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Tuesday
Mar222011

I Support Natural Childbirth... and I'm Planning a Cesarean

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Guest post by K

 

I am not normal.

 

I don’t know if it’s something about my DNA, my destiny, or just a stubborn and persistent abhorrence of being called “typical”, but I can confidently say that my reproductive history has a delightful track record of bucking the norm. That film we saw in fourth grade, and the box of maxi-pads they sent home with us? It was another six years before I ever needed to draw on that complimentary supply of data and napkins.

The training bras I stashed in the back of my closet in grade school? Put to better use as cleaning rags for the same period of time.

 

I have never been normal.

 

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Early in my first pregnancy I was diagnosed with a heart-shaped uterus and told I might never carry to term (POINT! – awarded to the reproductive system!). But the miscarriage that sometimes happens with a first pregnancy? That didn’t pass me by.

Pregnant a second time, I had visions of my belly swelling out grotesquely to one side of my body (since the pregnancy was in the ‘right’ side, as they told me). Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

The other thing that didn’t happen was the early labor, long walk in the mountains with my beloved. Pausing to lean against his mighty embrace with each contraction. At least, that’s what I expected after the video we saw in childbirth preparation class. Instead, my body – overachiever it is – had to one-up me by starting contractions 6 minutes apart. [POINT! Reproductive system!]

After 22 hours of labor, and a baby who basically peeked her little head out, waved, winked and darted back inside, the unplanned c-section was a blessing and a relief. My daughter arrived wailing, healthy and happy. And all was right in the world.

 

My c-section recovery was a breeze and I never regretted that it happened.

 

By the time I was in my third pregnancy, I adopted the attitude of “Be ready for anything.” Yeah, right.

My second child came screaming into our lives and ran headfirst into a shut door. Well, kind of. The exact terms would be “precipitous birth” and “shoulder dystocia”. Other terms that accompanied her “firemen in my bathroom”, “ambulance-riding”, “our doula will never get here in time” birth included “retained placenta” and “manual removal”.

And when the quiet, purple baby girl was carried away from me and put on a table to be slowly pinked up…

I didn’t care.

Something in me was torn apart, and I’m not just talking about my crotch.

 

My VBAC was terrifying, and the recovery was incredibly long and agonizing. I looked back at the c-section with envy.

 

I’ve never looked at my baby girl with resentment because of our birth experience, but I’ve sometimes looked at her with sorrow because we had such a rough introduction. (Okay, peeing my pants when I laugh also reminds me of her birth, but you didn’t want to know that, did you?)

Just like my unpredictable reproductive cycle, motherhood has been equally surprising—and rewarding.

 

I am educated. I am informed. I believe in and support natural birth.

I am also planning a c-section.

 

When I tell you that yes, I am planning a natural, woman-centered caesarean section to welcome our third child this summer, I say it with hope. Hope for reclaiming a sense of peace, comfort, and trust with my body. Hope for something that heals the exhaustion and terror of the other two births

Hope that you will recognize me as a capable, intelligent, and informed woman

A woman with the right to choose how and where she gives birth, just like the woman who chooses a midwife and delivery at a birth center. Just like the woman who chooses a natural birth, with no medication. Or the one who gives birth in a tub, in her living room

I am just like them, because I have made this choice for myself and my baby. And even though this birth will most likely NOT include a walk on the mountain, I’m quite positive that the experience will be just as spectacular.

 

I will have my mountain.

 

 

 

 

More reading:

Planning a Family-Centered Cesarean (PDF)

 

 

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Reader Comments (152)

Yes! Thank you! Wonderful!

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

Great article. I'm a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and have 2 elective sections for medical reasons. Both were amazing experiences and the recovery was a breeze. I am not a natural advocate, I'm a 'women should choose what is best for them and their baby at that point in time' advocate. Your article chimes with how I feel about birth.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHelen Redfern

You're body, you're birth, you're choice!

If you are truly informed and are okay with all the risks of a repeat cesarean, than go for it. (Don't think I'm bashing cesareans, there is risk in every choice we make in life and a big part of decision making is weighing the risks and benefits). Good luck! :)

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBee

Wow, thank you. Clearly you do think things through and make the best decision for yourself and your family. I respect that. Your story sounds so like what some women have in reverse, feeling the need for a vbac to recover from a cesarean. You look forward to a cesarean to recover from a vbac. I wish you joy and strength on your journey, and may your birth-giving be a beautiful, healing experience. As beautiful as a walk in the mountains!

