Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Facts about Birth in America

Note: All of the information here represents fact, not opinion, of birthing within the United States. If you don't believe it, check the references listed at the end of the article. That being said, you may want to sit down before reading further...

Each year, the U.S. spends over $50 billion dollars on childbirth. This is more than any other nation in the world. (This number does not include babies in the NICU or readmissions during the first month.)

Birthing is the largest source of income for American hospitals.

The U.S. ranks 37th in the world for the quality of its health care.

Over HALF of all hospital admissions in America are for maternity.

Hospitals are NOT the safest place to have a baby. 25 infectious strains exist that are resistant to ALL known antibiotics. These are found primarily in hospitals.

75 years of routine hospital birth have produced NO studies to show it is safer than having a baby at home with a skilled birth attendant.

Both homebirth and birth centers have been scientifically proven to be as safe or safer than hospitals with a skilled labor attendant (i.e. midwives, not doctors).

The more technology used in childbirth, the more dangerous it becomes.

The larger the hospital, the greater the risks to both mother and baby.

Of the 4.3 million babies born annually in the U.S., a mere 5% represent natural childbirth.

America has the 40th highest infant mortality rate in the entire world.

The U.S.A. has the 14th highest maternal mortality ratio among developed nations.

Over 90% of all infants in the U.S. are born with drugs (e.g. narcotics from epidurals, pitocin, acetaminophen, etc) in their systems. NONE of these drugs have been tested for safe use in infants.

A 24-hour hospital stay, uncomplicated delivery in the U.S.A. costs anywhere from $8,000-10,000. This cost DOUBLES for a c-section.

ALL families in the U.S. are charged newborn nursery charges, even if the baby NEVER leaves the mother's room. This "routine" charge amounts to about $1.3 billion dollars annually, for services that are NOT rendered. (I'm not quite sure why this doesn't constitute insurance fraud - billing for services not rendered.)

Every year, 1 million, or about 20%, full-term, healthy infants are sent to the NICU for "observation" for an average stay of 3 days, totaling a whopping $6,000.

For newborns suspected to have serious medical conditions, the same NICU stay totals $20,000.

1 in 3 American women has an episiotomy. Episiotomies are medically indicated for less than 10% of all women. Over 1 million unnecessary episiotomies are performed annually in the U.S.

1 in 5 births in the U.S.A. are induced. 44% of women surveyed in 2002 reported their doctor wanted to induce. Only 16% reported medically-indicated reasons.

American women who elect epidurals are FOUR times as likely to have cesarean sections.

31.1% of American babies (nearly 1 in 3) in 2006 were delivered by cesarean section. The World Health Organization recommends a c-section rate of less than 10-15% as acceptable.

U.S. hospital policies for routine tests, practices, policies and procedures are based on financial considerations, which include malpractice insurance costs. They are not based on evidence, research, or appropriateness of care.

I truly hope you found these statistics disturbing. If they don't speak to the medicalization of childbirth in this country, I don't know what does.

The true horror comes in the fact that these views are being exported across the world. As the U.S. is such a powerhouse of marketing, more impressionable regions are adapting to these customs, despite the overwhelming evidence that the U.S. approach to childbirth IS SERIOUSLY FLAWED!

American obstetricians are taught to view birth as "a disaster waiting to happen." The average delivery in the U.S. is neither natural nor healthy. We have embraced a cascading system of successively more intense, unneeded interventions termed "active management" or the "standard of care".

So what do we do? How can we change the system?

We as a country need to reach beyond our own boundaries to embrace an effective model of maternity care. We, as women, mothers, and families, must educate ourselves as to the true process of labor and childbirth.

We must regain our faith in our bodies' perfect ability to have a baby. We must look at what the research is already telling us - that nature has it right!

In short, we must take back our birthing!

And if you're still not convinced, check these out:

Deneux-Tharaux D, Berg C, Bouvier-Colle MH, Gissler M, Harper M, Nannini A, Alexander S, Wildman K, Breart G, Buekens P. Underreporting of Pregnancy-Related Mortality in the United States and Europe. Obstet Gynecol 2005;106:684-92.

Hartmann K, Viswanathan M, Palmieri R, Gartlehner G, Thorp J, Lohr KN (2005). "Outcomes of routine episiotomy: a systematic review". JAMA 293 (17): 2141–8. doi:10.1001/jama.293.17.2141. PMID 15870418.

(2006) "ACOG Practice Bulletin. Episiotomy. Clinical Management Guidelines for Obstetrician-Gynecologists. Number 71, April 2006". Obstet Gynecol 107 (4): 957–62. PMID 16582142.

Macfarlane A, McCandlish R, Campbell R.
Choosing between home and hospital delivery. There is no evidence that hospital is the safest place to give birth.
British Medical Journal. 2000 Mar 18;320(7237):798.

