Over the weekend I participated in a Family and Baby Fest in Texas. I was a featured speaker and had a booth where I was able to interact directly with event attendees. It was wonderful making new contacts, meeting new people and most of all speaking with women about their pregnancy and birth experiences.
I spoke with a LOT of women who shared various stories of pregnancy and birth. The stories I heard reminded me while we are making strides, we still have a LOT of work to do as we help women feel empowered during their pregnancy and birth experiences. We have to continue to support women in their birth choices and makes sure that we continue to shatter the myths and bring truth to women so they can Birth Something Beautiful™. I decided to share three of the many stories below:
I overheard this mom say to my friend who was helping with my booth… “I was SLASHED open three times and I am all done with having babies.” My heart sank. I could hear the pain in her voice. She did not say she had three c/sections. She did not call them operative deliveries. Instead she said she was “slashed” open. We spoke and she shared her story…
Birth #1 – She had an unscheduled c/section due to slow progress. She received a call a few months later from a friend, who was a Labor nurse on the unit working the night of her birth. This friend told her flat out… Her c/section was done because the MD was in some sort of mood. The MD came to the unit and basically decided all of the women who were still in labor at that time would have c/sections. There were three of them one after another. Her friend told her she probably would have delivered vaginally with a more patient doctor and a little more time. Her second birth was within 14 months of her first. She was told a VBAC was too dangerous because her deliveries were too close together. Her third birth was a scheduled c/section because no one in her area supports VBA2C. (A vaginal birth after two cesareans)
She shared with me the physical and emotional pain she has endured during, between and after her c/sections. She shared how her feelings have been discounted. How she was called crazy for wanting to attempt at VBA2C. She is still in pain. It made me sad. I gave her information for International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) and hope that she will reach out to them to share her story with others and to provide her with a space of healing.
If you are still healing emotionally and physically from a cesarean section, I encourage you to reach out to the ICAN chapter in your area and even consider going to one of their conferences. You are not alone.
I was speaking to this mom about the fact that women often have more choices than their doctor may tell them about. She informed me that she was having a scheduled c/section so she didn’t really think she had many options/choices. I informed her that indeed there ARE things that you can request even if having a planned cesarean. I talked to her about the gentle cesarean and making a birth plan for her upcoming c/section. I asked her about the indication for her c/section. The conversation follows below. Note: it is not verbatim…
Me: So why are you having a cesarean?
Her: Oh I have to get an ovary removed so my doctor just figures I should have it done all at the same time
Me: *Blank Stare* Huh? Just so you know that is NOT an indication for a c/section … I don’t understand is this your first baby?
Her: Yes my first baby… That’s what my doctor told me. I also had major back surgery years ago so with both of those things my doctor really just felt like this would be best.
Me: Ohhhh so you wouldn’t be able to get an epidural if you wanted one?
Her: Oh no… I checked on that and I was told getting an epidural would not be a problem.
Me: So wait… You can get an epidural if you want one and so basically the only reason your doctor is telling you that he wants to do a c/section is because he wants to remove an ovary?
Her: Nodding in agreement
Me: Well I don’t want you to think I am trying to undermine your doctor but you REALLY need to ask some questions about this. Ovary removal is NOT a major abdominal surgery and it is definitely not a reason for a c/section. C/sections come with a number of risks for you and baby and if you don’t need one you don’t want one. You REALLY need to ask your doctor about this. This is the very reason I do pregnancy coaching as a part of my work. I want to help women know when, where, and how to get to the TRUTH about what their doctor is telling them. What your doctor is telling you is not all true. Getting an ovary removed and having a history of back surgery is NOT a reason you would need a cesarean. You have to question him.
Her: *Blank Stare* WOW… you have given me a LOT to think about
*Walks away slowly, visibly disturbed by the new awareness*
I think this conversation pissed me off the most on Saturday afternoon. I felt so bad for her and really hope she challenges her doctor about this. Removing an ovary during a c/section if the c/section is REQUIRED is an okay thing. Telling a first time mom that she NEEDS a c/section because she also needs an ovary removed is NOT okay.
This is the mom I am most happy about. She spoke to me about her desire for a home birth. She told me how she tried to find a home birth provider but was unable to do so because she has Medicaid. Medicaid does not cover home birth and she cannot afford the out of pocket cost (approximately $4000.) She was well informed and shared stories of the reactions of the various doctors she has been interviewing. The ones she found so far are NOT supportive of natural birth. One practically told her “You can’t do that here” As she described the natural birth she wanted.
Earlier in the day I had been speaking with the wonderful women of the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition and KNEW that they would be able to help this couple. I introduced this couple to soon to be midwife Amy of the Coalition and she immediately told them about a birth center about 1.5 hours away that accepts Medicaid. Being a first time mom we assured her… she has PLENTY time to get there once labor started. It felt good to do this. To connect a mom in need to a viable option that will allow her to Birth Something Beautiful™.
This last conversation happened near the end of the Expo. It was a wonderful way to end the event. I spoke to many moms that day. I hope something I said moved them into action to ask questions, to seek answers, and to learn the truth about childbirth in America.
Have you been to any baby expos lately? Did you learn something new or help a mom find a solution? Share your expo story!