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Everyone I know had a C-section, what’s the big deal?

Everyone I know had a C-section, what's the big deal? Via JenniferMargulis.net

 

“Everyone I know had a C-section, what’s the big deal?”

My friend, in her late 30s, wasn’t being snarky; she was genuinely confused. She was pretty sure she wasn’t going to have any of her own biological children but every woman she knew in the high-powered well-heeled literary scene in New York City, she told me, was giving birth abdominally.

Why not just have a Cesarean birth? After all, it’s a lot quicker. It’s also more convenient. And you can choose a nifty birth date for your baby, like 1/17/17.

Plus, everybody’s doing it.

Cesarean birth may be popular, but that does not make it safe.

A woman is at least three times more likely to die during or after Cesarean birth than during or after vaginal birth.

That’s what happened to Frances Cappuccini, a vibrantly healthy 30-year-old mom giving birth to her second baby, as reported this week by the BBC.

And last November to 30-year-old Cassie Davis, a first-time mom in Utah whose pregnancy with twins was healthy and uncomplicated until her doctors order an emergency C-section.

And to Michigan mom Bethany Mellish, who died on December 30, 2015 while her husband was stroking her hair, leaving him to raise their 18-month-old daughter and newborn son by himself.

While we are told by the media and the medical establishment that it is rare to die in childbirth, the truth is the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any country in the industrialized world. Economic disparities, racism, lack of access to prenatal care and poor health during pregnancy play a role in our ignominiously high maternal mortality rates, as do our high cesarean rates.

 

Woman are at least three times more likely to die giving birth Cesarean birth. Via JenniferMargulis.net

Screenshot via BBC News http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-38634044

But a catastrophic event is not the only reason to avoid having a cesarean birth.

Pain at the incision site (a dear friend is dealing with this now. A full year after her baby was born, she continues to be in constant pain), complications from the anesthesia, injury to internal organs, postpartum infections, and problems with the placenta in subsequent pregnancies are all well documented risks from Cesarean birth.

And then there are the risks to the baby. Doctor-caused injuries to the baby (here’s a list of possible injuries compiled by a medical malpractice lawyer), a disrupted immune system, disrupted digestive system, difficulties breastfeeding, and a higher risk of chronic health problems, including obesity and asthma, are just a few.

Yet even as we have definitive scientific evidence that the safest birth for both the mom and the baby is the least technological, doctors are performing some 600,000 unnecessary Cesarean births in America every year.

So if you don’t want a Cesarean, what can you do?

  • Find a competent, experienced homebirth midwife. Having your baby at home or at a birth center will vastly reduce your chances of having a Cesarean. Just ask these doctors and obstetricians, all of whom decided to birth at home.
  • Find a doctor with a low C-section rate. When you’re a hammer, everything’s a nail. Obstetricians are trained surgeons. Hiring a highly skilled surgeon to attend your birth is like hiring a pediatric neurologist to babysit your toddler. If you must give birth with a doctor, find one who has a low C-section rate, who is committed to vaginal birth, and who has admitting privileges at a hospital that also supports vaginal birth. Family practitioners often have lower cesarean rates than obstetricians.
  • Hire a doula. Having continuous labor support helps women have shorter and more pleasurable labors.
  • Be in good physical shape. Labor’s hard work. To be ready for it you need to exercise every day. Do squats, take walks, go for a bike ride, join a yoga class.
  • Eat real, healthy, whole foods. If you want your car to drive you across the country, you need to put the right kind of gas in it. You must commit to eating well while pregnant, which simply means eating real food and avoiding processed edible food-like substances.
  • Consider a hypnobirthing class. Do not take a hospital-sponsored childbirth class. These classes purposefully mislead women and propagandize about hospital policy, not what is best for you and your baby. If you want to have an enjoyable vaginal birth, try hypnobirthing or an independent birth class like Birth Boot Camp.
  • Reduce stress. If you have unresolved sexual abuse in your past, addictions, or other challenges, now is the time to go to counseling, talk to your clergyman, and join a support group.

You can and will have an awesome birth. It just might have to be in spite of your doctor.

Jennifer Margulis is an award-winning health journalist, Fulbright grantee, and mother of four. Her books include Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family and The Vaccine-Friendly Plan: Dr. Paul’s Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health From Pregnancy Through Your Child’s Teen Years.

