Friday, October 24, 2008

So Far Away

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.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Report on Evidence-Based Maternity Care

My advice? Read the report and look at how women with insurance are still not getting good care even though 98% of them use surgical obstetrical specialists and the "newest and best" technology.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sometimes the Section is worse than the Section!

I wound up going to this site:
because it was linked from another story on how women are not prepared for surgical adhesions or informed of the risks. (See that story HERE)

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"? "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 as "a website to trust," ranking it as a top women's health resource! so I guess I should just believe everything it says.

Bias from the OB's becomes Bias for the media

Asian-white couples have distinct pregnancy risks

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?

Friday, September 26, 2008

How a 17yo opened my eyes to the cesarean issue.

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".

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who's Laughing Now? 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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Terminator 16: Rise of the Machines

I'm posting this without much explanation because I like her explanation better and at least she was able to keep her sense of humor.

I read this and went "does it scar the cervix? How will we know? Will it impact dilation? How do we know? How can a woman get up and walk around and act NORMAL (the best way to act while birthing) if she's strapped to this thing?"

Frankly, this is a huge reason why giving birth in hospitals is dangerous these days. Even with seemingly good intentions, they have no common sense about what is good for mothers or babies.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why Homebirth is Important

There are many people out there that are currently debating the AMA's and the ACOG's positions on homebirth. Actually, that's not really true.
What's really going on is this:
AMA mentioned their stance on homebirth.
The homebirth community went "WTH"

So let's get down to the Skinny of it.
Homebirth is important to the Cesarean/VBAC community because it's the ONLY place they are getting good, individually-based care. They get low cesarean rates, low transfer rates, low complication rates and healthy babies and VBAC's but even more importantly, they are treated well throughout their pregnancy, they aren't scared to death constantly about all the "risks" (less than 1%) of uterine rupture, they aren't told constantly what a risk they are to the physician's practice, they aren't told at every appointment that their baby could die, they aren't told that beginning at 36 weeks, they want the cesarean scheduled (without medical indication) and they aren't told that they have to give birth by 38-39-40 weeks and oh, if you get a REALLY nice dr, 41 weeks.
In other words, they are given good, conscientious, evidence-based care and then, if they do need transfer, their midwife goes with them and tries to maintain that care through what is often a completely nasty process where the OB, nurses and hospital staff feel the need to constantly tell them what risks they were taking rather than treating them where they are standing. A woman who presents with a 102 fever and asks for a cesarean shouldn't be reprimanded for over half an hour about the dangers of VBAC, dangers of a big baby, dangers of uterine rupture and dangers of homebirth. She should be treated clinically and appropriately. Here's wishing that will actually begin to occur in this state or country.

And why is the AMA/ACOG contingent against this? Because they want everyone to believe that VBAC's are dangerous to women and babies rather than just to their wallet. They know that they are not giving good care to women. Not good prenatal care, not complete prenatal care, not accurate care. Their system is built largely on checks on a list and "see you next time" and "screenings" rather than education and choices. They based an entire system on these things and now they are trapped trapped trapped and turn on one another if one OB steps out of line and doesn't practice this way, too.

So the Skinny on why AMA/ACOG want homebirth declared unsafe? illegal?
It's a threat to the way they practice. It's a threat to the money they make. It's a threat to the way they define birth and how they charge for it. It's a threat to the belief system they have set up that others have to follow.

Why do we care?
Because under AMA/ACOG practices, women and babies are being harmed at higher and higher rates. Protocol has replaced the practice of medicine and defensive medicine has replaced the peer relationship between patient and doctor. There is no respect for women or babies or individually-based care in the current world of obstetrics. There is no place for it. It takes too much time and time costs money. Being a doctor is supposed to be a job of prestige and importance with a requisite monetary compensation. But in a world where people realize that most of the time, you can go get tylenol sinus and skip the doctor visit or go to the midwife and just have a baby rather than going to surgeon for specialty is far too simple to pay specialists unless you really need them. And ACOG is terrified women will realize that specialists shouldn't be doing LOW RISK NORMAL CARE.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Blog to Remember

In many articles on the web it's now being promoted that obesity is an obvious reason for cesarean or at least an obvious complication leading to cesarean. Here's an enlightening blog that helps to challenge some of these assumptions:

The Multiple Cesarean Debate

This morning a beautiful child was born into the world. VBAC after multiple cesarean.

