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The brutal truth of me, without all the sugary coating.
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I talk about my family, my divorce, and a lot about MAKEUP.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Soap Box, or: Yes, I'm a fanatic, but you should still listen to me.

I'm doing it again, and I know it's annoying, but I simply can't claim to be ME without saying what's on my mind. Sitting back and not stating where I'm coming from doesn't feel right to me, so I'm sorry to say this, but if I annoy some of you, I just don't care. This does not mean I don't love you, it just means that I have to stay true to me. Necessary disclosure statement:
I am going to talk about childbirth. It's going to be blunt and, of course, completely from my point of view. I will include my sources, when necessary, but otherwise you can assume everything I'm saying here is of my own opinion and of my own experience/observations. I welcome an open discussion here on my blog, but I do ask that it stays respectful, as people tend to get catty when discussing such a hot subject. Everyone is different, every baby is different, and I want to make this very clear: EVERYONE MUST CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES what is the best course of action for THEM. (I don't claim to be a medical professional of any kind, but what I have to say still has merit.)

*whew* With that out of the way, are you ready?

With the birth of my best friend's baby right around the corner, I find myself with too much to say to her. I have learned from past experiences with other friends (who no longer speak to me), so I am choosing not to harass this friend with my wealth of knowledge and experience about childbirth. It turns out people don't love it when I get preachy. (Weird, I know.) Still, I have been reminded of how important this issue is and can't quite seem to keep it to myself. If even just one person benefits from the things I've learned, it will have been worth it, right?

Now, we have this other friend who had extremely positive experiences with her two c-sections. This happens for some people, and to them I am 98% happy for their good fortune and only 2% resentful that they escaped the pain I experienced. (I never claimed to be a saint.) This, I think, is the exception not the rule. As I've mentioned before, if you want advice about natural, textbook childbirth, you ought not ask me. I don't know a thing about "average" or "natural" birthing. In a perfect world I would be the kind of person who can push a baby out of my woman-zone without screaming and begging for pain meds, but that's just not this universe, so there's no use wishing. I hate pain, needles make me queasy, and the sight of blood ties my stomach up in knots. I believe medication was brought to us/discovered by the grace of God, in order to make our lives a little bit easier. I don't think there's a single thing wrong with taking advantage of this advance in civilization.

Here's where I sound like a hypocrite: I believe that at this point, civilization is taking it a bit too far. We have a lot of faith in modern technology & medical advancements, which we should, but it seems to me doctors are taking full advantage of that faith to make their jobs easier (& make more money). Of course they aren't all doing this, but it's happening at an alarming rate, and all three of my OB/GYNs have pushed me to rush the birthing process. At this point there are FAR too many c-sections, an increasing number of them not medically necessary. What constitutes "medically necessary" isn't really for me to say, but I can guarantee the doctor's vacation in Cabo - which happens to fall on your due date - doesn't qualify. I'm not making that up, I have had SEVERAL friends tell me their c-section was scheduled based on their doctors' holiday vacation. This makes me SICK.

This is where you say to me, "But you don't understand! I am MISERABLE! My baby is HUGE!"  And I would say to you, I DO understand. I understand as well as a person can. The final months of my pregnancies have consisted of partial bed-rest because of constant contractions and back labor. I am not exaggerating when I say my pregnant body is as big as an apartment building, mostly due to retaining water & being a grand total of five feet zero inches tall. My babies are active, I always have serious morning all-day sickness and constant migraines. I am not ignorant to the desperation you may be feeling, and I feel for you, I really do.

See? That's me on the right.

Without medical professionals, all three of my children would have died during delivery (for more on this, see Max's First Year). Actually, without medical intervention, I would have died during my second son's delivery. I am eternally grateful for their capabilities, but not everyone needs this intervention. Too many people are receiving unwanted intervention, and the mothers and fathers aren't to blame. After 35 weeks of miserable pregnancy, they are in no position to be making important decisions. In addition to their "pregnancy insanity" (as I like to call it), their doctors are deceiving them with fancy statements like, "We could safely deliver at 36 weeks," and, "You are measuring two weeks ahead of your due date!" Even going as far as claiming to know how many pounds your baby will be and changing the baby's due date (which is only an estimation anyway). Do you know how many times I was told I would have an 8- or 9-lb baby? Three times. Do you know how many 8-lb babies I had? None. Between retaining water & genetics, I simply measure BIG. Why doctors are still saying things like this is completely beyond me.

