Fight for vaginal delivery
OnYourMind: Heather Deatrick: Stop unnecessary Caesarean sections!
by Heather Deatrick
It seems to me that although the issue of unnecessary Cesarean sections is hot in the natural childbirth and midwife circles, it is totally off the radar in the feminist and women's rights circles. I do not see how this is different from the abortion debate: Choosing how you deliver your baby is a question of women's reproductive choice.
There are hospitals and doctors that will "not allow" a woman, particularly one who has had a previous delivery via C-section, to choose a vaginal delivery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is at the helm of this, stating that hospitals should have 24-hour anesthesiologists on duty if they "allow" a woman with a previous Cesarean section to have a vaginal birth (VBAC). I have heard horror stories of rare instances of hospitals getting court orders for C-sections.
Most women accept this, assuming that there is a good reason. The fact is, there is not. This is about what is good and convenient for doctors and hospitals. I know because it happened to me. When I was pregnant with my first child I trusted my OB. I ended with a C-section due to "fetal distress"-the result of too many medical interventions after I went past my due date. I don't buy the "at least you have a healthy baby" line. A healthy baby does not dictate that hospitals and doctors decide how I can have it! Good heavens, women have been doing this since the beginning of time.
My guess is that "they" have finally figured out how to take that from us too-childbirth. Because a vaginal delivery cannot be forced, rushed or predictable. It has its own rhythm and timing and ebb and flow. I believe the provider should be there to catch the baby. In natural birth, very rarely is intervention by a doctor really needed. Most women can probably have an unassisted birth at home without a problem. Unfortunately, we are told and scared by the what-ifs, of course.
I don't know how or why my feminist, questioning mind shut off the minute I found out I was pregnant. Wow, was I misguided! I learned about normal, natural beautiful peaceful birth in my successful quest and fight to have a vaginal delivery for my second child.
My memories of the birth of my first child: epidural, Pitocin, fetal monitor, vaginal exams, breaking of the waters, doctors dictating everything (being in charge), episiotomy, time limits, progression, failure to progress, stalling of labor ... I could go on and on. I had a wonderful midwife-assisted birth in a hospital with my second child. And now that I proved the OB who said I couldn't have a vaginal birth wrong, I will have a homebirth next time, with women and my husband, and current children. And wait for the baby to come, for my midwife to catch, or maybe my husband, or maybe even me or my son. It will be my choice, my say, my birth.
Heather Deatrick of Minneapolis is a member of the International Cesarean Awareness Network.