Home versus hospital birth.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;(2)

The cost-effectiveness of home birth.
Journal of Nurse-Midwifery. 44(1):30-5, 1999 Jan-Feb.

Peck P. Preinduction cervical ripening significantly increases risk of cesarean. Medscape Medical News, 2003

Goer H. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. New York: Perigee Books, 1999, p 228-9.

Fullerton JT and Severino R. In-hospital care for low-risk childbirth: comparison with results from the NationalBirth Center Study. J Nurse Midwifery 1992;37(5):331-340.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Free Legal help for a VBAC

An attorney interested in working on VBAC ban lawsuits is considering using MS as a test state. Do you have any VBAC ban affected women up your sleeve right now? The criteria for the WA lawyer is:

-currently pregnant
-no complications in current pregnancy
-no VBAC options around including homebirth either because homebirth VBAC isn't allowed in your area or because the individual woman finds homebirth not to be an option for her
-no involvement in social services (child custody, neglect charges, etc.)

I'm a lawyer with the Northwest Women's Law Center in Seattle. I'm investigating possible legal responses to bans on vaginal birth after cesarean at hospitals in the northwest states - Alaska, Idaho, Montana,
Washington and Oregon. If you are currently pregnant and want to have a VBAC, but are facing a hospital policy that would require you to have a c-section regardless of whether you want it and whether it is medically necessary, and are willing to consider working with a lawyer on this, we'd like to talk with you. Please email us at Our services will be provided free of charge.
Mailing Address:

Northwest Women's Law Center
907 Pine Street, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98101

Legal Information & Referral ( 206 ) 621-7691

* Toll Free ( 866 ) 259-7720
* TTY ( 206 ) 521-4317

Administration ( 206 ) 682-9552

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Refusing a Cesarean

Today I sat in a NJ court to listen to a case argued regarding DYFS vs [Parents whose names have been withheld, even during the hearing]. (DYFS = Division of Youth and Family Services; NJ's Child Protection Services)

Apparently 2.5 years ago a woman in her early 40s entered St Barnabas Hospital in Livington, NJ to deliver her first baby. She was asked to sign a consent form for a potential c-section [note; there was no medical indication for a c-section]. She refused and the staff got mad. They repeatedly tried to get her to sign. Mother signed the consent for IV fluids, fetal monitoring, an episiotomy and an epidural.

Let's get something straight here.... St Barnabas does nearly 7000 births a year. They are by far, the largest maternity hospital in NJ. They also have a nearly 50% cesarean rate which CANNOT be justified.

Staff claimed that the woman became argumentative. [I guess that's why the word "labor" is a misnomer; it should be called "picnic"]. Male judges and male lawyers even entertained a short debate on what is appropriate behavior for a laboring woman.

So DYFS found the woman and her husband (who agree with his wife and her refusal to sign this consent form) to be guilty of abuse and neglect. That was the original basis for the argument though DYFS tried to change it in the hearing to make it more about the fact that the woman had a history of pyschological problems (not well defined) and has been in the care of a therapist for years. Quite frankly, there would be a heck of a lot more kids in the foster care system if "under the care of a therapist" disqualified someone from parenthood. They also talked about the mother's refusal to consent to scalp stimulation (whatever the heck that is); but it constituted abuse and neglect. There was mention of the woman having a history of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. NEWSFLASH: Here's a good way to re-ignite PTSD: force a laboring woman into an unnecessary c-section. She also "went off her meds" in 2005 [which would be about the time she got pregnant, so perhaps - just perhaps - she was trying to protect her baby]. It was stated that the mother was never arrested and never caused harm to others. One lawyer tried to claim that the mom only consented to the non-invasive procedures. Luckily, one of the judges called him out on that; the judge knew that an episiotomy and an epidural needle are invasive.

In the end, the woman delivered a healthy baby without complication. Vaginally. The potential for c-section was unncessary. St Barnabas was just trying to bully this woman into consent so that they could have their way with her.

This woman obviously wanted to have a normal birth. I won't even call it a natural birth with all the interventions. She didn't want a c-section and didn't want to give the staff the free will to do one. And she paid for it by losing her baby. Why does a woman have to consent to surgery the moment she arrives at the hospital? In a true life-threatening emergency, isn't consent implied?

This is a dangerous precedent that could be set by our state's largest maternity hospital. There were arguments surrounding a woman's right to refuse any kind of testing whether it's invasive or non-invasive (even talk about the implications of refusing a sonogram).

The National Advocates for Pregnanct Women filed an amicus brief on behalf of the rights of the birthing mother. They submitted (and were given the opportunity to argue) that refusal of a c-section CANNOT play a role in this issue. They questioned whether mom's refusal to sign this blanket consent form led the staff to believe that everything she did after that was "crazy?" Medical professionals MUST lay out the costs of benefits of invasive and non-invasive medical procedures.

