Okay, it's a little bit of a cheesy title, but it works. Today I attended my second ICAN meeting, and I feel a lot more positive again about the upcoming birth that I will experience.
ICAN, for those that don't know, is the International Cesarean Awareness Network. It's a site with a lot of information on cesareans and preventing them, and for women that have had prior cesareans that wish to have normal vaginal delivery in the future (called VBACs = vaginal birth after cesarean, or HBACs if done as a home birth). There is so much misinformation out there regarding this topic, and it seems like the medical world is taking a slow climb out of the the dark ages on this one. Just about everyone I have talked to and mentioned that I am doing a VBAC seem to be under the impression that once you have a c-section, you automatically have to have one again. And that is no longer the case...that's a carry-over from an older time period when a different kind of cesarean cut was done that increased the chances of uterine rupture (the scar reopening during labor). That's no longer done, and so the chances of rupture are very small, 0.7%, which is well less than the chance of things like umbilical cord prolapse and such. But for some reason, many people seem to be far more focused on this issue, and it's causing so many women to end up having repeat c-sections...either because their doctors are TOO careful and monitoring them too closely, jumping at the first sign that something might look wrong, or some doctors refuse to perform VBACs because they just don't have confidence in women's bodies doing what they are supposed to...or (god forbid) the women themselves, for some reason, elect to have a repeat c-section instead of trying for a VBAC. For some reason they think it's BETTER to opt for major surgery. That's NEVER the best decision, not unless there is some true medical issue that makes it necessary, and very very few women have a medical reason.
Anyway, I am very unhappy that I ended up with a c-section, one that I feel could have been prevented, and I am working very hard to educate myself and not let me be led down the path that could lead to that again. It's been a battle in some spots...having to change OBs as well as hospitals in order to get doctors/midwives and a hospital that are more open-minded and understanding and not so quick to "panic" over nothing. Doctors that aren't insisting that I sign up for a "just-in-case" c-section at 39 weeks so that there will be one already on the books if I get to that point and they feel I won't go into labor on my own (um, how on earth can they really tell that. Women can go up to 2 weeks late with no issues and sometimes they don't really look like they are progressing at all and then BAM they progress in the matter of a day or so). I refused to do that, wanting to push it out past 41 weeks, and they gave me trouble. I also don't want to be tied to a monitor constantly in the hospital, as that limits mobility, paves the way for false readings, and is known to increase the chance of needing medications and possibly a repeat c-section. Yet most hospitals feel nervous, for some reason, when VBAC patients aren't monitored every single second and would rather increase the chance of a repeat c-section so that they feel better about it. I suppose they could claim they did all they could, but to me they are just increasing my chances for another labor going wrong. So I switched doctors, and hospitals. Still probably going to encounter some conflict at the hospital if I decide I want to get off the monitor and get in the shower or walk the halls or do something else to progress labor...and I encounter a nurse that feels very uncomfortable with me being off the monitor. But if nothing is wrong with the baby, being off the monitor for 20 minutes isn't going to cause any problems. If something bad happens during that time, it would be rupture and I would feel it (OB's have already told me this). So I plan to stand my ground...but then, I hope I am not in the hospital all that long anyway before it's time to push that baby out. (Sometimes I wonder why I am not going with a home birth...it really IS my ideal. But now, with only 2 days until my due date, I can't make such a big change, I don't think I could mentally be okay with it.)
Wow, okay, rambling. Sorry. Guess I need to vent. I wanted to say that today I attended my second ICAN chapter meeting. That I got to meet doulas and midwives who have helped/assisted/delivered women doing VBACs. That I got to hear the positive birth stories of mothers who have done successful VBACs, unmedicated. That I got to talk to other pregnant women who are trying for VBACs this pregnancy, and mothers that are thinking about it for the next time they got pregnant, or were thwarted in their attempts at a VBAC. It's very supportive, to hear all the info, and to share. I really can't wait until I have my positive experience (please please please), so that I can then share it with others and inspire hope.
I doubt anyone that might possibly be reading this is attempting a VBAC, since at most it's family or a few friends. (Michelle is the only one that would qualify at some point in the future, if she ever gets pregnant again). But hopefully this entry at least encourages women to read up on things, to look into pregnancy and the amazing thing that a woman's body is during labor. To take hope from those things read, and inspiration, and hopefully be better prepared if they are ever pregnant...or spread some hope and inspiration to those they know that become pregnant. We have too many "horror" stories surrounding labor and birth in our culture...all the negative stuff...so much that by the time women become pregnant and get to the point of labor, they feel that they just HAVE to have the epidural, that they CAN'T do this without medications, and that every single thing their doctor tells them must be for the best and should not be questioned in any way. And birth becomes a scary thing, something to be feared...and that only makes the whole process worse. It turns it from the celebration of life that it is, with intensity and maybe some pain...to a nightmare of "the most horrible pain ever" that women go into fearing and dreading...and ultimately cause themselves more suffering.
PLEASE read up on things online. Please read positive birth stories, especially natural, unmedicated ones (even if you don't plan for one, it gives you inspiration and can only help). Ina May Gaskin has some good books for this. Watch some You-Tube videos of this and see how well these women do (these aren't special super-women, just women like you and I). Read books and literature that inspire confidence and well-being ("Mind Over Labor" is an excellent book). And for heavens sake, DON'T listen to all the "scary" stories, because those aren't the experiences you should be wanting to litter your mind with.