Changing "Birth Language" - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The topic has come up in different ways, in different threads. But I'd like some feedback on how you would like to see birth language and obstetric lingo change for the better. After all, language is a powerful enough tool to change how our culture views women and childbirth.

A couple of examples immediately come to mind.

"Overdue"-- This word needs to be replaced permanently with "post-date." The way it's used now, you'd think OBs will start fining you each day you go past your "due date," as if your kid were a library book. They can bill my insurance company for that.

"Deliver"-- Women deliver babies, their attendance catch babies. When birth attendants claim to "deliver" babies, it's as if the woman had no role to play whatsoever, when in reality women are doing most of the actual delivery work.

"Management" I think that all too often, providers confuse managing birth with managing women. I'd like to see this word replace with the humbler variant, "attendance." From now on, we would hear about "active attendance" versus "expectant attendance."

"Section" --The very notion that this has become a slang-term verb is an alarming sign that cesarean birth is becoming just that common. My regular doctor asked me, "Did they section you?" Ugh! : It's nothing against her personally; she's just affected by the culture. But the word almost makes routine cesarean sound acceptable. But maybe that's just me..... I have no suggestions other than to nix this one altogether.

Other ideas?

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#2 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 07:54 PM
 
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I think we should give "overdue" babies the term "well done". LOL I really like my steaks medium rare, but anyone that doesn't want their steaks overdone bit not pink, would ask to have them medium well. Well done is PERFECT for baby referral. It doesn't really have a negative conontation, because we are suppose to eat our burgers "well done", pork "well done", chicken "well done". Now, if you aren't a meat eater, I suppose one would need a better term. But, we are animals ourselves, and if we bake "well done" babies, that seems pretty natural to me.

Women do "deliver" or "birth" their babies. I think that women birthing babies would do fine there.

I think that birth attendants should be called birth assistants permanently. Not birth professionals either, because my MW had had 2 csections, never birthed a baby herself. But, she is called a pro because of her education and getting paid. I know she has a lot of knowledge since she has probably assisted MANY more women that I have given birth myself, but she is there to assist and help the women, not to make all the decisions and all that. To her credit, she was so kind though, since we transferred from an attempted UC/HB and decided to stay at the hospital, because of the mec issue. She came up to me after all was done, and apologized that this wasn't the birth experience I had wanted. I couldn't have been much happier about the good treatment we had received. The baby and I wer fine, regardless of their kooky protocol for mec and 3rd stage. But, she was actually apologizing that we didn't get to HB with our baby. That was so sweet. Anyway, I digress...

I can think of lots of ways to say cesarean section rather than what it really is. I think that "surgical extraction of baby" would be a good one. I don't know that I would want to use too negative of a term for it, to be sensitive to the women who truly want kids, but truly cannot birth them naturally. I know that is really a rare situation, but there are really some women out there that the csection was not truly elective. Kymberli
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#3 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 08:10 PM
 
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Interesting about "section". That's what I usually use myself. I actually tailor my phrasing to my audience online sometimes, but my usual term is "section". It's impersonal, and reflects the violence of the procedure, imo. Others obviously see it differently.

I really don't care for most of the options for c-sections. My own personal favourite is a term I coined years ago (I have seen it a few times recently, but I don't know if others have picked it up since I used it on ICAN, or if others have coined it independently) - a babyectomy. To me, it's just right...but a lot of people seem to hate it.

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#4 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 08:56 PM
 
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Another term I hate is when the Attendants "let" the mom do something. As if they had the authority to tell a grown woman when to move, pee, drink, or eat. Its maddening to hear when someone is saying how great their attendant is that they are "allowed" to do these things.

I think surgical birth would be a better way to describe a Cesarean.

I heard about a bumper sticker that was given out at an ACOG conference or something like that once. It said "Home deliveries are for pizza" I agree. I don't think the words "birth" and "delivery" are interchangeable.

"Management" is a term I don't like, but in the case of some births is an accurate term. Its the practice of managing women that I don't like. Changing the term to one that's easier on the ears won't change the fact that active management of labor is not a sound practice.

