Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

So, after Caiden was born via c-section because of her breech (non-head down) position, I joined a group called International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) to help me get a handle on the emotional and physical challenges of delivering a baby this way. ICAN is an organization that works to educate woman about c-sections, their prevalence, how to avoid them, and how to prepare them for future vaginal births after a c/section. (VBAC) They also offer chapters all over the US which work like support groups and often work to advocate for the rights of birthing women in their area. You may be wondering why it is important to advocate for the "rights" of birthing Mama's....isn't that what our Dr.'s are for? Well, I'll answer that question with one of my own: When one in THREE women deliver by cesarean section and the national c-section rate in American is double the recommended number allowed by the World Health Organization and within the top 5 countries for c-section rates, should we perhaps take a closer look ourselves at our birthing choices?

I did a survey of my friends and found that of 15 of my friends, 5 had regular vaginal births in a hospital (one was a homebirth transfer last minute), four had homebirths (one had 2 of them!) and 9 of us had cesarean sections. And that's not even counting the girls I know from my Orlando chapter of ICAN who have ALL had at least one c/s.Those are not good odds.

The rise in c-sections has been explained by a few factors: litigation, malpractice insurance making demands of the Dr. to stay with a laboring woman during the ENTIRE duration of her VBAC labor, and also to have a anesthesiologist on the premisis the entire time in case of an emergency c/s, as well as convenience issues of a Dr. to be able to schedule an hour surgery vs. a 20 hr labor, and not have to waken in the middle of the night. There are also doctor and hospital protocols about inductions- after a certain number of hours if you do not progress according to their time table, you're an automatic c-section. Also, most hospitals have imposed VBAC bans (yes, I did really say BANS) on their patients. They have made them "illegal" because of insurance carrier's demands on their staff for VBACS. These are REAL factors, I didn't just make them up. They aren't pretty, but they are real.

I feel that Caiden's arrival via c-section was necessary. She was a footling breech with the cord wrapped around her neck keeping her high in my uterus (she would not descend on her own) and she was experiencing a marked deceleration in her heart rate during contractions.

I also DO believe that there are times when c-sections are necessary, life-saving and beneficial medical interventions.

However, I am guessing that a vast majority of births this way would have been unnecessary had there been less intervention by the medical professions who are "managing" our labors. With this in mind, I think it is important to help educate women about their choices, and about the risks involved in such a complicated surgical procedure. That's why I just want to point out that April is Cesarean Awareness Month. My hope is that if women are more informed before they go into labor (or better yet, before they get pregnant and have "baby brain") perhaps we will have better outcomes for Mama's and babies. Because who would choose to go through unnecessary major abdominal surgery while they're adjusting to a new baby and learning to breastfeed?! Not I!


Mrs said...

At many hospitals and for many doctors, twins are an automatic c-sec as well. I'm so thankful my SIL and the one with twins at our church had doctors who knew this wasn't necessary.

Following Forward said...

Thanks for some of the info, I did not know of those scary stats.

I am a Monkey's Mama said...

What a great post, Shannon. I hope that you will consider submitting this to the ICAN eNews or the Clarion.

It was great seeing you last night too. Another great meeting!