Something to keep in mind: Your OB/GYN does not care for your baby ONE SINGLE DAY after he/she is born. Not even one. He shows up for about one minute to check your stitches (if you have any) and you never see him again. He gets a report of something like "yep, baby lived," and he gets to go home. He gets paid either way, but quite honestly he gets paid more if he cuts you open and pulls your baby out. He (or she, obviously) has to work many, many more hours if he waits for your baby to come in its own time, and in the end gets paid less for it.

So what does your doctor say if you ask him about the risks of induction and/or c-section? He says that it's a bit longer of a recovery time, you get a couple of extra days in the hospital, and that delivering early is totally do-able because of the current technology.

What doesn't he tell you? That induction (the use of Pitocin to induce labor) doubles your chance of emergency c-section. This is because induction involves breaking your water, and once that happens, time is ticking. There's no turning back, and ready or not, your baby is coming out. What happens if you can't push baby out fast enough? You are left with no choice but to undergo a c-section (believe me, you don't want your baby in there when you run out of amniotic fluid). Remember how I told you that some people have uneventful c-sections and recover quickly? Exception. Not rule.

What else doesn't he tell you? That you won't be able to laugh, cough, sneeze, or sit up for days or even weeks after the c-section is performed without excruciating pain. He doesn't tell you about the middle of the night when your baby is screaming and you can't even sit up to nurse him. He doesn't tell you about trying to get out of bed to take your pain medication or feed the baby, or even just go to the bathroom.

You get the point. I am ranting, I know, and I'm sorry. But the c-section rate is sitting at 32.8%! (source) That's obscene!

The iCan website states:
About Cesareans: When a cesarean is medically necessary, it can be a lifesaving technique for both mother and baby, and worth the risks involved.  Potential risks to babies from cesareans include: low birth weight, prematurity, respiratory problems, and lacerations.  Potential risks to women include: hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy, surgical mistakes, re-hospitalization, dangerous placental abnormalities in future pregnancies, unexplained stillbirth in future pregnancies and increased percentage of maternal death. http://ican-online.org/ican-white-papers
This sums up what I'm trying to say. Yes, sometimes a c-section is necessary. But I am begging you, for the sake of yourself and your newborn, resist the urge to rush this process.

Only your baby knows when he is ready to breathe our air.

My Max, born (via c sec) 5 weeks early. 2 long, scary weeks in NICU.

23 comments:

  1. i agree with every word you said and i've never had a baby! thanks for filling me in!

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  2. I (THINK) I agree - but like the above commenter, I've never had a baby either! Very informative.

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  3. Having experiences the back labor, all-day sickness and Hoover-dam worthy fluid retention, this post took me right back. For better or worse, I labored before both my sections, which made me feel a little better that I wasn't jumping the gun. Still, the idea that a doc just schedules a day of sections makes me nervous. It just seems so "assembly-line."...Great discussion of a controversial topic!

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  4. I was ready to be all defensive about this but it was actually a very balanced post. You are right, of course, that our c-section rate in this country is too high. About 10 percent of pregnancies (at least that's what I remember from my global health class in grad school) require medical intervention and the mother and baby are truly at risk if they don't get it. So, it's crazy that some hospitals have c-section rates of 40% or higher. That said, I had a medically necessary c-section and am thankful for it every day. Must be something in the air, because I wrote my yeah write post this week about maternal mortality, which I think presents the "thank god for access to medical care" side of this issue that you allude to. Great post.

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    1. I can hardly even believe you read this. After reading your post I am humbled and, honestly, quite embarrassed about my attitude. Oh, to see the things you have seen!

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  5. Like Kim, I was ready to get all defensive, but I do think you balanced your sides well. I think a false sense of intelligence lies in many parents to be, however, thinking that because they read "What to Expect..." and have spent 36 weeks on message boards that they feel educated enough to dictate their medical requests. I wonder how many c-sections are performed by those who are uncomfortable? possible large babies? mother's request?

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  6. I liked your little bits of self deprecating humor interspersed in the post.

    So glad your baby is okay now.

    (And you are right-people generally don't want other people's opinions-definitely when they don't ask for it and often even when they do ask for it.)

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  7. You, preachy? NEVER! (But I do love your disclaimer. Maybe you could print it on a t-shirt before you talk to your friends?)
    I agree with all of this. No disclaimer needed.

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    1. After reading your comment I re-read the disclaimer I wrote, and you are right! My life would be MUCH easier if I wore that on a t-shirt so people could read it before I speak!!

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  8. amen.
    the only reason i had a c/s (despite being urged by one of the docs in the practice i go to) was b/c after 2 hours of pushing (after being induced thanks to gestational diabetes), she would keep sliding back up and her h/r dropped with every push. i have no regrets about insisting on pushing though.

