Wow, passion strikes again here at MDC. In reading the latests posts a lot of thoughts are traveling through my head. I'll do my best to make them coherent
My personal beliefs about pregnancy and birth - what goes on during them can have tremendous impact on the psyche of the infant. Lucysmama mentioned Ghosts in the Nursery. That's an eye opener for sure!
I do believe that vaginal birth is the ideal in a perfect world that supports women's connection to their bodies, women's knowledge of their bodies, women's wisdom, honors and trusts women's ability to pass through the journey of labor and birth in each women's unique way. In a world that is not complicated by anatomical abnormalities such as funky uteruses or babies with fragile bones, etc. (and yes I do believe the "your pelvis is too small/your baby is too big" line is waaayy overused - how about your doctor/midwife is out of their comfort zone and doesn't know how to help you being used instead?). I believe that c-sections are overused. I believe that a lot doctors are motivated by politics, fear, the almighty clock, attorneys and money. I believe that many mother's fall into the trap of fear that doctor's weave. I believe that women are far more strong, capable and wise than we give ourselves credit for. I believe that there absolutely are times when c-sections are necessary. I believe that there are more unnecessary c-sections than necessary.
I know that I, were I a mother, would want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had made the best possible decisions for my baby and myself regarding pregnancy and birth. I would not want to be told that I "should've" done something different. I would want to be supported for the decisions that I made. And yet. At what point can we honor the decisions we made at the time, with the knowledge we had at the time, respect that, and still hold space for the possibility that we may know something different this time around that would result in making different choices should we be faced with the same situation? And still know that we did the very best we could under whatever circumstances.
It saddens me to no end to hear stories of traumatic births - vaginal OR c-section. To hear of women that are so traumatized by their previous experiences that they would rather not have another child. I personally know women who have been through this. It is tragic to me. It is a crime against women that we should be anything less than fully supported, informed and cared for during this most sacred time of giving birth. And it saddens me that so many women have lost the story of birth. That we have allowed this to happen. That we have given away our power to the shrine of modern medicine. Where is the balance?
Thank goodness there is also the swing of the pendulum to reclaiming our power. To educating ourselves, to connecting to our inner knowing, to aknowledging our fear and feeling beyond it. To integrating the best of western medicine with the wisdom of women. Does that mean only vaginal births will be done? No, of course not. Does that mean c-sections will be done more humanely, with more consciousness of the impact of the event on both mother and child? I hope so, and I am greately encouraged by stories that reflect this. Does this mean vaginal births will be done more humanely, looking at what is important for the mother and child rather than the comfort of the doctor/midwife? I hope so, and again am encouraged by stories that reflect this.
In regards to the Scandinavian study. I think it is extremely
important that we realize that it was not limited to c-section babies and is not saying there's an increase in suicide among c-section babies. The method
of suicide is what's being looked at not the likelihood of suicide. I'm sure we all know vaginally birthed people who committed suicide. Let's not create another guilt wagon for people to get on over their births.
And last, but certainly not least, I'd like to comment on Juice23's original post. While I certainly cannot speak for her, I have had the privledge of discussing this topic at length with her because we are personal friends. In her situation, her mother was induced because it was assumed she was post-date, when it showed after the fact that the doctors were grossly wrong in that assumption. A failed induction led to a c-section with general anesthesia which meant that there was no contact between mother and daughter for hours. Do I believe that being forced from your home, from all that you'd known for 8 1/2 months, "welcomed" into a cold brightly lit world by strangers, whom however kind and nice could not possibly be any replacement for your mother, and left by yourself for hours did not have an impact on how you perceived the world? Please tell me how it could NOT. Do I believe there's a way to integrate and move forward with this experience? Absolutely. As with any traumatic experience that we have in life. But how can you say that other experiences of an infant such as circumcision, illness, crying it out, etc., etc., can be traumatic (and research shows these have a negative effect on the chemical cocktail of our bodies that has an impact on the wiring of our brains) and say that our births don't have this impact?!
No, we don't all get our "ideal" births - for a variety of reasons, no matter how educated, prepared, healthy, strong, etc. The outcome of our births is only partially in our hands. And the more I think about all the outside influences on women's births, the more my head spins. But aknowledging the impact of our births on ourselves and our children can go a long way towards healing and mending the bumps in the road.
I don't understand why we tend to buy more into doctor fear than into other women's experiences. I don't understand why women elect to have c-sections out of schedule convenience or out of fear of saggy vaginas. The hoopla of elective c-sections as a valid option for non-medical reasons really astonishes me. Having recovered from abdominal, uterine surgery recently I can only imagine the additional challenges being post-partum and trying to be present for my infant would have posed to my recovery. It was challenging enough as it was.
Afterwards my surgeon said I absolutely must have a c-section. Well, you can bet for a number of reasons I did my own research. Funny thing is, for all the women who've had my surgery (and granted, it fortunately isn't all that common) for those who were "allowed" to birth vaginally, there are no documented uterine ruptures. Now explain to me why physician "theory" outweighs documented, scientific real life experience? Explain to me why my doc is willing to have my undergo, yet again, major abdominal surgery, that will only put me at increased risk for uterine rupture? So yes, I'm extremely skeptical of doctor's advice. I had an awesome surgeon, he did a fabulous job, I am incredibly grateful to have found him. But in the end, my birth choices will not be made based on his recommendation.
I guess that's what I wish for all women - take in your doctor's information, get other opinions, read, read, read, talk to other women, learn from their experiences and then when it's all said and done go inside, get quiet with yourself and discover what your truth is. Obviously that's not something that's as possible in an emergency situation. But hopefully we'll have made that connection along the way before an emergency arises.
I know I've written a book, so will try to sum up. Whether our children enter the world vaginally or via c-section may it be done respectfully, may the sacredness of birth be honored, may fear be aknowledged but not overblown, may we aknowledge the impact of our choices on ourselves and our children, and may women take back their births.