Is There Such Thing As An Ideal Birth: Mom’s Speak

I read an article the other day that depressed me a bit.

You would have to (literally) be living underneath a rock to not know that Britain’s Kate Middleton just had a baby. The press for weeks prior to her delivery were foaming at the mouth, the speculation was rife with tons of, well..speculation  and I’m quite certain that the photographers who have been camped outside of the hospital where Kate delivered would have snapped a picture of her baby boy crowning if they were given the chance. I would normally feel awkward saying that I feel badly for someone who will never, ever have to worry about the day-to-day stresses that myself and the rest of us will, but part of me does feel for her. I wouldn’t have wanted to be full term pregnant in the heat of summer with the eyes of the entire world on me, wondering if I had lost my mucus plug and if I desired to give water birthing a go.

But amidst all of the coverage and hoopla these past few weeks, this is the article that I found myself reading the other day and it got my gears grinding. And naturally, because one of the most famous women in the world was about to give birth, the conversation in the media turned to the topic of pregnancy and labor and delivery. You would think that no one in the world has ever given birth before the duchess with the way that the media establishment was “surprised” that Kate’s baby was “late?” ANWAY.

**This is a forewarning, this will be an entirely (semi-lady like) discussion about childbirth. If this gives you the skeevies, you can either get over it and keep reading it or you can pass.** 

I am a woman of two cesarean births. And neither time was a pleasant experience for me, but because of different reasons. I have to admit that in the past, and sometimes now, I am a tad envious of women who have vaginally delivered their children. This isn’t because I believe the experience to be easier, but I wonder what woman wouldn’t want to experience the “true mark” (natch) of becoming a mother? It’s what we were engineered to do, whether you believe that in a biological sense or in more of a creator/created relational capacity.

I don’t want to sound as though I am putting women who have had c-sections down, or undermining their efforts (and for the love, I know that women are capable of doing more than being pregnant and delivering babies.) On the contrary, any woman who has ever had to recover from a c-section for weeks after birth know that it is a serious, serious ordeal.

Backstory: at the time of my first delivery, I was induced due to preeclampsia. Long story short, my blood pressure was high, I had elevated levels of protein in my urine and I had suffered a range of symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and spotty vision. I was also ridiculously swollen. And I do mean ridiculously swollen. Once May rolled around, the swelling began and never stopped or dissipated until almost two weeks after having my son. #cankles #grumpylady

Inducements tend to result in a higher risk for a c-section delivery. Check. A ‘slower’ or ‘stalled’ labor also tend to have a higher need for a c-section, which was sort of the case for me because I was not quite ready to pop. Check. The pitocin (i.e. horrible liquid stuff of death and fire) that I was given caused my labor and contractions to be harder and more sporadic, so I opted for an epidural, which, go figure, can also heighten a woman’s need for a c-section. Check.

Ultimately, after two and a half hours of pushing, my son’s nearly 16 inch noggin was too large for him be delivered vaginally (think of my sassy cervix declaring to him “you shall not PASS” because it’s funnier than picturing the reality.) I underwent general anesthesia for Jerry’s actual delivery  because they could not get me comfortable by means of my already in place epidural and other measures they took failed to numb the pain. Jerry’s heart rate had dropped, and after nearly 17 hours of labor, they saw fit to put me under to deliver him.

I welcomed falling asleep – everything hurt beyond anything I could ever describe to you. I was asked to count back from 10 and I’m pretty sure I never made it to schfifty-five (or something.) There was no chance for me to experience nerves. I went to sleep.

Thankfully, my son was perfectly healthy and perfectly-perfect when I met him several hours later. That truly is the best outcome possible for any mother, that her baby would arrive and would arrive safely at that. Four years later, I’m stepping on his Lego’s and willing myself to drop him off at his summer camp with a smile on my face and not the frown I would prefer to wear as I watch my baby grow up. I am taking the time to point out all of this out to you because ultimately, my child, children, are healthy and they are here and that is what is important. Even if they are insane. 

When reading the above mentioned article, it stood out to me that the rate of cesarean births have risen over the years and how they now account for nearly 30% of deliveries here in the U.S.. I am not alone in my (some would say “less than ideal” ) birth story. There are millions of other women who have delivered this way. And without naming names, I am not the only female that I know personally who has had a c-section delivery. In fact, I know nearly as many women who have had cesarean births as I do women who have had vaginal deliveries.