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  9. I totally agree with you and this really is a huge problem here in the US. Babies are meant to come naturally, with medical intervention as necessary. They aren't supposed to be scheduled around someone else's day job.

    Luckily I was able to deliver vaginally (with pain meds!) and avoid a necessary c-section but many of my friends had them and I was really shocked at just how much longer their recoveries were.

    By the way - I love the look on your face in the picture as you stare at the innards of the medical model, lol. Morning sickness incoming!

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  10. this is definitely a hot-point issue, but reading this i found myself agreeing or accepting more than arguing. i pushed for three hours and was lucky enough to have a nurse and doctor who supported me through that time while limiting the risk for my baby. we are certainly pushed to do things these days that may not always be in our best interest! interesting read.

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  11. I agree completely.
    My doctor went on vacation so he scheduled an induction. My baby had other plans and came right on his due date.
    Inductions carry an increase risk for c-sections...I am so glad that my uterus and the baby did what it was supposed to do when it wanted to.

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  12. Lovely post on a really difficult topic. Yes, c-sections are necessary. Do 30+% of women NEED them. No. The rate is like 80% in Brazil (no kidding). Do Brazillian (and American) women have ineffective pelvises - no. We have become an instant gratification (and without pain) culture and this has spilled over into how we procreate, unfortunately. Sigh.

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    1. 80%?! Wow, that's amazing! That's mainly why I wrote this post, because people honestly believe that getting a c-section IS a painless way to have a baby. It's just not true. I had a vaginal birth before I ever had a c-section; I have experienced both, and I would take the former over the latter ANY day.

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  13. It's a delicate issue for sure. I don't think your post is offensive in any way. I was talking to a mom to be with many strong opinions of how her delivery would go, what she wants, doesn't want. It's not for me to agree or not, I simply said she should do her homework and be prepared for anything. She gave me a weird look. I had plans too. And they didn't work out as I'd intended. Healthy mom and healthy baby have to be the goal. All the rest, to me anyway, seems incidental. I think this was a great post.

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  14. I absolutely am with you on this. In my first pregnancy, I was measuring big (my son was born 8lbs 4oz) and my OB-GYN (not the same one I"m seeing now) was pushing an induction on me and I agreed, but never felt comfortable with it. He scheduled me for the induction 3 days before my due date then called me a few days before to say can he reschedule to 1 day before due date because HE HAD A WEDDING TO ATTEND ON my induction date!

    Fortunately for me, my baby decided to come anyway on the scheduled induction date - no Picotin!!

    This time, my OB-GYN has not once mentioned induction or C-sec and I am grateful. I'm a big believer that babies will come when they're ready.

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  15. This is a balanced post...and good solid material to spark conversation. Supporting women to examine their choices for childbirth with valid information is empowering, regardless of which side one takes. I had two c-sections. The first because she was 11 days late, large, and wouldn't budge after induced labor. My second was because doc told me b/c I already had a c-section, there was a small chance of uterine rupture if I delivered vaginally. A small chance was chance enough, so I scheduled. I am sure it was a convenient date for the doc, and I am glad. I wouldn't have wanted a distracted hung-over surgeon.

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    1. This is such a good point, Kimberly! I hadn't thought of it that way. I guess if you are going to have a c-section anyway, not having a hung-over surgeon would be a good way to do it! :) Such fantastic comments on this post; everyone has such a wonderfully important point of view.

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  16. My birth experiences were nothing like this as I was lucky enough to birth both vaginally and at home . . . but that is a whole other story.

    I think the major difference with me is that I was lucky enough to be under midwife care. Under their care a c-section only happens if it truly is medically necessary. I see an encouraging trend, at least here in Ontario, towards more midwife care and the idea of informed choice surrounding their care.
    Jenn

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  17. I'm with you. I was put on pitocin in early labor, and I do believe that (and the very necessary epidural) is what led me down the path to needing a c-section with my first. With my 2nd, we lived in a place that did not provide the option for vbac, so I had a 2nd c-section without even thinking about it. After a bunch more research (sure wish I had spent more time on that the first time, rather than picking out bedding!) I wanted to try vbac. My doctor (in our new location) was supportive, but only if baby #3 came before his due date. He was the first one who didn't and I had c-section #3. I will say that I was pretty lucky to have relatively easy recoveries, but from my friends who have done both types of birth, I know c-section is the hard road. There's no reason to CHOOSE that. (Great post, by the way.)

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  18. Gotta say it reads less preachy than maybe it feels to you! I lose friends too. Nice to meet you. Good luck w yeahwrite!

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  19. Nice, informative, interesting article. I should read your blog more often!

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