Monday, January 13, 2014

"Cesarean birth? That won't happen to me!"

When I was pregnant with each of my babies I never read anything about cesareans.  It was intentional.  I deliberately skipped over those chapters in whatever book I was reading.  I've thought about that a lot over the years and have mixed feelings about my "ignorance is bliss" attitude.

I am fortunate - I never had a cesarean.  I narrowly escaped one with my first baby.  I've had couples in class who haven't been so lucky, however.  With every passing year the c-section rate grows in the United States.  Despite doing everything "right", some women will still have a cesarean.

The question I pose is this:  does reading about and seeing cesarean videos help or hinder when you are planning a natural birth?  I honestly don't know.  When someone has an unplanned/unwanted cesarean, they will always say they wish they had more information beforehand, even when they actually had a fair amount.  I have to ask, does the brain shut out the majority of the information to protect our hopes and dreams?

We watched a cesarean video in Birth Boot Camp class the other night and the reactions were so varied.  It's a very graphic video from the initial cut to the stitching of the uterus.  The baby is aggressively suctioned and that is pretty upsetting to most people.  Some people thought the c-section itself was quite upsetting and others were expecting much worse.  It was an interesting conversation that followed.

Maybe it goes back to not only perception, but also expectation.  Let's face it, some people are terrified of abdominal surgery and others aren't fazed by it.  The approach we've taken in the Birth Boot Camp curriculum is to load it with information on cesarean, including recovery, as well as VBACs and spend most of the time talking about all the things you can do in labor to avoid a cesarean.  While we don't go over it all in class, the information is in the workbook to read at home -- before or after the birth.  We leave it up to the couples to decide what is right for them.  Some just don't want that information getting into their brain!

What did you do when you were pregnant?  Did you study cesarean birth or shy away from it?


Kayla Coons said...

I personally have researched Cesarean birth but refuse to dwell on it as a possible outcome.

I fully believe in trusting my body and trusting my home birth preparations. If I need to be transported for any reason I imagine that it will be heartbreaking, but I will know that it was only because my little girl TRULY needed it.
A transfer would have to be because she was really in danger, rather than due to being bullied in some too-liberal L&D wards that have women on a time clock and send them for surgery because of "failure to progress" or because their interventions, inductions and interference which caused fetal stress in the first place.

JoyBelle said...

With my first I skipped over the cesarean information. It was from this attitude that, "this couldn't happen to me..." But overall I wasn't very knowledgeable about vaginal birth EITHER. I had this mentality that the doctors and nurses would "take care of me" and that so many other women had done this before me that I'd be alright. Oh how naive! Thankfully I did have my first vaginally at a cesarean-happy hospital (in fact we caught the OB on her way to the OR when I was ready to push).

A traumatic second birth (OB unnecessarily broke baby's clavicle) and then a new OB during my third pregnancy talking about early induction or cesarean to avoid that trauma again forced me into researching my options and realizing there WERE options. Found some medwives and had my first epidural-free and intervention-free vaginal birth at a different hospital. No tearing, baby's bones weren't broken, etc. That third birth launched me into the world of midwives and natural birth.

Fourth baby, our first boy, born at a brand new freestanding birth center. Fifth baby was our first home birth AND water birth (and he's fussing in my lap at the moment ha! Seven months old now!).

I think that knowledge is POWER. I think it is important to know what happens during a cesarean and that simply knowing what occurs and what situations would call for a surgical birth doesn't mean it IS going to happen (like a bad omen or superstition).

Each pregnancy has brought me new insight, new information and a deeper understanding of birth: natural, medicated and surgical. I've been very blessed to have five vaginal births and like the commenter above I am so grateful that my knowledge helps aid me in knowing that IF something were to happen that it was done out of true necessity, rather than happenstance.

~Fort Worth Doula said...

It was completely off my radar for my first pregnancy when my baby stopped moving at 37 weeks and I didn't even experience a single contraction when I was whisked away to the OR.

It was completely off my radar again when I planned my VBAC in 1999 because there was no reason that I would need another c/section. There was nothing wrong with me and I believed that birth was normal and natural and I could do it... and I ended up with another c/section.

It started to get to me with my 3rd attempt at VBAC and I hired out of hospital midwives because I was determined to avoid another one... and I ended up with a 3rd c/section.

I really had doubts that I could have a vaginal birth with my 4th baby but still set myself up for success...and I finally had my VBA3C.

I hate when birth goes so differently than planned. While I don't think that anyone should focus on negative, there should be education. No matter how birth happens, knowing what to expect helps to eliminate fear and that is SO important.

Allena said...

I studied what information I needed to make an informed decision should I need one. With my first, I was clueless in so many ways (induced, epidural, the whole 9 yards), so when I decided I wanted a natural birth with my second, I wanted to make sure I understand the REAL reasons I would need a c-section but that was all. I felt really prepared but thankfully I got my natural birth. So I think I was sort of in the middle in terms of preparation.