Monday, November 3, 2008


ICAN Responds to the Coalition for Childbirth Autonomy's Statement on the Cesarean Rate
Oct 28 2008

The Coalition for Childbirth Autonomy (CCA) released a statement today questioning the World Health Organization’s recommended cesarean rate of 10 - 15%. CCA suggests that a woman should be able to request a cesarean without medical indication. While ICAN supports both updated research on this topic and an increase in patient education and autonomy, we maintain that many women who are choosing a cesarean are making that decision without full informed consent.

Research shows that cesareans introduce additional risk in dozens of areas when compared to a vaginal birth. For the mother, these increased risks include death, hysterectomy, bood clots, increased pain & recovery time, infection, and post-partum depression(1). For the infant, additional risks include respiratory problems, breastfeeding problems, asthma in childhood(1), and type 1 diabetes(2). In addition, there are increased risks in future pregnancies, such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, placenta abnormality, uterine rupture, preterm birth, and stillbirth(1).

ICAN does not believe that cesarean should be the typical solution for fear of childbirth. With appropriate counseling, most women who fear childbirth are comfortable attempting a vaginal birth (3, 4). Most show long-term satisfaction with their decision to change modes of delivery (4), and with intensive therapy, labor times were shorter (3).

ICAN will continue to work to improve maternal-child health and to protect a woman’s right to ethical and evidence-based care during pregnancy and childbirth.

(1) Maternity Center Association. 2004. What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know about Cesarean Section. New York: MCA.
(2) Cardwell, CR et al. Caesarean section is associated with an increased risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Diabetologia. 2008 May;51(5):726-35.
(3) Saisto, T et al. A randomized controlled trial of intervention in fear of childbirth. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Nov;98(5 Pt 1):820-6.
(4) Nerum, H et al. Maternal request for cesarean section due to fear of birth: can it be changed through crisis-oriented counseling? Birth. 2006 Sep;33(3):221-8.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day

If you know someone who has lost or is losing a child:

First, do not try to make her feel better. I know that sounds strange, but just don't try, because you can't. You can make her feel worse, but you can't make her feel better - you can't "fix" her pain. Grief is a process, one that everyone has to go through in their own time, and platitudes do not help speed that process along. People tend to babble in uncomfortable silences (such as the silence after hearing your friend say "my baby died") and say things to alleviate those silences. Forgivable, but not helpful. For example:

* No matter how far along her pregnancy was or how old her infant was, she is in an amazing amount of emotional and quite probably physical pain. Don't diminish her feelings based on the age of the child she lost. Do not say things like "At least the baby wasn't older" or "At least you lost it before you knew what it was." We have lost a child, no matter how old that child was. Do not ever say to a woman who has lost a pregnancy in the early stages "At least it wasn't a real baby." That baby was as real to us as a newborn is to his or her mother.

* Do not give her a reason. Do not say "It was God's will." For many people, even those of faith, this makes us feel like God is a jerk. Do not say "There was probably something wrong with the baby." We wanted the baby, something wrong or not. Do not say "You shouldn't have..." and then say whatever you think she shouldn't have done. That just makes us want to kill you, and going to jail is not part of the grieving process.

* Do not say things like "You're young, you can have more babies" or "There's always next time." We don't want THAT baby. We want THIS baby.

Second, going off of that last point, don't try to suppress the memory of the baby that she has lost. For example, don't say "are you going to try for another one" as though that'll somehow distract her from the pain of this loss. If you lost your mother, how would you feel if someone said "are you going to try for another one?" That baby is irreplaceable, just like your mother; there is no "other one."

Third, if she doesn't want to talk about it, don't make her. Don't tell her it'll make her feel better. I didn't need to talk everything out to my friends and family

Fourth, and this may sound strange, but don't let her wallow. If it's an extremely long time - I'm talking years - and she's not moving to the acceptance stage of her grief, she may need professional help. Women who have lost babies can, on top of everything else, suffer from clinical post-partum depression. This is a very touchy thing, to suggest that a woman who has lost a child may need professional help to get past her depression. It may not be received well, especially if you don't know her all that well. Proceed with utmost caution.

Tell her you're sorry, and ask if there's anything you can do for her, then do it. That's all. If you know her very well, let her know that you're there if she wants to talk. Just let her grieve her baby, her shattered dreams, and the crushing blow to her faith in her body's ability to do what it was created to do. She will feel better in her own time. Let her reach her acceptance stage naturally.

If you're very close to her, go ahead and give her a call on Mother's Day, even if she has no living children. Mother's Day is VERY hard on us. Don't be all "Hey! Happy Mother's Day! Woohoo! Isn't it great to be a mom?!" Just say "Hiya there, I was thinking about you. Wanna do lunch some day this week?" You know, something along those lines.

