June 10, 2008

The Cesarean Crisis in America Today.

A completely unrelated photo of Ezra in all his awesomeness.
Let's proceed!

Did you know that in America today, ONE out of every THREE births is a Cesarean Birth?

And do you even realize how SHOCKING that statistic is?

One hundred years ago, 95% of babies were born at home.

Now? It's less than 1%.

I am leaning more and more towards a home birth this go round. (Can you tell?) America has the second highest infant mortality rate in the developed world. And as far as medically assisted births? We stand alone. No other country even compares. Everyone else out there seems to understand that childbirth is a natural process- not some sort of disease that requires medical intervention.

Hospitals make lots of money of births. And they want you in and out ASAP so they can fill your bed again. If your labor gets a little too long? PITOCIN. Which then gives you unnaturally strong and frequent contractions. Which sends you scrambling for an EPIDURAL. But now you can't feel anything, so you aren't working with your body and now you need more PITOCIN to "speed things up".

And then, suddenly, the baby appears to be under 'stress', and the doctor swoops in to 'save the day'.

Pitocin is linked to a much higher likely hood of a Cesarean Birth.

See the snowball effect? Your choices are taken away before you even know what hit you.

Doctors prefer Cesareans. They are quick and can be scheduled. Instead of HOURS of a woman laboring in a hospital, they can have the baby out in 20 minutes flat.

And don't even get me started on Insurance Companies. Blech. They are dictating the way a woman's birth 'should be'. And they are getting rich.

This way of birthing is taking power away from mothers. Something happens during the labor process that will not happen at any other time of a woman's life. You hit a wall of pain. You think you can't do it, can't succeed, can't birth. And then you push through that wall, and there is an immense joy- a rush of emotions and hormones that unite you to your baby and empower you as a woman. It is a defining moment of motherhood- the girl becomes a mother, an unconquerable obstacle is defeated. The woman grows stronger.

I do not believe that birth needs to be a major medical/surgical event. Yes, there are cases where medical intervention is necessary, but those cases are few and far between, and transferring to a hospital in those instances is very viable. A trained midwife will know when it is time to go, and they will get you there quickly.

But birth? It is natural! And we women of America today have been taught that birthing is something to be feared. (Shows like TLC's 'A Baby Story' will do that for you.) Something to be numbed. Something to be treated. Something to be terrified of.

I am not terrified of birth. I was strengthened by my labor and delivery. I pushed through the wall of pain and found a stronger version of myself on the other side. Chris told me later that I 'went to a completely different place', and that I kept saying 'Jesus help me' as my body prepared to bring Ezra into the world. I remember feeling like He was in the room with me. And I remember that day as the most alive and courageous day of my entire life.

Midwifery is in crisis in this country. Their practices are shutting down left and right because they can't afford to stay in business. We are the only country that doesn't seem to care... doesn't seem to see their value.

The midwives I am considering for this birth charge $2600. For EVERYTHING. That includes all prenatal visits, lab work, the actual birth, and postnatal visits. "Natural" Hospital births START at around $10,000. Um, this is crazy.

Some women put more research into what car they want to buy than they do what birthing process they want to have. I think we need to wake up and see what is happening in this country. We need to rescue natural birthing and open our eyes to the fact that it doesn't have to be a medically dictated process.

My body was created to bring forth life, and I trust it. I want to feel my labor. To really experience the life-giving process. I believe that it is worth it.


If you have not watched 'The Business of Being Born', you should. It is a very informative documentary about the crisis of maternal care in America. We watched it last night and I could not stop nodding my head at the screen and muttering "Yes!"s under my breath. Hunt it down and watch it- it is completely eye-opening.


Anonymous said...

Hey Emery,
I had Ethan at home with a midwife. I agree with everything you're saying-and if you ever want to chat, call me! On the flip side, hospital births work better for some women, and for number two (who has yet to be concieved), I am going to try it there-most of my friends who have had hospital births recovered months before I did. There is no perfect answer--birth is messy and painful and dangerous, as much as it is a miracle.
As women, we need to know where we stand, trust God, and be thankful for babies-and mothers- who survive the process, no matter where the delivery happens.
Thank you for bringing this up--your stance is not an easy one to have, but, from my opinion, quite admirable. All the best for you and baby!!

Talia said...

My mom had all 7 of her children, including me, at home. So I have a very great respect for home births and the process that it is, even though both of my babies have been born in a hospital. I've been blessed with very good hospital birth experiences so far-- nothing traumatic, no instance where I felt I was being pushed to do something I didn't want to, no interventions. But I know not everyone has that experience, unfortunately.
I admire your convictions and think it's great that you are doing the research and learning about your options. I'll be praying for you in it all.

sufferingsummer said...