From what I have read about child-birth, and believe me my knowledge is limited, I think that generally speaking there are two prevalent mindsets in the “child birthing debate.” Yes, that’s right, there are debates about child-birth, because we are talking about humans! We can’t have anything without having opposing sides anymore. Because, DUH.

This is merely opinion, but here goes: Most women, i.e. parents, do what they think is totally the norm for them when they are pregnant. They have regular prenatal check up’s with OBGYN’s. They have the normal antenatal screening tests and ultrasounds. They plan on giving birth in a hospital because, I mean, who doesn’t? They are open-minded to pain medication during delivery perhaps and even a c-section should their doctor suggest it. They may not explore other avenues of child-birth because ‘…there are other avenues??’ I don’t have a fancy name for these types of mom, but suffice to say that this is the type of pregnant lady that I was.

The flip side: the other side of the debate may believe in less medical intervention. They believe that since women have been doing this for thousands of years, their bodies know what to do, and we should simply aid that process and not get in the way instead of tinkering much with it. This could mean natural delivery methods – think The Bradley Method or Hypnobirthing – without the use of pain medications. Some women would visit a midwife and forego any of the more invasive prenatal tests that are available.

And then there are the folks who combine the two of these points of view when the big day arrives.

Why am I boring all of you with this?

I was a cotton headed ninny muggin (some of you will get that) about my pregnancy. I was 23, it was my first child. I did not prepare myself for birth, which I think can be mistake number one that any pregnant mother can commit. I might have on occasion mumbled something along the lines of not wanting an epidural, forceps or a c-section and then gone back to eating my Pop-Tart. But that was pretty much the extent of it.

I didn’t know what my body really had to do in order to get to the magical point of 10 centimeters. And I didn’t really consider that this could and would take hours and if necessary, a day or two. I visited one birthing class hosted at the hospital, lead by the woman who ended up eventually being my primary nurse during my second delivery, and she basically sat behind a desk and told us what would happen if labor stalled, if the baby wasn’t coming out or if this or that was happening. Nearly all of these problems ended with her holding up what I can only describe as giant salad tongs that looked to be straight from the mouth of hell, and said, “we’d use these.”

That was pretty much the extent of our birthing knowledge and preparation.

I didn’t arm myself, I didn’t go in with full confidence if I am being fully honest. Because doesn’t it all, like, just happen?

In some situations, though, would it even matter? Had I opted to be completely drug free, I would have eventually needed drugs anyway because I needed surgery – all of that pain (OMG, the PAIN) and stress for nothing. Then again, who really knows? Are women being needlessly subjected to cesarean births, which do carry more risk than a normal delivery? Should we simply embrace c-sections and their growing prevalence or is it time to begin to ask what is going on?

I know that this may be a sensitive subject for some. And I hope that no one is reading this as a putdown or attack on any mother who has had to have a c-section to deliver her baby. Because I am quite certain that any mother who has had have a cesarean did what she absolutely believed was best for her child or children. And that right there speaks volumes about a mother. But I also think that even in the most critical and perhaps vulnerable time of a woman’s life that a woman should have every opportunity available to her to safely deliver her child how she had planned.

I’ve known women who have had or almost had unnecessary c-sections. And while I would never presume to imply that their doctors were not attempting to provide their patient with the best possible medical care, I have to wonder if in this day and age of medical malpractice lawsuits around every hospital corner, are mom’s and their babies being unnecessarily exposed to risk and endangered needlessly? Are women being robbed of the chance to deliver their babies their way?

So I ask all of you – why do you think the rates of a c-section are rising? Do you think that moms are preparing themselves for the WORK and pain of labor and delivery? What was your child or children’s birth like?  Did you prepare before hand?

In the meantime, Kate had a baby named George. And while I understand some folk’s curiosity about why the public is so enamored, I simply would explain my interest this way: women who have been pregnant and had babies sort of form a clique once all is said and done. And whether it’s a duchess, a teacher, a member of the Jersey Shore or a movie star, we moms can all fist bump each other with the unspoken understanding that “we get it.” And honestly, how can you not be glad that a new person has entered the world, safe and sound, much to the delight of two young parents? If only we put this much emphasis on the joys of becoming a parent, the importance of that work and the blessings that we reap from having children and getting to be parents – maybe the world would function a bit better. So congrats, Will and Kate, who I am quite sure will never, ever read this blog.