*Copied from Staceys Blog

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some Questions answered

ICAN White Papers


* Breech
* Breech Presentation Fact Sheet
* Cesarean Fact Card
* Cesarean Fact Sheet
* Choosing a Birthplace
* Choosing a Primary Caregiver
* Elective Cesareans: Patient Choice or Doctor Coerced
* En Espanol: Lo Que Puedes Hacer Para Evitar Una Cesárea Innecesaria
* Epidurals—Real Risks for Mother and Baby
* Exercise in Pregnancy
* Family Centered Cesarean
* Herpes in Pregnancy
* How to Choose a Doctor or Midwife
* Induced Labor and Informed Consent in Canada
* Induction of Labor
* Legal Rights of the Pregnant Woman
* Misoprostol (Cytotec) for Labor Induction: A Cautionary Tale
* Patient Choice Cesarean
* Professional Labor Support
* Pushing Positions
* Reading List
* Things a Careprovider Can Do to Avoid Unnecessary Cesareans
* Things You Can Do to Avoid an Unnecessary Cesarean
* What is ICAN?


* Breastfeeding After Cesarean
* Cesarean Section - What Happens During Surgery
* El Impacto de la Cesarea o Despues de la Cesarea
* Postpartum Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
* Recovering from a Cesarean: Tips on Healing
* Recovering from a Cesarean Birth
* Summary of Books on Postpartum Depression
* The Emotional Impact of Cesarean


* Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)
* Critique of ACOG Practice Bulletin # 5, July 1999, "Vaginal birth after previous cesarean section"
* En Espanol: Contra el retroceso de los PVDC: crítica de la investigación actual
* Enforcing and Promoting Women’s Rights
* Fighting VBAC-Lash: Critiquing Current Research
* Induction of Labor
* Issues and Procedures in Women’s Health
* My Hospital Is Currently Not Allowing VBAC
* Position Statement: Elective Cesarean Sections Riskier than Vaginal Birth
* Reading List
* The Suture Debate
* Uterine Rupture: A 10-year population-based study of uterine rupture
* Vaginal Birth After 2 or More Cesareans
* Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Checklist
* VBAC and Pharmaceutical Induction: Help or Hindrance?
* VBAC Fact Sheet
* VBAC Policy Database
* What to Do if Your Hospital Has "Banned" VBAC

Friday, September 5, 2008

What if ?

What if every woman with a scar across her belly stood up and said “NO MORE!” What if every woman with a virgin womb stood up and said “You will NOT tell me how to birth the children yet to enter this body!” What if every woman with milky breasts, crayon colored walls, stained shirts, and tangled hair said “I am in charge of my births!”

Would “they” listen? Would the men who decided we needed them to interfere in the birth process to begin with hush us back and “tsk” at our silly cries for attention? Or would they sit, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, and stare at the brazen revolutionists they’ve made us become?

I hear all of the abortion debates, “Get your laws off of my body!” and “It’s a baby, not a choice!” Why don’t I hear the birth cries, “Get your laws out of my uterus!” or “It’s MY baby, MY birth, MY body!!”

I’m screaming it. I’m screaming it to anybody that will listen.

Are you?

Written by- Candi Hilton, midwife

Mothers Who Push

Mothers who push to give birth may be more responsive to the cry of their babies than those mothers who elect to have a caesarean birth, a brain-scanning study suggests.

When U.S. researchers looked at functional MRI brain scans taken up to a month after mothers gave birth and heard their own babies' cries, they found more activity in areas linked to motivation and emotion among the six who had vaginal deliveries compared with six who had caesarean sections.

"We wondered which brain areas would be less active in parents who delivered by caesarean section, given that this mode of delivery has been associated with decreased maternal behaviours in animal models, and a trend for increased postpartum depression in humans," said the study's lead author, Dr. James Swain of the Child Study Centre at Yale University in Connecticut.

"Our results support the theory that variations in delivery conditions such as with caesarean section, which alters the neurohormonal experiences of childbirth, might decrease the responsiveness of the human maternal brain in the early postpartum."

The differences in brain activity were found in regions that seem to affect how a mother responds to her child and regulate her mood.

Postpartum depression risk
In natural birth, contractions help trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is thought to shape a mother's behaviour. Hormones are not released in the same way during a caesarean section.

Obstetricians have long known that women who have a caesarean section sometimes have problems bonding with their baby.

That's why doctors and nurses on maternity wards commonly advise women to cuddle newborns against their skin right after birth to establish a bond, and offer support for feeding and care for the baby.

It is possible that the clinical reasons that lead women to have C-sections may play a role. To rule that out, researchers studied six mothers who opted to have C-sections, rather than cases where the procedure was medically necessary.

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

The number of women giving birth by C-section in Canada rose to 26 per cent in 2005-06 from 23 per cent in 2001-02, according to a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

"As more women opt to wait until they are older to have children, and by association be more likely to have a caesarean section delivery, these results are important, because they could provide better understanding of the basic neurophysiology and psychology of parent-infant attachment," said Swain.