I'm so glad you are blogging about this. More women need to know these facts and think about them before they are in the position of giving birth.
My first child was born in a hospital and due to mainly two factors, I had a c-section. One, the hospital had a policy of a woman having to be well on her way to the baby coming out within 24 hours of her water breaking and I was not where they wanted me to be, even though I'd been pushing for 3 hours (I found out later my pushing was ineffective probably having much to do with the epidural I had) and Two, I was uneducated and didn't know to question what the dr.'s were saying. My second child was born in the hospital because I could not find a single soul who would agree to deliver at home legally due to my previous c-section. This was fine though as mostly I just wanted a chance at a vaginal birth. I got that chance and through educating myself a great deal as to how to successfully give birth without intervention I was able to have the most amazing experience of my life. You are right that we are created to do this. I hope for all women to have the support and education I was so blessed to have the second time around and I find it so discouraging that the more typical american experience is what I went through the first time around.
We need to spread the word that women CAN birth.
I'm so excited for you!

Lisa said...

My friend Talia, who commented above, just sent me the link to this blog. I'm due in September and planning a homebirth at this point after doing all the research. My OB told me today that he doesn't recommend it, but that it's my choice. I have my first official prenatal appointment with my midwife tonight. I never thought that this is something I would ever consider doing, but now it seems like the safest option out there! I hope more women start really looking into this topic before giving birth.

Debra K said...

Im reading this post thinking did she see THE Business Of Being Born? Yep you did. Its a great film. While i dont feel called to have a home birth, i do think i would like to try a midwife the second time around...along with trying for a VBAC.

Hunny Bee May said...

Emery, did you do homebirth the first time? Just wondering. I've never considered it and have alot of faith in my docs and the hospital I've chosen. (I used to work there in peds and the mother-baby dept). My first pregnancy was fraught with complications and the birth was complicated too. My doctor gave me the choice on the spot of c-section or normal and I chose the normal delivery (my son changed positions in labor and was delivered breach). You can't really blame the docs though for wanting to rush to c-section. Their liability is unimaginable. I don't blame doctors as much as I do our litigation-happy society. The docs want what's best for everyone, not the easy way out (imo). And the pushing of patients out the door in such a short time has more to do with insurance companies than doctor's choice too. Most only give a certain amount of time then won't pay for anymore. Sorry, but I got stand up for the great docs I know. They get a bum rap sometimes, but their hands are tied on so many levels. Because of my previous experience I definitely want to be in a good hospital with staff I know and trust. But I give props to anyone who was the cahunas to do it at home. I wish you the best in making your decision!

Laura said...

I like this post and I like the comments. Have you read Midwives? It's a fictional novel, but I found that it made me think about these issues. I would NEVER have even considered a midwife before reading this book, or before giving birth to my son. I had a third degree episiotomy, and although I still got to hold my son immediately after his birth, my recovery in the days/weeks to follow was worse than a cesarean. It also contributed greatly to my PPD - I was miserable, physical/mental recovery was SO slow and I couldn't stop feeling like a failure for my "inability" to push him out. I was delivered by a doctor I didn't particularly like (mine was on vaca) and he actually told me immediately that the baby's head was too big for me and next time I should schedule a section. I told my husband that if MY doctor agreed, I would be finding a new practice. It's amazing, the stories that are out there. Keep us updated with your decisions in this matter! :)

Emery Jo said...

Honey bee- Yes, I agree with you here. I DO believe that the doctor's hands are tied by litigation and liability. And that totally blows. I can't imagine the pressure of being a doctor- having to worry about the patient in front of you AND the reprecussions that could come back to haunt you after every decision you make. To me, however, this is just one more reason why not to give birth in a hospital if at all possible. TOO MUCH RED TAPE!!

I'd rather be in an environment that isn't controlled by such things. I'm starting to think I'd rather be in my own living room- far from the mess!


Oh- and no, I didn't have a homebirth last time- I had a midwife assisted birth at a birthing center (that was located in the wing of a hospital.) And even that felt a little too "medical" for me. Something about being stuck in a hospital after giving birth felt a little... overkill to me. I just wanted to be HOME.

Tracee said...

I hated everything about the hospital experience aside from the pain killers and epidural.

Modest Mousketeer said...

