I’ve always prided myself on being a bit of a skeptic. It’s not that I don’t believe in the supernatural, for instance. It’s just that I don’t think ghosts or aliens have much personal interaction with the inhabitants of planet earth. I approach social causes in a similar frame of mind. It seems to me that the greatest interest of most charities happens to be the kind accumulating in my bank account and how to get me to proffer it up for their “good causes.” Before I sound, completely selfish and curmudgeonly, it’s not that I don’t support social causes and charities; it’s just that I want to know that my money is actually being used for good and is not just contributing to some administrator’s BMW fund.
Of course, I’m not anti-woman or anti-minority, but I do feel as if worthy causes get exploited to pull at the heartstrings of a sympathetic, gullible public. The inverse is also true; sometimes causes I feel most strongly about seem to slip by with very little notice.
I also submit that nothing stirs the ethical pot like reproductive issues. For instance, consider the years of controversy over abortion, and, more recently, the hotly-debated topics of stem-cell research and cloning. Why else the fascination with Octomom: hubbub over a woman with a lot of kids, and the public eager to stand as ethical judge? (Not that I support or sympathize, it’s just that there are bigger fish to fry.)
What reproductive issue, you may ask, could be more important than a mother who has voluntarily sentenced herself to raising 8+ teenagers all at the same time ? My answer: VBAC's. Ha! Chances are you haven’t heard of them even as they are increasingly endangered and drawing close to extinction. VBAC is the acronym for “Vaginal Birth after Caesarean.” (I know, bleck! That’s why we call them VBAC’s.)
Currently, nearly one third of babies are delivered in the U.S. via Caesarean even though, according to the World Health Organization no more than 15% of babies should ever have to be delivered c-section. The results of the overuse of this operation: increase of pre-term infants, increase in infant and maternal mortality rate, much longer maternal recovery time, baby is born drugged and groggy, mom is drugged and groggy and thus unable to give baby optimal care directly after delivery, and (my personal major gripe) c-sections often screw up the first, crucial moments when breastfeeding needs to be established.
On a more personal level, many hospitals forever sentence mothers to c-section: my local hospital maintains the policy of once a c-section, always a c-section. So as to avoid unnecessary abdominal surgery, I have had to resort to delivering my babies out of town in hospitals that are more willing to work with VBAC moms and now, even those hospitals are raising a wary eyebrow at my request.
So, why are healthcare professionals unwilling to let some mothers walk into their clinics and simply give birth? They always claim the risk of placental accreta otherwise known as placental hemorrhaging. VBAC deliveries, as all with all deliveries, present a certain risk that the placenta will rupture. The increased risk of placental hemorrhage during a VBAC delivery: .5%.
The truth is that doctors and patients alike are attracted to the seeming ease of the c-section. They love the idea of being able to schedule a delivery, but overlook the amount of risk involved by interfering with birth in its natural course.
Due to the increasing scarcity of VBAC friendly hospitals, with this delivery (which will be my third successful VBAC), I have been told that if I want to avoid the knife, I may have to schedule my surgery, stand-up the surgical team, allow myself to go into voluntary labor and get far enough along before I reach the hospital that the doctors will have no choice but to let me deliver the baby.
Am I intrepid enough to take on the hospital? My pleasure! Some causes are worth fighting for and I believe in a woman’s right to forgo unnecessary major surgery. Of course, my definition of hell is a place where I am tied down and slashed open against my will; and where toddlers forever smear apple sauce across the kitchen floor that I am doomed to mop eternally (but that’s a different post.)
What can actually be done:
*For anyone who may read this and is interested in fighting the beast, the best approach is
1- Avoid ever getting a c-section. How? Pregnant moms should not let their obstetricians induce labor unless absolutely necessary (i.e. major risk is posed to mother or neonate.)
2- If you are in the same boat as I am in and have already had a c-section and want to VBAC, I recommend the following:
a) Do not let your doctor discourage you or tell you that you are unable to VBAC without proving it first or presenting you with a darn good reason why you can't.
b) Link up with ICAN (International Caesarean Awareness Network). They are a wonderful support and have a bevy of good information and studies that support VBAC's.
c) Try to find a doctor or birthing facility that will support your plan to VBAC. This is often easier said than done.
d) Have a plan before you actually go into labor. (Especially if you are VBACing for the first time.)
e) Talk to mothers who have VBACed. It really does help.