Impactful Tweets (pt 1) from ICAN 2011 Conference

I’m taking a break from my “Emotional Clutter” post that I’ve been working on.  Ahhh, nice to take a breather from that topic.  My friend, L, pointed me to http://twitterfall.com as the best hashtag (#) reader out there.  And well, she would know!

So, I’ve been reading the #ICAN2011 channel and want to share some of the tweets that I’ve seen that should make an impact on VBACtivists as we do our important work!  (Since I’m pulling this content from a public channel, I am not asking permission to repost.  I will remove tweets if the OP requests.)

@DeepSouthDoula: [Macones] Be patient and keep working on us (OBs). Things will get better but it will take time. #ICAN2011
This is encouraging to read.  Other tweets indicate that consumers should be addressing hospital administrators.  However, from personal experience I can tell you that our hospital’s CEO said he can’t make the OBs change.  It’s easy for folks to displace and deflect in this business.

@Preparing4Birth: VBAC candidacy – low vertical incision 98% are this type. 1 or 2 prior ces should have access. Birthweight not a predictor. #ICAN2011
I read another tweet that indicated he supports VBA2+C but that it takes the right patient with the right provider in the right hospital.  I’ve also read that the steepest increase in rupture rates is between 1 (.5%) and 2 (1%) cesareans and then begins to level out.

@Unnecesarean: Macones: We’ve all focused so long on uterine rupture but need to also focus on the consequences of multiple cesareans #ICAN2011

@babydickey: We are underestimating the risks of multiple c-sections. #ICAN2011
A great site for weighing the risks of VBAC and repeat cesarean is Childbirth Connection.  Also have a look at the NIH VBAC Consensus.

@ShannonMitchell: When vbac rates CAN be 60-80% Don’t ask me to wait for ten years for a 20% rate #ican2011 #birthaction
I love me some Shannon.  She’s absolutely right, so we all need to get off of our duffs and DO SOMETHING!  Or do MORE!!

@ Unnecesarean: Macones: If hospitals can’t respond to emergencies, they probably don’t have any business doing obstetrics. (attributed to Landon) #ICAN2011
This is a very important point and should be addressed any time a facility with a maternity ward imposes a VBAC ban.  People who live in towns with VBAC bans in place should write letters to the paper, picket the hospital, and set up an on-line petition at the very least.  The average family doesn’t know that a facility that can’t handle a VBAC is unsafe for childbirth.

@ShannonMitchell: From 30 to 32% is 40,000 cesareans #ican2011 #birthaction
Wow, 30-32% is not nearly as offensive as knowing that 40,000 more women were cut open . . . many (most?) unnecessarily!  And other tweets indicate that the 40K cuts refer to the increase from 32-32.9% (our current national cesarean rate).  If that’s the case, how is that not perceived as a national crisis????

@tiffrobyn: Dr Macones: ECV, CVS testing, carry 1-2% risk, greater than vbac. #ICAN2011
Tests and procedures (including cesareans) that OBs may offer are sometimes riskier than what they refuse to do (attend VBAC).  I will say that I’ve never been offered an amnio, ECV, or CVS even at my advanced maternal age. ;)

More later, I am certain . . .

Cesarean Awareness Month 2011

© Amy Swagman, 2010 -www.themandalajourney.com

© Amy Swagman, 2010 -www.themandalajourney.com

So another year has passed, and I’m back to wondering where we are with our cesarean awareness ‘campain.’  I’m somewhat ‘skirting’ the loop (not really inside or outside of it, just around), so I’m not your most up to date source.  For truly outstanding resources related to cesarean awareness, read Unnecessarean and VBAC facts for starters!

A couple of things that have my attention lately:

  • Our national cesarean rate is staggering, and some predict that by 2020, 1/2 of our births will be done by cesarean.  We must be vigilant!
  • Montana needs a Friends of Montana Midwives group
  • Montana’s cesarean rate is 29% just below the national average.  However, some counties in MT have super high cesarean rates.  Why is that? (Carter County had a 65.4% c/s rate 2005-08 according to the March of Dimes!!!!)
  • Birth activist are working so hard – it’s just awesome!  Thank you to all who are gettin’ it done!!
  • According to Childbirth Connection, “A high-quality, high-value maternity care system is within reach, and childbearing women are the most important stakeholders to drive system change.”  Have a look and see what you can do!
  • Also, through Childbirth Connection, I’ve learned about relevant legislation that has been introduced.  This legislation needs our support!!
  • ICAN is getting ready for the 2011 conference – wish I could be there . . .

Because I’m pregnant I’m in a great position to find out even more about what is being done locally and what still needs work.  I have found – contrary to what my OB told me – that a few OBs will consider VBA2C on a case by case basis.  I have discovered that our only independent birth center, run by a fantastic CNM, does VBACs (even primary!) but not VBAmC.  I have lots of friends who are pregnant these days and have learned a lot about local practices.

