Tonight, I'm sitting with my mother discussing life. I'm visiting home and I can't help but think that I am so far away from everything she knows. She tries to talk about birth, babies and "trying to nurse" so that we have something in common. She's reaching and I'm cringing.
How many stories can I hear about this mom or that mom who is "totally breastfeeding their kid" but gives them a bottle during the day because the baby has latch issues and really has problems intestinally. The baby is nursed at night, when it's convenient, but I guess at three months old, after being forced into the world a month early, it's too much to ask for the mom to just nurse him and not bottle feed him so that he will get over the latch issues. But get this...he's getting formula for 8-10 hours a day but NURSING is giving him GERD and gas issues. Yes, and the mom should wean on a bad hair day, too, I'm sure.
Then there is the story of the other mom who is going to be having her first birth ON her due date. She's really smart, has done a lot of internet research, she's really on the ball. Then two seconds later, she's too stupid to realize that a due date is an imaginary number based on a semi-coherent guess.
I could go on, discussing how another family member's son HAD to have XYZ or how another one HAS to have a csection (with the implication being that being too fat was a medical indication or that she DESERVED this somehow.)
Ok. So this was really a vent. But what makes people think that because I love helping concerned moms bring their babies into this world in love, cherishing the journey and jumping the pitfalls of medical standards of practice.... ....that somehow I would want to share, relish or talk about stories of mothers being duped, or not putting that kind of cherishing into their little infant's lives?
It's no wonder that she was knocked out for three of her births. Disconnect appears to be a motherhood bloodsport in this particular arena. How about being encouraging to moms or even to your daughters?
May every mother one day tell her little girl the story of how she was informed and powerful and had options during her birth and she used her brain as well as her vagina to give birth...after all, no matter which power you believe created us, they did give us the ability to learn and rationalize even when our neighbor, our doctor, or even our mother is telling us how impossible it is.
After about five seconds on the site, I decided to search for Cesarean. The section on cesareans brought me to angry in about five seconds flat. Where to start? "The rate of cesarean section in this country has never been higher. Part of the reason is that more women are requesting elective cesarean to avoid the pain of labor. Another is that doctors are more reluctant to let women who had a previous cesarean attempt a vaginal birth, for fear of rupturing the uterus (although the risk of uterine rupture is extremely small). Regardless, there are times when a cesarean is necessary. For instance, if labor has slowed, you experience complications, the baby is in distress or the size of your baby compared to the size of you makes a vaginal birth unlikely." 1. So, let's blame the mom. It's her fault. She wanted it. 2. Let's not blame the doctors for doing the first cesarean, after all, that was mom's fault. And let's let them off the hook for giving moms surgery to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits. After all, we're back to the "it's ok to cut moms if I don't have higher premiums" defense. 3. The doctors have the right to cut every woman out there (1 in 3 in a "best case" scenario in the US) and btw, they have the right to cut you all AGAIN to keep your less than .5% rupture from happening. You don't get a say so. 4. Since when is "labor slowed down" a medical indication? 5. A vaginal birth "unlikely"? wait..so "wow, you have a big baby" is a medical indication because someone gave Dr Swami, OB, a crystal ball? 6. A baby stands a lot less chance of being in distress if mom is supported and taken care of during labor rather than induced, drugged, refused food and water and forced to lie in a bed for the good of the practitioner.
Never mind, I just can't do it. I thought I could blog about this and it's hideousness, but today, I'm just so angry that we can write these things and call them journalism or blogs or even "good information". I went to this site looking for good information on women not being aware of their risks of adhesions and yet the most common surgery done to women in the US today doesn't even have adhesions listed as a RISK? Wait. It does say "scar tissue", doesn't it? This is their idea of a factual list of risks? It doesn't even mention wound infection. This is informing women of the potential risks? A woman can't even go and google search for "scar tissue" because you will notice it's not worded as what it is, adhesions.
And since I don't want to discuss this site any further on a point by point breakdown of it's awfulness, I'll mention the last of them on the page. "But don't worry; the delivery room staff will rub the baby to restore color and movement and/or provide some supplemental oxygen to help it pink up." It. Yes. We'll Pink It Up. Somehow, that doesn't do justice to either the baby or the lifelong risk of asthma and allergies IT carries because IT was born by cesarean. Or the fact that in many cases, that same sweet baby will be parked in a NICU for the first few days of life or spend some time next week in the PICU because some OB thought it was more important to not get sued than to attend a trial of labor.