Just taking a few minutes to remind women it's still happening :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

ACOG's Recent Admission.

From their statement on the Midwifery Year in Review:
"Declining availability of VBAC.
The situation with hospitals declining to do VBAC deliveries has complicated our
advocacy efforts on midwives. ACOG Fellows in California, Washington and other
Western and Rocky Mountain states report that women are seeking out alternatives,
including home birth with midwives, in their desire for a VBAC. The VBAC issue was
one of several sticking points in California as stakeholders weighed-in on regulations to
implement a midwife licensure law"

In reading this, one has to wonder.
ACOG's guidelines are the reasons hospitals decline to do VBAC's and while over 300 hospitals have specific bans on vaginal birth after cesarean, violating women's civil rights and rights to informed refusal for medical procedures....the vast quantity of people denying women VBAC are OB's themselves. One office and one practice at a time, they have eliminated safe birth for women after cesarean in the US. And read what this really says. ACOG is having problems getting RID of the care providers who OFFER choice, midwives.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Did the NYT get it right?

The multi-level issues of the insurance crisis in US Maternity care made it into the NYT this week. The issues at hand:
1. Women are being denied maternity or health coverage by local health insurers and national health insurers for preexisting conditions like cesarean.
2. Women who have cesareans are being denied payment to their care providers, despite their care provider's insistence on the surgery
3. Obstetricians are perpetrating insurance fraud by refusing to offer safer vaginal birth or forcing women into cesareans without indication and causing cesareans through nonmedically indicated induction.
4. States with legal midwifery coverage and medicaid reimbursement are not giving out midwives names as a part of the plan because the medicaid providers don't have them in their "plan" despite the legality and safety.
5. Malpractice insurers are determining whether or not obstetricians can do VBAC and therefore, whether or not hospitals or care providers are causing more women and babies to be harmed by elective cesarean without indication.
6. Many insurance organizations have OB's in the industry helping to advise them or owning the insurance policies driving these acts, such as PLICO in Oklahoma.
So what does this say? The entire insurance industry from top to bottom is a mess in regards to the health of women and babies and are completely complicit in the cesarean crisis.

For more on the NYT article, go here:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yet another "We Can't Think out of the Box" Article

So the WSJ has encouraged us to realize that they no longer hire true reporters either, but simply biased ones who want to slam childbirth educators. I love how she winks subtly at the slam of her educator who obviously thought that those who use drugs are selfish, then fails to realize that in the next sentence she reveals that she had to force herself into a one hour class because that's all she had time to give for her birth plans and enjoyed the relaxation of the event and the focus like it was a sudden awareness that this might be something she wants to give thought to or relax with.

I wonder how much time she spent buying a stroller? a bed? her car?

The point being missed is rather obvious: Childbirth classes are becoming unnecessary because women ARE more selfish about their births, less worried about the eventual consequences, more trusting of care providers who have done nothing to earn their trust, more accepting of the abuses in a hospital birth because they are told it's protocol and the hospitals have completely co-opted the birthing process, up to and including controlling the information given out by their childbirth educators.

