A Mom Says “No Way” to C-Section Number Four


The safest way for a baby to be born is vaginally but the C-section rate in this country is skyrocketing. American women are starting to protest. If doctors don't let them do VBACs in the hospital, they're choosing to have their babies at home instead.

The safest way for a baby to be born is vaginally but the C-section rate in this country is skyrocketing. American women are starting to protest. If doctors don’t let them do VBACs in the hospital, they’re choosing to have their babies at home instead.

Last week we were talking about nursing past three and I’ve been reading through all of the comments now that Baby Leone and I are back from a hectic week in Boston. Thank you to those who weighed in on extended nursing. I’ve been fascinated to read the discussion that series started and I’m inspired by the stories everyone shared.

On the subject of inspirational stories, maybe you’ve already heard this amazing CNN story of a mom of four who didn’t show up for a scheduled C-section.

The doctors told Aneka that since she had three previous C-sections she would have to have a fourth.

When she informed the doctor she wasn’t coming in, the doctor told her she could die and her baby could die. Then the doctor hung up the phone.

Ten years ago a doctor cut into her belly because her labor wasn’t progressing fast enough.

Fast enough according to whom?

“Failure to progress” is a common reason for C-sections.

“Failure to progress” is a meaningless combination of three words that seldom makes sense in the context of human beings giving birth.

Birth is not a linear process.

Birth is not a fast process.

Often a labor slows down or even stops in the hospital because of doctor or nurse intervention.

That’s what happened during my first birth.

When we went to the hospital after my water broke the doctor on call ordered a speculum exam over the phone to confirm that my water was broken. When we refused (a simple litmus test would have sufficed), the doctor told me that I could have a ruptured bladder and that my baby would die if I did not follow her orders.

I had been contracting regularly.

After the doctor and my usually mildly mannered husband got into a screaming match on the phone, my contractions stopped altogether.

This is a body’s very smart survival mechanism.

When a laboring animal in nature feels threatened, the birth process often slows down or stops until the threat has passed.

How would a birthing bear respond if someone stuck their fingers up her yoni? (Doctors and nurses routinely “check” laboring women by putting their hands up the vagina. I don’t know about you but I find it rather inhibiting when someone I’m not married to tries to put his hands up my vagina.)

How would a through-hiker on the Appalachian Trail make it past the first three miles with nothing to eat? (In most hospitals laboring women are denied food in case they need surgery later.)

I have a friend who was in labor for forty hours. She had an unassisted home birth. If she had been in the hospital, she would have been cut open. If she had had a midwife attending her, she may have ended up in the hospital. She gave birth to a healthy 10 pound 12 ounce baby boy without any interference or problems at all.

I know of another woman who was in labor for four days. Her husband told me he was glad they were delivering at home so no one rushed them.

Labor takes a long time.

It can take such a long time I’m going to write that sentence again.

Labor takes a long time.

But hospital doctors are often in a hurry. They don’t want to sit on their hands and wait for a woman’s body to open up in the time she and her baby need.

Doctors are not trained to sit on their hands and wait.

Doctors didn’t go to medical school to sit on their hands and wait.

Doctors didn’t incur all that debt to sit on their hands and wait.

Doctors aren’t making $250,000/year to sit on their hands and wait.

Doctors are trained to intervene.

As more hospitals refuse to let women have VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), more women who want vaginal births are choosing to have their babies at home with midwives.

That’s what Aneka did.

On December 5, after twenty hours of labor, she pushed out a perfect 9 pound 6 ounce baby boy.

Welcome to the world Baby Annan Ni’em!

Do you think Aneka is a hero who defied the medical establishment and gave birth her own way or an irresponsible risk-taker who put herself and her baby in danger by giving birth on at home?

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22 thoughts on “A Mom Says “No Way” to C-Section Number Four”

  1. A hero! I love stories like this! Even when we are well-prepared to let our health-care providers know what we want in labor, it can be intimidating to be told we are putting our child at risk. That card is played SO unfairly against mothers! And when you’re in labor, internally focused on bringing your child into the world, the last thing you want to do is pick a fight with your doctor or nurse.

    I love the fact that her baby was over 9 pounds–another reason often used for interventions, or for women to believe they “can’t” birth naturally. Ha!

  2. A hero. I’m in my early thirties and, silly as it might sound, I still feel affected by having been born by C-section; my older brother was a C-section and, when my time came around, there was no question: C-section again.

