When I had my first two daughters, I never thought of a C-Section as "elective" surgery. Perhaps this is because I was told I didn’t have a choice. Our first child was breech. My obstetrician advised a breech babies must be delivered surgically. Our second child was a repeat C-Section. My doctor advised I would have difficulty finding a provider who would agree to a vaginal birth after a C-Section.
As a highly educated person, I found that I was highly uneducated on my options and rights. I didn’t know I could have a breech baby vaginally. I didn’t know there were providers in NJ who encourage VBACS (Vaginal Births After C-Sections). There was so much misinformation and so much judgment. People talked to me about safety and unnecessary risk. I didn’t know what was true. I decided to do my own research into what research existed. The only thing I was certain of was a compelling force inside that wanted the opportunity to give birth as nature had intended. I wanted a chance to tap into the power of one of the most powerful experiences life has to offer. I wanted a choice, some control, and some respect. At 38 weeks pregnant with our third child, I didn’t want a third scheduled C-Section. I found myself crying at the kitchen table telling my husband what this all meant to me and that I feared not trying for a VBAC would be a life-long regret.
My husband agreed to explore these options with me. We learned that the chances of something going wrong in a VBAC were almost exactly identical to the risks of a repeat C-Section. We learned that a C-Section brought an increased risk for respiratory issues, jaundice, and other complications. Ultimately, we decided to try for a VBAC. I am eternally grateful to the Hackettstown Midwives, Dr. David Garfinkel, and the staff at Morristown Hospital for their care.
Some people may wonder what the big deal is about. If you have a healthy baby then so what? Some women even choose a C-Section. That's fine. I’m not against C-Sections. Sometimes they are extremely necessary. Rather, I support choice and sensitivity. I don’t think cost, convenience, insurance companies, and my doctor or hospital’s fear of a lawsuit should dictate such a personal decision. How our children enter this world effects us as mothers. It impacts our families. Parents should have more say about what is best for their family with regard to risk, recovery time, and other relevant issues.
After surgery, I was even told to consider myself lucky I avoided the pain of birth. For anyone who’s missed out on having a c-section, try walking around with a constant feeling like you have been sawed in half. I felt like a botched magic-trick. I was then told I couldn’t exercise, vacuum, drive a car, walk long flights of stairs, or lift anything heavier than my infant for six weeks. With a toddler at home, three dogs to walk, and a household to run, that restriction lasted eighteen hours before I gave in. Personally, after 29 hours of unmedicated labor with my third child, I would choose the experience of naturally working through contractions to 10cm again over a C-Section.
In modern times, it is concerning that this issue remains so embryonic (no pun intended) .Many physicians and hospitals still prohibit VBACs. VBAC home births are still illegal. We live in a country where you can electively have your nose broken to reshape it, inject fat from your butt into your face to look younger, but pushing a baby out of your own vagina can be restricted. I can only imagine if men gave birth how there would be more convenience and choice.
I am interested to hear your birth experience and how it shaped you? How did your control or lack thereof effect your life?