decisions?!Puhleez! I tried very hard to breastfeed my oldest girls,but wasn't successful and guiltily gave them formula.Feeling every holier-than-thou glare from the "successful"mothers.My "choice" for my daughter with spina bifida was an especially difficult one because breast milk was about the only thing I had to offer her as a way try to give her every advantage possible,healthwise. I tried everything to keep up with breastfeeding her.I had to drive an hour away to see the assortment of specialists that special needs kids require and an hour home.My daughter was the kind that didn't like car rides.At All.The only thing that would calm her was a bottle.So I tried to start pumping again,and found out the hard way that stress, and not eating much due to said stress,will wipe out your milk supply.You know what?The very first day of formula made my life so much easier.It was like the heavens opened up and the angels sang for me.It was one less thing to worry about.
So when I had my third daughter I was determined to breastfeed.I did it too! I endured and conquered raw and cracked nipples,teething and made enough milk for 3 babies ,and all of the other issues that go along with breastfeeding. We got past all of it and I loved the bonding,and knowing that I was making baby food. I didn't miss bottles and mixing the powder etc...but when she was 10 months old I had to go to the hospital for two months with my middle daughter.Since we had ,by then, moved to Hawaii the hospital my daughter needed was on another island and that meant the baby couldn't go with us.So no more breastfeeding,and we both still live.All of my middle daughters health issues are surgical or infections related to surgical procedures she's had.None of my kids get"normal illnesses" very often,and all have healthy immune systems.Enough years have gone by that I have finally made peace with my "decisions".I do not feel more"bonded" with any of my girls.I instead love them all differently,and fiercely. I'm not particularly in love with either form of childbirth.It's the moment you see your baby,who you have waited so long to see,and is probably the only one(or ones)you will love before you ever lay eyes on them. Life will throw you some major curveballs and will knock you down enough with out someone else looking down their nose at you for something you may or may not have any control over. I can't afford to feed my kids all organic foods so I do when I can,and my daughters life has been saved by antibiotics,and she now has built a resistance to most of them even with very careful usage.I immunized both of my older daughters on scheduale without fail,and then all of a sudden, here comes the news that it may make children autistic.So,every once in awhile I take refuge from this crazy world in a gossip website or a rag mag,and here is Gisele(responsible for the self loathing of millions)now trying to make people feel bad about breastfeeding.
I know I've gone way off the original topic which was c-sections,but there are so many things we women don't support each other on.It seems more about being right than being kind and knowing that we are all really trying to be the best mom's we can be in spite of all the choices we have to make.We should all try to remember that when you hear a woman say she has had a c-section it may not have been her "choice"and may have been a very scary situation for her,and in spite all of your planning it could end up happening to you.

mayabear13
09.15.10

I could kiss you for this post. I am expecting baby #2. I had to have a C-section after 30 hours of labor with my first child. Turns out she was huge, facing the wrong way and apparently I have a narrow birth canal. I went out of my way to check out a clinic with the highest number of VBACs in the state last week where I was told in no uncertain terms that they wouldn't let me try for one. The Dr. made very clear that the hospital had recently lost a $4 mil lawsuit with a woman who wasn't a good VBAC candidate that insisted on one and permanently damaged her baby. In the end, I guess the most important thing is that this baby gets here safe and healthy and that I recover safely so that I can be a good mommy. And I really wish that I wouldn't be blamed for a choice that in reality is out of my hands.

pm891
09.14.10

I had two large babies and two c-sections and I wouldn't change a thing. My OB gave me the option of the VBAC but I declined. I knew all the risks - I work in healthcare. I have two beautiful children and no guilt about my decisions. What's right for me may not be right for you - and that's fine. I have friends who have had great vaginal deliveries and those that have had the kind of experiences that nighmares are made of...everyone is different. And that should be ok. I grew up Irish Catholic so I don't need any more guilt. I did what was right for me. Girls...you should remember that life lesson. I will be teaching my daughter to make her own decisions.

neverstop
09.12.10

I'm here to say that all the scary stuff they tell you about a ruptured uterus during a VBAC is real. My first child was a scheduled c-section because she was breach. When I got pregnant with my second child I was ready to be told that I had to have a c-section, but my doctor (unprompted by me) said that she thought I would be fine with a VBAC, but it was up to me. I agonized over the decision due to the risk of a ruptured uterus and what that could mean for my unborn baby. But I finally decided to go with the VBAC since the risk of a ruptured uterus was low and it would be best for my 3 year old to be back on my feet as soon as possible. Well, during labor while I was under the epidural, my uterus ruptured, the whisked me off to OR for an emergency c-section. My son had an APGAR of 1 and I was close to having a hysterectomy. The neonatal doctor told my husband and I that we had dogded a bullet and to thank God. I'm convinced that if I hadn't been at one of the best hospitals in the country in a major metropolitan area things wouldn't have gone even that well. Fortunately my 2nd child, a boy, recovered perfectly and is absolutely normal and wonderful and now 9 years old. Had I to do over again I would clearly never have the VBAC.

Writermom
09.09.10

Hi EMJ, I was totally with you on offering more support to women but then you added the tidbit that the guidelines are more favorable to VBACS now and suddenly it felt like you didn't understand the original premise of the article. The point was not to point out that I could have or one could have a VBAC it's to respect that some people don't want to take that risk. I'm sure there are circumstances where a VBAC would be safe but that is between a woman and her doctor and not for anyone else to judge or comment on. All I'm asking is for women to have fewer things to feel badly about concerning their childbirth.