Over the last few years, I keep using the term “normal, low-risk VBAC” and I’ve found others have begun to use it as well. After all, isn’t less than 1% of a risk really a LOW risk of it? Especially if the actual risk of death or severe complication is even lower?
Evidently, It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
When I did searches for ACOG and defining what “high risk” means, there really isn’t any true definition. It’s like there is an imaginary line wherein doctors get the heebie jeebies and they call any risk a “high” risk. So where is this cut-off and why is this word so prevalent in our society when it comes to medical care?
I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We’ve read the story online about some mother that we know had a completely unnecessary cesarean. Just reading the story, as some doctor forced her body to open, stretching her cervix or inducing for dates and not indication, as the vbac “fails”, we cringe. We wonder how she didn’t see the signs. We can’t help but think about the story, we can’t help but be angry for her, hurt for her, sad for her. Why is this happening to her? How we do we stop it as a society if we can’t help one another be supported? How do we protect ourselves and our daughters, from this insanity?
These emotions flood us.
So what I’m about to say is important.
Not long-term, not forever. You don’t have to stop warning women, stop talking to them, not using your voice as much as you can.
But in this moment. With this mom.
This postpartum, just had a baby, mom.
She is not in that space. She is not processing the bigger picture.
She is in her own place, needing empathy, hope, and lots of loving on her and her baby.
She needs to recover from surgery, she needs to meet her newborn and learn to know them, she needs to take some time as she wraps her head around what has happened to her.
I did this not long ago. I had to stop, apologize and get out of the conversation because I had wronged the mother involved. She should NEVER have had to deal with my angry outburst towards her doctor at 3-4 days out.
What I should have done was this:
-Congratulate her on her baby
-Told her how cute her baby was
-Told her I wished her recovery and peace and healing
-Reminded her that when she was ready to process her experience or ask questions, whether it was in 2 weeks or 2 years, I am here for her to listen to her and help her walk that path.
-When she chooses to talk, ask questions and listen and help her come to her own answers, not provide them for her but holding her accountable to her own journey.
-To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven-
#cesareanawarenessmonth Day 18
There is a difference.
A world of difference.
Between choosing a cesarean at need. In knowing that your baby needs to be born now, in this moment.
And being told you have no choice.
That it’s not your choice.
That it’s not your decision.
That you will give birth alone, give birth without the support and care you wanted,
The type of support and care you need, desperately, to bring a baby into this world.
There is a world of difference in the ice cold OR gripping you when the tears flowing down your face are ones of lack of options.
And the ones that say “thank god, they are here, and safe”.
There is a world of difference in a mother who wonders if she could have done something differently and a mother whose confidence is in that this baby needed this now.
There is a world of difference in being a strong, compassionate woman who looks down, daily, at her belly and thinks “I would do anything for you”
And that same woman being led down a hall, to a wheelchair, to be taken back, unwillingly and against every fiber of her being, knowing there is no reason, lying down on a cold table, looking up at the ceiling and thinking “I would do anything for you”.
#cesareanawarenessmonth Day 15
We all know that sex is an amazing thing.
It can be beautiful and powerful, exciting and enjoyable. We also know it can be something to do to make a partner feel satisfied or to fulfill a need even when we know that really isn’t where we are *at right at the moment.
We also know that sex can be a nightmare. An act of power and coercion. Used against us to further another person’s goals, whatever they may be. When a person we know and trust uses us in that way, we are left wondering how we wound up here. Date rape, coercion, force. How did we wind up here and why did it happen this way. We are left, not broken, but fractured and trying to put the pieces together.
Birth is an amazing thing. It uplifts. We give, we strive, we are overwhelmed in the moment, we feel powerful, excited, and finally, overjoyed. Sometimes, we know certain things have to happen in order to bring our babies here safely and we know that need and weigh it against our own and make the choices that we need to make, for the good of that one we love. We even know that respectful care can happen under these circumstances.
We also know that birth can be a nightmare, out of control, a trauma, with others forcing us to unneeded procedures, telling us we are killing our babies if we continue, or that we will harm them, that we are stupid for trying homebirth, that we are broken and unable to give birth, that our babies being born through our bodies will result in brain damage and death. When a person we trusted uses their power in that way, telling us an induction is our only choice, that we can’t VBA2C, selling us a cesarean that will be “gentle” rather than giving us relationship, trust and good care, when we are forced to accept a coerced cesarean, it twists us inside. We wonder how we wound up here when we were desiring of a normal birth, we are fractured into the mother who wants to celebrate her love and look into her little ones eyes and the mother in pain who only wonders why she wasn’t stronger, more capable, why her doctor or midwife were so incapable of giving good care without the unnecessary procedures.