"This work could lead to early detection of families at risk for postpartum depression and attachment problems and form a model for testing interventions."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How to Prevent an Unnecessary Cesarean

1) Be aware that your choices in pregnancy and labor can have a BIG impact on your chance of having a cesarean.

2) Choose a care provider with a low cesarean rate and similar birth preferences to yours.

3) Hire a doula. Studies show that this can lower your chance of a cesarean by 50%!

4) Choose positions in pregnancy and labor that help your baby to get in the best position for an easier birth.

5) Read lots of birth stories from women with atypical labors to see how wide the range of normal is in labor.

6) Trust your body to birth your baby; it's what you are designed for!

7) Switch to a new care provider if you feel you are being led toward unnecessary interventions or a scheduled cesarean.

8) Avoid common hospital procedures that increase your chances of a cesarean, like induction, epidurals, pitocin, or breaking the bag of waters.

9) Be informed. When faced with any (routine and emergency) procedure, ask: why it is being done in your case?; what are the short and long term effects on you and your baby?; and what are your other options?

10) Last but not least, contact your friendly ICAN of Jackson chapter for more information and support! Tel: (866) 377-7695

What is ICAN of Jackson, MS

ICAN of Jackson, MS is a support group for anyone interested in cesarean recovery, support, and VBAC. But mainly support for survivors of cesarean section and birth trauma. And we advocate for VBAC, prevention of cesarean, and support of natural birth as God intended.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nourishment For Your Spirit:

May you find serenity and tranquility in a world you may not always understand.

May the pain you have known and the conflict you have experienced give you the strength to walk through life facing each new situation with optimism and courage.

Always now that there are those whose love and understanding will always be there, even when you feel most alone.

May you discover enough goodness in others to believe in a world of peace.

May a kind word, a reassuring touch, a warm smile be yours every day of your life, and may you give these gifts as well as receive them.

Remember the sunshine when the storm seems unending.

Teach love to those who know hate, and let that love embrace you as you go into the world.

May the teaching of those you admire become part of you, so that you may call upon them.

Remember, those whose lives you have touched and who have touched yours are always a part of you, even if the encounters were less than you would have wished.

May you not become too concerned with material matters, but instead place immeasurable value on the goodness in your heart.

Find time in each day to see the beauty and love in the world around you.

Realize that each person has limitless abilities, but each of us is different in our own way.

What you may feel you lack in one regard may be more than compensated for in another.

May you see your future as one filled with promise and possibility.

Learn to view everything as a worthwhile experience.

May you find enough inner strength to determine your own worth by yourself and not be dependent on another’s judgments of your accomplishments.

May you always feel loved.

– Author Unknown

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I wish to tell you Mom and Dad

I wish to tell you…

Dear Mom and Dad…

I wish to tell you… that your baby girl was hurt today. Someone sliced open my belly… the very same belly one you used to rub and pat to help me fall asleep. I now have a big, raw, red wound on my belly and it really hurts. It hurts a lot. Remember the time I got punched in the stomach and all the wind got knocked out of me? Well, it hurts about a gazillion times more than that.

I wish to tell you… physically, it feels like someone has taken an electric can opener and run it back and forth across my pubic bone… and then turned my stomach into a punching bag that they’ve whacked, whacked, repeatedly until I can’t breathe anymore. It would take about 50 more sentences to describe the pain I feel in my body, but you don’t need all those details. You just need to know that your baby girl hurts a lot. I've got a big boo-boo… one that all the Mickey Mouse bandaids in the world can’t heal.

I wish to tell you… how important it is that you acknowledge my pain. When I was little, and I got a boo-boo, you were the first person I ran to. I needed to show you where I got hurt, because you would make it better. Today, I'm not saying you have to kiss the scar that’s on my belly and put a band-aid on it, but it would be nice if you asked me if you could see it (just like you used to look at all of my scrapes). I know you probably won’t want to see it, just like you didn’t like seeing my knees scraped up when I was a little girl… but if you ignore me and pretend that my scar isn’t there, then that makes me feel sad.

I wish to tell you… that when you came to the hospital after my baby was born, it hurt my feelings because you ignored me. You said hello, but then you raced over to my baby and gave him all the attention you used to give me. I know you’re excited to see the baby… I am, too. But when you ignore me, and the pain I’m in, it makes me very angry. When I had my tonsils out in college, you were there for me. You brought books and treats and food and you sat with me (even though my bad breath made the room smell totally disgusting). You took care of me for days. But now, after this surgery, you ignored me. Oh yes, you asked me how I was feeling, but you didn’t stop to listen to my answer. I knew from the way you asked that you didn’t really want to know, anyway, you just wanted to ask so that you could then cuddle the baby. When you wanted to watch the videotape of my son being ripped from my belly, and I started sobbing as I listened to the sounds of the operating room coming from that little video camera… you left the room, but you did so in silence. And when you came back, you never acknowledged the fact that I was so sad. You never asked me about the surgery.

