Labor “Drama” Misrepresented

This idiotic take on labor is what “could have been avoided.”  Why is it that people don’t understand that labor isn’t something to be avoided except in extreme circumstances?  Many benefits for both mother and baby occur thanks to labor, the benefits of which are known and proven.

When asked about his girlfriend Camilla’s labor, Matthew McConaughey said: “I wouldn’t say she’s (Alves) suffering but she’s having to dig deep… She’s tired, she’s exhausted, she’s in pain.”  Camilla’s 40 hour labor ended in cesarean but doesn’t regret the process in which they were engaged, claiming that “it was a great journey for both of [them].”

Click here to read an insightful take on the media’s treatment of McConaughey’s “alternative” perspective on birth.

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“Black Market Birth” – Request for Your Stories

A friend of mine in ICAN is working on a very important project.  She will be making a presentation to the American Public Health Association (APHA) in October:  “VBAC Beyond Borders.”   One thing that she asked us to share is her need for stories regarding “Black Market Births.”  She writes:

Specifically, I am looking for birth stories of women who delivered in hospitals with VBAC “Bans” in place.   I am also very interested in stories of homebirth where VBAC itself was explicitly illegal.  At some point, I will be looking at HBAC in states where midwifery is unregulated or “alegal,”  but at this time am most interested in births where homebirth midwifery is regulated, but VBAC is outside the practice regulations or scope of practice.

Please send your stories and questions to ICANMidlandssc *at* gmail *dot* com.

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Hospital Waterbirth VBAC

I was catching up over at the True Face of Birth and was immediately drawn to a link about a successful hospital VBAC.  The story posted at Bellies and Babies is awesome and inspiring, and how wonderful to read the woman’s narrative and that of her doula!

I was tremendously impressed with the two obstetricians mentioned in the story.  The first OB ultimately told the woman that he wouldn’t allow her to VBAC.  (At 36 weeks this was BAD FORM.)  She found a provider who was supportive of her choice to have a vaginal birth, and it “sounds” like this OB really knew how to stay out of the way and let the mom do the work.  He also was educating his nurse about the whole process – how normal it is to be in water during the late stages of labor, how normal it can be to birth a baby in water, how normal it is to push at will (as opposed to pushing in 10 count blocks), how normal it is to birth the placenta when it is ready to release from the womb.  I am also impressed with the first OB – the one who told her “no.”  He evidently did some research after she left his practice and changed his mind about VBACs.  It takes guts and humility to be able to change your ways and be open to new practices (as if vaginal birth or even VBAC is a new practice).

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy reading these stories as much as I did.

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When doctors don’t support women’s choices

As you can tell, I am back to reading my google alerts.  I came across a post titled “Cesarean vs. VBAC – Birthing Story” and decided to read it.  It seems to me that this is the very type of woman who needs the support and resources that ICAN, CIMS, Childbirth Connection, Conscious Woman, and the like provide.  Women are understandable very protective of their birth stories, so I didn’t post a comment.  However, she may come across my post if she tracks her pings.

I’d like to address specific details of her story.