We are not broken but fractured and trying to put the pieces together.
This isn’t all cesareans and not all providers but with a virtually 40% cesarean rate, we need to stop buying acceptance and giving in because our providers have the capability to use power over us. We would never tell our daughters to accept date rape, we should stop giving them the example of birth rape. No means no, not convince me by making it nicer.
#cesareanawarenessmonth Day 14
So what causes one woman to come forward, to educate herself, to change?
What quality makes her look for a provider that won’t do cesareans, looks for natural birth, looks for drug-free, look for VBAC?
What is that undefined quality that makes one person want more and another ask no questions.
There is so much more to the equation than race, education, monetary status.
I know women who have chosen unassisted, midwives, CNMs, obstetricians, elective cesareans, VBAC, or fought like hell to not be induced, have epidurals or pitocin and other women who welcomed them. I know women who are ignorant, educated, black, Latino, Hispanic, white, rich, poor, WIC, food stamps, teenagers, twenty year olds, thirties, IVF and surrogate and the good old fashioned way, just true diversity of it all the types of women that are “studied” and I don’t presume to speak for any of them or make assumptions on what made them create their reality.
What I want to know is what makes that SHIFT because that SHIFT needs to happen.
We need to change gears and we need to realize that our health and the health of our babies depends on that research, information, education, adaptation, understanding.
What shifted for you?
#cesareanawarenessmonth Day 13
For the record, neither is “normal” or “low” and what the heck does “low normal” mean anyway?
Test results should never be given to mothers as “high” or “you failed the test” or “your numbers are low”. If numbers like this are given to you, here are some questions to ask:
1. What were my actual numbers?
2. What do you consider the range of normal? **
3. Why do these numbers concern you?
4. What is the chance of a false positive/negative or false reading?
5. Is there somewhere I can go to learn more about this?
6. I’d like to do more research before treating this, can you tell me what my options are in the meantime?
**THIS can be very important. One doctor might have an utterly different range of normal from another or one lab might use a different range of normal from another. There is also a serious concern arising with many mothers that a mother may be experiencing symptoms or testing that is abnormal for her even though the tests results show normal. Or that an individual’s normal may be a testing abnormal.
Example: A 15 year old active athlete or dancer might have a pulse rate in the 40s and a bp of 102/49. A heart rate of 72 and a bp of 120/80 might be a sign of serious illness. Same for a marathon runner or an individual with naturally low blood pressure. You should always know YOUR normal numbers when you aren’t ill, if possible.
And in regards to urine tests or other tests where a comparison is done vs. a color on a stick, you can put the little stick in the box, go out of the bathroom and stick your head into the diagnostic room and say “I’d like to see the comparison, please” or tell the nurse “I’d like to see the comparison, please, the stick and the bottle you are comparing it to. Thank you.”
I ask you to sign this petition if you want, but please, contact the hospital involved. Send letters, emails, phone calls. PLEASE. The women of Gainesville and the surrounding counties deserve the care they were getting without having to give up their rights to support. This is in violation of Federal law as well as Florida State Statute. There is no legitimate reason for this policy and frankly, NFRMC and HCA should be ashamed as it’s clearly a power grab over women and their support.
I think the people in this world that do the most harm are the ones who sign up for these kinds of regulations or laws based on good intentions. Laws are not there to grant freedoms. Laws are there to set limits. Regulations in this instance are there to set limits based on what the hospital wants, not on anything else, JUST on who they can control and put that control in place. They don’t want doulas not hired by them, who are not on board with their policies. This is the entire reason that doulas exist. To support women to have the births that they want, sometimes while not agreeing with hospital policy. They are there to be the woman’s advocate FIRST. Allowing this policy to continue means that doulas have given up their basic freedoms and rights as well as the woman’s right to hire who she will or have who she will as support.
It’s important to remember that this past year, doulas were helping women and supporting them and now, only one doula is ‘registered’ and supporting women and therefore, the hospital is sending her referrals. Unless we change this NOW, more doulas will be inclined to agree to this registration process simply from a financial standpoint and keep in mind, these are not hospital employees, but visitors who are non-medical in nature. They are being asked for invasive medical information and being required to violate their own privacy, even if they do as little as ONE birth a year at this hospital. Even more importantly, women have power. They can refuse to give in to this. If doulas stood up for themselves and said, “No, we have rights, our mothers have rights” then the women know that they can get support, and that they will have to exercise their power. Signing up for registration to save women to keep from having to do that is just one more way we act as if women need saving from birth. They don’t.
Please help change this NOW.