Tag Archive | cesarean birth

Tuesday Tidbits: Cesarean Awareness Month

11148668_1614543705424512_3613965156253725168_nIt is Cesarean Awareness Month! We finished several new mama goddess designs this month and have a CAM-themed April newsletter ready to go out (subscriber freebie in this newsletter is a new birth education handout: “Can I really expect to have a great birth?” Sign up for the newsletter at Brigid’s Grove!)

Some Cesarean Awareness Month themed posts for this week. First, a meditation for before a cesarean:

You say you honor choices. 11108844_1614067252138824_1518757261202060615_n
Can you really honor mine?
I will always honor the process which
brought forth flesh of my flesh.
I honor your births too.
Can you ever honor my experience, or will I
forever be a part of your statistics on
the way things shouldn’t be?

via Birthrites: Meditation Before a Cesarean | Talk Birth.

And, some past thoughts on helping a woman give birth…what is the balance between birth interference and birth neglect?

There can be a specific element of “smugness” within the natural birth community that has been gnawing at me for quite some time. A self-satisfied assumption that if you make all the “right choices” everything will go the “right way” and women who have disappointing or traumatic births must have somehow contributed to those outcomes. For example, I’m just now reading a book about natural mothering in which the author states regarding birth: “Just remember that you will never be given more than you can handle.” Oh, really? Perhaps this is an excellent reminder for some women, and indeed, at its very core it is the truth—basically coming out alive from any situation technically means you “handled it,” I suppose. But, the implicit or felt meaning of a statement like this is: have the right attitude and be confident and everything will work out dandily. Subtext: if you don’t get what you want/don’t feel like you “handled it” the way you could or “should” have, it is your own damn fault. How does a phrase like that feel to a woman who has made all the “right choices” and tried valiantly to “handle” what was being thrown at her by a challenging birth and still ended up crushed and scarred? Yes, she’s still here. She “handled it.” But, remarks like that seem hopelessly naive and even insulting to a woman whose spirit, or heart, has been broken. By birth. Not by some evil, medical patriarchy holding her down, but by her own body and her own lived experience of trying to give birth vaginally to her child.

via Helping a Woman Give Birth? | Talk Birth.

An educational video and some cesarean infographics from Lamaze: Lamaze for Parents : Blogs : How to Avoid a Cesarean: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

And a VBAC Primer from Peggy O’Mara: VBAC Primer | Peggy O’Mara

Some thoughts on the flawed assumption of maternal-fetal conflict and how that impacts the climate of birth today:

I think it is fitting to remember that mother and baby dyads are NOT independent of each other. With a mamatoto—or, motherbaby—mother and baby are a single psychobiological organism whose needs are in harmony (what’s good for one is good for the other).

As Willa concluded in her CfM News article, “…we must reject the language that portrays a mother as hostile to her baby, just because she disagrees with her doctor.”

via Maternal-Fetal Conflict? | Talk Birth.

And some past thoughts on Birth Strength:

“Women are strong, strong, terribly strong. We don’t know how strong until we are pushing out our babies. We are too often treated like babies having babies when we should be in training, like acolytes, novices to high priestesshood, like serious applicants for the space program.” –Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay’s Dance

via Birth Strength | Talk Birth.

(I would revise this slightly to say “until we have birthed our babies,” since strength is found in many different birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and mothering experiences, not only in pushing out our babies. I still love the quote though!)


Cesarean Trivia

Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the history of childbirth in the modern world has probably heard the legendary story of the pig-gelder Jacob Nufer and the first successful cesarean section (performed on his wife in 1500). Successful because both mother and child lived, which had never before been documented to happen with a cesarean—and took quite some time to happen again. For example, there was a 100% mortality rate for cesareans performed in Paris for 89 YEARS (1787–1876). I’ve read several excellent books about the history of birth and feel fairly well-versed in the associated facts. However, this month I finished reading a new book by pediatrician Mark Sloan and was surprised to learn something completely new about the history of the cesarean section. This was that, the well-known legacy of Jacob Nufer notwithstanding, the first well-documented successful cesarean section performed in the English-speaking world was performed by Dr. James Barry in Cape Town South Africa in 1826. James Barry was quite the character, small of stature and very big of opinion and personality. He was a British Army officer who clashed frequently with everyone over everything (including even fighting duels!). He even had public arguments with none other than Florence Nightingale! And…then…the conclusion to this already interesting tale is that after Dr. James Barry died—after his forty year medical and military career—it was discovered that he was actually a woman!

I found this extremely fascinating. (I also imagined Jill at Unnecesarean using her Photoshop talents to make some kind of image about this…) So, despite the dominance of males in the medical profession, the first successful cesarean in the English-speaking world was actually performed by a woman! A point the author brings out in this discussion is that, “Here in the early years of the twenty-first century we have reached a point of high medical irony that would not be lost on James Barry: it now can take more courage—or foolhardiness—not to do a cesarean than it takes to do one.” How true.

Some other non-related quotes from Birth Day that I shared via the CfM Facebook page are as follows:

“Birth is about radical, creative, life-affirming change. It is about adaptation on a nearly unbelievable scale.” –Mark Sloan, MD

The quote above is in regard to the physical adaptations required by the baby immediately after birth—I see it as about both mother and baby though and I enjoy that it comes from a man and a doctor no less!

“Rigid plans work best if you’re building a skyscraper; with something as mysteriously human as giving birth, it’s best, both literally and figuratively, to keep your knees bent.” –Mark Sloan, MD

The above quote is from the segment about what he would want to tell his daughter about giving birth. Though the book wasn’t as “alternative” as many of the birth books I enjoy, I found Birth Day to be a very engaging and entertaining read!

Birth & Apples

What does birth have to do with apples? Well, I read two things this week that made me think of both apples and birth. First, in an Ode magazine editorial that was about “apples and entrepreneurs.”  The editor introduced me to the word “pleonasms” –used to refer to words that contain unnecessary repetition. He was discussing apples, “after all, what’s an apple that grows without chemicals? It’s just an apple. If any kind of apple needs a modifier, it’s the kind that isn’t grown organically. Those we should call ‘chemical apples'” (instead of labeling the other an “organic apple”). Of course, I immediately thought of birth. I was considering how we have to use the terms “natural birth,” “normal birth,” “organic birth,” “physiological birth,” “unmedicated birth” and more. Taking a cue from this Ode editorial, what is a birth that isn’t interfered with? Just a birth. In theory, the other phrases we use are pleonasms like “organic apple.” (Same with “breastmilk,” actually. Our own species-specific milk should not need a modifier…)

Still related to apples and birth, but moving into another area, I have a particular interest in “good birth experiences” and how mothers tend to get very valid and real emotions dismissed with comments such as “at least you have a healthy baby.” Or, they face insinuations that they are “selfish” for caring about a good birth experience (the assumption being she somehow cares more about “the experience” than “the healthy baby”). I have already explored this subject in an article for the International Journal of Childbirth Education in Sept. 2008 and also in this post, but I loved this explanation in The Big Book of Birth when addressing disappointment over having a cesarean birth: “…in cases where a mother feels disappointment because the birth didn’t go as hoped, it is like saying to her, Well, at least you got a healthy baby and dismissing any other emotions or experience. It is not helpful because the expectation was not to not have a healthy baby–the expectation was to have a vaginal birth. It is comparing apples to oranges since there were two separate individual hopes: one the joy of a baby, the other her experience of bringing that baby into the world. The apple being the healthy baby we all want and usually bear, the orange being what we hope for in our trials and tribulations on the way there.” (Or, the orange being our “good birth experience.”)