Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If Not For You, Then For Our Daughters

Social Media has done so much.  You can get information at the click of a button.  You can make friends with people on the other side of the world.  You can “like” someone or something just by sitting on your couch.  You can spread your message in your underwear and people will come read it.
And yet, how much are we truly accomplishing?
I mainly work with the birth community within social media.  I follow all the birth blogs, I read, I comment, I learn.  But, how many of the non-crunchy crowd are doing the same thing?  How many of the people that aren’t radical like me are even caring what we write?
The cesarean rate is going up daily.  Regardless of what I write on this blog, or my twitter, or my facebook.  The number of women being induced is going up.  Again, regardless of what I write.  The number of epidurals or pain medication being used is going up.  Women that want these things don’t read my blog.  They don’t read the birth books or blogs I do.  They are sheep.
They believe that the things we write are done out of spite.  That we hate hospitals, OBs, midwives and everything they stand for.  They think that we make up risks, that the movies we recommend are just to scare them.  That we are hippies who don’t know any better.  That their way is right.
Over the last few hundred years, we as women are bringing ourselves down.  First welet men push us onto our backs for birth so they could help better.  Then we took their drugs.  Then their idea that the hospital was safer.  Then we let them knock us out to drag out our children.  Then they told us that once we had a cesarean, that was the only way we could birth, that vaginal is unsafe.  Now, we are doing everything we once did.  We are letting others control our bodies.
Over the last 100+ years, we have demanded change.  We didn’t want to feel pain.  So they answered.  We didn’t want to have a wrecked vagina.  So they answered.  And now, we want to birth.  Now we want to feel.  And because of our past ignorance, no one takes us seriously.  We are the minority.  We want change.  And yet, we aren’t listened to.  After all, we are the hippy nuts that want to feel the pain and stretch so our husband’s don’t want us anymore.
We preach empowerment and informed consent and refusal.  We try to educate women that their choices have a profound impact on their confidence as a mother.  We try to inform on the risks of procedures, that they aren’t safe like we are told.  That nothing is the same as what your body can do naturally.
And yet, we aren’t being listened to.  Women that are doing these, don’t care.
After all, it is their body and their choice.  They know what they are doing.
The thing is, they really don’t.  They talk about how a healthy baby is all that matters.  That it doesn’t matter how the baby gets here.  It makes you wonder, why don’t they think they matter?  Why don’t they think that their choices are important?
Even women with dementia and those so old they don’t remember their names, they remember their births.  They remember how they were made to feel.  They remember how they were treated.  They remember.
Choosing an induction or a cesarean isn’t about information.  It is all about impatience and fear.  Impatience that your body will never start.  That you just want to be done.  Fear that you will tear, or be cut, or need an assisted delivery.  Fear that your body is flawed.
1 in 3 women leave the hospital with an incision in their abdomen.  1 in 3 women are told that this was the way their baby had to be born.  That their body did something wrong.  70% of women are told that their body doesn’t know what to do and they need labor induction or augmentation medication.  That their body is stuck.  That it needs help.  Even more are told that they don’t know how to push, that the better way to push is on their back, that the epidural is completely safe and won’t interfere with the birth or after.
And we believe it.
We are sheep.
All because we don’t have a medical degree and they do.
How bad will this have to get before all women see what is happening?  Will 50% of women need to be cut?  85%?  100%?  How many more women will have to die before we say it needs to end?  How many babies?  How many women need to have problems from their cesarean for us to admit it isn’t the better way to birth?  How many women need to be told they can’t do it before we all begin to question?
We as women have lost our power.  We have lost the goddess within ourselves.  We have made it so when we are pregnant, even if we have never needed help before, are automatically in the mindset we need tests and ultrasounds and pills.  We are thought to be sick and weak.
We put ourselves on a clock.  40 weeks and we are done.  Anything over that is dangerous.  That we are overdue.  We imagine that the baby is ready at 37 weeks and is just late coming out.  We never think that there is more to this process than just their lungs being ready.  No one ever questions if you labor prematurely.  They know the risks then.  But if you are 37 weeks, things should be fine.  We don’t question.
I didn’t question.  A NICU stay later, I wondered.  And then I knew I had failed my child.
Does it only take a bad experience to let you know something is wrong?  Does it only take being battered daily with birth information to realize there is something better?  Does it only take being open to the idea to know the system is flawed?
When will we as women stop holding ourselves back?  Pregnancy, birth, and raising children are some of the greatest things we can do.  Why are we being told by doctors or midwives that our bodies forgot how to do it?  And why are we believing them?!
Pregnancy and birth used to be sacred.  Something only women could do.  The highest form of respect to the next generation was a supported birth.  Back when we believed in the goddess.  Back before we lost our power.
We need to take back our power.  We need to take back respect.  We need to take back our births.
Even if no one reads this that doesn’t agree, the great thing about social media is it is out there.  Sure, it might never help anyone.  But either way, my words are there.
We need to change the way we birth.  We need to do this now so that our daughter’s aren’t facing something worse than we are.  We need to control ourselves.  We need to know that we aren’t sick.  We need to know that we as women hold the power over ourselves.
No woman should ever be told her body is flawed.  No woman should leave the hospital with an incision, whether in her abdomen or her perineum.  No woman should have to wonder what might have been if she had just said “No” that one more time.
No woman should be used.
Educate yourselves.  Empower yourselves.  Inform yourselves.
If not for you, then for the next generation of birthing women.  They need a better birth than what we have settled for.