    For years, from my teens through my mid-twenties, I freaked out every April right around my birthday. I would get panicky, sometimes having panic attacks that were debilitating enough that I couldn’t go out in public. A feeling would come over me that the world was suddenly too overwhelming to handle. At first, I thought that it was the transition from winter to spring–a change in the light, a change in the level of activity of all life on earth, etc.–and I started spending a ton of time outside during the spring so that I could experience the transition from winter to spring more gradually, with less of a sense of shock. That helped, but I didn’t really begin to feel fully functional during that time of year until I started thinking about my birth by C-section. Because it was the SAME thing: a sudden and overwhelming change in environment–from level of light, the air temperature, being suddenly taken from the familiarity of the womb to unfamiliar hands in rubber gloves–with zero opportunity to adjust. If you think about how sensitive babies are to their environment, it’s hard to imagine that that kind of shock wouldn’t have an effect on people for their entire lives.

  3. I am very happy her story turned out for the better, bu what would we all be thinking if the story went the other way? Would she still be a hero? The doctor was doing what he felt was right. I have had 3 babies all with doctors all in hospitals. I’m thankful for modern technology and that we have it here to use.

    Just remember this, if the baby died would she be a hero or a reckless mother? Would you still be rpoud of her or would you all be the first to call her irresponsible?

  4. C-sections have their time and place but they are grossly overused to compensate for the general lack of quality maternity care that mothers receive from their providers. When I was carrying twins, no doctor ever counseled me on the increased nutritional requirements for carrying two babies or what the benefits were to carrying beyond the magical date of 38 weeks. Instead, my (backup) OB scheduled a cesarean at 38 weeks just because I was carrying two babies. No medical reason. I didn’t show up for the surgery and had a homebirth instead (HBAC to be exact, because my previous birth had been a cesarean.) With my second set of twins I planned a homebirth again and instead ended up with a (medically necessary) cesarean. There is a huge difference between a necessary cesarean and a cesarean caused by intervention. VBAC is safe but is rarely promoted as a good choice for mothers because many care providers don’t want to offer it. (I’m speaking of both doctors and even homebirth midwives.) It’s refreshing to see mainstream media covering this mother’s story. More attention needs to be drawn to the benefits of homebirth & VBAC and the difficulties in finding good care providers for both.
    .-= Heather@It’sTwinsanity!´s last blog ..VomitFest 2010- 10 Truths About Stomach Bugs =-.

  5. @jennie…if the baby died in the hospital, would the doctor still be great and the interventions wonderful?

    The fact is, the C-Section rate is the HIGHEST it’s ever been at 32.9% and I can guarantee all of those “emergency C-Sections” that women are subjected to are NOT emergencies but impatience.

    Do emergencies happen? Yes, they do…not anywhere NEAR what doctors and hospitals claim they do. Also, people continue to think that Midwives are untrained people who just like to catch babies. I have had 2 midwives deliver my 2 boys at home…and they were highly trained and probably knew me and my body better than my OB ever did.

    My midwives kept close watch on me and helped me along when they felt I needed the encouragement. My OB was never around except to inform me that if I didn’t have my baby by 5am (my 12 hour window) I would be rushed to the OR for a C-Section for failure to progress (my baby ended up being born at 4:01am). I also tend to carry my babies longer (43 weeks, 42.5 weeks, and 43 weeks) and was scolded by the OB that if I didn’t induce my 1st at 40 weeks, she would be born dead.

    Yes, modern technology is a life saver…but it does not replace the human body. C-Sections were not meant to replace birth, but to be a successful intervention on the births that would otherwise end in death of the mom and/or baby. It is very, very rare that these births happen (which they do)…but a trained/qualified midwife would see that there is a problem and transfer.

    Treating the birthing mom as a person and not a paycheck or unfeeling machine makes a big difference in birth…which is why a lot of women are trying to leave the hospitals and go back home where they are safe, secure, and recognized as a thinking, feeling human being.

  6. I am proud that she took control of her care. I am hoping to VBAC next time too. My first birth was a midwife assisted hospital birth that was “perfect”. My second birth was an emergency c-section. I feel thankful for the intervention of medical doctors. I did not even feel like my contractions were worth notice, but my daughter’s cord was compressed and her heart rate was 70! There is a definite time and place for c-sections and careful medical monitoring. I do not believe taht a woman always knows that there is a problem. I fought the intervention strongly until my doctor turned on an ultrasound and showed me the slow heart rate. I then relented peacefully to general anesthesia. I will never try a home birth or wait until the last minute to show up at the hospital. I feel that finding the right doctor or midwife and establishing a trusting relationship with them is the most important thing.

  7. Yes, I read this! I say, good for that woman.

    If she had died, or if the baby did, she would surely not be hailed as a hero. I’m sure some people still think she endangered her baby and herself by not doing as her doctor said and having that baby at home.
    .-= Kris Underwood´s last blog ..Sylvia Plath Info blog =-.

