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Hi everyone!  I wanted to invite you to my “birth” blog today to check out a three part series I have been working on.  The first post is on the history of childbirth in eastern Kentucky.  I hope you enjoy it.

http://birthtrueblog.wordpress.com

Adding my new work to our daily schedule is already changing things up quite a bit.  Not in a bad way though.  I feel myself relaxing about things that worried me so much before, things that I took way to seriously.  Sure, it has only been two days since the end of my training workshop and I am still riding that wave of pure joy, but the relaxation is very real.

I don’t know why.  I suspect it is because I am finally paying attention to where my heart has been leading me for years.  Not just the childbirth education, but actually listening to that part of me that has said, you’d really enjoy _____.  Listening to that part of me instead of making decisions based on some “dream” idea of what our family life should look like, what makes a great parent, or how a grown woman can give to her community and children.  What makes one a productive, satisfied individual?  It definitely isn’t trying to adhere to someone else’s prescription of that idea.  So far, I’m finding that giving in and listening to what your heart says, doing the leg work for yourself, is much more satisfying.  No, it’s not going to look anything like what other people have found satisfying.  We are all gifted differently.  We are all unique, so it shouldn’t.

Yes, we may get ideas from one another.  Of course, if something speaks to us, but is challenging, we should give it our best effort and time to see if it is something that is beneficial for us.  But, if we are attempting something for our benefit and thus that of our family, and it is doing nothing but bringing discontentment, it is probably not a fit.  There can be great satisfaction in a challenge and hard work, so I am learning to look for that satisfaction.  For example, doing an hour of yoga everyday is a huge challenge.  Finding the time for it in my day, trying to relax despite the bustle around me, and listening for that still small voice is anything but easy.  Yet, while practicing, I feel satisfied.  I feel like I have done something important, and in turn I feel happy for it.  That is how you know that an idea is a good one.  The work it takes isn’t always easy, but you continually have the feeling that it is right.

This morning, Deladis started drawing bodies on her figures and animals.  Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer suggests that this is one of the first signs for academic readiness.  However, for most children this won’t occur until around age 6 or 7.  I watched Deladis’ glee as she showed her new accomplishment to her artist daddy, who in turn looks at me and says that his daughter is a genius. 🙂  I smile and think that it’s cute that Daddy gives such esteem to his little one.  Then, Deladis looks at me and says, “This little girl cat is beautiful and this boy one is handsome.”  Her mommy who thinks in words couldn’t help but be amazed and think maybe her daddy is really onto something.  Does it mean she is ready for academics?  I’m doubtful.  Do I ignore this sign?  Absolutely not.  The recommendation for Waldorf education is no formal academics until age 6 or 7.  Is that a strict rule to be adhered to in homeschool families?  I don’t think so.  I think it is something to deeply consider.  I’m going to spend many weeks, perhaps months watching her cues… seeing where she leads me, and listening to my heart.

Our lives are changing.  The road for me has been rocky, but some lessons are hard learned and should be.  I’m glad for it.  I’m really glad.

Please bear with me as I try to figure out what place this blog will have in my new schedule.  I am going to try to still post regularly, but I am almost certain that things will change here a little bit as I am devoting time to different things.  I hope you will continue to check back in and share your thoughts here.

Later this afternoon, I will be making the long journey into the city.  Friday is the first day of the workshop that will begin my formal training to become a certified childbirth educator.  As I have mentioned before, the training is through Lamaze and I will eventually receive certification from Lamaze International when I complete the requirements.  I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.

Knowing my perception of myself ten years ago, I would have been very amused if someone had suggested to me that my life would take this path.  I was in my early twenties and while I had just recently witnessed the natural birth of my first nephew and acted as a birth coach for my sister, I had no plans to give birth myself.  I thought giving birth to be a miracle and it absolutely made me embrace my womanhood in a way I never had prior to witnessing the glorious capacity of a woman’s body.  I was sure though, that while other women were enjoying pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, that there were other plans for my life.  Not that I thought those plans more dignified at all, but more that I felt like life had not prepared me to fulfill that role in another’s life.  I felt like I was doing the child who I would birth a favor by choosing to remain childless.