I wish to tell you… that everytime you say, “Why aren’t you happy? It’s a shame that you’re wasting this precious time with your baby by being sad… because it goes by so quickly!” you make me feel like the most selfish, awful mother on earth. You remind me of the fact that I can’t move on, that I’m still consumed by the fact that the day that was supposed to be the best day of my life turned into the worst day of my life. Do you think that I, who carried this child for 10 months in my womb… I, who turned my entire life upside down to bring this child into the world… I, who let my body be CUT INTO… allowed myself to feel raped… allowed myself to put all of my feelings and goals and hopes and health philosophies aside for the “safety of my baby”… that I would WANT to waste this time with my child? I sacrificed everything that was important to me to get him here in my arms… so when you tell me that I should be over it by now, and that I’m wasting precious time with him… you make me feel like the lowest human on the planet.

I wish to tell you… I am already beating myself up a million times a day for being sad, for being angry, for not loving him because of what his “birth” did to me, for being cut, for not knowing enough to avoid it, for not being strong enough to avoid it, for not being able to carry his carseat, for not being able to walk more than a block before my belly hurts, for having to be an invalid in the hospital instead of being a mamma bear at home, for not feeling well enough to even want to celebrate his first birthday, for not being able to create a birth that would be healing and welcoming for him. I don’t need you to beat me up as well. I’m doing that well enough on my own, thank you. Remember when that boy teased me in first grade, and I came home upset and crying and said I never wanted to go back to school? You didn’t tell me that I was “wasting my first grade year” by being sad about this boy. You acknowledged that he was a pain in the butt, and that he probably just had a crush on me. How about acknowledging that my birth was horrific, and that it’s OK for me to be sad?

I wish to tell you… when you say, “I wish you hadn’t become so sensitive over the past few years, because then this C-section wouldn’t have bothered you so much” that you are really saying, “I wish I didn’t have to deal with the fact that you are in pain.” What lies underneath your words, if you look at them closely, are the following implications: “I wish you didn’t hold your body in high regard. I wish you would just numb yourself to the act of giving birth, and forget that it’s the most important moment of your life. I wish you didn’t plan, hope, and dream for this child’s birth in the loving way that you did. I wish you hadn’t grown to love your body, and not want to see it sliced into. I wish you would just make this easier on all of us, because we don't know how to deal with your pain.”

I wish to tell you… even if I hadn’t become so sensitive, this C-section could very well have still rocked my world, and not in a good way. You brought three children in to the world, and you know how much birth changes everything. How can you say to me that all of my anger and sadness and frustration and grief and regret stems from sensitivity? Again, when you say that, I have yet another thing (that being sensitivity) to add to my list of “what makes me broken as a mom and a woman.”

I wish to tell you… when I was a teenager, and I didn’t get a part in the school musical, and I came home and cried about it, you didn’t tell me to stop being sensitive. You told me that I was good enough, and I tried hard, and that it wasn’t my fault, that the director was stupid, and that you were sad for me. So, why is it OK to be sensitive as a not-so-good aspiring actress in high school… but not OK to be sensitive as a woman who has just experienced the most traumatic event of her life?

I wish to tell you… when I was in college, and I called home one night and sounded sad and a bit hurt about the way a boy treated me, you quickly asked, “Did he hurt you?” And I could honestly say no. I remember that you were so quick to want to know if that boy had hurt me… you were so quick to want to know if you needed to protect me. So, it’s hard for me to understand why you are having such a hard time acknowledging that a doctor hurt me. That a doctor made me feel as though I was raped. That a doctor made me feel small. That a doctor made me feel “pushy” for daring to question the medical procedures that have been established for the comfort of doctors and hospital policies, not for the comfort of my body and my baby’s health. That a doctor made me question all of my wisdom, intuition, education, reading, and carefully-thought-out decisions that I’d made for the birth of my child… all because they didn’t line up with the protocols that she’s forced to follow. Why didn’t you want to protect me from all of the abuse that I suffered – both physical and emotional – in the hospital? That abuse was MUCH more real – and damaging – than any college boyfriend turbulence. Yet, you remained silent. You never asked, “Did she (your doctor) hurt you?” You probably didn’t want to hear me say “yes.” But that didn’t stop you from asking when I was in college. What’s different now?

I wish to tell you… when you say, “But isn’t a C-section the safest way to have a baby?” you show me that the media has done too good a job of making a major abdominal surgery seem “normal.” And it helps me understand why you didn’t know that I was hurting so badly.

