(and why it needs to change)
There are few things in this world I enjoy as much as my very favorite: motherhood. While it may strike some as cliche, the vigor with which I strive to support fellow moms in my circle and beyond is driven by a desire to see us all more connected. I want to see mothers become more transparent about the elements of motherhood that are challenging for us all. A topic that will be foreign to no one in this group is that of the Cesarean section, or C-section.
I’ve talked before about motherhood being a close-knit sorority of sorts. One of the reasons many of us would agree with that sentiment is because giving birth, the act of actually creating a tiny human in your body and releasing him or her into the world? It’s no small feat! Birthing a child is something to be celebrated, no matter the surrounding circumstances. The whole process of gestation is somewhat miraculous, if you really stop and think about it. Our bodies were created with the ability to bring forth life; as natural and beautiful as it is, who would ever think there would be controversy or shame over the choice a woman makes regarding how to safely deliver her child?
Through many conversations with friends who have children, I’ve discovered that when the subject of Cesareans versus vaginal births arises, several have faced a bit of dissension in a not-so-constructive manner. They walk away feeling shamed, or at the very least, uncomfortable. I find this ridiculous! As I spoke with more and more women, I realized that my own story was not all that uncommon; I figured sharing it could peel back the very unnecessary veil and shed a little light on what many face both before and after delivery.
I never wanted to have a Cesarean birth. I had two—one for each of my boys.
I am, by nature, a researcher. It is important to me to know as much as possible about anything I am planning to pursue. When we found out we were pregnant, I immediately put on my investigation hat and went forth to find any and all information I could about what was about to happen to my body, and what others would expect from it, as well. I wanted to know my options, my rights, and what it would mean for my overall experience and, most importantly, my baby.
I had a total of four OB-GYNs while I was pregnant with my first son. Sound crazy? It felt that way, and it definitely wasn’t easy. From finding shining recommendations to switching insurance companies, it all made for more work than any pregnant woman should ever have to deal with. But it was necessary. One of the doctors felt justified in allowing me, the patient, to see more of her assistant than herself. Another delivered as many babies in a month as there are days. I dealt with OB-GYNs who were cold, dismissive and treated their patients like cattle, herding them in and out. I even had one who was so focused on developing her practice’s reputation as the best in high-risk deliveries and cesareans that she determined I needed one before even having the proper information!
In short, my experiences with finding the right OB-GYN were harrowing, and I know I’m not alone in that. What should be a beautiful moment in a woman’s life is sometimes quickly made stressful because of the way we handle things in this country. Out of my distressing hunt for the right doctor was born my need to advocate for myself and my unborn child. I found the right OB-GYN, and she would ultimately go on to deliver both of my boys. I had all the typical prenatal appointments and check-ups. After having a scare regarding my baby being breech (he eventually turned), the proportions of my son’s shoulders and torso meant that, despite my wishes to deliver vaginally, the risk of lifelong complications were too great to chance.
The course of events unquestionably took a different path than what I wanted, but the distinction that must be made is that I was aware of my options. Researching various types of births in different environments, different medical professionals, even in different countries…it all paid off! It is an advantage many women do not have. They are in the midst of a situation never before experienced, their bodies morphing each day, with little to no information regarding what is necessary versus what is convenient for hospitals and insurance companies. Women often feel like their backs are against the wall and often make decisions in haste, but they ALL do it with the best interest of their child in mind.
A lot of what I do, whether in my friendships, on my Mom Life Yo radio show, or with nonprofits is because I believe in women supporting women. The conversations fueled by judgment about whether a woman knows what “real” birth is based on whether she had a cesarean or vaginal birth are absurd—and quite frankly, rude. If you delivered a baby, you’ve experienced childbirth, period. The ridiculous conversation that exists around ranking womanhood and motherhood based on birthing method needs to end. We are all in this together, doing the very best we can.
So where do I stand on the issue? If a woman decides she wants to deliver with no pain-numbing drugs, great. If she opts for an epidural, awesome. Birthing centers, home water births, hospital or otherwise, what’s important is that every mom-to-be is given the right to information and that she feels good about the choice she makes.
I’ll always advocate for women and mothers. I hope honest discussions like this one will open the door for more of us to feel comfortable with both asking questions and confidently choosing what’s best for our needs.
Have you ever dealt with judgment surrounding your birthing experience? How did you handle it?