  1. “I was instructed to read through the risks of VBAC and give in my consent in writing…. this during my first visit to the doctor.” She wisely decided to wait to “consent” to the mode of delivery.  Understandably she had concerns and questions due to the manner in which the information was presented to her in her first visit.  Furthermore, she states that her doctor never seemed to discuss the benefits of normal birth.
  2. “No mommy would want to carry a healthy baby for 9 months only to risk the baby’s health during delivery.”  Absolutely!  And natural birth advocates believe that every woman deserves the right to weigh the risks and benefits of cesarean versus normal birth for herself.  OBs are not upfront about the risks to both baby and mother from cesarean delivery much less the harm that occurs once mom and baby are home.  Doctors suggest procedures and tests that have not been proven to aid the birth process yet may have a negative impact on normal birth.  These include continual fetal monitoring, artificial rupture of membranes, induction, vaginal exams, IV, episiotomy, and the list continues.  These interventions usually only benefit the doctors and nurses.  And did you know that amniocentesis carries a substantial risk for pregnancy loss?
  3. “My mid-wife advised me to wait till the 35th week before I made any decision. But the doctor would not wait till such time. Even before I gave my written consent on my preference I got a call from doctor’s office about scheduling my C-section for the 13th May. (my due date was 26th May).  This irritated me to great levels. While one of the major benefits I was going to get by opting for C-section was a date of my choice, the doctor had deprived me of the same by just giving me one option.”  OBs suggest that it is safer to perform a cesarean before Mom goes into labor.  However, scheduling a cesarean 2 weeks before a due date is risky.  It is sad that this OB was intent on taking this woman’s last “choice” away from her.
  4. “Besides, I knew that I was making good progress and could go in for VBAC.”  Women should trust their instincts about birth and surround themselves with people who support their needs and desires.
  5. “During my 40th week appointment, the doctor examined me and said that I had made no progress at all since 37th week. The baby’s position and the cervix measured the same. She also scared me that the baby was big and it could be a very hard delivery for me.”  The next day at the hospital she began labor on her own. 
  6. “The nurses who were monitoring me repeatedly started asking me if I really wanted to go in for C-section which was scheduled at 11:30am.”  Hooray for her nurses!!  It seems like they wanted to encourage her to have a normal birth!
  7. “I got a call from the doctor immediately … I must say it almost sounded like a threatening call. She said if I didn’t go for C-sec at the decided time, she was not going to be available for the entire week and that some random doctor from the hospital.”  Yes, that was a scare tactic.
  8. Her “big” baby weighed just over 7 pounds.

The reason I’ve quoted and listed these points from her story is that this story is all too common.  When are we going to stop this abuse, this subversion, this last form of modern sexism?

Why “I don’t care” hurts

My sister-in-law’s birth experience came up in discussion this week when we were home visiting.  We knew at the time of her cesarean that the baby was likely premature – even at 41+ weeks – because of the thick coating of vernix on her when she was extracted from my SIL’s body and based on her mother’s gestational pattern.  Her OB of course recommends repeat cesarean for future childbirth.  Perhaps some of the reasoning is valid, but personally, I think she’s being misinformed and discriminated against.

My husband asked her if she was interested in a VBAC or would go with the OB’s recommendation, and she said “I don’t care.”  She doesn’t care?  How can that be?  How can she say that in front of me knowing damned well that I DO CARE!

Because I do care!

Telling a woman like me that you don’t care is offensive.  I do care.  I care that my baby likely was unnecessarily removed via major abdominal surgery.  I care that the physical and emotional effects of this surgery may not be seen in and by my daughter until later in life.  I have just this year (at age 34) begun to learn about and remedy some of the ill effects of my own cesarean birth.  I also care that my brother’s wife was subject to interventions that lead to cesarean birth.  I really care that she was subjected to a surgery that could have prematurely ended her own life.  Stories of maternal death during or shortly following cesarean surgery are working their way into the mainstream media.

We know that this is not the best way for babies to be born unless it is an emergency situation.  We know that babies who are born via cesarean section risk breathing issues, spinal issues, being accidentally cut, being seperated at birth from his/her mother, needing NICU support, as well as emotional and chemical problems in the future.

Because of what “I don’t care” implies

She said she doesn’t care to my husband and me knowing full well that we do care.  She knows about my work with ICAN.  By saying “I don’t care”, she made me feel like she doesn’t believe in the work I am doing or honor my birth philosophy.  Instead of saying “I don’t care” so bluntly, she could have said something much more tactful.  Try “I’m not sure which path I will take, but given my reproductive health history I will likely do as my doctor recommends and schedule a repeat section.”

My whole being in invested in two very important personal issues: (1) cesarean awareness and advocacy through ICAN; (2) miscarriage – cause, prevention, “treatment”.  By saying “I don’t care”, I am left feeling like she doesn’t care about me.  (Now, I recognize this as a bit extreme.  I know she does care about me, but she didn’t care to think about how this statement would hurt me.  This happened days ago and I still hurt.)