Another "fox guarding the henhouse" moment brought to you by this blog.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Defining Reproductive Health

At a non-birth conference on Women's Health this week, I was confronted by the enormity of "Reproductive Health".
The table was made up largely of women who thought it meant "birth control" and access to the medications and processes that keep women from having babies and two women who thought it should incorporate those women who's lifespan had chosen to not have children or could no longer have children. Then, there was the one "advocate" across the table who said she just wanted to know how to keep women from having "them". I wonder if her clients (Health Department) are aware of her attitude? If so, I can see why they aren't really reaching out to her for care, kwim?
Then there was me. The only one at the table advocating for informed consent, informed rights, a campaign for midwifery awareness. The entire idea behind "birth affects life" seemed lost in the race to prevent it from happening, denying that women have been having sex at age 14 for thousands of years (if not longer, depending on your belief systems) and even worse, in the arguments about how to prevent sex from happening. Where was the bigger picture about teaching women about their cycles? Teaching teens how to understand their bodies, how to track what was going on with them? Trusting them with information in the hopes that they will use it positively?
Another thing that caught my attention was that in the final review, anything about birth that I had said was dropped out or dropped into the realm of "pregnancy". As long as we keep treating women like pregnancy simply means "prenatal care in the form of going to doctor, peeing on stick and doing as told" in the welfare (and more upper class world) we're ignoring the passages of women into adulthood and capability. We are refusing to allow them to say with authority, I don't WANT to pee on a stick, I don't WANT a vaginal exam without medical reason and acknowledgement that women have every right to say NO to procedures or talk to their care providers as equals who deserve information and evidence NOT simply fear tactics and anecdote. I wasn't trying to discuss -pregnancy, but address the cesarean crisis and the way women are treated, without power. These women who thought that we should hand out condoms to every woman on a street corner couldn't see that VBAC bans or empowering women to make DIFFERENT choices from them or even choices they wouldn't approve of would be a part of the Reproductive Health picture.
When will women's rights advocates stop trying to force us AWAY from birth and actual reproduction as empowering events that almost all women will go through and start encouraging women to actually look at their births and motherhood as POWER?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sheep Analogy

An evangelist spoke this morning at a local church. His talk went something like this:
"A sheep is one of the stupidest animals in Creation. There was a shepherd/farm researcher doing a study on sheep. He discovered that if you put a barricade at the bottom of a single file sized ramp coming out of a semi truck that the first 30 sheep would jump the barricade and if you removed the barricade, the next thirty would jump over air because they had seen the first 30 jump."

This defines modern maternity care.
We see "A Baby Story" and we think that's normal birth.
We hear "that's protocol" and we think that we have no choices.
We think "birth is scary" and we medicate ourselves because we don't realize that we are strong enough to do this and that pain from birth is something that women can cope with if they believe in themselves.
The OB's see one induction work and think all women can be induced.
The nurses see one bad strip and think that all women should be treated one way in order to avoid another.
The lawyers get a successful case off an OB who made bad decisions and think they can make a lifestyle out of the medmal practice without ramifications to how all other women are treated.
The women out there don't realize there is something wrong with the system surrounding birth in our country. They are sheep, jumping over hurdles that don't exist, being saved from problems that are small and infrequent but believing in them nonetheless and helping their OB's to create the very situations that they will need to be saved from.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Power of Cesareans

I had a visible reminder this weekend of the power of cesareans. That unseen, tangible angst of a woman who is planning her next pregnancy. Or not. And I want to ask OB's how they treat the aftermath of the cesarean?

Have you ever walked into a room to find your wife sobbing, not because she can't get pregnant, but because she is terrified to make that journey? I know husbands and wives who daily are facing those tears because they can't stand the thought of having their choices taken from them, forced into a surgery they MUST comply with or be refused care or seek care wherever they can find it, or give birth at home alone, without a midwife to help them. Frankly, I find it reprehensible and tragic that we allow these doctors to put women in that kind of state over simply deciding if they want to have another child in their lives.

This is mass control of reproduction, for the sake of defensive medicine and malpractice. Many times, these women are asked repeatedly during their cesarean, or leading up to it, if they want to have a tubal ligation. Pushed because of the "risks" of multiple cesareans. And yet, no one wants to do VBAC because it might risk the care provider. Not the mother or the baby. The care provider.