"Overdue" I don't like this one either. I think we should abolish due dates and give a season that the baby is due. For instance, "Jane, Congratulations on your pregnancy. You are 6 weeks pregnant. Your baby will be due in the late spring. Around late April or Early May. Your baby could be born on Mother's Day!" A due date makes it sound like the baby missed an appointment.

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#5 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 10:34 PM
 
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#6 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 10:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Belle View Post
I think surgical birth would be a better way to describe a Cesarean.
I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I hate any term for a c-section that includes the word "birth". I cannot even describe how much. It was surgery. It wasn't a birth.

When I had my last one, I was given a pamphlet called "Scheduling Your Cesarean Birth". When I read the title of it, I broke down in tears and cried for at least 5 minutes, maybe longer, at the wheel of my van.

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#7 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 10:58 PM
 
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I think that birth attendants should be called birth assistants permanently. Not birth professionals either, because my MW had had 2 csections, never birthed a baby herself. But, she is called a pro because of her education and getting paid. I know she has a lot of knowledge since she has probably assisted MANY more women that I have given birth myself, but she is there to assist and help the women, not to make all the decisions and all that. To her credit, she was so kind though, since we transferred from an attempted UC/HB and decided to stay at the hospital, because of the mec issue. She came up to me after all was done, and apologized that this wasn't the birth experience I had wanted. I couldn't have been much happier about the good treatment we had received. The baby and I wer fine, regardless of their kooky protocol for mec and 3rd stage. But, she was actually apologizing that we didn't get to HB with our baby. That was so sweet. Anyway, I digress...

I can think of lots of ways to say cesarean section rather than what it really is. I think that "surgical extraction of baby" would be a good one. I don't know that I would want to use too negative of a term for it, to be sensitive to the women who truly want kids, but truly cannot birth them naturally. I know that is really a rare situation, but there are really some women out there that the csection was not truly elective. Kymberli

First of all, I really don't understand how you can claim that someone isn't a professional if they haven't given birth vaginally. Seriously?? Was I not a professional registered nurse in peds intensive care because I had no children at the time? I just don't follow your logic. Professionals are there because complications may arise that laypersons in attendance can't effectively manage.

Giving birth from your vagina doesn't make you a birth professional- it makes you a mother.

As for your second point, what about situations where babies who come out of the vagina need some sort of assistance- manual extraction of baby?
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#8 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 11:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by preemiemamarach View Post
First of all, I really don't understand how you can claim that someone isn't a professional if they haven't given birth vaginally. Seriously?? Was I not a professional registered nurse in peds intensive care because I had no children at the time? I just don't follow your logic. Professionals are there because complications may arise that laypersons in attendance can't effectively manage.

Giving birth from your vagina doesn't make you a birth professional- it makes you a mother.

As for your second point, what about situations where babies who come out of the vagina need some sort of assistance- manual extraction of baby?
It wasn't my post, but I think her point is that we use the term "birth professional" to describe people who have never done it. We don't talk about a "professional cook" who has never cooked anything or a "professional athlete" who hasn't been off the couch in 5 years or a "medical professional" who has never practiced medicine. The people we call "birth professionals" are actually professionals at attending women in birth...not in birth.

Anyway - I'm just guessing that's what she meant, as that's what I got from it. I think any new term for the umbrella label "birth professional" would probably be awfully cumbersome.

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#9 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 11:17 PM
 
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It wasn't my post, but I think her point is that we use the term "birth professional" to describe people who have never done it.
Given the choice, I'd rather be attended by the midwife who had c-sections than by the gestational surrogate who knows nothing about attending births but who might be called a "birth professional" under this definition.
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#10 of 73 Old 08-22-2009, 11:43 PM
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I felt very empowered in my ability and calling to birth babies once I stopped using the words (invented by MEN) vagina and cervix and started calling them, collectively, The Gates Of Life.

I also can't stand it when women say "Oh, did you have an epidural?" Excuse me, it's epidurally-placed ANESTHESIA/NARCOTICS. Let's not sugar coat it!
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#11 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:18 AM
 
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I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I hate any term for a c-section that includes the word "birth". I cannot even describe how much. It was surgery. It wasn't a birth.