I too come from a family of home births! My brother and I were born at home and then eleven years later when my mom started a second family she had the first of three more girls at home with a midwife. The entire process was so wonderful for EVERYONE involved. The calmness for my mom after the fact, the ability to truly rest and feel at ease in your own bed with your baby right by your side. As an older child, experiencing the process with her, it was amazing to see such strength and power come from my mother and to be there to bond with my sisters right after their arrivals. I can't imagine choosing to be in a hospital, but I have great respect for the fact that sometimes that's what's needed. I hope you're able to find a great team for whichever route you choose!

Laura H said...

Hi Emery,

I often read your blog and quite enjoy it. This post was great and I wholeheartedly agree with you. My husband and I are expecting our first baby about the same time your second will arrive and are both strongly leaning toward as natural and unmedicated a birth as possible. Consider yourself blessed to even have the option of a midwife because in the Canadian province that I live in, we are only finally nearing the end of a long ordeal to make midwifery legal. Birthing centres outside of hospitals don't exist here, and it seems that the only homebirths are by "accident". Right now the advice of the midwives who live in our area is to make sure you have a really good doula and a doctor that has a similar view of the birthing process as you do. We look forward to the days of more options!! Hopefully things will be different by the time our next child shows up. In the mean time, I'll be living vicariously through the homebirths and midwife assisted births of others!

By the way, I went to a viewing of the Business of Being Born with my mother in law who is an amazing volunteer doula, and we both loved it. It was an excellent documentary. I'm not sure if the statistics are the same here in Canada, but my guess is that we're not too far off.

MoMar said...

OK, I have never heard of The Business of Being Born ... but I just moved it to the top of my Netflix queue ! I don't doubt anything you are saying, it is a total convenience racket..but with 3 Cesarean births under my belt I will say I don't really feel any gaping hole in my life as a result of it. I have nothing to compare the experience to. So for those out there that must have one, don't lose heart. In the old days, once you had one all that followed were automatic. We had no choice. I remember someone telling me (and they knew my births were Cesarean) that children born Cesarean are less intelligent. I have 3 of the most incredibly intelligent, artistic and amazing kids on the planet. We go through periods where the medical professionals give us such BAD INFORMATION and ADVICE and you are doing the right thing by researching this yourself and questioning the craziness of it all. It's good to have experts, but should not blindly follow them like sheep either.

MsN said...

Yes! Loved the blog. So right on. I pray that more documentaries will come out on this subject to let women know that they have a choice!

Mercy Kidz said...

You know whats awsome, I have had two natural births, with no pain medication, no nothing..id like to say its becuae im super brave and can handle any pain like super woman......its more like my kids come to fast and before I know it im shaking my husband telling him to get it out I dont care what it takes!
Afterwards it is like nothing youv ever experienced having a 100% natural birth you do feel like you are a woman and can handle anything!
I hope it goes well, with how well it went last time it should be fine!! The pattersons are trying for a home bireth this time! She is due with little benjermin any day!

Mercy Kidz said...

You know whats awsome, I have had two natural births, with no pain medication, no nothing..id like to say its becuae im super brave and can handle any pain like super woman......its more like my kids come to fast and before I know it im shaking my husband telling him to get it out I dont care what it takes!
Afterwards it is like nothing youv ever experienced having a 100% natural birth you do feel like you are a woman and can handle anything!
I hope it goes well, with how well it went last time it should be fine!! The pattersons are trying for a home bireth this time! She is due with little benjermin any day!

Emily said...

I had three babies at the hospital and one at home. I'd never go to the hospital again unless it was a true emergency. Good luck with your decision!

cam said...

you go girl!!

agree with you 100%.

Anonymous said...

Don't want to be the downer here but I have two good friends who are nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit. They both support using midwives or doulas, not using medication, and going as natural as possible but say they would never recommend having a baby at home. The matter of minutes it takes to get to the hospital IF something does go wrong can be the matter of brain damage or not, life or death. Most of the time, of course, this is not the case. But they see the rare cases, the scarey cases, and feel like it is an unnecessary risk. Hearing their stories made me think a little differently. Just some thoughts, but in the end you have to do what's right for you.

Maggie said...

I'm so excited for you! I think it's great that there are so many options out there so every momma can have the experience that is just right for her. Personally, I loved being in the hospital - it was like a cheezy Motel 6 vacation with pain killers on demand!

stinamarie said...

i read this and then had my litter sister read it, too. if i didn't already want to have natural/home births [which i do if i ever have babies], the cost difference alone would do it for me. i mean, wow.

anna joy said...

woah ezra looks SO grown up, freaky!

Flo Oakes said...

yay Emery!
Of course you know I'd be on board, having had Amelie at home.
I agree with the previous commenter who said they would never go back to delivering in a hospital. After having one hospital birth, and one at home, I definitely agree.

