“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 or 2/20/20.
Plus, everybody’s doing it.
Cesarean birth may be popular, but that doesn’t make it safe.
Here’s what your doctor who is encouraging you to have an elective C-section isn’t telling you: 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 by the BBC.
And in November, 2016 30-year-old Cassie Davis, a first-time mom in Utah whose pregnancy with twins was healthy and uncomplicated, died. She passed away after her doctors ordered an emergency C-section.
So did Michigan mom Bethany Mellish. Bethany Mellish 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.
Woman dies during C-section
Posted: Jan 07, 2016 6:39 PM PSTUpdated: Jan 08, 2016 2:22 AM PST
LAPEER COUNTY, MI (WNEM)–Last week James Mellish’s wife, Bethany, gave birth to their second child, James.
But what was supposed to be one of his happiest days, soon became one of the darkest.
“One minute she’s OK, and the next, she wasn’t,” Mellish said.
The couple went to Hurley Medical Center for a scheduled cesarean section on Dec. 30.
Everything was going well, but shortly after doctor’s delivered James, the unthinkable happened.
“I was just sitting there, rubbing her hair while they were getting this little guy, and then the next minute, she’s not, not there,” Mellish said.
Bethany’s father, John Kaiser said, “The doctors said it was a one in a million chance with this blood clot, and the nurse that was in the operating room thought that she called it an amniotic embolism.”
Just three and a half years ago James and Bethany got married in her father’s backyard.
Kaiser held his 18-month old granddaughter, Penelope, knowing that she and her little brother have healing power.
“I think James is what’s gotten him through, James and Penelope,” Kaiser said.
Mellish said faith has helped him accept his wife’s death.
But caring for two small children at this very tough time is something he couldn’t do without family.
“My parents, my brother and sister, my in-laws – I wouldn’t get through without them, I know that. I’ve had somebody at my house pretty much non-stop,” Mellish said.
Though times are tough, Mellish said he’s pushing through because he knows Bethany wouldn’t want it any other way.
“My wife would want me to be strong for the kids, and that’s – I try to think about what my wife would do in a situation and I do it. That’s basically it,” Mellish said. “I know she wouldn’t want me sitting in the corner crying all the time, she’d want me to be there, playing with my kids, and taking care of them, so that’s what I’m doing, that’s what I’m doing.”
The highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world
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.
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 C-section 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 C-section, 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 have 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 is 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.
Published: January 20, 2017
Updated: December 30, 2022