Friday, March 26, 2010

28 Wks, 5 Days: Gah! Something Irking Me

Okay. Notice how I start every post with "Okay" or "So"? Ha! Anyhow...

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately. And I have noticed something. There seems to be this trend of looking down on mothers who do not choose a 100% natural childbirth. And electing to have a repeat c-section? OMG, I must be evil!

Maybe it's me. Maybe the 2 awful, horrendous pregnancies I have endured have clouded my judgement. But I thought the end result desired in a pregnancy was a healthy baby and mother. Call me silly. Yes, I realize that c-sections and medicated births can have an impact on the baby and mother that would not be present in a natural childbirth situation. But sometimes, natural childbirth is just not possible and not advisable. I don't think the fact that my sons' births were/ will be highly medicalized makes me any less of a woman or mother. I don't think a woman who goes through natural childbirth is any more deserving of a big decal on her SuperMom costume. After all, I went through 4 months of contractions with no pain meds with E, and am on the road to doing the same with this one. And these weren't little uterine hiccups. These were Contractions, capitalized intentionally. 2 to 3 minutes apart. For hours/ days/ weeks/ months on end. So yeah, I have a c-section scar. But I bet I am more deserving of superhero status than the woman who endured 12 hours of this stuff. And in the end (of E's pregnancy and God willing, this one as well), there was a healthy baby. I call that a success. And in no way see how it means I failed or that the medical establishment failed me.

So what of these natural childbirth plans? I think they are fabulous. I truly mean that. I am all for women being empowered and knowledgeable of what they can do. And I agree that not everyone needs a medicalized birth experience. But some of us do. And even if there is a slim chance of any type of deterioration of mom and/ or baby, why would one even chance it?

Which brings me to the concept of freebirthing. This angers me more than anything. Don't know what it is? It is the concept of women giving birth at home with no medical assistance at all. Not even a midwife present. Just mom and whomever she deems fit to be there to witness the miracle of life. The advocates for this practice will tell you that women have been delivering babies like this for as long as we have been here. Yep, true. Very true. I'm picturing ol' Aunt Gertrude in a log cabin or shanty somewhere, back before we had a road system, hitching up her sweat-drenched skirts and trying to push out a baby. Yes, women used to do it all of the time. Not because it was radical or better for them or baby, or because they had some notion that this empowered them. They did it because they had no other choice.

So I read some research somewhre that sort of drove me crazy a little bit. I wish I had the link now, but it said something to the effect that the rate of infant death has actually increased with the medicalization of childbirth. Really? Seriously? That must completely demonize medicine and make us all want to freebirth, right? Ummmmm, NO! Where were these statistics from? Were there ways of tracking our vital staistics back then that there are now? I can say, as a healthcare provider, that patient deaths are tracked very thoroughly. We have very accurate ways of keeping these statistics. But this was not always the case, and certainly wasn't the case when women did not have the medical options they do now. When Aunt Gertrude gave birth in her shanty. I can see how this would make it look like the medicalization of childbirth has increased infant mortality, but quite honestly, I don't believe it one bit.

So why risk it? I know from professional experience that even a full-term, seemingly healthy infant can take a turn for the worse and require some sort of resuscitative measure in an instant. In that instant, would you not want someone there to intervene on your baby's behalf? Does this mean we all need to submit to the narcotics and epidurals and elective c-sections? No, absolutely not. But I would at least want someone there with higher qualifications than basic CPR, and some equipment that may become necessary. Well, there is always 911, right? Ha! Have you ever called an ambulance? I remember a time I was having an anaphylactic reaction. Me. A registered respiratory therapist who could tell the operator exactly what was going on and how dire the situation was at the time. I could feel my airway closing up and knew it was a matter of minutes before it would become sealed off and I would need to be intubated then or would die. It still took them 9 minutes to get to my house. When you have a neonate who needs to be resuscitated, 9 minutes is a lifetime.

So if you want the natural, unassisted childbirth, there are options for you. There are birthing centers where you can do your thing, but there is help nearby if needed. There are midwives who will come to your home who have the training and wherewithal to know what to do in an emergency. And yes, there are highly credentialed physicians and specialists to help with the most complicated of deliveries. They will even allow you to come up with your own birthing plan. But please do not jeopardize your child's life. And do not look down on me for not taking the same path you did.


  1. Congrats on reaching 30 weeks! That was two weeks ago for me, and I remember the feeling of relief when it finally came.

    I love your fetal monitor widget! So cool.

    I agree with you on freebirthing. I didn't know it even existed until I watched a special on it recently and it seems to me, if you're going to do a homebirth, at least have a professional be there in case something happens. Like you said, having your partner learn CPR just doesn't cut it.
    As far as natural childbirth goes, I hope to have one for many reasons. But in the end, if I had to have a C-section because my baby's life was at risk, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Like you said, having a healthy baby is the whole point. And I sincerely hope none of my posts on my blog had a condescending tone to them.

  2. NO! You didn't say anything! You know the type I'm talking about---like you are less of a woman if you have a c-section. It drives me crazy.
    I think natural childbirth is wonderful!Better for mom and baby! But it just isn't always an option. And some people get so crazy about trying for one that they won't even consider other options, and put themselves and the baby at risk when the going gets tough. The whole point of having a birth plan is that WE can make these choices. And having an open mind before hand can make things go more smoothly!