Have a good one!

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Is There Such Thing As An Ideal Birth: Mom’s Speak

  1. Valerie says:

    “I wouldn’t have wanted to be full term pregnant in the heat of summer with the eyes of the entire world on me, wondering if I had lost my mucus plug and if I desired to give water birthing a go.” – LOL!
    Okay, you describe the types of preggo women SO well. I have been both. haha With my first, I was exactly as you described yourself. With my second, I was more informed but still not prepared. With my third (years later), I went natural but not in a hippiie-ish way. 😉
    I don’t know why c-section rates have risen as much as they have – perhaps it is a combination of reason – but I know that a great many women are dissatisfied with their birth experiences, and that is a shame.

    Like

    • ashleylecompte says:

      Thank you!

      I agree with you – I feel sad that there are women who were so miserable during and after birth. Yes birth is a lot of work and pain, but I don’t think it should be something that is dreadful and horrible.

      I would love to have more children but I am absolutely, positively dreading another c-section. The hospital here, and many in fact, don’t allow women the option of a vaginal delivery after having a c-section. No attempts at VBAC’s. At first, I thought that this is what I would have wanted, since Jerry was essentially stuck. That was a terrible, terrible feeling at the time. But now, after recovering from c-section number two, I wish that I had made myself look into different hospitals in our area that would have allowed for me to try a vaginal delivery.

      After two c-sections, I’m worried that the risks are just too great to try a VBAC. And I am quite certain that the husband is not going to let me try a home birth in our bathtub to circumvent this rule! Haha! Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  2. liz says:

    *due TODAY*

    crap I should have been reading stuff?!?! I was hoping just to wing it (I wish I was kidding) all I’ve done is write a few Bible verses on note cards…. maybe after work today would be a good time to download a book or two.

    Ultimately my goal is a healthy baby!

    Like

    • ashleylecompte says:

      YOU WILL DO GREAT, LIZ!! Don’t let this scare – God is with you, no matter the circumstances and ultimately, that is the best thing to cling to. Don’t go overloading yourself, but just pray about it, see what you feel called to do.

      Praying for peace for you! So exciting that you get to meet your little girl soon. 🙂

      Like

  3. Jason says:

    Hey Ashley!
    Obviously not a mom, mom-to-be, or even capable of being one, but I can at least speak about what I was told by a birth educator and what I’ve heard from the others in Jess’ & my birthing class who have had their babies now. Bear in mind, that this was a class specifically focused on women who are focused on giving birth naturally.

    The thing to highlight here is that this class exists specifically because what you said is true. Cesarean births are very definitely on the rise. And the reason we were told is that basically, it’s safer for the hospitals & doctors. There’s a host of things that can go wrong during a natural birth that endanger both the mother and the baby, and while it is absolutely the “preferred” method my most mothers and mothers-to-be, for most doctors and probably all hospitals, if they can just put you under, cut you open, and take the baby out, it’s, from their perspective, a much safer way to go. Everything is much more controlled and easier to predict. Natural birth is different for everyone and difficult to predict. “Difficult to predict” are words that no insurance carrier wants to hear. So if at all possible, most doctors will push for a c-section. Which means, yeah, it’s critical for expecting parents to try to educate themselves ahead of time.

    THAT SAID (here comes the but!) like I mentioned earlier, natural births are a tricky thing, so even with all that education and preparation and knowing what you can and can’t do to make a natural birth successful, sometimes it just isn’t. One of the people in our class had to have a c-section due to extenuating circumstances. The important thing to remember is no matter what happens, your baby is your baby and a c-section baby is just as wonderful and precious and will love you just as much as a baby is birthed naturally. 🙂

    Like

    • ashleylecompte says:

      I agree with everything that you said. What’s funny, though, is that with a natural birth there are a host of things that could go wrong ultimately c-section deliveries pose just as many risks for mom and baby, if not more. But you’re right, cesarean’s take the guessing out of the equation and put the control back in the doctor’s hands.

