C-section Awareness month - unnecessary c-sections

Before I start, let’s get one thing straight; c section birth is birth. It is no less of a feat than birthing vaginally; both require insane amounts of strength and power. 

I post frequently singing the praises of women who rock their births and choose to back themselves and go for an un-medicated and natural vaginal birth however,

I hope the message I am putting out into the universe also reads that it is not how you birth but that you have choices in how you birth, and that you are educated on those choices that is most important. 

What I find admirable in birth is not how you end up getting your baby out, it is the women who have a thirst for knowledge, who seek the depths of the internet for pieces of the birth puzzle that fit with their goal. It’s the women who choose to research their options and empower themselves, that I put on a pedestal. The women who know what they want their birth to look like and arm themselves with facts to ensure they’ve given themselves the best possible chance of getting the birth they want.

Birthing your baby is one of the biggest accomplishments some women will achieve in their lives and there are so many facets to it that most women are completely unaware of. When you’re unaware of what is going on you put yourself in a vulnerable position whereby you can easily be led down a path you didn’t even know existed… When birthing women have minimal knowledge of how birth works and/or don’t have a solid birth plan, the facts prove that they are then more susceptible to medical interventions and thus more susceptible to birthing their babies via c-section unnecessarily.

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This Mama rocked her Home Birth after cesarean

The World Health Organisation recommends c-section rates stay below 15%. Australia’s current rate is sitting at 32%.

Why? I wish I could sit here and say with full confidence that it is because Australia has a higher rate of high risk pregnancies and that all of these c-sections were necessary….but I would be flat out lying.

Believe it or not one of the biggest risk factors for getting a c-section is not your personal preferences or your medical record, it is which hospital you go to and which care provider you choose.
So choose wisely my friend.

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Midwives rock...

Consider this, in countries where midwives lead the maternal health care system and obstetricians are only involved if there is a complication, c-section rates are low and closer to the WHO recommended rate. In Australian private hospitals, where obstetricians manage maternal care, the c-section rate doubles what is prevalent in the public hospital system.

Furthermore, studies have shown that hospitals with fewer delivery rooms have higher c-section rates. An obstetrician’s decision to perform a c-section is left almost entirely up to them and is thus highly subjective, reasons can vary greatly from day to day, dependant on how busy the birthing unit is, how long the mother has been labouring and even down to what day of the week it is and whether there is a public holiday the next day….

Yes. You read correctly. Obstetricians have been known to schedule c-sections so they can get away to their holidays on time. I shit you not.

So, if which hospital you birth at has a strong influence on your risk of ending up on the operating table how do you avoid it?

Preparation.

Even if you choose to birth at a hospital with a ridiculously high c-section rate, you will be better placed if you have knowledge and a solid birth plan on your side (and even better if you have a bad ass doula with you too!) as you will be less easily swayed into an unnecessary c-section. I am not saying preparation will stop you from needing a c-section full stop, but it will help you to see when a c-section is and is not necessary.

When birthing in hospitals, most women feel as though they are bound by hospital policies and staff’s recommendations. But these are just that, recommendations. The bottom line is that you have a choice in everything that happens to you and your body when in hospital.

With most of the women I personally know whose birth stories have ended in a c-section, it is plain to see how the slippery slope of medical intervention led them down that path and to that final result.

What pisses me off about these situations is NOT that the women are ending up with c-sections. If you CHOOSE to birth via c-section, all power to you, go and rock that birth and take that baby out via your sunroof honey. I’m all for that, because hopefully you have educated yourself on the risks, aftercare and recovery and you’ve chosen, yourself, that that is what is right for you.

What pisses me off about these situations is that, in 90% of the c-section stories I have heard, these women did not have a choice. Not really.

Do you have a choice when your obstetrician comes in and uses language like ‘your baby could die’, or ‘do you want to risk your baby’s life by trying to push her out’… No. That is emotional bloody blackmail and is not okay.

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A beautiful c-section baby embracing the world with open arms.

There are so many contributing factors that dictate how your birth story can play out and not least of these is your mind frame, mental strength, knowledge of birth and confidence in yourself. You’ve got to know what you want, what you don’t want and why and then you’ve got to back yourself and you need to make your wants known.
Scream them from the rooftops. Print them and hand them out at your birth. Put a bloody poster on the wall. This is your birth and your choices matter! 

Read a book. Ask other women about their birth story. Listen to a podcast. Talk to a midwife. Hire a doula. Enrol in a childbirth education course. There are so many options available to pregnant women for enabling themselves to have the birth they desire but yet not many women do...why?

Because there is stigma surrounding birth. Because we are living in a society whereby birth has been medicalised and we don’t tend to question the knowledge and expertise of medically trained staff. But, pregnant women are not ill. They are not sick and in most cases they do not require medical assistance or intervention, but we are stuck in the patient mentality of birth, thinking that the Doctors and obstetricians know best.

Your body knows how to birth, it just needs to be given the right environment and conditions to do so. It needs you to believe in it. Most women, when given the power and opportunity to birth unassisted are able to do just that, but the opportunity rarely presents itself, you have to search for it and fight for it.

Obviously, there is a caveat on everything I have said here in that if you are legitimately “high risk” or have pregnancy complications then there is a need for medical assistance but that does not ring true for the vast majority of child bearing women. 

So please, do your body a solid and write a bloody birth plan. Research your options. Write what you want and for what situation.

I recently had a planned home birth yet my birth plan still had extensive sections for what I wanted and didn’t want for other possible birthing situations such as hospital transfer and even c-section.

You need to have a plan for these scenarios so you aren’t caught completely off guard if and when these situations arise. 

And lastly, if you’ve had a c-section already please do not let anyone tell you that you will then need to have all of your children via c-section because that is just an entire truckload of steaming bullshit. Google VBAC. Google HBAC.