When I had my last one, I was given a pamphlet called "Scheduling Your Cesarean Birth". When I read the title of it, I broke down in tears and cried for at least 5 minutes, maybe longer, at the wheel of my van.
This is your experience though. It's not the same for everyone and it's not up to you or anyone else to tell a woman how to define her children's births. I have many friends who had lovely c-section births and have no ill feelings about them. Who am I to redefine their experiences? I'm a total proponent of natural birth but it's not up to me to control how other women birth or feel about their experiences.

I totally agree with preemiemamarach about giving birth having nothing to do with being a birth professional.

I had a wonderful birth experience with a midwife who doesn't have kids. I can't imagine being so close minded as to exclude her from providing my care because she doesn't have kids. Talk about discrimination!

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#12 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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This is your experience though. It's not the same for everyone and it's not up to you or anyone else to tell a woman how to define her children's births. I have many friends who had lovely c-section births and have no ill feelings about them. Who am I to redefine their experiences? I'm a total proponent of natural birth but it's not up to me to control how other women birth or feel about their experiences.
No - and it's not up to anybody else to tell me how to define mine. But, somehow changing the name of this procedure to pretty it up and not hurt the feelings of the women who weren't traumatized by it in the first place is A-OK, and those of us who were traumatized by it can just suck hind teat, as usual. I don't give a crap what anybody calls their experiences with having children. They can call it whatever they want. But, the push to change the name of a c-section to "surgical birth", "belly birth", "cesarean birth" or whatever else is making me sick. I don't have to sit back and call it some prettied up name because someone else had a beautiful cesarean and is bothered by the ugly terminology, either.

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I totally agree with preemiemamarach about giving birth having nothing to do with being a birth professional.

I had a wonderful birth experience with a midwife who doesn't have kids. I can't imagine being so close minded as to exclude her from providing my care because she doesn't have kids. Talk about discrimination!
I'm not sure where anybody suggested doing that. The other poster was just using "professional" in a different way than we usually do.

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#13 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:50 AM
 
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The Cesarian section is a magnificent rescue operation, as was eloquently stated by Michael Odent.
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#14 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 01:28 AM
 
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I can think of lots of ways to say cesarean section rather than what it really is. I think that "surgical extraction of baby" would be a good one. I don't know that I would want to use too negative of a term for it, to be sensitive to the women who truly want kids, but truly cannot birth them naturally. I know that is really a rare situation, but there are really some women out there that the csection was not truly elective. Kymberli
so the women that don't truly want kids and schedule a c-section because their doctor told them too should have to deal with insensitive terms regarding their child's birth?

i really hope i'm reading this wrong because it comes across awfully negative to other mamas.

and a quick question regarding c-sections not being births because i'm not sure i understand how it is that a woman's body can create another living creature and that baby leaves her body and it is not called a birth? is it only a birth if the baby leaves through the "proper" exit? should those babies _not_ be allowed to have birth days, as they were "surgically extracted" not birthed?

what about "birthing" ideas? the concept of birthing something does not require an exit of the body through the vagina.

fwiw, i've never had a c-section but i know several women that have and i know they birthed their babies just like i did. to be honest, it seems like this is participating in the removal of power from women in the area of birthing just like many on mdc are fighting against. it takes the contribution of the woman (growing, nurturing, making, and feeding a baby) and reduces her to an incubator status while someone else gets the credit for actually birthing the baby.

eh. who needs a signature?
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#15 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 01:47 AM
 
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In regards to the sections...you know, I had a whole thing written up but I cant post it. Its not right for this thread. I dont think it should be called birth either - it isnt. Even if its nice for the mom, and she had a positive experience. Its closer to a babyectomy.
I'll be sure to tell my son someday that the day he came out of my body, gave his first tiny little cries, looked deep into my eyes, and learned how to nurse as I held him for the first time, was not a birth, but just a "babyectomy."
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#16 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 02:36 AM
 
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I think that birth attendants should be called birth assistants permanently. Not birth professionals either, because my MW had had 2 csections, never birthed a baby herself.
A woman does not have to have her child come out of her vagina to say that she has birthed a baby.
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#17 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 02:39 AM
 
