April is Cesarean Awareness Month and Sarah shared a picture of her cesarean scar and wrote the following. “I’m about to be very open and transparent so hang on. This is my cesarean scar. It brought my second child into the world. It was not life or death. It was because she was breech. I was given no options. Not a single person mentioned trying to manually turn her. I was told to put a bag of peas under my ribs where her head was and that was it. I kept going into labor. I asked if anyone attended breech births to which I was quickly told ‘no!’. Which I later learned yes there are. A cesarean was my only option I was told. I didn’t fight it. Surgery did go well, after about 4 attempts to numb me that is. It was so cold in that OR. I was so nervous, I had never had any type of surgery. I wasn’t prepared for a cesarean. I was going to birth my baby with no pain meds. That is what I had prepared for. The tugging and pressure was insane because she was so wedged under my ribs. My daughter had bruises on her arm and leg from being yanked out. Then her cry, it was beautiful. I got to see and kiss her and get an upside down meeting my baby picture. She went to the nursery and I remained there to be put back together. I was shaking so bad. I was so alone with all of these strangers. I think I had met the OB once or twice during my pregnancy. I was given something for the shakes and it made my entire body break out I hives and red blotches. A nurse (it was her first cesarean she said) screamed “oh my god!” when she removed the draping from my legs. No one wants to hear that when you are strapped to a OR table. The resident came and looked a my chest and arms, which were covered in hives. I thought I was going to die for a minute. I already was freaked out because I couldn’t feel myself breathing, I had to look down at my chest to make sure it was going up and down. I was kept in the recovery room for about 2 hours. Making sure the hives went away and that I remained stable. They never brought me my baby. She needed oxygen and couldn’t leave the nicu. My spinal lasted about 3x as long as it was supposed to. It took about 8 hours before I could get into a wheelchair to go see my baby. Her respiratory distress was because she was born via cesarean. We spent 8 days in the hospital. I healed, slowly and painfully, but physically I healed. I was unsure if I wanted more kids because I couldn’t fathom going through that again. But about 2 years later my third daughter was going to be making her arrival. I knew I could vbac, my mom did it with me, it can be done. I didn’t face much opposition until 38 weeks when she flipped breech. I was hysterical. The ultrasound tech and the OB were pessimistic and reluctantly agreed to a version the following week. As we left, he told the nurse to schedule it to and an OR because it would end up being a repeat cesarean. He didn’t know I heard him. I was livid. How could he doubt me and my baby so easily? I did everything I could to turn her and less than 48 hours later had a successful vbac without him. And then 2 years later did it again. Women shouldn’t be told they can’t birth their babies vaginally and pushed into a cesarean without even being given again chance for their body to do what it is designed to do. 2/3 of women who try for a vbac are successful, but why is the vbac rate so low? Only about 10% of women are vbacing. Why aren’t we as friends and family more supportive of mothers to do research and make their own choices? Why aren’t more medical providers supportive? Studies prove it’s safest for most women to vbac rather than have multiple surgeries. Why are we perpetuating the myth that women are broken? I am scarred, but I am not broken and neither are you. #scarredbutnotbroken#cesareanawareness “.
There were some mixed reactions to the post. I’m sure someone thought I was only talking about how bad cesareans are. But anyone who has ever spent 5 minutes talking to me knows that I support all birth. Where I get fired up is when women are not being told the truth, their options or are forced and coerced into things they do not want. On the other hand, I do want women to know about the risks that come along with a cesarean. They are wonderful and life-saving. I am so glad we have the medical technology to do this and save moms and babies. But what I do not like is cesareans being painted to be unicorns and rainbows because they sure the hell are not that. Do some women have really easy recoveries? Sure they do. Just like some women have super horrible recoveries. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for any type of birth. Every mother and pregnancy is different. Every woman’s story is different. Just because Jane Doe had 3 elective cesareans that went so smoothly you wouldn’t know she had surgery, doesn’t mean Janet Doe will have the same experience. I just want people to be mindful of what they tell expecting women when talking about their personal birth experiences.
The other part of this that I want to talk about is VBAC, again, if you have spent 5 minutes with me you know I LOVE VBACs. I am a vbac baby, I’ve had 2vbacs, helping women vbac makes me so happy. But VBAC isn’t for everyone and I respect that. I am just enraged that women aren’t being options. Or when their care provider(or friends/family/online person in a random forum) tell them that it’s an option but only talk negatively about it – filling women with fear and doubt in their body’s ability to do what it’s designed to do – subsequently causing the women to hastily choose the major abdominal surgery for no reason other than she is scared into it. That is not informed consent. Don’t get me wrong, there are awesome care providers out there that are very evidence based and give every woman they see compassionate care. But this type of coercion also happens with all sorts of other things in regards to a birthing mother’s choices and it needs to stop.
If you’ve managed to get through all of that I just want you to take away one thing. We support ALL moms, ALL babies, ALL families and ALL BIRTHS. If you are happy with your birth, so are we.