I look back on my life at this juncture, and it is obvious to me my preparation through everything from my birth order, life experiences, and educational choices for motherhood and teaching (or should I say sharing my experiences with others and guiding the search for information).  I was the first born of my mother’s children and I tortured my baby sister day after day with school play.  It was either that or her torture me with trying to copy and become a part of my independent play. 😉  I majored in English with a minor in Creative Writing in college, only to accept a job as a Language Arts teacher in the public school system.  I went on to receive a Master’s in Teaching.  It was like I had forgotten how I told my family that I wouldn’t be a teacher when they had suggested it to me so many times.  I was going to be a writer.  Then, I experienced birth through my sister, and almost five years later John and I desired to make a family.  It was sudden, and in spite of all the plans to the contrary.

There was the planning for my birth – the dreaming.  Then, there was the experience.  I didn’t embrace what happened to me and my baby girl in any way for the longest time.  It wasn’t suppose to have happened that way.  Not to me.  I didn’t understand that it was another leg of my journey.  Ivy’s birth gave me a little more understanding, and yet I still didn’t accept what my heart was asking me to do.  I felt like everything I had experienced and studied about would eventually bring a correction of what happened to me.  It wasn’t about that at all.  Healing isn’t always a reversal of a problem, and I would argue that most often it is not, but it is a renewal of our perception of that problem.  That self that I thought I was, wasn’t me at all.  It was an ego denying my whole self peace.  I am complete just as I am.

So, now I have this awesome opportunity to put myself to use to a cause greater than I could have ever imagined for myself.  A cause that is much greater than I am.  It is not something I could ever take on of my own accord or understanding, but it is a movement of a collective body of women and men, working, in the best of times, as one force.  To help other women learn about their bodies, enjoy their pregnancies, plan their informed births, and process the experience is a huge undertaking, but it is one that I love.  It was done for me, and I am so thankful to those women.  Not only will I have the opportunity to be an active part of a birth community, but I will be helping women in my mountains.  The birth tradition in these hills is so rich and beautiful as much as it is hard to grasp at times.  I think of the courage of those women and the trust that they put into the natural course of life.  I want to help women from whatever place they come from in their journey to motherhood and through whatever their plans may be, help them to understand what is happening, to trust their body, and help them to feel comfortable and safe in the choices they make for themselves and their babies.

I’m thankful that I am finally able to listen to my heart.  It is much easier than trying to rationalize contrary choices.  I’m thankful for this opportunity.  I’m able to embrace what happened to me as an experience in a longer journey that has a larger purpose than a few events in my life.  Not that those experiences were easy ones, but more that they helped me to grow as a person.  No, it wasn’t a part of my planning, but it chose me, and I’m so glad.

I think I have already chosen a name for my services and a tag line.  It may change, but for now I like it. 🙂  I will be starting a new blog upon my return under that title.  I will blog about my experiences in formal training and the topics I am studying or finding interesting in the world of childbirth.  I won’t blog about anyone (privacy is my utmost priority), but it will be more informational in tone and a companion to my eventual personal website for my services.  Birth is a very personal topic and because of the many varied experiences can seem almost mythical.  Learning about the ideas surrounding birth and the issues involved is a great way to make it seem less so, but no less miraculous. 🙂

I fell in love with childbirth the first time I witnessed it with my own eyes.  I had seen kittens and puppies be born before and thought it a glorious thing, but when I helped my sister bring my nephew into the world on that warm summer day in 2000, I knew I had witnessed a miracle.  I knew I had watched a rite of passage like none other possible in life, and while I didn’t think at that time I would be a mother, I was glad to be a woman.

When I prepared for my own daughter’s birth I did everything I thought I should do.  I did prenatal yoga and walked.  I ate a healthful diet and kept my weight gain to a minimum.  I took my vitamins.  I chose a practice with all women (7 of them) obstetricians and never missed an appointment.  I attended every session of the childbirth classes held at the hospital.  I wrote a birth plan that outlined the process that I hoped would be my natural vaginal birth and gave it to the doctors.  I did everything I knew to do to insure that I would experience birth in the most natural form.  The way I felt nature/God intended in most cases.

