Archive for My Birth Position

A Mother’s Choices

Last week, I made a choice.  I made a choice to be done with breastfeeding.  I made a choice to use formula and baby food.  I made a choice that feeding my baby my milk for the first seven months of his life was long enough for me.  I made the choice.  Furthermore, I had the right to make the choice.  However, I felt bad about that choice.  And, that caused me to wonder.  WHY?  It is my belief that to formula feed and to breast feed are both valid and equal options.  Additionally, I have never had a disparaging thought towards mothers who exclusively formula feed.  So, WHY?…Why did I feel bad about giving up the breast? The answer lies in the way that our society values one choice over the other.  The prevailing thought that “breast is best” radiates in most mainline social media.  The though of being judged, the idea that other mother’s would view my choice as “lesser,” caused me to feel poorly. (for the record, I’m over it.)

The parallels between breastfeeding choices and birthing choices are undeniable.  It is no secret that the information out there glorifies vaginal “natural” birth as well as breastfeeding as the ideal standards of baby care.  I’ve said it once, and I will say it again, the idea of a choice as lesser is detrimental to women who will be making these choices.  There is a plethora of information out there that suggests pros and cons to vaginal birth, c-section, breastfeeding, formula feeding…however, the information is often difficult to locate in a non-judgmental forum.  Nonetheless it does exist and it is up to us, as mothers, to research the pros and cons to these choices in order to make the best choice for us and our baby.  It is also up to us, as mothers, to not judge the choices that others make in regards to birth and feeding.  Breastfeeding, Formula-feeding, Vaginal, C-section,….ALL EQUAL….ALL PERSONAL CHOICES….ALL A MOTHER’S CHOICE.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Click

Click. Click. Click.  The noise of two pieces of metal coming together.  The sound of a fork scraping a plate at dinner, keys jangling, money jingling.  The sound that could instantly put me in a tailspin, a panic, a mind shattering experience when my PTSD was in full force.  The sound of forceps.  The sound of trauma.

The sound of metal.  The sight of forceps-like things…salad tongs, cooking utensils.  The sight and the sounds, in combination, left me in the fetal position on the kitchen floor, holding my ears in a booth at a fancy restaurant, in tears at a guest’s house for dinner.

These reactions were not pretty.  PTSD is not manageable without treatment.  My treatment for PTSD, although long and arduous, was successful.  But, I still cannot believe what I did this week.  What I COULD do, and what I DID do.  I did a Google search on “forceps deliveries.”  I clicked on videos.  And I watched.  With the volume up, and the picture large, I watched a forceps delivery.  And I almost puked.  NOT because of any remnants of the PTSD, but simply because of the barbaric nature of this form of delivery.  I watched as the forceps were placed, placing an instrument that is much too big for the vagina, and will more than likely tear the vagina, in the vagina.  I watched the doctor use some other medical device to further expand the vaginal opening by slicing the flesh around the vagina. I watched the doctor apply an extreme amount of traction to pull a baby from a mother’s unwilling body.  I heard the mother moaning and screaming.  I heard the click.

And, I think to myself.  My cesarean section was a piece of cake compared to the butchery of a forceps delivery. The elective cesarean section, the “major surgery” that I had ,was controlled, defined, and calm.  Each “click” was accounted for, each slice meaningful, each stitch done with the precision of a skilled doctor in a controlled environment.  It will always baffle me WHY forceps are used in a non-emergency vaginal delivery.  Although it baffles me, it apparently does not baffle the birthing community.  It seems many women still view a forceps assisted “natural” vaginal birth as a better option than a cesarean delivery.  The idea of women being stigmatized when considering their options between forceps and cesarean at the moment their delivery may deem necessary sickens me.  I feel that women should always have an informed choice and it is my mission to advocate for that choice.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

The Loss of a Birth Plan

Trauma.  That word evokes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, injury, shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, despair.  Trauma does not equally impact individuals. One person’s trauma may not be another person’s trauma.  Our perception of a trauma is very important.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is  about not only the trauma itself, but the individual’s perception of the trauma.

In terms of birth and birth trauma, it is very important to note that every birthing mother is is different.  Quite recently, I have been completely involved with individuals who are very close to me with birth stories that are wildly different from mine.  With every birth story I hear, I remember that I must withhold judgement about individual birth choices, as well as remember that violations of those individual choices can result in emotional and physical trauma.

In our society, women are often held to the “ideal” standard of an uncomplicated, unmedicated, vaginal birth with no postpartum complications.  Women base their entire birth plans on this way of bringing their child into the world.   Other women focus on delivery by way of cesarean section, basing their entire birth plans of this way of bringing their child into the world.