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Dear Kim:

Thank you, I totally get it. I support natural birth, but when my hippie kumbaya family centered out-of-hospital birth turned into an emergent transfer for a c-section at an abhorrent hospital, it has made me strongly consider simply planning it on my own terms next time.

Good luck to you on the birth of your new little one! Family centered c-sections are possible with a willing provider and good planning.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDana

My first childbirth experience was a preterm birth at 26 weeks, an emergency Csection, and two weeks after my son was born he passed away. I had an incompetent cervix and an emergency Csection plus other high risk complications. My next two birth experiences were Csections. I am a HypnoBirthing Instructor and Hypnotherapist. I learned that we can have empowered birth experiences. If you want it you must focus on that idea, embrace it, and define it for yourself. I work with Mama's every day with the goal of having an empowered birth experiences. That never looks the same for every woman. Just as no two Cesarean birth experiences are the same neither are vaginal birth experiences, or unmedicated birth experiences. I believe in the need for Csections. I KNOW they can be done in an empowered way to help make them a family centered experience. There is a learning curve in this country for women and practitioners to learn that idea. If a woman is well informed she should have the right to choose her birth experience. INFORMED and EDUCATED are key words. From a Care Provider perspective our OB's need to be willing to embrace the idea of putting the family first vs. hospital protocals, rituals, etc. Family First, Mother First, will result in more satisfied parents and a higher approval rating for Care Providers. It can be done. We just need to educate and inform.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSharon Gourlay

That was a wonderful video.
If I must plan a C-Section again I will be asking about this!

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

I agree, what ever way makes you feel safe and happy is the right way, as long as it is a well informed educated decision. I do have a question for you, is the date scheduled, or will you wait until you begin labor to have a c-section. This is my only reservation about planned c-sections, having had a pre term baby and how difficult it was, I hesitate to put a date of what exactly is 40 weeks or not.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Montalino

I have great respect for you and your willingness to be "public" about your decision. However, my first reaction to reading was how you labeled yourself as "not normal". Your period arrived later than some girls and your breasts didn't develop until you were older. I am wondering, of course, how that makes you different from the majority of us. We all have stories of how our bodies didn't quite keep up with our emotions during those awkward teenage years, but your connection with your young years to your reproductive years could possibly be interfering with your view of birth. As long as you view yourself as "not normal", you will view your ability to birth that way, as well.

Reading your description of your first labor made me ask this question: so what's wrong with that? Your body began contractions six minutes apart...mine did, too...and most women would envy you for that. A nice pattern of consistant contractions? Sounds pretty good to me. There is nothing abnormal about 22 hours of labor for your first baby (and all of that time was not what we would consider "active" labor). As far as your baby slipping back in, did anyone in the room encourage you to change positions? Were you lying on your back with your legs spread apart? Too many women have unnecessary c-sections when something as simple as a position change can make all the difference in the world. And I'm sure you were relieved after working so hard....I'll bet you were tired.

As far as your VBAC, your language reflects again your beliefs about birth. You describe it as an emergency, a frightening experience described by words like "ambulance" and "preciptious birth". As we believe, so we birth.

I know you believe that you are educated and informed about birth, but choosing a c-section when you don't need one is never a truly informed decision. Learning more about natural birth, the importance of position changes, and most importantly, changing your own attitudes and beliefs about birth (and finding a care provider that shares those beliefs) will serve you greatly in your journey toward birth. There are so many benefits to vaginal birth, and just because your experience with VBAC last time was less than desirable doesn't mean this one will be.

I wish you peace in your pregnancy and birth, and the freedom to make decisions based from love, not fear.

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrisha

Trisha wrote: "As far as your VBAC, your language reflects again your beliefs about birth. You describe it as an emergency, a frightening experience described by words like "ambulance" and "preciptious birth". As we believe, so we birth."

I take issue with blaming Kim's belief system for somehow manifesting a traumatic precipitous labor and shoulder dystocia. No offense, but that's ridiculous.

March 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterJill
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