Giveaway Hound said... [Reply to comment]

I understand your point and I agree with a lot of your sentiment here, but I think that there needs to be a realization within the natural birth community that there is a place for c-sections. Obviously, the c-section rate in this country has gotten out of control and there are many women who get them who don't need them. But there are some women, like me, who do. And our voices need to be heard, too, even in the natural birth community.

I was completely committed to having a natural birth. Then I developed HELLP syndrome. My liver and kidneys were failing. Neither my son nor I would have survived labor. And so I had a c-section. And because I did my son and I are alive today.

If I get pregnant again, I would like to have a VBAC. But I realize, too, that that may not be an option for me. I have a 25% chance of developing HELLP again, and if I do, I have to have another c-section. If I don't, I will die. Plain and simple.

I realize that there are not many women like me, but we are out there. I was sick. Had I said, "No" to a c-section, I would have died. My son would have died.

When you write that "no woman should leave the hospital with an incision," I understand the sentiment behind that statement but my experience tells me that achieving a 0 c-section rate cannot be our goal as women and mothers. We need to stand together and educate one another, not use language that divides one woman from another or places shame on her for her birthing or parenting choices.

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

Yes, there is a place for cesareans, I never said there wasn't. If I hadn't had a cesarean, my daughter would have died also, and I stood a chance of dying with her. This isn't about emergency procedures, this is about convenience and fear. I wish we could have a 0% rate, or one as close to that as possible, but in this birth climate, it's impossible.

I wasn't shaming anyone.

Liz said... [Reply to comment]

"Educate yourselves. Empower yourselves. Inform yourselves."

That's the main part of the answer to changing this birth climate right there.

That's exactly what I did. I went to two different prenatal classes one taught by the public heath nurses and another taught by a doula (which I did twice.) I learned so much and had information from both sides of the spectrum. Also that doula was part of my birthing support team which included my mom and two close girlfriends. They were so amazing. They are part of the reason why I was blessed with such an amazing natural birthing experience in a hospital. I was asked by the nurses and doctor if I wanted anything for the pain and when I said no it wasn't necessary they respected my decision. They checked and in asked a few more times, but in the end I had no drugs etc. I had my moments of self doubt and fear but I had my support people there to help encourage and empower me. In the end it was the most empowering experience of my life and I let my body do what it knew to do.

I know this isn't everyone's story. I am not telling anyone how the should go about woriking out their birthing plan. I know that in emergency situations etc there are times for c-sections and other procedures. This article is not referring to those situations. It is referring to the unnecessary interventions and procedures that go on.

Woman need to stop underestimating themselves or letting others do it to them.

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