Then, on the day I turned 38 weeks I was given my 7th ultrasound in my pregnancy to check on the size of my baby.  They estimated her to be upwards of ten pounds.  The doctor I saw that day said that if I had any hope of giving birth vaginally I would need to go in that night to be induced.  I agreed because I wanted a vaginal birth.  I called my family and packed my bags.  We got to the hospital and as soon as the doctor on call (different from the doctor who recommended the induction) read my chart she ordered another ultrasound.  She then explained to us that she believed that my baby being upwards of ten pounds was too large to risk a vaginal birth.  She gave us a list of possible complications if we did indeed choose to attempt a vaginal birth – shoulder dystocia, cerebral palsy, brain damage, death.  The doctor left the room for us to make our decision.  I looked at my husband and sister in uncontrollable tears.  We all thought that there was only one thing to do.  I consented to have a surgical birth.

My daughter was born 8 pounds and 13 ounces 20.5 inches long.  I immediately felt like I had been played.  Then, as complications arose for the both of us from the surgery, including a five night hospital stay, I knew in my heart that I had made the wrong choice.  I now know that surgery was unnecessary and have had it most likely confirmed so by another obstetrician.  At this point, I became passionate about childbirth, and have since set out to educate myself and anyone that was looking for answers on the topic.

While cesarean section is a blessing for many mothers and babies, as it was in the case of my second birth, when it is necessary because of a medical complication, the practice in this country is obviously being abused putting in danger mothers and their babies.

In the United States the cesarean rate is 31.8%.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that to remain within a healthy range no country should exceed 10-15%.  That means that the US has doubled that recommendation.  It has increased 48% since 1996.  Why?

There are many speculations as to why, however there are some things we can be sure of, the first being elective cesarean surgery.  With rumors of celebrities scheduling their surgical births, women wanting to plan ahead to avoid certain days and times to give birth, and others misinformed and afraid of a vaginal delivery, it has become possible for many women to just choose surgery.  I believe convenience for the obstetrician plays into this as well.  They don’t have to be on call or wait on a long labor.  Not only does this seem more convenient for some, but it is also more money in the pockets of the doctors and hospitals.

The other large reason is malpractice lawsuits and insurance companies.  Doctors fear being sued, which I think might play a part in many of the cases of recommended c-sections for a large baby.

Then, there is the cascade of medical interventions most often starting with an induction and leading to a c-section.  A labor brought on by chemical induction is much more intense than regular labor brought on by natural hormones released from both the mother and baby.  This often leads to an epidural and the mother growing tired sooner.  It is also more likely to cause a baby to go into distress.  A natural labor for a first time mother can easily last twelve hours or longer and be completely safe.  Induction brings on hard contractions much sooner.  It is not as gradual a process as natural labor.

Why do we consent to these things?  Some of you may even be wondering why I’m concerned at all with any of this.  It is because we are misinformed and left in the dark by the health care practitioners we are trusting to deliver us safely through our pregnancies and birthing experiences.  It is because for me ignorance was not bliss and has had lasting health complications for both myself and Deladis.  I wish I had known to know better.  I wish what I know now was common information and not something you have to search for.  I wish all women had the means to inform themselves and were respected by their practitioners.

So, you have the right to know this (whatever your choice is)…

1. A c-section is a major abdominal surgery.

2. C-section surgery poses risks to the mother including infection and hemorrhage among others that are 2 to 4 times more than a vaginal birth.

3. C-section surgery can delay mother and infant bonding due to post-op regulations in the hospital and the delay of natural bonding hormones.

4. Babies born via c-section are more likely to have allergies and have issues breathing at birth.  A c-section also runs the risk of babies being cut by a scalpel during surgery.

5. The “big baby” reason is a myth.  Ultrasounds are notoriously wrong the later you are in your pregnancy at determining the size of your baby.  Unless you have had the rickets or your pelvis is knowingly deformed in some way, there is no reason to think that your pelvis would not accommodate the size of your baby.

6. You have the right to refuse cesarean surgery or any other medical intervention you feel is unnecessary.  (Barring any medical emergency, this is your safest option).

7. You have the right to be fully informed of all the pros and cons of any medical intervention before making your decision.