Because I’m pregnant with #4 and work a full time job (one that often has me out of town on weekends in the Spring and has me out at night), I haven’t had the time & energy to get more aggressive.  This too shall change, and when it does – LOOK OUT!  ;)

In the meantime . . . what can you do?

Choosing the care provider or not…

Unassisted birth (UC, UB) seems like an all or nothing adventure.  “Either you’re in or you’re out,” says Heidi Klum of Project Runway.  No smile.  Somewhat smug too.  I’m trying to sort out my feelings about UC because even though it’s not something I’m likely to do, it is a birth choice and therefore should be studied at the very least.  I read a lot of unassisted birth posts/forums and have gained so much knowledge and strength from it.  I wish I had that kind of confidence and peace.

So, like I said, it seems like UC is an all or nothing thing.  Most care providers (CP) won’t continue to see you for prenatals if they know you’re planning a UC.  (Maybe that’s not universally true, but that’s the impression I’m getting.)  And if you decide to have a UC then it also means that you’re providing immediate care for your newborn.  That seems a lot to ask of myself much less my husband.

My feelings on care providers seem to change by the second.  One minute I’m ok midwife only.  Then I’m ok with planning for homebirth and hospital birth simultaneously.  And then I’m ok with MW and ‘shadow care.’  And then these plans seem so unsatisfactory in different ways.

 The only ‘universal’ is that I want to have this baby as ‘naturally’ as possible.  But I still don’t have any idea how to accomplish this.

I have lots of wishes for me and our baby.  I want it all, and none of it seems like having it all because ‘having it all’ was stolen from me in 2004 with that first cut.  I know even that is still just a perception, not a ‘truth,’ but for me it feels like a ‘truth.’

  • Ideally, I would continue prenatal care with someone – the midwife or OB, whatever.
  • Ideally, I would birth this baby with my husband and maybe a close friend or two but no one acting as a ‘care provider.’
  • Ideally, someone else would swoop in and take care of the baby.

My ‘ideal’ may have to remain on a pedestal.

You Know You’re a Homebirther When

  1. you find yourself zealously defending the CPM/DEM designation and probably come off as a bit of a wingnut!
  2. you get pissed off just thinking about the horrible things that OBs and nurses (for God’s sake) have said to women who have had to transfer from home to the hospital
  3. you get even more pissed off thinking about the birth that screwed everything up for you (not altogether in a bad way) and your childbearing years
  4. you have this idea to become a doula . . . or worse yet, a homebirth midwife
  5. you have this even crazier idea to leave your day job with full benefits to become a homebirth midwife
  6. you have this even more insane idea to move to Canada or some other country with a better health care system to (a) have your babies and/or (b) become a homebirth midwife
  7. you recognize that malpractice insurance does NOT make birth more safe
  8. you realize that you have to take responsibility for your own choices in pregnancy and in birth – from the Costco dipped icecream extravaganza I ate for dinner tonight (oops, not one of my finer moments) to where you’ll have a baby and with whom and what you’ll allow this person to do for (t0) you as your birth; all of these choices have consequences (hello reflux) . . .
  9. you want everyone to know about homebirth for what it is . . . not what mainstream America assumes it is (been there, done that)
  10. you want families to understand that their choice of careprovider(s) is such an important decision (OB doesn’t mean superior to CNM superior to CPM/DEM; these are very different designations with very different training requirements and very different mindsets; know what you’re getting yourself into!)
  11. you can no longer ignore the voice inside that says . . . “the last thing I want to do is leave my bed and go to the hospital” – I ignored that voice six years ago; now that the option is presenting itself to stay home, I must listen to my inner Truth, pray for God’s blessing and protection, and trust that His Will will be done.

edited to add a point and adjust some “tone”

Feeling Overwhelmed . . . hmm

I’m feeling overwhelmed this week.  Icky.

A couple of things have thrown me off my center, perhaps.  Like my good friend’s threatened labor now at 30w gestation.  Like my sister-in-law’s straight-forward CBAC yesterday – don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful, but it’s still affecting me.  Like having to go back to work in less than two weeks – survival mode.  Like all of the projects that I haven’t accomplished this winter break.  Like my birthday coming tomorrow – gross late-30s number!  Like CBA2C vs. VBA2C vs. CBA2C vs. VBA2C and on and on.

Ack.

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and ineffective?  Any suggestions?  It’s really causing me to stagnate and procrastinate.

It’s not like I’m doing absolutely NOTHING.  It’s just that I feel like I’m hiding in my birth research and stressing about a lot of different things and not actually accomplishing things in a timely fashion.  I just need to break the cycle.  I probably need a to do list – maybe a reward chart?!  Haha!

We already feel inadequate

I watched Orgasmic Birth last night on Amazon.  When I told my husband what I was watching, he gave me a look like “oh no, you’re going to be one of those women this time, huh?”  I told him that despite the title, the movie was supposed to be good, and for the most part it was.