  8. If she had followed her doctor’s orders, had given birth by C-section and something bad had happened in the hospital that took her or the baby’s life, would she be considered irresponsible for having chosen major surgery when it wasn’t necessary? I think it’s time to stop holding birthing women responsible only for the choices they make with respect to out-of-hospital birth. Often you are taking just as many or more risks choosing to be in the hospital environment. I chose homebirth with a midwife because I did my research and truly believe that it was a safer environment for both me and my baby. We all have to make the best well-informed choices we can for our own families.

  9. This is some great info. I am going to be a first time mom. I am 29 weeks and am going with a doctor and a hospital because I thought that is what was right and safe. I want to say I believe we put a lot of faith and trust in the medical professionals because lets face it that is what they are trained for. I must admit in the beginning I knew very little and went with what my mother and grandmother did. But now that I have time I am researching and have a plan. I know I can not control everything however the more you know the more you can control. Everything I want to achieve I have let my doctor know in advance and have it all written down for my husband it ensure is followed through pending there will be no harm to the baby or me. I have a medical condition and if I have a c section it will worsen my condition. So I am doing everything I can to lessen that option. I might be silly thinking anyone will listen but I find the more informed you have and have facts to back it up the less likely someone will refuse to give it to you!!!

    Hopefully it all works out!!

  10. My husband’s brother died BECAUSE my MIL gave birth in the hospital. The doctor and his team made mistake after mistake. My MIL was silently skeptical of us birthing at the ventura birthing center with 3 midwives, but after observing, she knew we made the best choice (for our family), and still remarks about what a special birth it was.

  11. Yeah for that mama !!!

    I fough my OB for my 2 nd birth. it was a VBAC and my little guy was breech so my OB wanted to schedule a c sEction. I refused it and showed up at the hospital in active labor and they didn’t have a choice but to let me deliver vaginely ! It was a successfully breech vbac but things really didn’t go like I wanted. I was really really considering a homebirth but there was so much pressure from everyone that I was going to kill my baby and me at the same time that I still went to the hospital. Next time it’s for sure we ll stay home 🙂

  12. I am a PROUD Labor and Delivery RN who happens to work at a hospital and I have seen and been part of true emergency c-sections that have saved the lives of both mom and baby so there have been many a shifts I have given thanks to the c-section. That said, I have also been present for many many calm peaceful unmedicated births within the walls of our birthing unit. So please for all of you out there who immediately think that the hospital is not a place to find nuturing and caring providers you are wrong. I am one of many RNs who spend their time, laboring with woman and trying to decrease the number of unnecessary interventions they receive in hospitals and I am forever advocating for my patients’ rights to natural labor. So please know that there are supportative and amazing healthcare professionals in our hospitals. So choose a home birth or hospital birth it is entirely your choice, but please for those of us like me who spend 12 hour night shifts advocating for women in labor stop lumping all “the doctors and nurses” into the same category. thanks.

  13. Lisa, I have been the dad with the birth plan in hand, and let me tell you, the OBs and nurses are going to fight you and your husband on it if it conflicts with their plan for you. I know they are supposed to respect your wishes, but as soon as you go against them, they start bullying and threatening, and labor is such a vulnerable time to have to fight against the whole institution you are laboring in. My wife and I are as forceful as it gets, and still had a rough time getting our choices respected. In the big picture, we chose interventions we didn’t need, just because we were in the medical environment. We were first-timers too. Don’t do it! Have yours at home. It’s never to late. If something goes wrong, a homebirth midwife will know and will tell you if you need to go to the hospital. Just call one homebirth midwife and talk to her, see if it feels right to you.

  14. Tiffany, I was very glad to read your comment, and hope there will be more L&D nurses like you in the future. I know a couple of OBs now who are brave advocates of natural labor, despite all the pressure on them to do otherwise. Wish we had had you on our side during our hospital birth.

  15. I think that she did what she was supposed to. She listened to her body and especially to her baby and knew that another C-section was not the right choice for her. I admire anyone who listens to their gut and goes against the grain when they know that they don’t fit into the whole cookie-cutter mold of labor and delivery. If she were having an problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia etc. I would encourage her to go to a birthing center with a midwife present–but not always the C-section route. Good for her for standing up for her rights and doing what was best for herself and her baby!!!


  16. A neighbor of mine planned on a midwife and home birth. She was in labor for quite a while, but wanted to go all natural. In the end the baby was born still born. They rushed him to the hospital but could not save him. It was very sad for all involved.

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