Do You Want a Midwife or a Doctor to Birth Your Book? A Push For Roanna Rosewood’s Cut, Stapled, and Mended

When I brought Roanna Rosewood a home-cooked meal after the birth of her third baby, I barely knew her. Our children went to preschool together and I saw Roanna in passing in the rush at drop off in the mornings. But I knew how much it meant to me when people–good friends and some almost strangers–brought us food, and I knew how hard it was to juggle three small children. So I asked Roanna if I could be part of her meal train.

She was sitting on the couch crosslegged, her tiny baby in her arms, looking happy and peaceful and tired. I don’t remember how many days old her daughter was, I just remember that she was so impossibly small and so beautiful.

Roanna told me that Dalia had been born at home.

Since so many babies are born at home in our small town and since two of my three had been home births, I wasn’t particularly surprised.

But what I didn’t know is how much work it had taken to get Roanna on that couch, blissed out, her mom doing laundry, talking quietly to me, her husband at her side.

The way she describes it in her new memoir and the way I’ve heard her explain it since, Roanna’s first birth was a hospital transfer that was so aggressive and badly managed that it felt like obstetric violence. She had stalled in labor at home and needed some hydration. She went into the hospital thinking she’d be coming back to her house to birth on her own turf in her own way. Instead, her oldest son was born via an unwanted and unnecessary C-section.

The second time she got pregnant Roanna was determined to do it differently. She stayed home so long, stubbornly refusing to go to the hospital even after the midwives told her repeatedly that it really was time and that the baby wasn’t going to be born vaginally, that she almost ruptured her uterus.

That second C-section was done very gently, with great care, and literally–Roanna says–saved her life.

But she felt very strongly that she could and would have a vaginal birth. So when she got pregnant for a third time, she decided–damned it–she was going to try again. She secretly thought she would fail. She had already had two C-sections, her body felt broken, it seemed the only logical conclusion that she would have to have a third. But Roanna worked really hard during that pregnancy with her homebirth midwife (“our sessions were like therapy”) to conquer her fears about birth, to imagine herself birthing vaginally, and to work through her anger and other difficult emotions.

Dalia, dear sweet little Dalia who I remember as having a shock of black hair and tiny puckered lips, was successfully and safely born at home.

Roanna said something to me that I’ve never asked her about, but that I’ll never forget. “I didn’t think birth would be so violent,” she confessed. She worked really hard to get that baby out. It wasn’t easy. But it was one of the most empowering experiences of her life. It changed her body and her thinking in so many ways. When her daughter was born a new Roanna was born with her: a woman who would testify at the Hague, who would become a radio talk show host, who would counsel other women who have been scarred and scared by disappointing birth experiences.

And she would also become an author.

Eight years after Dalia’s birth, Roanna Rosewood has written a memoir about her experience called Cut, Stapled, and Mended.

The book is being born today, April 30, 2013 and women, including doctors, midwives, doulas, and other birth advocates from around the world, are helping to bring this baby gently into the world.

You know how you see a book and think, “Oh, yeah, I really want to read that some day,” but you don’t actually buy it? In order for this book to be born it has to be bought, read, and shared. So Roanna, who also owns a fantastic restaurant downtown and is one savvy businesswoman, has incentives. If you buy the book today, you get an amazing number of free gifts. I’m offering a teleconference “Nine Things You Need to Know Before You Have Your Next Baby,” for free as part of this push.

Here’s how it works: You visit Roanna’s web page, buy the book through a special link she has set up, and then you get to claim your gifts.

There’s a catch. You can’t dawdle. You can’t vaguely want to read the book someday (and if you’re reading this and have done that with my brand-new-just-born-last-week book, put it in your shopping cart along with Roanna’s, will you already?) but not order it.

You have to purchase the book today to claim the prices.

But what if you really really want to participate in my teleconference? There are still spaces available but it’s WAAY more expensive than buying the book. You can contact me for details.

I saw Dalia on Saturday. She was wearing a white sun dress with flowers on it. When she was three years old she told Roanna, “Mom, I’m not a girl, I’m a woman.” Roanna tells me that even now she holds her own with her big brothers. She likes frilly dresses and fancy shoes. And she likes to take charge. She’s the daughter Roanna wasn’t sure she’d ever be lucky enough to have. Born the way her mother always wanted.

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