Unfortunately, having the type of birth you want is not always possible-be it by way of the vagina or via cesarean section.  Sometimes medical professional’s personalities as well as very real medical circumstances cause an individual’s birth experience to be somewhat or completely out of  her control. The reality of birth is that circumstances can change in an instant, causing birth plans to shatter, and idealization of what we, as mothers, thought was going to happen, to go out the window.  Unfortunately, this is a hard reality to hit up against in what can really be a women’s most vulnerable time.  In the instant of birth, you are often the most exposed, most exhausted, most emotional being that you ever will be.  It is no wonder that when your beliefs are challenged at this time, when the plans are rapidly changed, when your control over what is happening to your own body is taken from you through circumstances you have no control over, that women DO feel violated, alone, and often helpless.  It is important to note that it does not matter what choice women made for their birth plan, or whether that would be your choice or not, it is still HER choice, and still HER violation when it changes.  And you know what, it does not matter if it HAS to change, that feeling is still there….that feeling of loss, helplessness, and despair.

When all is said and done, women often can look back objectively and realize medically WHY things happened the way they did…but that often does not erase that feeling of loss that whatever birth was envisioned did not occur.  It may take medical intervention, both physically and mentally to process the experience and heal from any physical and mental wounds that may have occurred.  Any experience IS traumatic to individuals when they perceive it be, and it is not up to society to decide what kind of birth a person should have as well as decide how a mother should perceive the deconstruction of the birth plan during birth.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

10 weeks

To date, there are about 10 weeks left until my planned, elective, cesarean section.  I cannot tell you how excited I am and pleased that elective cesarean is an available option for me.  To know that I am able to have another child, that I am able to commit to another pregnancy and delivery without an overwhelming sense of impending doom that the trauma I experienced before could happen again, is a complete joy.  Thankfully, the choice of elective cesarean, the choice of how I will bring forth my baby into the world, the choice of how my body will deliver new life to the world, is mine to make.  This choice is supported by my doctor, and my hospital.  This choice is, for the most part, supported by my family and friends.  Unfortunately, this choice is not readily available to all mothers, not promoted by many mothers and medical professionals, and downright denied to some pregnant individuals.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about elective cesarean and the thoughts and attitudes surrounding this mode of delivery.  Articles and comments that are part of our mainstream culture that discuss elective cesarean often focus on this delivery option as one of huge risk (to both mother and child), one that should be done only in extreme circumstances (a medical emergency that arises during a “natural” vaginal birth), and one that should never EVER be done electively.  These articles on elective c-section often focus  on the mother’s selfishness, the baby’s overwhelming ability to bond or breastfeed, and society’s disgust at the choice of operation vs. “natural” process.

Although the overwhelming amount of readily available literature regarding elective cesarean focus on the negatives, as an educated women, I am able to offer you two very excellent resources that talk about elective cesarean as a more streamlined and socially accepted choice.  The best resource that I have found on this subject is the book, Choosing Cesarean: A Natural Birth Plan, by Dr. Magnus Murphy and Pauline McDonagh Hull.  Another equally compelling resource for elective cesarean, a resource that provides current up-to-date trends and support surrounding this always controversial topic is the wonderful Facebook page, Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network.  Created by another individual who rallies for women’s choice in the mode of delivery, this Facebook page promotes civil discussion and inspires those individuals looking for answers and real information about elective cesarean…without societal bias of “natural” vaginal birth.

I urge anyone even remotely interested in the subject of elective cesarean to become informed, not just by the biased media that is most readily available, but by the literature and groups that are beginning to gain more momentum in the movement for women’s choice about how to birth their children.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Vaginas and Eyes and Ears, Oh MY!

As I begin to really talk to people openly about my choice to have an elective c-section for the impending arrival of my baby, I can’t help but feeling the weight of the world’s “natural” order on my mind.  In our society, it is a commonly voiced belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth” often supported by the statement “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” and ended with “it’s just natural.”

Although I respect your opinion if you hold this belief near and dear to your heart, I must present the other side. My blog, and my mission, is to break down the barriers in our society that allow women to feel judged, stigmatized, and depressed.  It is my job to present another side, another perspective, for women who continue to feel victimized by the pervasive thought in our society in which they somehow “failed” as a mother, as a woman, by either “succumbing” to a c-section or electing for one.  Women often are made to feel ashamed of the inability or lack of desire to birth “naturally.”  Many natural birthing movement attitudes view c-section as a last resort, an unfortunate choice, a traumatizing alternative that will result in feelings of inadequacy, emptiness, and total lack of womanhood.