Studies show that more women choose to be infertile after the trauma of a cesarean, EVEN if it was a planned cesarean. What does this say about the process of surgery and recovery?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cesarean Awareness Month

Two things about Cesarean Awareness Month:

1. ICAN memberships are cheaper. While this may not sound like means that you can do more for women for less money. Help em out, would you?

2. Oh, yeah..and there is this little statistical analysis that came out yesterday or so..

From the summary:

"Some factors that help explain the rising caesarean rates are:
increasing maternal age, rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and
multiple gestations. However, the increase in proportion of caesarean
births exceeds actual increases (individually and collectively) in the
prevalence of these conditions among pregnant women. In other words,
the caesarean birth rate is rising faster than medical or demographic
conditions would justify."

The report is available here:

In OTHER aint cause we're fat, unhealthy or any other reason. Let's pin that blame back squarely on the shoulders of those who are making the choice to cut:
The Medical Care Providers.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Today, something occurred again that makes me wonder why there is so much pain and anger directed at women who don't choose to have a repeat cesarean, no matter how many cesareans they had, be it one or be it five.

I wonder if it's the anguish over the choice. Not knowing if you made the right call. Knowing you will never know if you made the right call. The lack of control over the issue in realizing that you made a sacrifice and worried and wondered about the outcome while someone else "had" a vaginal birth. Or worse, had a loss that they can then be blamed for. It's that woman's fault, after all, that her uterus ruptured or that her baby died. Obviously, if she had made the other choice, then that NEVER would have happened.

But the truth is still the same. Life is not safe. Birth is as safe as life gets. And 100% fatal.
And that VBA4C mom doesn't care less for her baby, no matter what you might think. She cares differently and is in a different process from you. I sincerely doubt that most women who sign up for elective repeat fifth cesareans are told of the risks of their baby dying from stillbirth or the first few weeks of life from respiratory issues. They aren't warned of the placental abnormalities that kill more and more women and babies as the cesarean rate rises. They don't worry about those things because they feel that by scheduling, they are circumventing those risks. They are doing "safest." and "the best they can."

But the truth is still the same. Elective repeat cesareans are more risky than vaginal births. So..if you feel that you care more because you would pick "your baby" over "your VBAC" then perhaps you should ask yourself ...what if they are one in the same and you have control...over neither?

Noah's Ark - A Midwive's Tale Found on the Internet.

God told will need midwives on the Ark. There are a lot of babies to be born, both animal and human. They need a loving touch.

So...Noah brought two midwives.
The first was a CNM and the second was a CPM.
The midwives said that anyone who had had more than one baby could not be on the Ark. It was not in their protocol. The wolves got off, because they had litters. The Cows who had had twins got off, because their calves had come together.
The midwives said that anyone who had large babies had to get off the Ark, because it was out of their protocols. All of the hippos got off. Their babies were always large.
The midwives said that anyone who had small babies had to get off the Ark, because it was out of their protocols.
All of the mice got off. Their babies were always small.
The midwives said that anyone who did not go to 40 weeks gestation had to get off the Ark, because it was out of their protocols. All of the guinea pigs got off the ark. They would never make it to 40 weeks.
The midwives said that anyone who went over 42 weeks gestation had to get off the Ark, because it was out of the their protocols. So all the elephants got off. Their babies never came at 40 weeks.
The midwives said that anyone who's babies came breech had to get off the Ark, because it was out of their protocols. All of the horses got off because their babies often come out feet first.
The midwives said that anyone who had a cesarean had to get off the Ark, because it was well-known that many midwives can't or won't attend a VBAC. So all the bulldogs got off the Ark.

At the end, all the CNM and the CPM had was each other, sitting on the Ark, with Noah's wife who was done having children, condemning the younger generation for their lack of activism and using low risk care with midwives...