Because of who says it

I’d imagine that you or I are more likely to hear something along these lines from someone we care about – a close friend or family member.  This makes it all the more painful.  If some idiot woman I don’t know or like said this to me, it would roll right off.  But the horrible things our family members and friends say to us are really tough to forgive and forget.  I know that I must forgive and forget, and that’s partially why I am writing this post. 

Because she should care

I recognize that I have no power over another person’s decision to care about health care decisions made for them.  However, does that mean that I back off and let a family member be led to medical decisions that could adversely affect her family?  This is tricky for sure.  I have no desire to badger her and don’t want to negatively impact my relationship with her and my brother, but it is really hard to stay silent when your family chooses to stick its head in the sand.  They’d just rather I stick my head in there with them than have to endure one of my “rants”, as I am sure they see it.

I don’t want to negate anyone’s birth experience.  I don’t want to tell another woman how she should plan childbirth.  However, I believe it is my Calling to advocate, support, and educate women (and their families) with regard to safe and ethical health care decisions specific to prenatal, childbirth, and postnatal care.

What is so offensive about that?  Why should my caring be taken so poorly or treated as trivial?

‘Tis the Season to be Reminded Why My Family Drives Me Nuts . . .
Fa la la la la!

Homebirth Christmas Style in a Barn

Clip clop, clip clop, clip clop sound the donkey’s hooves.  Mary & Joseph and the baby in her womb are on a long journey.

“Joseph, would you please stop for a moment.”

“What’s going on, Mary?”

“Uhh . . . ohhh . . . . .


“Joseph, I think this baby wants out.  I’m in labor, dear.”

“Criminy, Mary!  We’re in the middle of nowhere.  Let’s try to make it to Bethlehem at the very least.”

Mary focuses on her deep breathing and uses the rhythmic motion of the donkey’s stride to her advantage as she labors.  She notices that the sky is a deep blue color and the stars are out.  The evening is quiet and warm.  Her trusty steed plods along patiently.  Her steadfast husband who guides the donkey looks back often to check on his laboring bride.

“You hangin’ in there, Mary?”

“Uh huh.  OOOOWWWWW!” she groans.

“We’ll be there soon.  Look, I can see the outline of town ahead on the horizon.”

Soon they arrive in Bethlehem.  It is quite late, and it is clear that their entrance into town was an imposition.  They request lodging and are turned away several times.  Finally, they are at least offered a spot in the barn.  Mary & Joseph are weary and happy to have any shelter in which to rest.  Mary is able to rest between her contractions, and even Joseph catches a bit of shut eye.  They are lulled by the sounds of cows, horses, and chickens in the stable.

“Joseph.  JOSEPH!  I think it’s nearly time!!”  Mary cries out.  Joseph is startled awake.  He rubs his face and gets ready for the birth of his child. 

He encourages her.  “Mary, I am seeing his dark hair.”  And soon there after he exclaims, “You almost have him out!”  Joseph is so proud of Mary.  He can hardly fathom how she instinctually knows what to do. 

“Can I do anything for you, Mary?”

“Please hold my hair off of my neck and out of my face.”

“Ah much better, dear.  Thank you!”

Mary continues to push with Joseph assisting in any way he can.  After what seemed like an eternity (but was more likely two or so hours), Mary birthed a son.

Mary & Joseph’s son was to be called Jesus.  He is the Son of God.  Shepherds and wise men alike knew of his birth and were guided to his birthplace by the brightest star in the sky.  They brought him gifts and honored his parents, especially Mary who was brave and faithful enough to endure the physical and social burden of carrying this particular precious child.

“Behold!  A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. 
And shall call his name Immanuel.  God with Us.”

Thankful for this ICAN video

Last week a fellow ICAN leader posted a video of numerous women who had been previously diagnosed with CPD (cephalo-pelvic disproportion).  CPD is a fancy way for a care provider to say that your baby was too big for your pelvis or that your pelvis was too small to birth your baby vaginally.  Most of the time, that’s simply NOT TRUE.  True CPD is quite rare, actually, and usually results from a deformation or injury.


And here is how ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) “explodes” the diagnosis of CPD that so many women receive.


Click here to subscribe to ICANvoices.  I’m sure there will be more videos added regularly!  If you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, I highly recommend you subscribe.