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I'll be sure to tell my son someday that the day he came out of my body, gave his first tiny little cries, looked deep into my eyes, and learned how to nurse as I held him for the first time, was not a birth, but just a "babyectomy."
Exactly. Guess my 2nd DD shouldn't be celebrating her birthday since she was born via C/S - guess we should be calling it her "babyectomy anniversary." :
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#18 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 04:22 AM
 
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I do feel that my dd was "born" and it was HER birth. But it was NOT mine. I do not feel that I birthed her. To me its like.. pick a sport. Imagine scoring every single point in a very close tie game. Then someone else comes along and makes the winning point. I did all the work, but someone else comes along and scored the last goal, the one that finished and won the game. I felt so cheated. I labored for 2 days for that baby, ALL THAT WORK, and it had to end in an operating room. And its one of those gray area c-sections where it definitely wasn't an emergency, no distress, going perfect. But I had (and I'm seriously not exaggerating one bit) been fully dilated for over 24 hours before surgery. purple pushing, the works. Its been an odd thing to process. No emergency, started as a home birth so its not like I can point fingers and blame the OB for unnecessary interventions or anything. Do I blame.. the baby? for not rotating? No not really. So it all goes back to me. My body. Which is why I was so impatient to get pregnant again, and caught the first pp egg. I needed to prove, to myself, that my body worked. Because I couldnt blame induction, or epidurals, or asinine hospital policies, or a crappy unsupportive nurse, or not being educated enough.. so I was all the more *desperate* to prove to myself I could do it. (and I did)

Whew.. kinda got OT for the thread. idk where THAT all came from.

Anyway. Awhile ago, I decided that even if I couldn't birth my daughter, I could still give birth to her. I think I started showing her birth videos on youtube when she was 6 months old. She's had a front row seat at all the prenatals, would get a turn listening with the fetoscope. She would have been able to watch her brother be born if she were awake, but will be invited next time. I will do everything I can to make sure birth is normal to her. I will teach her that her body is amazing, and beautiful, and powerful. I will be open with her about any questions she has about her body/menstrual cycles. And if I sense she's simply the type to be too embarassed to ask, I'll discreetly give her books that show it in a positive light (and that don't perpetuate the 28 day cycle myth) THAT is how I will give birth to her.

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#19 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 08:28 AM
 
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A woman does not have to have her child come out of her vagina to say that she has birthed a baby.
Yes! I've had two c-sections and given birth two times. This is one of the most offensive threads I have read in a long time.

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#20 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, it sounds like everybody voicing an opinion on cesarean-related language has had a cesarean. It's only reasonable that people who have been through the experience have every right to conceptualize it in different ways and ascribe to it the language that makes the most sense to them. Never having had a cesarean delivery, I'm actually finding this thread both eye-opening and educational.

I'd love to hear more examples of "birth language" that is shaping the culture and needs to be questioned.

I thought of some other, subtle expressions of language that you'll hear in an office visit or delivery room:

"Go ahead and . . . "
"I'm going to have you . . . "
"And now we're going to . . . "
"OK, I want you to . . . "

These phrases (and other like them) tend to precede different tests and interventions. At their core, they are commands. All of them imply that you don't have a choice in the matter when, in fact, you do.

ETA: Or just never mind. This thread has gone a different direction than I intended. I smell a lock coming... Oh well.

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#21 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 10:58 AM
 
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I'm a midwife. I also have two children born by cesarean. If they have not, in fact, been born, and I am not, in fact, their mother, then you are free to come over at 3 am when they wake up. I could certainly use the rest.

Incidentally, both my preceptor for integration and my OB for my last pregnancy are both men, and I respect both of them, despite their clear lack of experience birthing, more than many of the beliefs on this thread.

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#22 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 11:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
No - and it's not up to anybody else to tell me how to define mine. But, somehow changing the name of this procedure to pretty it up and not hurt the feelings of the women who weren't traumatized by it in the first place is A-OK, and those of us who were traumatized by it can just suck hind teat, as usual. I don't give a crap what anybody calls their experiences with having children. They can call it whatever they want. But, the push to change the name of a c-section to "surgical birth", "belly birth", "cesarean birth" or whatever else is making me sick. I don't have to sit back and call it some prettied up name because someone else had a beautiful cesarean and is bothered by the ugly terminology, either.


