Thursday, March 28, 2013

that one birth video...

When I ultimately decided on pursuing a VBAC, I read a lot online about what to expect, what other women experienced, and what I should know about risks.  Immediately, someone told me about an online group that "supports" women that have gone through a c-section.  I perused some of their content and it was suggested several different places that I give a certain documentary about birth my attention.  This is the video I am referring to:

I watched it while I walked/ran on the treadmill over a few mornings when I was around 20ish weeks pregnant.  And, to be honest, as someone who is interested in having a vaginal delivery, I found watching other women have successful and meaningful births helpful and empowering.  BUT, most of the "documentary" really REALLY bothered me.

It basically takes the approach that almost all births should take place in the home setting under the care of a midwife and it asserts over and over again that OBs are only interested in getting their patients under the knife.  Seriously, at one point they go as far to say that OBs should only be used for surgery as that's all they really want for their patients anyways.  Apparently this is the image they think of when they hear the word OB:

 With Piper I NEVER felt like that's all my OB wanted for me.  When I pushed her to move my induction date up from 41w1d because I felt uncomfortable waiting that long, she wanted to make sure that I fully understood what my chances were for having a c-section with my Bishop score.  She knew I wanted a normal delivery and didn't want me to make that decision without fully understanding the risks.  I appreciated that.  (Little did we know a c-section was in my future regardless of my Bishop score).

I was also bothered by the fact that the movie focused primarily on c-sections in a negative light.  They largely blamed the healthcare industry for the rise in c-section rates.  It's because of pitocin and epidurals and those darn OBs who just want to get home to their warm dinners.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's good to be educated and to approach birth armed with an understanding of how interventions work and what risks are associated with them.  I don't think that every woman in labor should be given pitocin and I do believe that if a woman wants to have a low intervention birth, they should be allowed that.  BUT, I truly believe that a lot of these interventions exist BECAUSE in general the medical community (meaning nurses and doctors) have seen negative outcomes and want to avoid the same fate for their patients.

Now, I will admit that as I watched the movie, I realized that A LOT of my friends have delivered by c-section.  I actually can only think of one in the last year that had a normal, vaginal delivery.  BUT, in every case these c-sections were done because they were best for both Mom AND baby.  My sister has a canteloupe sized fibroid that my nephew was never going to be able to squeeze past.  My very good friend from college had a placental abruption and would have bled out in 20 minutes without her c-section.  I had one because Piper was breech AND had the cord around her neck twice.  Another friend had a c-section due to failure to progress (she was in labor for over 24 hours).  All of us went into our labor experiences fully expecting a normal, vaginal delivery, but c-sections ended up being the BEST option for all of us.  Best and safest.

Even though I've chosen to pursue a VBAC this time around doesn't mean that I've all of a sudden become a c-section hater.  I truly believe that c-sections are happening more often because doctors are afraid of the worst outcome.  Doctors are being cautious because they know the cost of taking unnecessary risks during labor/delivery.  Allowing someone to go 24+ hours with their water broken just isn't smart, so when it gets to that point, Doctors don't cut because they love their scalpels, they cut because the risks of infection are too high (it's the same reason they might use pitocin after your water breaks, they are on a timeline and want to HELP move things along).  They don't allow breech vaginal deliveries because you can't feel for a cord around the neck.  As my friend put it, without modern medicine and the existence of c-sections she would have bled out and died within 20 minutes IN 2012!!!  Craziness.

I've also been quite frustrated with the fact that when I look for VBAC support I find a lot of women who believe that anyone who isn't high risk should give home birth a try.  I am all for women choosing to labor/deliver at home if that's safe for them and their baby, BUT I don't think it should be pushed as the best option for most women.  And I hate that rather than getting a feeling of comradery from other VBAC'ers I sometimes get the sense that I should be seeking an even "more" natural birth experience.  I want a VBAC, but I also want to deliver in a hospital with an OB and an epidural :).  I feel like that's OK, too!  And, no, I don't believe that giving birth at home would be a good/safe choice for me or my baby.

So, there's my rant about all the negativity surrounding c-sections.  I'm so over it!!

Have you ever felt any judgment over the way you delivered?
Have you watched the movie I mentioned?
Any other opinions or thoughts on all of this :)?


  1. I saw The Business of Being Born a couple times actually. I really liked the movie at the time because I hadn't heard that side of the story yet at that point. But since then, I've educated myself more and more about natural, unmedicated birth and I've found that there is a lot of judgment in that community - like any community that strongly believes in what they stand for, I suppose. We took our birthing classes at a doula center and while they really got passionate about doing as few interventions as possible, they did not seem to judge women who had c-sections or epidurals. On birth story nights, women who had c-sections told their stories right alongside women who did home births, and they were celebrated just as much. That was really good to see. I feel really blessed to have had the type of birth I did, but I do not take full ownership over that process. I was able to have an unmedicated (hospital) water birth because everything just fell into place - no cord around my baby's neck, no weird positioning, no failure to progress, etc. I had no say in any of that. It was something that happened to me. So I really try to be fully aware that it's not just about having confidence in your body or "toughing it out." It's about the set of cards you're dealt. And my next birth may end up being a c-section. I'm good with that. As long as my baby's here safely. That's what we all want, right?

    Wow. That was long.

  2. Hey! Just found your blog through Unruffled Lanie and loved reading this post -- I just wrote on my blog about the decision to go with an OB rather than a midwife and have gotten into pretty heated discussions about home birthing in the past, and I just agree 100% with everything you've said here. Conspiracy theories about OBs pushing C-sections so they can go home early are just that -- conspiracy theories -- and have no grounding in reality whatsoever. The number of women's lives that have been saved thanks to trained doctors and hospital equipment is insane and truly under-appreciated.