Thursday, February 2, 2012

Childbirth-Let Us Stop Judging Each Other and Start Supporting Each Other

    I want to address some issues that I have come across lately with other's opinions on women's choice of how they want to birth their babies.  The most common controversies that I see are the divide between women who want repeat cesareans and the women who would like to try for VBAC's, women who choose medicated births verse women who choose natural births, and women who choose to birth outside of the hospital verse women who choose to have their baby in the hospital.  Although I do understand the point that each is trying to make, I don't understand the judgement being passed upon other mother's and their decisions for what they believe is best for themselves and their babies.

    There are so many details brought in each situation and no one decision can be cut and dry.  A woman who has a cesarean then has an option for their next birth.  She can choose whether to have a repeat cesarean or to try for a VBAC.  Some women have a cesarean and then just know that they will deliver their babies by cesarean from then on.  That is perfectly fine if that is their choice and they feel it is what is best for their family.  Some women have such traumatic labors with their first that end in cesarean and thinking about going through all that traumatic labor again scares the hell out of them.  They may feel safe with a cesarean because they feel like they have more control over the situation.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  In fact I can relate.  Although I don't choose to have repeat cesareans I know the fear a person can have over the unknown of labor.  I also respect a woman who chooses to have a cesarean because it is not a walk in the park when it comes to recovery.  They may not go through hours of labor to get a vaginal birth, but you better bet they have to travel a painful road of healing.  With that said, there are also some women who recover incredibly well from their surgery.  I applaud their bodies for that.  Most women who have major abdominal surgery have issues for months, years, or for the rest of their lives.  Scar tissue isn't something to dismiss.  It can throw your body completely off balance and cause problems with a number of things including your internal organs such as your bladder.  There are so many details a woman should consider when making a decision between cesarean and VBAC.  I have posted about the risks of VBAC verse the risk of cesarean before so I won't fully go into that again, but just know there are risks with both.  I choose VBAC for many reasons.  I feel that it is safest for myself and my baby.  The thought of surgery scares me beyond belief.  I want to be able to bring my baby into the world myself, and have the energy to be able to hold and comfort her in her first moments of life.  I feel so strongly about this that I have been researching, praying, planning, and digging deep down in my soul to find strength and peace with the decision to even attempt again.  I have thought about opting for a repeat cesarean.  Then I wouldn't have to deal with planning, worrying, being afraid, and the unknown of what labor might bring.  I could put all the responsibility in the doctor's hands, but in my heart I don't feel like that is what is meant to be for me and my baby.  I have done the risk assessments for both options, and I feel safest with VBAC.  I should never be judged for this.  I should receive support especially from my loved ones.  The same goes with a woman who chooses a repeat cesarean.  She should get support in her decision, and should have a lot of support for her recovery.

    I feel like there is also a lot of judgement passed between natural birthers and women who choose medication.  There are some that feel the need to defend their decision based on other's reaction.  I think a woman needs to be educated and read all of the risks of any medication she may be given the option to use during her birth.  I feel this is necessary no matter if you are planning a natural birth, or if you already know that you want to use medication.  You can't be sure of how your birth will turn out.  I think it is great if a woman chooses to have her baby naturally.  In that instance you can guarantee that your baby is not receiving any medication or unnatural substance in his journey to the outside.  You also know that your labor will not be willingly affected by an outside source of medication being administered.  The problem with epidurals, narcotics, or any other intervention is that women think that it is an option that carries no risk, but that is untrue.  Many studies have been done showing that interventions including inducing is directly linked to the increasing rates of cesareans.  With that being said I think keeping your mind open is the most important thing when going into labor.  I have heard of women who are having issues dilating for whatever reason, including being so scared that they are tensing up every muscle in their bodies, and are given the option of either doing a cesarean or trying an epidural in order to relax after not progressing and being exhausted.  Sometimes an epidural is given and the woman gets so much relief that they are able to let their bodies do the work, take their mind out of the situation, completely relax or take a nap and then deliver their babies vaginally.  The epidural might have saved them from getting an unnecessary cesarean!  What a great option to be able to have!  I have also personally witnessed a woman who knew ahead of time that she might want the relief of a narcotic at some point during her labor if she ended up being exhausted from a long labor.  It turned out that she did have a long labor, she did become exhausted, and she did feel at the end of her rope.  She tried the narcotic, got some sleep for a couple of hours on and off, and woke up rejuvenated enough to continue.  She was in a good place, and was able to have her baby a few hours later.  That was her choice to make, and nobody was there judging her for it.

