Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sweet and Sour

Recently, a friend pointed me in the direction of a blogpost - one where the author was excited about having a date for her elective cesarean. Of course, such a post will draw some criticism, typically from a Natural Child Birth True Believer - the following is just such a comment on the original post.

Anonymous - June 26, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Every mother has the choice to schedule a C- section. I understand that it may be right for you but I also very much believe that women need to be informed about the ways to have an empowering birth. Women need to trust in their bodies and research midwifery and the benefits of having natural birth. The birthing process begins the bond betweek mother and child. If both are on drugs and unable to have that immediate bond, it starts a life and a relationship out with stress and disconnect. With thousands of readers, I find that you have an amazing platform to discuss empowering birth options and educate women and pregnant mothers everywhere. I find that the rate of C-sections IS an issue, an important one to talk about. While you may not want to appear apologetic, I still feel that talking about it would continue a conversation that needs to be brought up again and again. I am a long time reader of your blog and I really do respect all mother's decisions. I just feel strongly about the casual nature of this post and the casual nature of all the women commenting about planned C- sections.

It's these kinds of comments that continue to astound me - how can women be so ignorant and judgemental of other women's choices? I found myself responding with the following comment.

Mrs. W. June 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Danielle - you are so much more gracious than I would be.

Anonymous - Danielle or anyone else does not need to justify their choice to have a cesarean to you - you are not their doctor, you are not their spouse and you are not their child. Please start with the assumption that women who choose cesarean are doing so from a position of choosing the birth that is best for themselves in their own particular circumstance. After all, most mothers who choose cesarean are capable of assuming that your choice to pursue a natural birth is an informed choice that you have made after having determined that it is best for you and your family in your particular situation.

I understand you are concerned about the rate of cesareans - however, I would argue that such concern is woefully misplaced and the focus on a specific procedure or process (normal birth), results in a complete blindness to what really matters. What really matters is getting through birth healthy and happy - what really matters is avoiding trauma and life long disability or death. Having a normal birth is not and should not be the goal - it forgets all the days that follow. If it can be achieved (and the mother wants it) safely, then great - but if the mother doesn't want it or it puts her life or the life of her child at risk, then is it worth being able to say that you pushed a baby through your vagina? Isn't being a woman about more than what you can do with your body, isn't it time that biological essentialism be laid to rest? Further, it's a rather cheap shot to declare that cesarean mothers don't or can't bond with their children as well as mothers who gave birth naturally - as a mother who ADORES her 3 year old, I can say that bonding with her was far more difficult than bonding with my 9 month old - I love them both but the PTSD her unwanted normal birth resulted presented specific challenges.

We don't measure the rates of women denied informed consent during birth. We don't measure the rates of women unable to access adequately trained and qualified care providers for prenatal care and birth. We don't measure the rates of births that result in post-natal PTSD. All of these things matter far more than whether or not the birth was a result of a cesarean.

I challenge you to become more informed on the issue of Cesarean by Choice. A good place to start might be Pauline Hull and Magnus Murphy's book "Choosing Cesarean: A Natural Birth Plan". Also look at the blogs Cesarean Debate and Awaiting Juno. And though you may hate me for it - browse through Dr. Tuteur's blog (the Skeptical OB) for a look at the seedier and far less respectable side of natural birth.


  1. Dear Mrs W,

    I'm so happy I found your blog. I can relate to almost everything you have written. Even though I'm from Sweden I realize that the public views on cesareans are unfortunately much the same in Canada as they are here.

    In Sweden cesareans are viewed as something that should be fought. Something that should only be accessible on a life or death basis and definitely not something that you should have the right to choose yourself. These views are extremely well spread and if you happen to say that you actually prefer a c-section to vaginal birth and that c-sections are not unsafe at all people will view you as a leper.

    My own story involves a vaginal delivery ending in a 3rd degree tear six years ago (from which I still suffer consequences). Ever since I was a child I always felt that I did not want to give birth the "normal" way. However when me and my husbands wanted kids I did not see any alternatives. I just went through and did what was expected of me I guess, even though it always felt appalling to me.

    The tear however enabled me to get a cesarean for my second child. And that experience was so completely different and did not leave me broken and shattered like my first birth did.

    I so wish that things will soon change for women everywhere and that it will be considered a fundamental right to chose the way you give birth. I'm sure we will get there one day.

    Thank you so much for writing your blog and reminding me that I am not alone with my feelings!

    Mrs H

  2. Oh and it's husband (not husbands). I only have one :)

  3. How is it that a woman should be able to choose a homebirth with a dubiously qualified birth attendant but shouldn't be able to choose pain relief or a c-section? Mind-boggling! I am so glad that your "saga" with your second birth ended so well for your family, both you & Mrs. H above.

  4. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with my first child.
    As with Mrs. H, I have never felt that "natural" birth was something I ever wanted. I am so scared of what is to come in the following weeks, and I feel like what is right and comfortable for me is not a possibility unless something goes wrong. I don't like that I am hoping something goes wrong just so that I can be as happy with my delivery as mothers who have chosen and successfully given birth vaginally.
    For me, it feels like, I am only 15 weeks into my pregnancy and already disappointed that my birth will not go as I had planned in my head for years before I even became pregnant. Unlike women who are whisked away to an emergency, and only suffer disappointment at the end of their pregnancy, I am stuck with it from day one. I feel truly sorry for women who wanted to give birth naturally and couldn't. I wish them all the solace I can give. And I wish that it were more acceptable in the reverse situation.
    I am glad that I found this blog early enough that maybe, just maybe, I will be able to change something and have a birth plan that I feel will be right for me and my baby.

    I just found your blog today (after being directed from a helpful lady on baby centre, I can't thank her enough) and I am certainly going to try and find a copy of Choosing Caesarean: A Natural Birth Plan. I want to be as educated and informed as I possibly can be when I deliver.
    I like knowing I'm not alone in wanting this, I don't like feeling like I should have to hide what I want because it goes against "the norm". My reasons are my own and many may not find them "medically necessary" but I am not afraid or ashamed to tell people my concerns with vaginal delivery. I would scream them from a rooftop if I could.

  5. Glad you found us - please check out our facebook group "Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network" - I wish you all the best for your pregnancy.