...and meanwhile, across the Earth...those animals bred and birthed and flourished...because life finds a way to happen despite protocol.
-Author's name withheld.

Friday, February 8, 2008

ICAN's Response to ACOG and AABC statements

Thursday, February 7, 2008

ICAN's response to ACOG and AABC statements
Redondo Beach, CA, February 7, 2008: The International Cesarean Awareness Network ( would like to publicly condemn both the AABC (American Association of Birth Centers) and the ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) for their statements* this week that limit not only women's choices in birth but imply that birth is a fashion trend rather than a safety concern.Since VBAC is the biological normal outcome of a pregnancy after cesarean, ICAN encourages women to get all of the facts about vaginal birth and elective cesarean before making a choice. This decision should not include weighing the choices of your doctor's malpractice payments but only be a concern of the mother, her baby and their health and safety.Since some mothers will make the choice to give birth outside of the hospital, we encourage the AABC to not cave into ACOG's demands that all women give birth in a hospital facility with a surgical specialist, but instead allow women to make their own choices about care providers, birth settings and risk factors. ICAN respects the intelligence of modern women and accepts that the amount of information available about VBAC and elective repeat cesarean should serve as informed consent.ICAN further encourages the governments of individual states to look closely at their cesarean rates (31.1% national cesarean rate as of 2006) and the informed consent laws that apply and help women to reach a standard of care that lowers the risks of major surgery and the risks of elective or coerced cesarean without medical indication. Women and children should not bear the brunt of malpractice risks being conveyed into physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health risks in order to protect their physicians.Mission statement: ICAN is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean. There are more than 94 ICAN Chapters across North America, which hold educational and support meetings for people interested in cesarean prevention and recovery.* AABC statement: statement:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A new Look...

From the Mouths of Mothers

This post is not mine. It's that of a woman in pain who has been harmed by her cesareans and her obstetricians. I'm simply borrowing the soul crunch in order to let you know how it really feels to be on the wrong side of ACOG. This week, ACOG once again showed that restraint of trade is alive and well in the United States. As a backlash to so many people noticing that women have safe births at home all the time, even in the Big Apple, ACOG thought it necessary to tell us that it's trendy to do, but not safe. Well, how about those trends in Cesareans? Casual induction? Coerced Cesareans for "big babies"? Let's face it...we know who is really worried about the trend for midwifery. It's a simple matter of economics. If midwives deliver most of the babies, why would anyone spend 12 years in school learning to be a surgeon for the 15% of cases that need more urgent care or surgery? They don't seem to see that they would then be paid MORE due to scarcity and/or simply having an emergent care situation. By making themselves the arbiter of low-risk women, they have simply gotten their hands into the cookie jar and like all raccoons, won't let go until they are torn ripping and screaming from where they have placed themselves.
Here is ACOG:

And here is that mother's response:

"The main goal should be a healthy and safe outcome for both mother and

Pardon my language - but fuck them...with a garden hoe! I'm so so so sick of
their 'we're just cutting you open and rendering you high risk forever for
your own health" BULLSHIT!!!

It's such a safe outcome that they've spent a decade and a half treating my
uterus like a time bomb...such a safe outcome that I couldn't feel my
clitoris for months and STILL can't feel my bladder from surgery 2.5 years
ago...such a safe outcome that I needed oral antibiotics to combat the infection
in my incision this time and prescription-strength antibiotic ointment to
combat it last time (not that those would likely show up in a study, since
they aren't in any hospital records)...such a safe outcome that I've spent
years wanting to DIE (not because of the much-yammered about "pressure" from
natural birth advocates, either - I'd never met one until during my third
pregnancy)...such a safe outcome that my body feels completely destroyed,
and I've never had a really bad recovery or any official complications.

I could scream. If I weren't afraid of freaking out dd, I *would* scream.