I'm not sure where anybody suggested doing that. The other poster was just using "professional" in a different way than we usually do.

I don't see how calling it a c-section birth is a prettied up name. I mean it is the time the child was born and it was via a c-section, that is the truth. Same goes for surgical birth and belly birth, they both describe what technically happened. The child's birth took place surgically through the belly.

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#23 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 11:20 AM
 
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I had a wonderful birth experience with a midwife who doesn't have kids. I can't imagine being so close minded as to exclude her from providing my care because she doesn't have kids. Talk about discrimination!
I don't think anyone was saying that because a women hasn't given birth she can't attend a birth it was the term "birth professional" because it makes it sound like they are professionals at giving birth maybe professional birth attendant would be better

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#24 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 11:24 AM
 
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No, "professional birther" makes it sound as though we are experts in personally giving birth. I'm a professional and my field of expertise is pregnancy and birth. Hence: birth professional.

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#25 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 11:39 AM
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I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I hate any term for a c-section that includes the word "birth". I cannot even describe how much. It was surgery. It wasn't a birth.

When I had my last one, I was given a pamphlet called "Scheduling Your Cesarean Birth". When I read the title of it, I broke down in tears and cried for at least 5 minutes, maybe longer, at the wheel of my van.
You're joking, right? Having delivered my son via unplanned c-section, I find this very, VERY offensive. Holy smokes.
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#26 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:00 PM
 
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I've never heard belly birth, or maybe I have and just don't remember. If my eldest ever asks about his birth story I'll tell him it was a c-section and a belly birth. Makes my traumtic experience softened to remember it was a birth, not just a surgery.

And Storm Bride, I can totally relate to your feelings. I just want to say, I'm so sorry you've have such horrible experiences. I wish sorry was enough but I know it's not.

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#27 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:02 PM
 
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facts are facts....we should NOT have a 40% c-section rate. call it whatever you wish, but instead of spending all this energy debating a name - try spending some energy educating the woman around you on why this rate is so unneccesarily high and how we (we being woman working together) can change this and take back birth!!!

thank you for giving me a place to say that!!

: wife to DH, mom to DD (2004) DS (2005) DS (2007) DS (2009)

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#28 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:17 PM
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facts are facts....we should NOT have a 40% c-section rate. call it whatever you wish, but instead of spending all this energy debating a name - try spending some energy educating the woman around you on why this rate is so unneccesarily high and how we (we being woman working together) can change this and take back birth!!!

thank you for giving me a place to say that!!
Sure. But I had a c-section even after being educated. Even after I'd planned a natural birth at a birth center with a midwife. After 36 hours of laboring. Yet I'm supposed to feel somehow "less than" someone who gave birth vaginally? Unbelievable that women do this to each other. As if women who end up w/c-sections don't have enough baggage to deal with -- having to deal w/women who think they didn't actually give birth? O.M.G.
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#29 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:17 PM
 
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The US CS rate in 2007 was 31.8%. Now, that's still too high, but if you're going to use statistics please make sure they're correct.

DD 01/2007, DS 09/2011

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#30 of 73 Old 08-23-2009, 12:21 PM
 
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Earth Momma I appreciate your perspective because that's how I felt. People will only hear what they want, I think it's traumatizing to put so much energy into educating those around you who have no interest and see them make choices that lead them to interventions that probably weren't necessary. I've done it, and it was heart wrenching.

For now I think a lot of mainstream american women prefer the highly medicalized model of care, which has lead to a horrendous rate of intervention. Lets not forget the 10-15% of women who actually need cesaren section either. They are important. It's important to tell them we understand and support them and that they did indeed give birth.

A lot of things need to change, birth professionals, birthing families, attitudes toward birth, how we care for our community as a whole. It a huge thing. You sound incredibly passionate and I hope you will educate those who will listen! For the rest, however, you can only be there as a wealth of information waiting to be tapped into, and you can plant a seed. Just like with our children, we want to lead by example. We can do the same with birth.

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