Scars remind us where we've been. They don't have to dictate where we're going

Friday, March 25, 2011

Risky Business

So, what is this blog about, really?  Sure, it is an electronic journal of my journey to another fabulous birth experience, but it is also supposed to be about empowerment of other women in their own births.

After this post on The Unnecesarean this week, stuff really hit the fan on a lot of the facebook groups to which I subscribe that advocate for birthing rights and empowerment.  Based on the comments about this woman and her choice, it became clear to me that others may define empowerment far differently than I do.  To me, it is not simply about statistics and making what may be a statistically "safer" choice.  There is a human factor to this that we cannot ignore.

Statistically, it is safer for a low risk mother to birth at home--this is absolutely not the right choice for everyone for a variety of reasons.  Yet, I see this backlash against doctors and technology sweeping the NCB community and I think it is so, so important that we not forget that we are dealing with human beings here.  Statistics don't have a face--a woman does.  Empowering a woman is not simply about saying "VBAC (or home birth or birthing center birth or whatever) is SAFER! You MUST VBAC or I am going to judge you."  Because, yeah, a lot of people openly admitted they judged this woman and her choice and I am just going to come out and say I think that is so ugly.  Until you have walked in this woman's shoes--complete with a traumatic birth in which an emergency arose that could have compromised her daughter's life--I don't think you can really say what choice you would make.  And even if you could say that you would choose to VBAC again, how would you feel if people on the other side threw stones?  "How could you even think to VBAC after what happened last time?!?!"

This really hits close to home because, aside from the people I surround myself with, the general public and people who aren't as informed on the risks of HBAMC may look at me the same way and say I am making a selfish choice.  I was going to discuss this later on in another blog post, but I am going to come on out with it here.  During my cesarean with E, it was discovered that I had varicosities along my scar line (another blessing that came out of his cesarean was their discovery--now my midwives have knowledge of them where they wouldn't have otherwise).  These varicosities, if I rupture, could cause me to bleed to death pretty quickly. That is a risk and its real.  Yet, I am still making the decision to try for an HBA2C.  Why? Because, for me, the risks of an elective 3rd cesarean outweigh the risks of a rupture.  And because I trust my birth team to keep me safe in the event of signs of an impending rupture.  But, I know I am also opening myself up to a lot of criticism--I fully accept that people may look at my situation and make a judgment on my choice.  And I don't think that's fair.

Birth is an intensely unique and personal experience.  What is right for one woman is not absolutely right for another.  Isn't that what women who choose midwifery care often complain about?  The cookie cutter nature of obstetric care?  We can get individualized care from a midwife that doesn't look solely at numbers or studies, but instead focuses on the whole woman--her experiences, including her fears, which will affect her birthing experience.

Empowering a woman doesn't mean that she will look at the same information you do and make the exact same choice.  It means providing a woman with all the unbiased information available, opening ourselves up to discussion without judgment, and then supporting a woman in the decision she feels is best for her and her baby.  At least that's what it means in my book.


  1. Shockingly, I couldn't agree with you more. The hypocrisy in the posts to that woman are ridiculous to me. How dare anyone talk about birthing rights & empowerment when they so freely bash her informed choices.

    Which is why I love your open mind. You're able to share your opinions, beliefs, & facts & statistics without judging or demanding that others birth the same way you do.

  2. Thank you so much, LSS aka Christine ;)

    I think also a lot of times, people forget you catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar. If I were a mom, unsure of my options, but reading through those comments and seeing some of the judgment spewed, I would not be sticking around long enough to get information which I would otherwise benefit from. IMO, gentle education is key.

  3. I agree with all of this. I do see both sides, and I think both sides need to support the mama through this process. Coming from a mama who has dealt with and healed from sexual abuse, I can see how birth could be very scary, and some mamas would choose instead of a vaginal birth in my situation to have a CS, elective, no labor, under general. This sounds crazy to some, but again, like you said, the human factor. This is when birth becomes really real to that mama and she needs to decide what is best for her as a whole being and just just a vessel that carries and expels a baby.