My responsibility is to offer a different perspective.  For example-the belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth (without intervention)” should and can sit side by side with the statements “people’s eyes were meant to see (without intervention)” and “people’s ears were meant to hear (without intervention).”  Why oh why do we only hold true the first statement?  Why is it socially acceptable to accept “medical” intervention to advance one’s sight or hearing?  Do people with glasses and hearing aids feel less of a person because they have somehow “failed” to live as nature intended?  Wouldn’t it be odd if, as a society, one was expected to “trust nature” and continue to walk around blindly or without the ability to hear if there were medical advances and professional individuals around to implement those medical advances?  Of course society does not expect those with deficits in eyes or ears that can be medically corrected to just “go with what nature intended.”  However, women who have either emotional or physical barriers present prior to the delivery of their baby are often expected to entertain the “natural” order of the body prior to “succumbing” to medical advances such as medicated birth and c-section.

The statement, “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” is inherently true.  You know what else is true?  Women have been dying in childbirth since the beginning of time.  And so have their babies.  Furthermore, more women and babies died in childbirth in the “beginning of time” because medical advances, information, and professionals who know how to implement and utilize the technology we have now did not exist.  I truly believe that I and/or my child would have perished in childbirth if I had been birthing in an era of even 100 years ago.

Lastly, the proclamation of “it’s natural” is one that suggests anything other than a vaginal, non-medicated birth as “unnatural.”  I would like to add that “natural” isn’t always efficient or life-affirming.  Evolution is “natural.”  Evolution allows for natural selection, survival of the fittest, the inability for all of us in society to “naturally” give birth.  Is it right to give a label to woman of “unnatural” who would otherwise perish in childbirth if not for medically assisted birth?  I view the labeling of my upcoming elective c-section birth as “unnatural” to be disconcerting.  This societal label thrusts women who opt for c-section as outcasts, non-societal norms, that need to be treated with pity and disdain.

Based upon my words above, it’s easy to see how I feel about these statements.  However, I still remain open to the thought that it IS natural for women to have their own beliefs and ideas about childbirth.  I fully support a woman’s right to choose their own birth story in an educated and supported context. For more on my birth position, read here. I struggle with the fact that our society, as a whole, supports statements that make women feel less, make women feel “unnatural”, and make women feel as if their body and mind have failed them somehow.  And that, my friends, is why I continue to advocate for the other side.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Just another reason…

The first thing my physical therapist pointed out to me when I was diagnosed with symphysis pubic dysfunction, SPD, is that the mode of the baby’s arrival would be important to consider.  Already knowing that I plan to have an elective c-section based on my past experiences, she quickly added on that a c-section is the best way to deliver a baby from a mother suffering with SPD.  Thinking about this, it makes perfect sense.  Why try to force a child’s head through an area in your body that is in extreme pain?  Why try for a vaginal birth when the reality of a vaginal birth for women with SPD is the action of splitting the pelvis further apart, possibly even breaking the pelvis, and causing life long problems and discomfort?  Why not opt for the truly safer option for women with SPD, the elective cesarean and bypass the pelvic floor and further damage to that area completely?
Why, when based with the evidence of a professional, and based upon a mother’s own pain with SPD, is a vaginal birth even considered?  Well, me being me, I checked out literature and forums surrounding this very topic.  The topic of c-section with SPD versus vaginal birth.   With despair, I noted that many women, women suffering with SPD, now also are suffering with disparaging answers and discussions on forums regarding their possible choice to have a c-section.  Why is society so adamant that  vaginal birth is best?  Clearly, when a woman is suffering with SPD, c-section should be the most obvious and logical choice.  Unfortunately, the forums I encountered suggested ways to still push for a vaginal birth with this condition.  Ways that encouraged mothers to avoid a c-section at any cost. Ways that clearly were not optimal to a woman in labor.  One such suggestion was measuring how far you could put your knees apart prior to labor without essentially cracking your pelvis, creating a ribbon loop, and using the loop during labor to not surpass that width.  As a women suffering with SPD, I can assure you that the width would not be that far, thus making labor and delivery much more difficult to achieve.  In addition, delivery of a baby vaginally by a woman with SPD increases the chances for SPD in the next pregnancy.  For that matter, any traumatic vaginal birth where there is damage to the pelvis or pelvic floor results in an increased likelihood for SPD in future pregnancies.  I know this to be true as my current SPD condition is a result of my weakened pelvic floor by way of my prior forceps traumatic delivery.

I’m all for choice in birth.  However, when society dictates a decree about vaginal birth at any cost, I hesitate to agree.  There should always be an open-minded discussion regarding the mode of delivery.  One that considers the mother’s physical and emotional needs as well as the baby.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Celebrating my 100th post!

This is my 100th post.

I thought I should probably make it somewhat meaningful, possibly a celebration of how far I have come, or a glance at what I have become.

Or both.

Well, I have come from a place of despair, of darkness, of hopelessness, of fear.

I have become a fighter, a survivor,….. an advocate.
In March 2008, I gave birth to one of the most precious blessings in my life.  4 1/2 years ago I experienced both the best and worst day of my life.  At the same time this beautiful light entered my life, my own light went out.  I suffered both physical and emotional consequences I could not have even imagined.  My world stopped making sense.