If you go to the OG website, you’ll see that they define the word orgasmic differently than you would expect: “Intense or unrestrained excitement or a similar point of intensity or emotional excitement.”  I’d agree that all of the normal physiologic births shown on the video demonstrated intensity.  It’s important to read the definition above with the word “or” in mind.  A woman does not have to achieve orgasm during labor/birth to have an orgasmic birth.

I found it interesting that one of the interviewed NCB experts suggested that we don’t share our birth stories because we don’t want to make other women feel inadequate.  Perhaps a woman who consents to an epidural in a hospital setting will feel inadequate, I don’t know.  But, a woman who has undergone a cesarean after trying to labor will almost always feel inadequate in some way.  (I know there are always women out there who will say different.)  Let me explain.

A woman is told that babies come out of vaginas, and that most of the time that is possible.  Women may enter into the last stages of pregnancy knowing that they want an epidural or to be induced, but they still expect that in most cases, the baby is going to come out normally.  However, most hospital birthers are not given the right kind of support to achieve a natural physiologic birth or normal birth.  Inductions are fairly normal.  Augmentations are fairly normal.  Epidurals are extremely common.  As one expert pointed out on the movie, when most (like 90%) laboring women receive an epidural, and you don’t, you take the staff out of its comfort zone.

So after these interventions and more (constant monitoring, restricted movement in labor, etc.), women are still expected somehow to birth vaginally.  And a third of us are sectioned – or more, depending on the location.  Our bodies failed us, we are lead to believe.  “Thank God I was in the hospital or my baby and I would have been in big trouble.”  Our inadequacies are magnified by the overwhelming successes of the medical machine.

Women who have had cesareans are defensive.  “My cesarean was necessary” is a common belief.  But to suggest that women don’t share their birth stories because they don’t want to make a cesarean mother feel inadequate is not understanding the situation.  We already feel inadequate.

I am 1 of 3 women sectioned in childbirth.

I am one of numerous women told that her body wasn’t capable of birthing her baby.

I am 3 of 4 women sectioned in Montana for twins.

I am nearly 100% of women in my community told they cannot have a VBAC in the hospital after multiple scars.

I am nearly 100% of women told to be thankful that they have a healthy baby after a cesarean section.

Share your birth stories in a supportive, instructive, and hopeful manner.  Give cesarean mamas hope that next time can be different, if she chooses.  And she has to choose; you can’t choose for her.  I myself am preparing for a transformational experience this summer.  I can’t get there unless I embrace stories of uninhibited natural physiologic birth.

Fiction gives me unexpected confidence

This may sound strange, but I’m reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol at my husband’s suggestion, and it’s really helping me . . . at this moment . . . find peace with my path to successful birth at the end of this pregnancy.

This book introduced me to noetic science.  Huh?  According to Wikipedia, noetic theory is “the study of mind and intuition, and its relationship with the divine intellect.”  That is just right up my alley in some ways.  I’m more prone to read a research study about pregnancy than I am to delve into Birthing from Within, but part of my non-fiction pursuits in the past have focused on theology and mysticism, and this book (and a recent talk with a trusted friend, a “straight up” talk with a midwife who doesn’t live in my area, and some soul searching) has helped remind me of the mystical aspect of birth.  Birth is a divine gift and one bestowed on women.  Should it surprise us that the male-dominated world would try and rob us (think gender subversion, think hegemony, heck think Marxism) of this unique gift?!

Ok, so back to my unexpected fiction-induced fervor and confidence in my ability to birth:

  • “Our untapped potential is truly shocking.” (p. 27)
  • “We have barely scratched the surface of our mental and spiritual capabilities.” (p. 67)
  • Our thoughts have physical mass & can interact with the physical world, “. . . whether or not we [know] it, effecting change all the way down to the subatomic realm.” (p. 67)
  • Intention requires practice! (see http://www.theintentionexperiment.com/how-to-intend)
  • This seems to coincide with what I’ve already learned about Bodytalk (see http://www.bodytalksystem.com/learn/bodytalk/) – that the body can rebalance and repair itself.

Gosh, what does this have to do with natural birth?  Well, in my case, I’ve had a lot of experience with programming myself in the medical model of women’s health.  I have benefitted from this model, surely, but when it comes to natural physiologic birth, the medical model has its severe limitations.  I feel like a hostage to the medical model – and sometimes victims are oddly attached to their captors.  I am one of those victims.

I need God to work with me BIG TIME during this pregnancy.  He continues to keep me safe even though I fall flat on my face every day.  He never forsakes me.  He will protect me and this baby too, if it’s his divine Will.  God’s plan may not be my plan, but I have to believe that no matter what my and my husband’s decision may be for this birth, that His Will will be done.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” ~ Psalm 127:1

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  ~ John 14:27

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.” ~ Psalm 37:5,7

Clearly, I’m still working all of this out and how it connects, and how it may or may not be useful to me.  But I am excited to share this renewed faith with you.  I’ve always been interested in the spiritual aspect of science, and now I’m discovering even more connections to and evidence of God’s presence in modern science.

Here’s to a peaceful and powerful 2011!