This post caused a mediocre stir on my blog a little bit ago:
I'm sure by now you've seen the articles and heard the commentary on how cesarean rates are rising. Doctors are performing optional cesarean section deliveries when women decide prior to childbirth that they do not want to feel the pain of labor, experience the adventure of pushing or the challenge of delivering a child without medical intervention. It's no secret that doctors and hospitals treat pregnancy as a medical condition, like tonsillitis or an ear infection, rather than a natural and normal part of life. As pregnancy rates rise and women are more and more terrified by the stories of painful labors and are afraid of losing the muscle tone in their bellies, my heart sinks and sinks.
Do you remember when women were given medications during pregnancy and then they realized years later that it was causing problems for their children? Have you seen the rise in childhood diseases and disabilities? How long do you think it will be before someone does a study showing that optional cesareans, pain medications and future medical problems are correlated?
I have had one child. I had a natural childbirth - it was augmented with Pitocin because of a positive Group B Strep test prior to delivery, but I had no pain medication. I labored for 24 hours, and at the end I was able to feel the overwhelming delight and overpowering love when my husband delivered and handed me my firstborn son. My son was delightfully vibrant, full of anger at being ejected from the womb, and his umbilical cord was beautifully colored, thick and strong. Do you see what mothers are missing when they are not coherent at birth?
I know plenty of women who have had interventions during childbirth. I understand how it feels to be in transition - I've been through it - but women (and their partners) are grossly under-educated about childbirth today. When I was pregnant, many people asked if I would have an epidural or c-section. When I told them I was having a natural childbirth, they laughed and said I'd be begging for an epidural. Why is it that we assume we cannot handle a natural process? One that our bodies are built for?
I do understand that there are exceptions. A friend of mine delivered via c-section as a last resort because her baby was not engaging in her pelvis due to the size of his head. However, she went into childbirth well-educated and wanting a natural childbirth. This is hugely different from my cousin who told me the other day that she had seen another woman give birth and since she felt completely unable to assist, she's sure she wants the epidural - because there was nothing she could do do alleviate the pain.
Did she try different laboring positions? Did she try massage or relaxation techniques? I was trained in visualizations, among other relaxation techniques. My husband was my doula during my pregnancy. He and I were a team, and together we had attended Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth classes. He remembered how to help alleviate my pain. He helped me through transition. He got me up and down off the birth ball when I had to go to the bathroom. He helped me push in sidelying position when I was too tired to move after not having slept for 2 nights. And he delivered oiur son and practiced (and still does) Kangaroo Kare - warming him on his bare chest. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.
I just wish women knew that child birth is not a medical problem. I wish they could see the difference side-by-side between babies whose mothers had epidurals versus those who did not. I wish they knew laboring techniques and didn't expect their doctor to guide them through it. I wish we were all more informed. I wish we would take back childbirth.