I wish to tell you… when you encouraged me to get the C-section, rather than trusting and honoring that my own body could birth my baby in the normal, age-old way that women have been birthing babies for centuries and centuries… you were unknowingly setting me up for many potential problems down the line. You see…

I wish to tell you

  • They don’t tell you that C-sections cause miscarriages and stillborn births in the future.
  • They don't tell you that a mom who has a C-section has a much greater chance of having a hysterectomy because of her "birth."
  • They don’t tell you that I was three times more likely to die during the operation than I was if I’d had a normal birth.
  • They don't tell you that many moms feel much of the pain during surgery because the anesthesia doesn't work completely... I didn't feel the exact pain in this way, but the pulling and shoving and tugging and pushing was enough to make me feel like I was in a boxing match.
  • They don’t tell you that your darling grandson had a 4-6% chance of being cut by a knife during an operation.
  • They don’t tell you that the reason he had such a hard time breathing at first was NOT because he was breech, but because they ripped him out of my womb before he was ready.
  • They don’t tell you that the C-section can cause all sorts of health problems for him in the future.
  • Oh, and remember all the trouble we had with breastfeeding at first? Yup, that’s from the C-section, too.
  • They don't tell you that the doctors care more about getting the C-section over with "before the 7:00 shift takes over" than they do respecting my wishes to go through labor. It's my right as a woman to go through labor if I wish, yet they pressured me so much that I denied myself that right.
  • They don’t tell you that the C-section can cause flashbacks, panic attacks, major depression, post traumatic stress disorder, blows to marriages, isolation and withdrawal from society and friends and family... the very same kinds of symptoms that I’ve been suffering from for since your grandchild was born.
  • They don’t tell you that a C-section can be so disempowering that it took me TWO MONTHS before I would feel confident enough in my mothering abilities to pull a shirt over your grandson’s head, and give him a bath. It took me more than THREE MONTHS before I felt like “enough of a mother” to take him to the grocery store. I was so afraid of him, and so unsure of myself because of the C-section, that a friend had to come with me to the mall the first time.
  • They don’t tell you that C-sections often create a void between mothers and babies – bonding can take a long time – it sure did for us (it took almost a year for me).
  • They don’t tell you that a C-section feels like a rape to many women (it did to me) and can make a woman scared to be touched by anyone, even her husband.
  • They don’t tell you that many women who have C-sections wait months or years before they’re ready to have sex again, because they feel so violated.
  • They don’t tell you that your daughter’s scar will itch for months and even years to come.
  • They don’t tell you that your daughter may hate her belly and not want to look at herself in the mirror naked again.
  • They don’t tell you that your daughter will have a high chance of getting an infection and having to stay in the hospital (or go back) after your grandchild was born. Thank god that didn't happen to me.
  • They don’t tell you that for every pregnancy she has, she’ll be considered high risk.
  • They don't tell you that they can damage your daughter's bladder and other organs during surgery.
  • They don’t tell you that she may have a really, really hard time finding anyone to deliver your next grandchild, unless she wants to have a C-section again.
  • They don’t tell you that a C-section can be so violating, disempowering, painful and scary that it might be enough to keep your daughter from wanting to have any more children.

So, please don’t ask me when your next grandchild is coming. I’m simply not there yet.


I wish to tell you… the number one best thing that you can/could say to me is:

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry this happened to you. I know this is the last thing you wanted, and I’m so sorry. Would you like to tell me about it?”

I wish to tell you… you will probably need to say those sentences to me over and over and over again. This is not a one-time conversation. This pain will not go away in one day. Giving my baby a bath, watching him smile, touching his chunky thighs may make YOU forget how he was brought into the world… but it will take me months, maybe years, maybe a lifetime to forget what happened on the day they wrenched him from my belly. You can never say “I’m sorry” or ask “Would you like to talk about it?” too many times. There will always be something to say. You don't have to have a solution, or know the answer, or have something comforting to say. Just keep asking me questions, and let me talk. Let me cry. Let me get mad (I might get mad at you... that's OK... it's just part of the process, and I need to let it happen).


And now… with love in my heart… because I know that, no matter what has happened in the past, you love me with all of your being…

I wish to tell you… I know that you did your very best at the time to support me.

I wish to tell you… I know it’s hard to understand what I’ve been through… because you’re not me, and you didn’t go through what I went through.

I wish to tell you… I know that you didn’t want to see your little girl in pain, and it may have been easier to ignore it (even unintentionally) than to face it head-on.

I wish to tell you… I know that you probably had no idea how much I was hurting – physically – or on the inside. Because I probably did a good job of hiding it. Because new moms aren't supposed to be upset or angry or sad... it's supposed to be the best day of their lives, right?

I wish to tell you… I’m still hurting. I still feel the pain of what happened to me. I think about it every single day… many times a day. Having an adorable baby doesn’t diminish the pain. Having another baby won’t make that pain disappear either (even if the birth turns out exactly as I’d hoped the last one would). The pain will be here forever (just like that scar that I got on my forehead when you accidentally tripped me with the stroller).

I wish to tell you all of these things because I still need your support now.

