Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Choosy Moms Choose Cesareans Article

Time magazine just ran an article entitled "Womb Service: Choosy Moms Choose Cesarean." The article outlines the story of a psychiatrist who chose an elective cesarean because she was afraid of laboring and then requiring a cesarean anyway. It goes on to discuss how vaginal birth can result in incontinence and pelvic damage, while cesareans can result in respiratory problems for the baby. It ends with the hope that "perhaps more women will feel less defensive about making the same choice."

Excuse me? Cesareans are major abdominal surgery. I know. I've had one. And I certainly wouldn't have chosen to have it. I did labor and end up in surgery. At least at the time I felt I had done all I could to have my baby the way nature intended. Cesareans have more risk than just possible respiratory problems for the baby. Both mother and baby have a bigger chance of dying from a cesarean than from a vaginal birth. I guess that isn't important.

And vaginal birth doesn't equal incontinence and pelvic damage. Studies have shown that women of comparable age who did not birth vaginally (or even have children at all) had the same chance of developing incontinence as those who had birthed vaginally.

If I decide I want to get my appendix removed, I should just be able to schedule the surgery whether I need it or not, if cesareans should be just another choice. It shouldn't matter that my appendix is perfectly healthy, right?

I have a fundamental problem with the argument that many obstetricians put forth that an elective cesarean is just another birth choice. At the same time, they are putting down home birth and unassisted birth as not being safe. I still have less of a chance of dying if I have my baby home alone than if I opted to go under the knife. How is this "just another choice?"

Okay, I'm even willing to compromise here. If cesareans are allowed to be just another choice, then they should concede that homebirth is also just another choice and leave it at that. If the OBs are allowed to promote the "safety" of surgical birth and point out the "dangers" of homebirth, I should be able to do the opposite. Studies have shown that homebirth is as safe or safer than birthing in the hospital. At least you won't be given pitocin and drugs that will cause the baby to go into fetal distress at home.

What about if we actually teach women that labor is nothing to be afraid of? There's a unique idea. Labor is a natural function of a woman's body when it is time for a baby to be born. There, I said it. Having a baby is something we are designed to do. In fact, it seems to be a rather well-kept secret that women are actually good at having babies, too.

It sounds to me like instead of choosy moms choosing cesareans, it is uninformed moms, coerced moms and frightened moms who choose cesarean. Most women are not told all the risks of having a surgical birth. A cesarean can cause problems for future pregnancies if the placenta in a subsequent pregnancy implants over the scar. A cesarean can result in infection for mom and/or baby. Hemorrhage is common. The baby can accidentally get cut. The incision can open up during recovery. The baby can have respiratory problems. Post-surgical pain can last for several weeks, and recovery time is longer than with a vaginal birth. The list goes on and on.

All I can say is this choosy mom will choose to birth at home.


Laura Shanley said...

Beautifully put! Articles like this are frustrating. So much misinformation. But thankfully some women are awakening to the truth about birth. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

Susana said...

I was brought to your blog via Google alerts. I like your article, but I am especially drawn to your drawing! Very nice. I also like to draw. I have two blogs you might enjoy

Keep up the good work!

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