Also, I know there are a lot of good intentioned people who work in the medical field (or have friends in the medical field) who actually don't know how a home birth is handled that pass along scary stories, but research shows home birth to be as safe, if not safer than hospital births.

I always would feel so offended when people would say things to me like, "WOW, you're brave!" because it made it sound like I wasn't making a responsible decision when in fact, I had interviewed many midwives, and done a ridiculous amount of research on the subject.

Yes, emergencies happen, but that's what a midwife is for, and she can handle anything from cords around necks, to things that are actually emergencies.
My midwife takes on low risk patients, and transfers people to the hospital at the first sign that something could possibly, possibly turn into a situation in which a hospital would be necessary. She delivered over 500 babies without anyone coming near to dying:)

I can't wait to follow this chapter in your life! You're making the right choice! It will be amazing!

meg said...

thanks for talking about this subject. if more young women start learning about their bodies and educating themselves I think more of us would change our mind when it comes to the subject of birth.

watch The Business of Being Born. Seriously people. do it.

skylana said...

yayyayayay!!!!!!!! i'm soo happy for you... and i'm so proud of you for looking into this stuff... so many women just skip that step entirely. and i'm really glad there are so many people inspiring you and encouraging you... i'm sure you know by now how i feel about home birth (i feel like i have written this exact same blog over and over haha)! oh and nice that your midwives are only 2600! score. i mean i guess everything thats not in california is less expensive ;) but you're makin me jealous.... ha. love you! excited for you!

Bee Repartee said...

Oooh, good post.

I relate to your natural birth. I had two in the hospital, without drugs, without help...the next two were also over 9lbs and frank breech position. External version works well but with smaller babies. My doctor did not want to go c-section, although he was also a OB/GYN, D.O. and not an M.D.

I'd recommend to any mother a natural delivery but in a hospital. The amount of clean up is EXTENSIVE. And as much as it is about the mom and her birth it is also about having a child with the least amount of risks.

Regardless, none of it negates your particularly private decision for you and your baby (and family!).

But for au natural? You go, girl!! :)

Anonymous said...

See if there is a Bradley Method class in your area. It's a big commitment but definitely worth it if you are interested in natural childbirth. Even if you're not, the info you'll receive is well worth the time.

Jooste Roost said...

I agree with what everyone is saying, one added thought is that it is a lot of responsibility for whoever is there to help you during and after your birth. My mom, Joey, the midwife and I were all there for Danae's delivery at home. Her midwife wasn't responsible for clean up and she didn't stay very long after Ethan was born (just long enough to make sure Ethan was okay and Danae was okay). So it was all up to us to take care of Danae (who was in bad shape, by the way), Ethan, the mess and ourselves. It was MESSY. I think Danae would agree that it would be easier to have it naturally somewhere else (one midwife offers her home, which is ideal). On the other hand, I had Andrew naturally in the hospital and it was nice to let my family and Simon relax and not worry about me or Andrew because the nurses were doing all the work. But maybe you and your family want to do all that work :) Which is fine :) Just some thoughts :) Congratulations, by they way, I haven't checked your blog in months and just found out that you're pregnant!
I would recommend the bradley classes too - Simon and I did them and they were helpful

Jooste Roost said...

sorry, Danae's midwife DID clean up most of the mess. (it's hard to remember the details :) But there was still mess to clean up after she left. For us, it was definitely a 3 man job - one to care for Danae, one to care for Ethan and one to care for the ones who were caring (if you know what I mean :)

skylana said...

about the mess... my midwives cleaned it all up. and started the laundry before they left. ... so im not sure what all the mess talk is about...

Jenna Consolo said...

This was an incredibly brave and powerful post. You are so right. Why is it so hard for women to see? If only women would start thinking for themselves instead of trusting in "the process" set up, that's really set up for money's sake. I've had two homebirths and two hospital births, and by far the homebirths were safer, less intervened in, happier, more peaceful, and more beautiful. They were my strongest moments as a woman. You expressed it beautifully. Go for it.

Angie said...

I do think that how you give birth should be about choice. I've had one vaginal and one c-section. My c-section recovery was FAR EASIER than my vaginal delivery, so I would choose every time to have a c-section. The women in my family (mom, sister, me) do not seem to manage to get babies out of them without big tears, so I will also encourage my daughter to have a c-section. I was not given that option with my first child, even though I mentioned that the women in my family all tore badly. After having a bad tear that required additional surgical repair from complications, I was given the choice of a c-section the second time around.