Sunday, September 27, 2009

Snapshot of the state of things

I attended a large gathering of women from church last night. During the dinner portion, one of my table-mates asked me, "So you're into the au naturale birth stuff, right?" I responded, "Yeah, actually it's more of an obsession. You probably don't want to get me started." But then the conversation topic remained with birth for most of the rest of the evening. Over the course of the conversation, I was shocked (but not really) to discover that I was surrounded by cesarean moms. Here were the stats at our table...

Friend A: one primary emergency cesarean (general anesthesia) prior to start of labor for reduced fetal activity and distressing heart tones.

Friend B: three planned cesareans for breech, transverse, etc.

Friend C: one primary cesarean during pushing phase for non-reassuring fetal heart tones, posterior presentation, "stuck" baby.

Friend D: one emergency cesarean for her second baby (I'm not sure the details).

Friend E: currently pregnant with her second baby (I don't know the details of her births).

Friend F: four unmedicated vaginal births attended by nurse midwives.

Me: three unmedicated vaginal births (two of them attended by midwives).

So... four (possibly five) out of seven women at that table had scars on their uteruses. I was almost tempted to get the attention of the rest of the women in that large gathering and ask, by the show of hands, how many others had cesarean scars. But I'm almost too frightened to find out the answer.

Friend A described how strange it was to be put under and then have her baby brought to her several hours later... "Who is this?! Where did you come from?" She said she kind of wants to have the childbirth experience, having her baby placed immediately on her chest and all... but wonders if it's "stupid" to feel like she wants to experience that. I shook my head and told her "No, it's not stupid." But I didn't feel comfortable getting into it too deeply for fear of offending all the women at the table. I think it's sometimes hard for cesarean moms to hear about the magic of normal birth. All births are miracles, of course.

I spent quite some time, later in the evening, discussing the dinner discussion with my carpool driver (from another dinner table, Friend G: survivor of three cesareans--one of them an attempted VBAC). We both sadly agreed that, as much as we'd like to see cesarean rates decline, we just really don't think it's going to happen. At least not as long as trained surgeons remain the primary care providers for 99% of pregnant American women.

There's some birth faith for ya, eh?


Liz Johnson said...

Yeah, it's true. But then I think of all of the women who, 10 years ago, would've told you that they wanted an OB and an epidural and wouldn't have thought twice (myself included). And now MANY (if not most) of those same women are choosing midwifery care. Some are even having home births. The word is spreading... it takes time, but change is happening.

Faithful Lurker said...

Wow that is sad. I agree though, it doesn't seem like it will change any time soon. I'm just hoping that one by one, women will start to see a better way for themselves and their babies.

Btw, I had a similar conversation last week in which someone said to me "you are one of those old fashioned type that doesn't get the epi right?"

I just smiled and said yes. Little does she home birth is fast approaching. I guess THAT is WAY old fashioned. lol

Diana J. said...

You're absolutely right.... I notice that whenever the topic of birth comes up in a gathering a women, a majority of them will have had one or more cesareans. As a matter of fact, I noticed that very thing with a playgroup last week - of all of us, most of had one or more cesareans. Rather sad. At least one of those cesareans was forced by insurance - wouldn't cover a VBAC.

Buscando la Luz said...

On a related note: I was looking around during church today and mentally noting to myself how many of the women I saw had had at least one cesarean... OH. MY. I finally stopped 'cause it was kind of scary.

I refuse to believe that the majority of babies need to be born by cesarean or that the majority of women have bodies that cannot give birth. I refuse.

Sarah H said...

Yes I do the same things. I'm sometimes sitting with a group of women and we've all been cut on the uterus at least once. It's really hard for me when some of the women don't even plan to attempt a VBAC. Their doctors have simply told them "I dont' to VBACs" so that's it! I'm not upset with the women of course, but with their doctors and the general state of things.

Morgan said...

That sounds about average. At least 1/3 of my friends have had c-sections. 9/10 of the ones that had vaginal births did so natural. Almost every single woman I know that was induced with their first child ended up with a c-section. Crazy.

Terra Jones said...

Just found you, thanks to Jill @ The Unnecesarean!

I think it's sometimes hard for cesarean moms to hear about the magic of normal birth. -- SO true. For months after my c/s with my first (ok, for about 15 months and 2 weeks) I couldn't handle hearing about friends births when they turned out "so perfect" ...nor could I handle it when friends ended up with an "unnecesarean"...

Then I had my VBAC and I can't get OVER that magic. I'm so incredibly thankful I WAS able to experience that (Had to fight my tail off to get it, but I got it!)

I too, like la Luz, will look around at church/functions and recount all the birth stories and try to figure out where I can tickle someone's ears with a vbac :)

Look forward to reading more of your blog!

Buscando la Luz said...

Big thanks to Jill for the link-over. And thanks for all the comments, Ladies! Keep 'em comin! :-)

P.S. I realized this morning that I made a mistake in writing this post. My first birth was delivered by a resident (would have been an OB if he had arrived in time) not a midwife. Oops! I'm so enamored with midwives that I forgot my first wasn't midwife-assisted. :-)

Brittney said...

Sadly, I avoid these conversations. Alot of times I excuse myself when the topic turns to cesareans. Just happened tonight actually. It's totally not the time to say anything that will make an impact and I really struggle with hearing it and not being able to do anything. Bummer.

OrganicMama said...

There is so much fear and ignorance surrounding women as they give birth and it leads to cesareans.
Yet, the fact that those women were willing to talk about it all evening makes me hope that in their hearts they believe there are other possibilities.

Keep sharing your birth faith with us. I do believe it makes a difference!