by Andra Wearden
Having been through pregnancy and birth process in the last few years, I have spent a great deal of time thinking and researching the natural phenomenon of childbirth, from every aspect available. My naturally scientific mind has led me first down the medicinal path: interventions, epidurals, episiotomies, induction drugs, fetal monitoring, and of course, the dreaded cesarean section. I have scrutinized pregnancy through a physical standpoint--the changes a woman’s body goes through, as well as the known and lesser known symptoms, and complications. I could quote to you statistics regarding hospitals, liability, lawsuits, doctors, and birth satisfaction experiences for the whole region I had my child in.
No, I did not allow my love affair with medicine to cloud my research, and did not neglect other delivery options. Having a home birth, assisted by a midwife, was not one I dismissed out of hand, though there appears to be a lack of options near home in that regard. I called every mother I knew and asked for her take on her birth experience, and when that would not assuage my thirst for knowledge, I joined an online forum and re-opened the discussion there. I have heard opinions from across the board, from hardcore home-birthing mamas to devoted c-section mothers.
Needless to say, I did not go into those final weeks ignorant.
My experiences were not uncommon. Throughout the majority of my pregnancy, my birth plan included a natural birth, perhaps drug assisted, should need arise. Due to circumstances outside of my control, that option became the more risky as my pregnancy progressed.
At the onset of my pregnancy, I began rapidly losing weight, then stubbornly refusing to regain the weight despite advancing pregnancy.
Then, probably due in large part to family history, I developed gestational diabetes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this condition, it is where the stress due to pregnancy prevents the mother’s pancreas from producing enough insulin to remove excess glucose out of the blood. The excess glucose then passes through the placenta and is transferred to the baby through the umbilical cord. The common side-effects of gestational diabetes are hypoglycemia in newborns, macrosomy (where the upper extremities of the fetus are padded with excess fat, causing the child to grow too large or disproportionate), cephlopelvic disproportion (where the child’s head is too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis), and stillbirth in the final two months of pregnancy.
In the last inning of my pregnancy, the home stretch, my daughter abruptly halted growth--a condition known as Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). With the lessened flow from the umbilical cord, it looked like my body was cutting it’s losses and was trying to rectify the situation by killing off the baby--the aforementioned stillbirth.
Due to these circumstances, I consented to a cesarean section.
Do I regret my decision? Not in the slightest--this birth was about me bringing my daughter, safe and healthy, into this world.
Do I love my daughter any less because I did not have the “bonding” hormones released upon delivery? The question in and of itself is absurd, but I will willingly answer--absolutely not.
Was I guilted or coerced into having a cesarean? Not a chance.
The reason I ask all these questions is because some women seem to look down on me for having taken the “easy” way out, by opting for surgery. They argue that c-sections are major abdominal surgery, they carry higher risks than “natural” birth, and it takes longer to recover from. Then how exactly was I taking the “easy” way out? Delivery could last upwards of 48 hours, but recovery takes but a few weeks. C-sections take but an hour, and take six weeks to recover from. How was that easier?
More pity me because I was “tricked” into a surgery that was unnecessary. The birth is but the first decision in your child’s life that everyone will have an opinion on, and so it is a prime time to start standing up for the choices you think are right. I was not hoodwinked into a c-section--I carefully weighed my options and chose the route my trusted friend and doctor suggested. I had, after all, spent nine months developing a report with this man, and he knew my wishes as clearly as I could state them. He called and opened a discussion with me, allowing me to have say in the delivery of my child. In this, I am confident, as should all women feel.
I have heard warnings stating that I will be unable to bond with my child after a cesarean, find breastfeeding more difficult. This, too, I found to be untrue, and started mistrusting all the well-intentioned words of friends. My daughter picked up nursing as easily as she has found everything in life thus far, and I could not adore the little sprite more.
My close friend had an entirely different experience, however. She wanted from the on-set an all-natural birth, and feels she did not get that through the medical field. She, too, had complications, but she persevered, though there were undoubted hiccups in the end game birthing experience. She resents it to this day, and avows any future experience to be much different. The bitterness burns at her, marring any memory she has of the first few days of her son’s life.
Was the medical team rash in their decisions to interfere during labor warranted? I do not know. Did she do all that she could to enforce her decisions and stick by them? I cannot be sure. What I do know is that sometimes birth does not go as planned, and it can sometimes be traumatic.
Through my collective research, experiences, trials, and tribulations, I have discovered my own personal views on childbirth: There is no “right” answers, and there is no one birth experience that is inherently better than others.
Do not quote “facts” to me from whatever sources, nor pull in experts opinions to try and dissuade me. How does it hurt you, affect you in any way to allow me to have cesareans and love the experience? How would it be counted as a win if I had guilted my friend into having surgery, when she truly wanted to do it all-natural?
Birth is one of the most personal experiences a woman can go through, and regardless of medication, location, meditation, or hesitation is going to take that moment away from you. Make the decision that is right for you and your family, and to hell with the world. It is not women’s rights to take away her right to choose in order to force on her the right to experience natural birth.
Stand up for the birth you choose. Be proud of the choices you make.
We are mothers, and we are capable of ANYTHING!