I *love* how they mention that the studies haven't been scientifically
rigorous...but they do specify that they're only talking about studies IN
THE US (not that your average person would catch the significance). I
*might* even be willing to say they had a point - *maybe* being in the
hospital would be best, IF it were just about monitoring...but since it's
also about giving us IVs, making us stay in bed, depriving us of food and
water, augmenting and inducing labour, giving us drugs without our knowledge
or consent, threatening us with CPS if we dont' do what we're told,
etc...what validity their claims might have goes right out the window...

"While birth is a normal physiologic process" (from the press release) - not
in a hospital, it isn't.

Who sounds more like they care about mothers and babies? HINT: it's not the trade union.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Have Spinal Column, Will Travel

So, last night. Tampa's Business of Being Born.
Round and Round it goes.

The CNM's "educate women"
The OB "I practice ethically"
The Doula's "empower women"
A woman in the audience "respect life"

I have a singular frustration as I wake today. It's the same frustration I've awakened with and gone to bed with for the last month. I'm sharing it because it's becoming a bit of an obsession and reframing the argument has to become a reality.

Cesareans are NOT about Malpractice. They are about what an OB is or is not willing to do to keep himself from being subject to malpractice. Would you let someone hold your wife down and cut her baby out of her stomach if they were standing on a street corner telling you they would get sued if they didn't? An OB tells you "I have to practice this way" because he worries about his practice being lost, his livelihood, his home, his ability to pay his bills. He lives in this fear. She lives in this fear. Women OB's are not only as bad, they are often worse, pushing themselves to live to the standard of practice while raising families and trying to fight back against long hours.
Wow. Feel sorry for the OB's, right?
Until you realize the following:
They cut women to get home on time.
They induce women to manage care and timing of their office visits.
They induce or section women in order to keep their cost of doing business low.
They cut women who had a prior cesarean because they are afraid of being sued.

What they don't do is look at the woman in front of them and wonder if she will die at age 45, leaving teenagers or toddlers without a mother due to the bowel adhesions she received from that cesarean. It's not lawsuit material.
They don't look at that same woman at a year postpartum and see her lying on the floor sobbing due to the PTSD results of her failed struggle against failing at birth and having her baby taken from her. She can't sue. She's actually "healthy" after all...physically. Right?
They don't look at that same woman after three cesareans, unable to stop crying because the stillbirth in her arms is the result of those other surgeries. That first OB can't be sued for this.
They don't look at that same woman at six months, unable to have sex because she still has pain. One man successfully sued for not being able to sleep with his wife.
They don't look at that same woman at 6 weeks, having a hard time walking up the stairs because of the infection in her incision that still hasn't healed. This isn't lawsuit material because it's actually a NORMAL complication of cesarean.
They don't look at that same woman sitting in the NICU, staring at her 2 week old who has a respiratory infection. This isn't lawsuit material because once again, it's NORMAL.
They don't hold her hand in her bed while she's trying to figure out how to nurse across a scar when she can't even hold her baby.
They don't hold her hand while listening to complete strangers discuss the news of the day and take her baby to another room.
They don't hear the voice of someone else telling them that their body has failed and it's time to let someone else take over and take her baby out of her.
They don't sit in her labor room trying to fight the pain of the contractions and giving in to the epidural because she's terrified of what will happen next.
They don't help her cry at night, not knowing how to say no to an induction tomorrow which she doesn't need and doesn't want and is secretly terrified of.

They go to their practice, they see her for 5-15 minutes, they weigh her, assess her and leave. And worry that they will get sued because deep down they know they are not giving care. They are providing a business service without compassion and they only look at the plumbing.
God forbid they notice the house has fallen down and the woman is trapped inside. After all, if they don't see her as a person, they can't get sued.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Business of Being Born in Gainesville

Last evening, at a rather successful fundraising/community awareness event in Gainesville, one woman stood up to say that she's had three cesareans and she doesn't need a ribbon to mark her or anything else. She's fine and cesareans don't have to be a bad thing.