      I read a great quote in the article listed and it summarized everything perfectly, “doctors are there when things go wrong as opposed to working to make sure that they stay on the right track.” Ultimately, that is what docs really are for, they’re there not necessarily in a preventative capacity.

      You and Jess are going to do great, I am sure that you are vastly more prepared than Rob and I were. And you’re probably right. In our case at least as in many others, no matter how prepared we were, we really weren’t prepared for how that day was going to go. Hoping your ‘ride’ is much smoother!! xoxo CAN’T WAIT

      Like

    • ashleylecompte says:

      And P.S. it’s awesome to see dads that are just as heavily involved. Women need more supportive partners like you who are willing to attend classes and educate and prepare themselves for the big day. It really is a two person job! xoxo

      Like

  4. Holly says:

    I LOVED reading this, although I can’t say I’ve joined the motherhood “club” lol. I am fascinated by pregnancy, and preconception preparations for women. So, before I go any further i’ll just say: THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN. It’s a movie, it’s fantastic and it explains a lot of what you ask as far as why cesareans have become more popular. I personally believe women are indeed (with proper prep and nutrition) capable of giving birth without a whole mess of interventions. However, once women DO get one intervention the theme is that from there a sequence of interventions occur, usually ending in cesarean (even when the woman initially just wanted ONE). Let me just say your family is gorgeous, and the important thing is that your children are safe and here with you (and that you are safe and healthy as well!) I think the problem we deal with today is that people aren’t being educated. Most women go into pregnancy with a preconceived notion of what will happen but really that’s just the surface. We see a lot of “panic stricken” television shows nowadays depicting pregnancy as this super scary medical procedure and of course when you couple a lack of knowledge with the media, we’re bound to have issues. Pregnancy is nine months long…actually more like ten. That’s almost a year! During that time should be just as important as when that baby is ready to come into the world. Fitness, health, proper vaginal prep (building muscles, kegels) and emotional** readiness all can help with the “final countdown” and honestly I think when it comes down to it a lot of women don’t realize this. They live life during their pregnancy as if everything is normal….except that there’s ya know…like another living human being in their womb. lol Because there’s so much fear associated with birth today, and we DO have the drugs and interventions it only makes sense that cesareans have risen. A lot of women in get cesareans because they don’t want to “ruin” their downstairs…IF you know what I am getting at. And in that way it is also a convenience and vanity thing. Just a few thoughts!

    Like

    • ashleylecompte says:

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts, Holly. I think its awesome that you read up on stuff like this. You probably know way more about it than I did when I was about to pop with my kiddos. I think you’re right, the perception of pregnancy and birth in pop culture do make it look scarier and not so much like the amazing occurrence that it really is. Women screaming that they want the drugs, and stuff like that, just add to the notion that pregnancy and child bearing are things to only be feared.

      Like

  5. Jessica says:

    Jason already said most of what I was going to say re: c-sections. (Our society has become super litigious, and doctors/hospitals would rather do a c-section and avoid a potential lawsuit if something goes wrong during a natural labor than wait and see. Also, OBs are surgeons, and surgeons are taught that when in doubt, you cut. AND if a hospital can bill for surgery, they make more money than they would for simply catching a baby. Ok, so maybe I had more to say about that than I thought!)

    If you do have another baby, and you’re considering a VBAC, I’d really encourage you to do some reading, talk to some midwives, and speak to some doctors who have experience with them. I think that if you really do some exploring and find the right medical support team, you’ll find that its really not as risky as mainstream medicine wants us to believe. I know several women who have had VBs after multiple c-sections. None of them regret the decision, and both mother and baby did wonderfully. I’m not saying that its necessarily the right decision for you and your family, but if its something that feels even a little important, its worth doing your homework so you don’t wind up with regrets!

    Like

    • ashleylecompte says:

      Thank you! This is encouraging to read, actually, hearing that you personally know other moms who have had multiple c-sections and then done a VBAC. I don’t know anyone, so that is refreshing to hear. I am sure that you and Jason have done a lot of research these past (almost) nine months and I would be curious to pick your brain about it. Thanks for replying! 🙂 xoxo

      Like

Join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s