Through my struggles my family remained by my side, supporting me in my therapies, medical testing, and surgeries.

Slowly, with time, support, and extensive therapy, I began to emerge, a stronger, better, LOUDER, advocating individual.  I fight for women’s choice in birthing options, access to timely and correct prenatal and postpartum care, and recognition of the very real devastating effects of physical and emotional birth trauma.

I am happy to announce that I have been able to take the next step in my life journey.  I am expecting.  A thought, a dream, that I could not entertain for months, years, because of the physical and emotional ramifications of my first delivery.  I am so very happy to be able to share this with you, my readers, with the very real hope that I am offering YOU hope.  Things can and will get better.  It is possible.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren (and baby bump)

Opposing Views

I subscribe to many blogs.  As someone posts, their blog pops up in my e-mail and I am instantly privy to the blogger’s latest post.  I applaud bloggers for being open, honest, and straightforward in their views, yet, I often struggle with opposing viewpoints.

Sitting side by side in my e-mail today were two opposing blog entries.  One explored pro-natural birth, one pro-elective c-section. I know I have written on this topic before, but, I will continue to preach on. It was amazingly disconcerting to me that the blog that talked about natural birth left NO real option to explore elective c-section.  In fact, the blog talked about women needing to get over their fear of natural birth and just do it!  On the other hand, the blog that called for elective c-section recognized that the choice for a c-section may not be for everybody, but it should be a personal choice based on medical history and preference.

I am continuously baffled by the fact that women’s choices are restricted by one camp (all natural at any cost) and left to personal choice by the other (the ability to choose an elective c-section).  As I have said before, both options for birth are viable.  If  a mother has all of the literature, a competent medical professional, and a good head on her shoulders, she should be able to make a choice about her body and her baby.  It is when restrictions are placed on a choice that it becomes stigmatized and not socially acceptable.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Women versus Women?

Lately, I have seen a lot written about “natural birthers” versus “hospital birthers.”  Women versus Women in a battle for who has a better birth plan, who has a better idea about how we should birth, who has a “safer” way to birth, who has an ideal way to birth.

Ladies, and it is mostly ladies-why are we fighting each other?  We are all looking for the same thing- the birth that is right for us.  As I have stated previously in my post on birth position,  my birth position is that women should have the choice, prenatally, and during birth, to have their babies the way that they want to have their babies while preserving the mother’s health and the child’s health through a balance of the mother’s informed wishes and competent medical professional opinion.

This US versus THEM phenomenon does not need to occur.  In fact, it is detrimental to women’s progress when we keep chipping away at each others’ choices and freedoms.  There is no need to impose your belief system on others as the only true way.  I hope that when people read my blog they realize that this is my opinion, my quest to educate women, their families, and the community about the very real physical and emotional ramifications of birth trauma.

As I have written before, I recognize that birth trauma can arise from hospital births, home births, non-medicated births, medicated births,medically assisted births, and anything else that causes the mother to feel helpless and full of fear. (remember, it’s in the eye of the beholder.)  It is not up to me to tell another which birth would be less traumatizing, it’s only up to me to share MY story and help other mothers with birth trauma explore the options right for them.

It is when we reach a quagmire between two opposing groups that real progress stops.  Yes, natural birthers make valid points.  Yes, hospital birthers make valid points.  And, YES, people can educate themselves and make their own decision regarding their birth choices.  Let’s stop focusing on the birth and shed light on the issues that can result from any birth.  Issues like birth trauma, physical and emotional.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My “Birth Position”

So, contrary to the name of this post, I’m not here to talk about the various positions in which you actually can GIVE birth, but I would like to talk about my position ON birth.

Even though MY personal experiences cause me to champion for an elective c-section birth in a hospital with lots of numbing drugs, I fully support others positions to have a non-medicated, home, vaginal birth-or something anywhere in between.

My birth position is that women should have the choice, prenatally, and during birth, to have their babies the way that they want to have their babies while preserving the mother’s health and the child’s health through a balance of the mother’s informed wishes and competent medical professional opinion.

My birth position is that women should have ALL of the information-risks/benefits on all aspects of birth prior to the actual birth of their child.  This information should be given freely and without judgement.  A mother’s birth plan should not be judged by the competent medical professional they are working with.

My birth position is that wherever the mother decides to give birth to her child, she is surrounded by competent professionals that both can support her position AND give her the medical information necessary if emergencies arise.

I recognize that birth trauma can arise from hospital births, home births, non-medicated births, medicated births,medically assisted births, and anything else that causes the mother to feel helpless and full of fear. (remember, it’s in the eye of the beholder.)  It is not up to me to tell another which birth would be less traumatizing, it’s only up to me to share MY story and help other mothers with birth trauma explore the options right for them.

So, there’s my position ON birth.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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