November 20, 2009

Second Class Birth

There is a lot of discussion that happens about natural childbirth and sometimes these discussions get ugly in my opinion. Sometimes, just because of how strongly they feel about natural childbirth, VBAC and no pain meds, they come across as though women who have c-sections, for whatever reason, did not have a full-filling birth experience. There are times that I have even felt a bit jaded, like there is something wrong with me for getting an epidural with my first baby and for not being upset about my c-section...I had a repeat elective c-section, even though I had delivered vaginally before, I opted to not VBAC. There are times I wish I had made a different decision, but I really don't have a regret. But it was a good experience, and not a second class birth because I didn't go into labor and deliver with no interventions. I do agree, very strongly, that the national c-section rate is much higher than it should be and that women should be given more support when they decide they don't want interventions. There are too many elective inductions. Fetal monitoring should be intermittant with a healthy pregnancy so mom can move around in labor. VBAC's should be the norm instead of repeat c-section for numerous reasons. In most cases, they are safer for mom and baby, it isn't major abdominal surgery, etc. But just because a mom doesn't deliver au naturale, doesnt' mean she has had a second class birth. I bonded just fine with all 3 of my children, and have no different feelings for the child I pushed out into the world than I have for the two that my body continued to support while they were delivered through an abdominal incision. All three of my children were awesome breastfeeders. I am a firm believer that as a labor nurse, it is my duty to help the woman achieve the birth she wants. If she wants to labor without an epidural, I am there to support her. If she wants an epidural, I will support her. If she has chosen to have a repeat c-section, I will support her. In every way, shape and form that birth can be achieved, I will do what I can to make it the best experience it can be. It is awesome when a mom delivers without pain meds and she feels this sense of empowerment. It is a beautiful thing. But it doesn't always happen. One mom I took care of not too long ago, delivered her first baby without an epidural...and regretted it, said she'd never do it that way again. She did fabulous, and I hadn't a clue she felt this way, but she later admitted to me she would have asked for the epidural but her support people were anti-epidural and were very discouraging when she started thinking about it. She did not enjoy her birth, and it made me very sad to learn this. On the flip side, I've had moms who wanted an epidural as soon as they hit the door, wish they hadn't gotten one because they hated not being able to feel what was going on. I've seen a support person make a woman who has had a c-section feel like she took the easy way out. A c-section, my friends, is not the easy route. I guess I hadn't realized how very strongly I feel about this: there is no such thing as a second class birth. The mother has provided nutrition and the perfect environment for the baby to grow since conception, and that continues throughout labor and delivery. The baby is supported in the presence of pain medication, an epidural and throughout the c-section. If the mom knows her options, has been able to make an educated decision, is happy with her experience and the outcome is a healthy mom and baby, then that is what is important. The birth experience is important, and every birth, every baby is a miracle. Let's not make women feel their birth was anything less than spectacular, regardless of her method of delivery.

9 comments:

Beth said...

I 100% agree, and thank you for supporting Moms to have the birth experience that they choose.

I had an emergency c-section under GA with my first, a VBAC with an epidural with my second, and a VBAC "au naturale" with my third. Each birth and baby were a different story, but I wouldn't have changed (much of) it for the world...I could have done w/o the emergency part of #1's ;)

Each of my boys were great breastfeeders from the get-go, and I did not feel that I "missed out" on bonding with my first b/c of the c/s, or with my second b/c of the epidural.

Again thank you for supporting Mamas in reaching their goals, and for not rating any birth as "second class". Each and every baby conceived in this world is a miracle, and so is their birth!

K said...

I agree as well and I've taken flack for it. I run in social circles where homebirth is common and along with that the attitude that anything other then an unmucked with homebirth is 'lesser'.

One woman's dream birth, is another's nightmare. Not every woman feels birth is a lifechanging experience in and of itself, quite a few women see it as a means to and end that must be endured and definitely not embraced. While statistically an unmedicated birth and PP period is "better" for the baby, I don't think the amount of adrenalin and cortisol that would be released into the system of a mother going through an unmedicated birth, not by choice and possibly panicking, is any better then an epidural.
So much of how a woman feels about her labor is in her head, and therefore is very individual. We say feelings can't be right or wrong, is if fair to the woman who is satisfied with her scheduled C-section to tell her she had a 2nd class birth and should be unhappy about it? That she should feel a loss even if she doesn't? There are enough women who ARE unhappy with their birth experience, why do we have to create more?

I've done it all. C-section, VBAC au naturale, VBAC with stadol and VBAC with epidural.One of those natural ones, I had PE (on mag) and a broken foot and was induced. I had two doulas and I never asked or wanted the epidural but it was HARD, very very hard.
I was induced again with my last one because of PIH. I got an epidural. I was physically exhausted, had no support (dh is great husband, crummy labor coach) and just didn't have it in me to go unmedicated. It took me a while to come to terms with the epi as it was the first one I had had in 11 years. I don't feel guilty about it anymore and if I am faced with another middle of the night, emergency induction with no support I'll probably do it again.

May said...

Amen, sister. Beautiful post.

Joy said...

Amen!

Morgan said...

Well said. C-sections are not the easy way out, nor is every vaginal birth glorious. Birth is birth, and then it's over. Being a mom lasts a whole lot longer.

Laura said...

Stated beautifully! I too support what my patients want. However, I was absolutely ecstatic over my c-section. It worked well FOR ME, and I wouldn't have it any other way. And you are totally and spot on. There is no such thing as a second class birth. Way to be right on !!!!!! You can be my nurse the next time I have a baby, (you know, if that happens ;). Thanks for sayin' it!

vadahodges1211 said...

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Lct4j said...

Well stated. I love your attitude and approach towards your patients and their birth choices. Each woman and each birth is so different that it's very important to assess where that woman is at with her mindset.I have very little tolerance for narrow-minded, rigid attitudes toward birth. The misinformation I hear as well drives me nuts! Anyway, keep up the good work.

Nichay said...

Thank you! AMEN!