Monday, November 19, 2012

Fear of childbirth: An unjustifiable barrier to motherhood for some

Imagine for a moment your worst fear.

Imagine your deepest desire.

Now imagine being told that in order to fulfill one of your deepest desires, you must subject yourself to your worst fear.

Now imagine knowing that there is a way to fulfill your deepest desire without subjecting yourself to your worst fear - that subjecting yourself to your worse fear is completely unnecessary, that you can achieve your deepest desire some other way.

Now imagine being told that it doesn't matter that it is completely unnecessary for you to be subjected to your worst fear, that it doesn't matter that there is a perfectly acceptable alternative for you to achieve your deepest desires, that you *must* do what you do not want to do or forego your deepest desire.

This is what it is like for women who desperately want to be biological mothers but desperately want to avoid vaginal childbirth. For many of them, they know a safe, effective method of childbirth exists (elective cesarean) - but they are told that their bodies are "made to birth", that if they do not wish to do it as 'nature intended' that they should forego motherhood or adopt, that cesareans should only be reserved for those with a physical *need* for the procedure, that they are being hysterical.

Unlike some fears (ie. of clowns or non-poisonous spiders or non-venomous snakes) which may be completely irrational - the fear of vaginal childbirth has some rational basis. There is a real risk of perineal tears. There is a real risk of pelvic floor damage. There is a real risk of birth injuries including hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and brachial plexus injuries. There is a risk that an emergent cesarean delivery may not be available or timely. There is the risk of extreme pain. Indeed, from my perspective, a fear of vaginal childbirth is wholly rational.

Further, it is not like the alternative delivery method (cesarean) available to these women is grossly expensive or inordinately dangerous compared to the conventional delivery method (vaginal birth).

So why is it that so many people think that offering women who fear vaginal birth the choice of either subjecting themselves to a vaginal birth that they do not want, or foregoing biological motherhood is anything less than cruel? And why is it that when these women are subjected to the process that they fear (perhaps without notice) that anyone is surprised that they are at a high-risk to develop PTSD as a result?

This is why it is critically important for maternal request cesarean to be unquestioningly available - because it is cruel for it not to be an option when it is an acceptable choice to meet something as basic as the desire to be a mother or to have more children. And before you ridicule some other moms choice to deliver by way of cesarean, maybe take a moment to imagine what it would be like if you were told you had to subject yourself (unnecessarily) to your worst fear in order to meet a basic desire.


  1. Hey! there is nothing irrational about the fear of clowns!

  2. This post makes entirely too much sense to be taken seriously by the arrogant, controlling, superior natural birthers. They are the worst pigs in the world. We should shoot one of their children if they try to prevent a csection. That would shut them up and put them back where they belong--minding their own business.

    Glad you spoke up. Someone needed to do so.