But, this site has the USA TODAY seal of approval: "USA Weekend Magazine recognizes HealthyWomen.org as "a website to trust," ranking it as a top women's health resource! so I guess I should just believe everything it says.
I read this and thought "The media bought it, hook line and sinker. They didn't even LOOK at the obvious biases that might occur, the most obvious being that a doctor looks at "short Asian mom" and offers her a cesarean or doesn't give her as long in labor or says "big baby, let's induce" and that becomes the cesarean in a few hours for a baby that wasn't ready to be born.
This story highlights what is wrong with obstetrical care and the media reporting of it. Where is the science here and where is the journalist's integrity?
Last night, I was helping a young girl write an essay based on her professor's requirements. Her professor required a description of a place that could only be positive. No "buts" and no "negatives". No detractors. How does this apply to a Cesarean Awareness blog?
"Oh, but my cesarean was necessary."
I heard this again Thursday and once again thought to myself...we are conditioned to respond to a cesarean. My first instinct was to tell this mom that the tissue of lies she had been fed did NOT equal a medical indication for a cesarean, but in fact were an obvious attempt by her OB to make her "lawsuit proof". This was a closed and shut case just from the most obvious markers. The mom didn't even get a chance to have a trial of labor because, well, it's so much easier to just schedule since you are going to 'have' to wind up with one anyway! And then I thought, there has to be a better way to LISTEN to a mom, UNDERSTAND her feelings, DISCUSS with her the facts and slowly but surely remove the gauze from her eyes that help her to SEE that she could have made her own choices and decisions and not blindly followed down a path that might have led to giving birth. And at the same time, just plain validate that you understand why she walked the path she did. You get it. You know why she believed what she believed. And she can be angry, pissed, accepting, or whatever she feels once she realizes that the OB made these decisions for her and not with her and take whatever actions she wants to, but that it's ok for her to have been where she stood and that you get it. You've been there, too.
No. My cesarean was not necessary. My OB sure thought it was, he did it in all belief that what he was doing was the right thing. He didn't do it based in science or in anecdote, he was just blindly following what he had been taught to believe. As this mom was doing. She was blindly taught to believe her OB, even Elmo says "do what your doctor says". And I was blindly following my OB as he made my decisions for me. Her Ob was blindly taught to believe his teachers or at least, to regurgitate their beliefs in order to pass the class. He was taught that the only way to defend himself in a court of law was to do what these other "peers" said to do or he would lose his lifestyle, his position, his money.
She's never going to have another baby because of these beliefs. I'm sure her OB will go on to deliver plenty more. And the 17yo will write her papers to fit in to a society that says she has to, according to the will of her instructors. Because it's not about developing the future of a mother or an individual. It's about bending to the societal mores that says it doesn't matter as long as you get the degree. And it doesn't matter how a baby is born as long as you get a "Healthy Baby".
Ok...so last week in the store, I did something I've never been tempted to do before. I picked up a Jenny McCarthy book. Her first book on dealing with her son's autism (There is a new one due out in the stores soon or now?) and as I sat there, reading her parenting thoughts, I was overwhelmed by what we had in common. I was floored by that "moo" that her son gave her, because I remember coming home from the ICAN conference in 2003 and sobbing because someone else's little 2yo told their mommy "I love you" and mine couldn't. Mine couldn't say "I love you" because his tongue couldn't make those sounds. His brain wasn't there. He was lovable, sweet, but refused to be touched. I heard her anger, hurt, self-pity and it felt so real...
So I picked up her other books and wanted to see what was there, underneath, in her life. I wanted to hear her ridicule other women and be mean about "Breastfeeding Nazis" and make comments about how great her epidural was (though it helped to cause her cesarean). I wanted to know what her life was like before she really had to care about her choices. How it felt back when things just "happened" and before the reality hit. How cavalier life is before the impact crater sends out wave after wave of destruction through your life, rewriting everything you thought you knew. She took everything for granted that it would all just work out...right?
Now, today...I wonder...does she regret her choices? Is she aware that her choices might have MEANT something, in the case of her son? Knowing that pitocin, epidurals, cesareans, not nursing..lead to higher rates of autism.
I don't know. I only know that I'm not laughing. As I watch these rates rise, I can't help but wonder how many women don't know that autism is one more thing affected by interfering in birth without respecting the process.