This month is Cesarean Awareness Month. There are some great resources out there for information on cesareans, preventing them, healing from them, vbac'ing because of them, supporting each other in them. ICAN and ICAN's blog (which is running a kind of 'birth story a day' this month. these women and their stories. goodness.) are awesome.
I want to do a few posts over this next week-seeing as how the month got away from me- about c-sections. I realize I talk about them a lot, but there's a lot of stuff I haven't even touched.
Like making a cesarean birth plan, like making the decision to have an elective repeat cesarean, like taking care of your scar and your body afterwards.
There have been a number of stories in the past few months about the rising rate of c-sections. How more than 1 in 3 women will have a cesarean.
Can I say that again?
How one in three women will have a surgical birth.
Cesarean section is the most common surgery in America.
For all the attention they give to heart disease, cholesterol, erectile dysfunction in this country shouldn't there be more attention given to this?
Women are dying. Children are dying. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of all the first world countries. The powers that be are finally linking that to the rise in c-sections.
Yes cesarean is an excellent and useful tool. Yes it can save lives.
No. It should not be this common.
The WHO believes that when you get above a 10-15% c-section rate the negatives will outweigh the positives. I believe that when you get above that number your priorities are shifting.
With the cesarean rate being this high I've got some good friends for company. The loneliness and utter isolation I felt - and hear about others feeling - are certainly not for lack of people to talk to. I mean really, if 3 out of 10 of my pregnant friends have babies born by surgery, if it's become the norm - then why do we feel so shitty about it? Except that it's kind of this unspoken thing among mothers. Among women. Can't talk about complicated feelings about my birth experience -- don't want to seem ungrateful, don't want to be one of those women!
There are women I talk to who feel good about their c-sections. Some, who for very, very good reasons, believe they owe their children's and their own lives to it. But for every one positive story I hear, there are at least three people dealing with long-term negative effects. Scars that don't heal correctly and still cause pain 20 years later, cesarean necessitated hysterectomies, flashbacks and nightmares, the inability to trust the medical profession, the feeling of brokenness. The belief that there is something wrong with my body. That I must just not be made to do this.
Where is the breakdown?
Why are we turning these feelings onto ourselves instead of well, the medical profession or even to circumstance or chance? Why are we always just blaming ourselves; our bodies?
Why aren't doctors adding to the consent forms they make you sign that it is likely you'll have massive emotional and possibly physical repercussions from this event for years to come. And that they'll be complex. And that you'll need a support system in place to deal with them or you'll begin to believe you aren't fit to have children. That the self-loathing and grief may get so intense you'll need to seek psychiatric help.
That would be a helpful consent form.
It isn't like I have any answers to these questions. It isn't like even after I've had counseling and amazing support that I don't still have complicated feelings about my cesarean births. I do believe though that until women are open and honest about this the cesarean rate will continue to rise. Not through any fault of our own, but shifts in culture do not start at the top.
They always start with us.