    Now, addressing where a woman chooses to birth her baby.  This has been a hot debate for some time now.  Most women choose to birth their baby in a hospital.  They have many reasons for this.  In society this is where a woman is 'supposed' to have her baby.  Most women feel more comfortable being in the hospital where there is medical help if needed.  If a woman is thinking about having a medicated birth then her obvious choice is the hospital.  Some women don't even know there is another option.  A lot of women feel more safe at the hospital during childbirth.  Women who have high risk pregnancies obviously benefit greatly from being at the hospital because the risk of something going wrong increases.    Sometimes there aren't resources available to a woman who might have second thoughts about going to the hospital and may feel it is really her only option.  There is no doubt about the life saving technology that a hospital has.  With that being said, childbirth is a normal part of life.  Throughout the media and personal stories being told it has been presented to be a time of high anxiety of the unknown for a mother and even the father or partner.  Childbirth is directly linked to the thought of pain.  If you were in extreme pain you would feel the need to go to the hospital right?  What people forget is that childbirth is a natural process!  It doesn't have to be scary, it doesn't have to be controlled, and it doesn't have to be thought of as only pain.  Some women realize this, and some of those women choose to stay at home or go to a birthing center instead.  If their pregnancy is low risk, they have done all the research, they have prepared, and have chosen a good care provider then they have made an educated decision that is right for them.  Of course bad things can happen inside or outside of a hospital.  A woman makes her choice based on what she feels is best at the time for her family.  The main argument that people have against home births is that they think a mother is being selfish for choosing to birth at home.  People say that they choose their own birthing experience over the health and safety of their baby.  This doesn't even make sense to me.  Mother's don't choose home birth over the safety of their children.  They choose home birth because they honestly believe that it is the best option for their baby.  If a woman knew something negative was going to happen to their baby they would absolutely be in the hospital.  The point is you have to weigh the benefits against the risks in every decision that you make.  Some women believe that the best decision and most peaceful, loving way they can bring their baby into the world is by doing it in the comfort of their home surrounded by the people that they love, not strangers.  The fact is that the chance of something going wrong during childbirth with a healthy pregnancy and healthy mother is low, and if something does go wrong in most cases it can be handled at home or the mother will be able to be transferred for medical care in time.  There are even rarer cases where there is an absolute medical emergency that requires immediate attention.  If that happens the situation could be fatal at home or in the hospital, but obviously in these extremely rare cases a woman and baby's best scenario would be in the hospital.  That doesn't mean that the hospital doesn't come with risks of its own though.  A baby or mother is much more likely to develop infection at a hospital because of the high rate of it in hospitals.  Sure there is a separate floor for the maternity ward, but every other floor is filled with sick people.  Some have extremely contagious infections or disease.  I'm not saying that being in the hospital with your baby put you at a high risk of infection that you might not encountered otherwise, but even though the risk is not high it is still a risk.  The chances of getting interventions at the hospital is also extremely high and if you want to go natural it will be very hard to do that in a hospital setting.  All interventions carry some kind of risk.  There are so many things to consider when making your choice.

    Every woman should do the research and make the decision that they feel is best for their family.  We should be supporting each other instead of criticizing each other.  Every single situation is different.  Every single family carries a variety of details that do not completely match anyone else's.  Why do we feel the right to judge someone else's choice on what is best for their family.  If we stopped putting energy in judging and criticizing and put that extra energy into our own lives and families we would all be better for it.  The childbirth scenario around the world, and especially here in the United States would be completely different.  If women were given all the information, support, and options to choose what they felt was best, the maternity care system could be turned around.  Babies could be born at peace, women could give birth at peace with their choices, more families would be made with the support and peace of their experiences.  The world truly would be a better place, because after all, our navigation of this world starts at birth.

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