Wednesday, May 8, 2013
C-Sections Are Killing Women And We Must Speak Up
About one in three women in America deliver their babies via cesarean section. The cesarean is a lifesaving and a truly beautiful modern invention when used appropriately. But the c-section is also dangerous, just how dangerous we are only beginning to understand. A c-section is particularly dangerous to a woman when she has more and more of them. This phenomena of women having multiple c-sections is growing as resistance to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) grows stronger.
I read this story today out of Utah. A mother, pregnant with her sixth baby died from complications due to placenta accretia. She had birthed every one of her babies via cesarean section. Complications like that are GREATLY increased with each additional cesarean section.
There is certainly a possibility that she needed every single one of those c-sections. I am going to assume that she did and that she was well aware of the risks that they posed and that her doctors had been honest and kind to her.
But I can tell you right now that I have talked to women whose doctors assured them (after a quick diagnosis of CPD after a normal amount of pushing) that they could "Have 10 c-sections!" without a problem. This is disturbing, particularly when we consider that real women with real families are dying because of our cut happy, impatient, fearful of liability culture of birth. I sincerely believe that some of these women are dying unnecessarily.
And I'm not crazy.
This news story points out that hospital c-section rates vary an incredible amount- from single digit percentages to around 70%. This indicates that c-sections aren't done so often because of NEED but rather because of variations in CARE.
This article points out that the World Health Organization claims that cesarean rates over 15% are too high.
This abstract points out that the risk of cesarean birth is more dangerous than vaginal birth by a factor of 2-11.
But I have been a little scared lately to say anything about the truth regarding the risks of various birthing interventions.
There has been a rash of political correctness spreading it's venom about the world as of late and it has taken its toll in the natural birth community. Sometimes the proponents of this talk about how they "support all choices" or blab about how "judgemental" anybody is who dares have an opinion.
My goodness, I said on my Facebook page the other day that stirrups in labor were dumb and people actually acted like I was an evil person. Somebody said it was a "valid choice" if mom wants it. Sorry folks, but if you think that the stirrup used for pushing during labor and delivery was ever designed for your comfort, safety (not to mention your perineum) then you are either blind or ignorant. The stirrup was designed for ease of use for the physician. More clearly, it was designed so that while you were laying flat on your back with your legs UP IN THE AIR (you defy gravity! YAY!) he could easily cut you from stem to stern and pull your baby out with a metal object. (And even if stirrups and birthing on your freaking back was actually five kinds of awesome, I am entitled to believe it is dumb. I am allowed an opinion in the USofA.)
Yes the stirrup is a valid choice for a birthing woman. I just don't happen to think that it is a very good one (MOST OF THE TIME). Did you notice my disclaimer? You have to put those in or the vultures descend.
And now the c-section is a valid choice. People get angry if I say I liked natural birth. This makes me "unsupportive" of "choices".
I can't take it any more. I am just going to say it. C-sections are more dangerous. They are necessary sometimes. But 1 out of 3 women? This is mind boggling. We can take beautiful pictures of c-section birth. We can talk about it being empowering. We can talk about it being necessary. C-section might be all of these things. But the pretty pictures and the support of "choices" doesn't change the fact that women are dying because of this procedure.
And because c-section is done TOO OFTEN (I firmly believe that this surgery is performed far more than necessary) we can safely assume that women are literally DYING who didn't need to die.
Was that clear?
Women are dying from surgeries to deliver their babies who didn't have to die. Women are dying from c-sections they didn't need. Women are having a lifetime of health issues from surgeries they didn't need.
You can talk about this all day long like it is a rose colored life choice but it is much more than that.
Cesarean is major surgery. Cesarean is more dangerous than vaginal birth. Cesareans save lives when they are used appropriately. And cesareans (at worst) kill people when they are used inappropriately.
This is something that should be shouted from the rooftops. This is something that every pregnant woman should know before she goes into labor with her first baby.
I wish we would stop glorifying the "gentle" cesarean. I wish we would stop acting like all choices are the best choice. There are lots of choices. They are probably mostly good some of the time. But ALL choices aren't the RIGHT choice. My saying so just means that I am willing to speak the truth.
When we act like everything is good and nothing is wrong and any birth, anyway, anyhow, is just fine we help perpetuate a system that is killing women.
I am not OK with that and I never will be.
Women who care about birth can do better by each other. We need to start telling the truth- not with hate- but truth nonetheless. I can love a women who schedules her births and still honestly stand up and say that c-section is more dangerous than vaginal birth. Because c-section is more dangerous than vaginal birth.
I am so tired of women dying who didn't have to die.
I am so tired of being told that all choices are equal and valid.
I am so very sad that women have bought into this line of bull so that they can feel a little better about themselves.
I am so sad that women have given up rather than fight to change the system.
I am sad that the sometimes necessary c-sections are being used to justify out-of-control c-section rates.
Ladies- we can change this c-section rate. We could do it OVERNIGHT.
All we would have to do is refuse to birth in hospitals or with doctors who have outrageous c-section rates. Guess what? They would change. They would have to. They need us to pay their car insurance.
But change doesn't happen if we are afraid to speak the truth. C-section rates doesn't get lowered when everybody pretends that c-sections are full of gentleness and pure awesome. They just don't.
But honesty. That changes things. Honesty even when it is hard or offensive. That changes things. That gets people thinking. That saves lives.
Take back your birth. Don't let the haters silence you. Make your voice heard. Make choices that are hard. Be honest with yourself and others. And then be smart enough to love people who choose different. Respect the opinions of others even when you disagree.
We can lower the c-section rate. We can save lives.