I wish to tell you all of these things because you know other moms and dads whose daughters will go through or have gone through this same thing, and I would really, really, really like it if you could share this letter with them. Because it may just help them understand what their daughters are going through. And it may help them know what to say and what not to say.

The last thing I wish to tell you… is that my birth was considered a “routine” and “normal” C-section by the medical community. I didn’t get infected. I left the hospital a day early. My scar has pretty much healed. I didn’t have a hysterectomy. My son didn’t get cut during the surgery. I got to keep my son in the operating room with me while I was sewn up. I was awake throughout the entire surgery, I didn’t get put under completely with general anesthesia. I got to take the catheter out the next morning. I got to listen to my ipod during surgery (yeah, like that helped distract me).

For all intents and purposes (from the medical point of view, at least) my C-section was a “SUCCESS.” A TEXTBOOK recovery.

* So with all of the pain and suffering that my C-section caused me… with the emotional aftermath and the physical repercussions that I and my husband have witnessed (because these repercussions aren’t apparent to other people)… you can only imagine what a C-section is like for a mom who has complications in the hospital, or whose body or baby suffers permanently from surgery damage or a doctors’ mistakes. With these moms, even more care, love, support, and listening is needed.

Because this is not the way birth is supposed to be. It makes sense that moms and dads don’t know what to do, what to say, how to act, how to react… to support their daughters who end up being cut. Because it’s not normal, it’s not natural, it’s not joyful, and it’s not empowering. Not at all.

And, A Healthy Baby Boy is not all that matters...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cesarean and VBAC Rates in Mississippi

In 2006, 34% of women who gave birth had a cesarean section and 0.4 % of women delivered by a VBAC.

Elective Diabetes??

Caesarean babies 'at diabetes risk'
August 25, 2008

Babies born by Caesarean section have a 20% increased chance of becoming
insulin-dependent diabetics in childhood, say researchers.

Although the reason for the link is not clear, scientists believe exposure
to hospital bacteria may be involved.

Childhood infections, along with genetics, are already known to play an
important role in the development of type 1 diabetes. The disease is an
autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks insulin-producing cells
in the pancreas.

Around 250,000 people in the UK have type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs
in childhood and has to be managed with life-long insulin injections. Type two
diabetes, a different disease linked to lifestyle and obesity, is suffered
by some two million people.

The Caesarean discovery emerged from an analysis of the results of 20
published studies on type 1 diabetes in children. Researchers found that children
delivered by Caesarean section were 23% more likely to develop the disease
than those who had natural births.

The increased risk could not be explained by other factors such as birth
weight, mother's age, order of birth, pregnancy-related diabetes or whether or
not a baby was breast fed.

On average, 24% of women giving birth in England undergo a Caesarean
operation. The rate is significantly higher than the 15% recommended by the World
Health Organisation.

Dr Chris Cardwell, from Queen's University Belfast, who led the research
reported in the online journal Diabetologia, said: "This study shows a
consistent 20% increase in the risk of type 1 diabetes. It is important to stress that
the reason for this is still not understood although it is possible that the
Caesarean section itself is responsible, perhaps because babies born via
that method are first exposed to bacteria originating from the hospital
environment rather than to maternal bacteria.

"Type 1 diabetes in childhood has become much more prevalent across Europe
recently and the rate of this increase suggests that environmental factors are
the cause. However, despite much investigation, these actual factors remain
largely unknown."

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Diabetes UK, said: "Not
all women have the choice of whether to have a Caesarean section or not, but
those who do may wish to take this risk into consideration before choosing to
give birth this way."

Solace for Mothers

If you are interested in the prevention, treatment, and support of women who have experienced trauma please join Solace’s new online community called Solace For Mothers: Friends and Advocates Online Community for those who support Mothers found here:

From the introduction to the forum:

This on-line forum will provide a safe landing space for family, friends, and professionals to discuss their own experiences following unexpected birth outcomes. In addition, birth advocates will find a forum in which to contemplate the state of birth at this time in history, hopes for the future, and strategies for supporting among our most precious community members: mothers and their infants. Mothers are also welcome on this forum, which is much more public in nature than the private Solace forum they can also enjoy.

The birth survey

As some of you may know, The Coalition For Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) Grassroots Advocates Committee (GAC) released it’s project The Birth Survey nationally on August 15th. From their website:

For years, consumers have enthusiastically shared online reviews of movies, restaurants, products and services, but readily available information about maternity care services was nearly unattainable—but no longer. The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) has developed, a consumer feedback website where women provide information about the maternity care they received from specific doctors, midwives, hospitals, and birth centers. Families choosing where and with whom to birth can utilize this consumer feedback, along with data on hospital and birth center standard practices and intervention rates, to make more informed health care choices.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Positive Parenting Fair

Sponsored by La Leche Leauge of Jackson, MS
September 13th
Jackson Medical Mall

ICAN of Jackson, MS

Many Women
Many Visions
One Scar
One Purpose