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.