After rehashing why she might have felt the need to do this, it all comes down to the fact that she's right. She doesn't need a ribbon. She's scarred for life, three times. She's going to spend the rest of her life being a statistic with higher risks. Her future insurance companies might deny her for coverage, her future doctors might refuse to take her if she doesn't agree to surgery (regardless of medical condition or health), her risks for hysterectomy, adhesions, bowel obstructions. More surgery. She may or may not wind up with more health problems, but the risks are certainly weighed in favor of it. Enough said.

But she missed the point. Cesarean Awareness is not about branding anyone. It's about being aware of those risks, doing what we can to mitigate the risks, doing what we can to prevent cesareans, doing what we can to encourage women to healthy pregnancies and healthy births that don't end in surgery or if they have surgery, learning new ways to help make these risks lessened.
I don't wear my ribbon to remind ME I had a cesarean, I wear my ribbon to bring attention to the risks and to bring attention to the fact that EVERY childbearing woman should know what I know. She should have informed consent. She should be angry that MORE THAN 1/3 of all births are surgical. She should be livid that women are having to go home after major abdominal surgery and care for their infants alone.

There should be change and for all that this woman was trying to show she's ok on the outside, it's the same old ruse of the cesarean. It's what's on the inside that counts.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Futility of Educating Oneself?

A link to share with you about a story on childbirth education:

Maybe most of these women just see the futility of going in to learn about something that DOESN'T APPLY TO THEM???

"don't make me feel guilty"...for what? Understanding the ramifications of your actions?
"don't make me feel bad about wanting an epidural?"...An epidural is a medication often used during labor which affects the entire process and all parties involved in the biology and raises the risk of cesarean if used inappropriately, i.e. the way it's currently used in American medical care.
"don't make me feel bad about choosing a cesarean" want surgery instead of going through a normal process. Maybe learning the facts about it isn't making you feel bad, it's making you realize that it's not the same thing as ordering a biscuit with your eggs.

Chilbirth educators aren't dismayed or upset by the amount of women going in for surgery or using drugs, they are floored at the ignorance and apathy of an entire generation of women who don't seem to give a damn about the process, the ramifications on themselves or their future health or their infants. But underlying all of this is a dark secret. It's not really just the moms who everyone is angry at. It's the system. The Obstetricians who feed the fears and cause so many of the issues through iatrogenic induction, monitoring, regulation of food and water. These women are often seeing this "way of birth" through the TV, through movies. They begin to breathe it as small girls when their first baby has a Fisher-Price bottle welded to it's hand or three different kinds of "juice" and "milk" in it's box. When we see birth, we are blinded to the ability of the woman and the normalcy of having a baby out in the middle of nowhere without doctors and a neonatal nurse and an OR. We learn to watch TV to see the "bravery" of a woman on a soap opera abandoned in a snowy mountain retreat giving birth to her infant with no power and when the channel is flipped, we see a screaming woman or worse, one lying defeated in bed, giving her life's choices away in sorrow as the overwording tells us "Well, after 3 hours with no progress, Jamie's doctor decides to do a cesarean"...
Really? Where the hell is Jamie in this process? Does she look like she wants a surgery on top of this? Did anyone talk to her, get her out of bed, feed her LUNCH and buy her some time? Her body quit and so did she.
There, lying strapped to monitors, starving for food, unable to drink more than ice chips and being told her body has failed. "here, we'll do this before something else goes wrong" and the implication is...she will never complete, never succeed. Why Try?
Because if you don't...this is what will happen to you. You will be Broken.
That's the message of a lack of childbirth education and/or the stronger women who are finding their information in books or on the web. Either you quit ahead of time and let go, believing all to save your own sanity and ignorance or you learn and fight the system. Fight those who will tell you over and over again that you cannot do this. You cannot birth a 10lb baby. You cannot birth with low fluid. You cannot birth a 6lb baby. You cannot birth with high fluid. You are going to kill your baby.
So why go to childbirth classes. You've already talked to your OB and he's told you all he needs to. Or she has. A woman OB had to submit to the same system and have her humanity and female fellowship drained out of her or she, too, would have been a failure.
Face it. The futility of fighting the system leaves one drained and incapable.
It's easier to just stay home and watch "A Baby Story."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pushed to Write about a Stranger's Cesarean

She says it so much better than I can...
I wish that Christina would wake up and say ICAN before she is in the throes of healing like the rest of us.