8. You are more likely to experience a c-section if you have private insurance and private doctor.

9. If you become uncomfortable with you health care provider, you have the right to change.  (Check with your private insurance companies as to their date requirements, but in most cases arrangements can be made.)  You also have the right to a second opinion.

10. Homebirth with a midwife is available in most states and is the safest option of vaginal birth.  Midwives generally have better birth outcomes than obstetricians who are trained to look for an emergency not normal vaginal birth.

11. VBAC is safer than repeat c-section.

Please take the time to inform yourself.  Start by visiting some of the links provided in this article and watching this short film.  Then, I recommend you watch Ricki Lake’s, The Business of Being Born.  If you are then inspired to learn more, please feel free to email me and I can recommend more websites and books to help you avoid or prepare for your necessary c-section.  You have been given a glorious gift of pregnancy and the opportunity to give birth.  Take it into your hands.  Make it a peaceful place for you no matter than manner of delivery.

I was a victim of an unnecessary c-section in August 2005 as was my first born little girl.  We have suffered the consequences of that event in both our physical and emotional health.  Since that time, I have been an advocate for pregnant and birthing mothers and their right to chose a practitioner and healthcare model that will provide them with the safest outcome.

For my second birth, I chose to birth at home.  In the state of Kentucky, as with many states in our country, it is illegal for any midwife certified or not to attend a homebirth.  It is not illegal for a mother to chose homebirth and/or deliver her baby at home.  Unfortunately, in order to serve women and provide them with the option of a safe birthing environment our midwives are often putting their own personal lives at risk of prosecution.  It is shameful that a trained professional cannot offer their services to a paying and educated client.  It is a shame that if needed doctors and hospitals are not supportive of these midwives.

Why do I feel this way?  The c-section rate in the United States stands at 31.8% of all births.  The state of Kentucky stands at 34.6%.  The World Health Organization recommends a rate of between 10-15% nationwide for the safety of both mothers and their babies, and believes that over half of all c-sections performed in the United States are unnecessary.  That means that doctors are performing surgeries on women for no other reason than speculations, convenience of both mother and doctor (they don’t have to wait on labor), and the spiraling out of control of labor inductions and augmentation.  What doctors often fail to tell women is that a c-section is considered a major abdominal surgery.  The mortality rate in the US for mothers is also alarming.

It is an outrage that in a country where we are supposedly medically advanced that obstetricians and the companies that insure them are ignoring the fact that a woman is more likely to have a successful vaginal birth and/or natural birth under the care of the midwifery model at a location where the mother feels safe.  It is upsetting that they ignore the fact that a vaginal birth after c-section is safer than a repeat surgery.  It is shameful that trained and educated midwives can’t provide their services to women without the risk of prosecution.

This needs to be changed!  As women we should insist that our births shouldn’t be looked at as dollar signs or illnesses but one of the biggest events of the lives of the baby and its family.  We deserve to be treated holistically and ethically.  Yes, hospitals are great, as are obstetricians, when a medical emergency arises, but when choosing doctors who are trained to respond to emergencies it makes us subject to them viewing our pregnancies as an illness to be treated rather than a fact of life to be supported.

What can we do?  Tomorrow May 21st there will be a DC birth briefing on Capital Hill.  Let your congress people know that you support midwives and a woman’s option to chose homebirth. Tell 10 friends to do the same.  Visit The Big Push for Midwives to find out more.  In the state of Kentucky, visit The Kentucky Midwifery Taskforce to find out how you can help.

My second birth was attended by a homebirth midwife who gave me the best healthcare I have ever received in my life.  Ultimately, she had to transfer me to the hospital where I eventually recieved another c-section.  A necessary one this time.  The doctor performing the c-section badmouthed midwives to me while he was removing my baby from my womb.  At no time were either myself or my baby in any danger under the care of my midwife.  That doctor was unprofessional and condescending at a time when I needed his expertise to have a healthy birth.  But, it was inconveniencing him.  How did my midwife respond to my needing a doctor’s services?  By recognizing within a healthy time frame that my birth was not proceeding normally and was one she needed a doctor’s assistance with, and trusting that that doctor would take good care of me.  She never left me alone.  She talked to me while I grieved the choice I was having to make and assured me that I was making the right decision for myself and my baby.  Now, tell me who is professional and offered the best healthcare.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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