Friday, June 17, 2011

Why You (Probably) Didn't Really Need a C-Section

Oh yes. I'm going there. Hate me if you will. I know I'm stepping on a lot a toes here, but if only one woman makes a change for the good of her and her baby because of it, it'll be worth it. I'm just so tired of hearing women talk about how they "needed" an "emergency" c-section and how they would not have been able to have their baby vaginally. The truth is, there is absolutely no need for a 30% c-section rate. Most women I know did not choose to have an elective c-section out of convenience; they were told that they needed one. This is a lie. Most "emergencies" are caused by hospital interventions and procedures in the first place. If you honestly couldn't push out your baby (for a number of reasons I'll list below), chances are it had nothing to do with your build, size, or capabilities as a mother, and had everything to do with your environment. Now don't get me wrong - emergencies DO happen - but they are extremely rare. Women tend to get offended when I say something like this, but really, I'm not saying anything negative about the women who have these unnecessary sections. I'm not saying that these women have done anything wrong. I'm saying these women have been lied to.

1. "My baby wouldn't fit." - This is VERY unlikely. The vast majority of women don't have babies that are too big to fit through their pelvis. The reason so many women have the trouble of "fitting" a big (or even not-so-big) baby is because they usually are made to push on their backs, either because of having an epidural, or because that's what they're told they have to do. This is the WORST position to push out a baby! Lying on one's back decreases the pelvic opening by up to 30%! If you were standing, squatting, or on your hands and knees, your 11-lb. baby probably would not have had to be cut out of your body.

2. "My baby was breech." - Vaginal birth is actually much less risky than c-sections in most breech cases (and current research is finally supporting this - something midwives have known all along). One problem is that many OBs are not trained in vaginal breech births anymore. Then there is the looming threat of malpractice suits, a threat which seems to, more often than not, take the decision-making process out of the hands of the patient. C-sections should be the last resort, and since they started out that way, most people (erroneously) assume they still are, so that if something goes wrong during a section (which happens more frequently than during a vaginal birth), people assume the doctors did everything they could, chalk it up to fate or chance, and leave the lawyers out of it. Unless your baby is completely sideways (a rare occurrence), most breech babies CAN be safely born vaginally.

3. "When they finally sectioned me, the baby had the cord wrapped around his neck 435 times!" - It is not uncommon for the baby to be born with the cord around the neck, even several times. It's actually pretty normal. You just slip it off as the baby comes out. No big deal.

4. "My baby was stuck." - This is often what people say when they mean the baby had shoulder dystocia. This is something that can often be remedies using a number of techniques, the most effective being the Gaskin Maneuver, which requires the women to get onto her hands and knees...however, if you've had an epidural (often the first in a long line of mistakes), this may be impractical (but NOT impossible). Of course, if you were allowed to labor in a secure, calm, familiar environment without being attached to machinery, you probably wouldn't have "needed" the epidural anyway, but that's another rant...

5. "My baby was in distress." - Oh really? How do you know that? Heart-rate drop? (a variation of normal in most births, but often misinterpreted thanks to continuous fetal monitoring). Or perhaps the baby was in distress due to the pitocin (the effects of which you can't feel, thanks to the epidural - no such luck for the baby, who feels every single abnormally strong contraction). These are all risks of pitocin and epidurals, by the way (you'll see them on the paper you had to sign). Babies are often thrown into distress because of the interventions they are unwillingly subjected to, leading to a truly unnecessary emergency c-section. Sure, your section may have been an emergency, but there may not have been any emergency at all if you had not been lied to and/or bullied into these interventions in the first place.

6. "I had complete placenta previa, my placenta had detached and was delivered before the baby, and the baby was sideways, sticking out an arm and waving to everyone in the room." - Ok, you needed a c-section.

1 comment:

  1. I had a c-section because my son was frank breech. I hate it! When I was at the hospital, I didn't understand why they wouldn't try to turn him around. But I was, and still am, very uneducated about pregnancy and birth, so I just went along with hospital procedures. Did I mention, I hate it! And if my water broke and I was having contractions, couldn't I just trust my son and myself to do what women have been doing like forever? Ugh! I hate that I had a c-section. Thank you for this post and the opportunity to vent.