Once again, a stranger on the web reaches out. I guess I'm not in such bad company.

Blogs and Cesarean

Many people don't realize that when they post on their blog, it can be meta-searched and when they post about their cesareans, vast arrays of women read about it. This sort of vicarious watching becomes almost painful when you see someone young and naive take a nose dive into major surgery for no apparent reason.

Recently, a young woman on a blog posted how her baby was "SO BIG" at well over 10 lbs at 38-39 weeks and so she would have to have a cesarean.
Wait. Since when is having a baby an indication for cesarean? Oh. Since she lives in the US.
Wait. Didn't anyone warn her about the possible ramifications of major surgery? No. Her friends and family all loved and supported her without one mention of complications or risks or why is she making this choice?
Wait. Does she know that ultrasounds aren't reliable and that 10 lb babies are born all the time vaginally? I don't know.

So, a week later, she goes in for the elective surgery that will put both her, her baby and any future children at risk for their entire lives. Her entire gyn history and future merge at this one point and begin to make decisions FOR her rather than WITH her. She will have to fight to birth vaginally, should she ever choose to, or she will have to add surgery on top of surgery, increasing risks at every turn and will most likely have an earlier hysterectomy than her vaginally birthing sisters.
For a baby that one week later still wasn't 10 lbs.
For a general surgery that her husband wasn't able to be at.
For an increased risk in other complications that have already begun to occur.

Does she know these things? Will she care one day?
I don't know. Probably, she isn't even aware of all of this.
My heart broke for her and her baby in an odd sort of way. In all that vast sea of "oh, it's ok, cesareans are easy, I did it...blah blah blah...we love you and your baby...we'll care for you..we'll make you meals."
Not one person said "You can do this. You don't need surgery to birth your baby. You deserve better. Let's just try and I'll be there to hold your hand."
Not ONE person believed in her?
just one. A "stranger" on the internet. I believed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Father's Role

Recently, there have been studies posted in various places about father's increasing a woman's perception of pain and father's increasing the cesarean rate through fear tactics or coercion from the obstetrician involved. What you don't see is the father's role in VBAC or in protecting mothers FROM the treatment involved with birth. So, this is a short, quick five questions to make men think.

1. Why is external fetal monitoring used? Does this work?
2. Why is a woman's amniotic fluid sac usually broken? Is this accurate?
3. Is induction proven to be effective or safe in a normal full-term pregnancy?
4. What is the most common indication for cesarean section?
5. Is it normal birth to be on monitors, lying in a bed, denied food? Would you do it?

I know this is a setup..but if men know better...why do they not speak up for change? Why is it only a woman's job to fight for better births in this country? Do men care that their wives and partners are being treated the way they are or does it feel safer to not speak up and tell the hospitals or obstetricians or nurses "no." Or is it that they are so terrified to be removed, they consent to abuses? Is there a reason why so many men are terrified of homebirth beyond being scared of personal responsibility for the outcomes? Is it worth consenting to the abuses in hospitals? Is there a reason to not step up and say "I will not tolerate you doing this to my wife/my child." JUST to get medical care? Or should we be demanding better care?

Hard thoughts. Hard choices. But where do Real Men stand?

New Year

The past few months were a trial run to see if I enjoyed keeping the blog and posting information occasionally. As the New Year begins, 2008 will see far more posting about various studies and issues and more information for both first-time and multiple mothers and the people in their lives. I hope that you find the blog helpful in your days to come and check back to see the upswing in posts.