Friday, May 14, 2010

It's the Human Race That's Failing to Progress— Not Me!

*An informed & estrogen-fueled rant
by Lisa Duggan

Thirty seven and heavy with child, and more
A belly so big I can’t see the floor
I’ve nested, I’ve Bradley-ed, Brazelton-ed, Sears-ed
I’m mid-wif-ed, I’m doula-ed, there’s nothing I fear!
I’ve passed all the tests save one, but no mind
(It’s just diabetes, the gestational kind)
I’ve expected for nine months birth without intervention

— but no one expects The Caesarean Section

I’m organic, I’m natural I’m whole and holistic
I won’t use any drugs or become a statistic
No shaving, no cutting, I’m taking a stand!
(If you have any doubts, please review my Birth Plan)
I’ll sit or I’ll squat, I’ll kneel and I’ll wail
Don’t bring me Pitocin, I’ll push when I feel
I’ve expected for nine months a most natural selection

— but no one expects The Caesarean Section

Nine hours of labor, I remain un-dilating
And in comes the OB to complain he’s been waiting!
“You’re overweight. You’re old. You’ve failed to progress.
I’ll assemble a team, I think surgery’s best.”
My husband and I, not sure what to do
When you’re ass-deep in labor, can you tell lies from truth?
So they cut me, they stitch me, they take her away
It all went so fast this unnatural birthday
I expected the pain, but not the incision

— no one expects The Caesarean Section

Days follow, of worry and wonder, and tears
Of nursing, of healing, of joy that she’s here
She’s healthy! She’s perfect! You oughta be grateful!
She is, and I am— can you take out the staples?
I try not to cry or number my losses
I know where I’m lucky, I know who the Boss is
But speaking of God, what does he have to say?
Of the thousands of babies we’re birthing this way
Is it medical hubris, or male condemnation,
to let women believe they are failing gestation?

Mothers, don’t let them convince us to fail
Take back your birthright and all it entails
Reject this new Myth, this awful conception

— that life is induced by Caesarean Section.

*I wrote this poem in April 2009 when the c-section birth rate for New Jersey was reported by the CDC to be 38.3%, and the national average 31.8%.

A March 23, 2010 article in the NY Times tells us that, unfortunately, this trend continues worldwide. In fact, the article states:
  • "The rate in the United States is higher than those in most other industrialized countries. But rates have soared to 40 percent in some developing countries in Latin America, and the rates in Puerto Rico and China are approaching 50 percent."
Those numbers become more frightening when you also learn that women who have this surgery are four times more likely to die than women who give birth vaginally.

And compare our rates to the World Health Organization's recommendations:
  • "The best outcomes for mothers and babies appear to occur with cesarean section rates of 5% to 10%. Rates above 15% seem to do more harm than good."

Consider too, that I gave birth to my beautiful daughter exactly seven years ago today, when the c-section rate in New Jersey was at 28%.

For any woman today who is pregnant, or contemplating pregnancy, we urge you to educate yourself
fully about your options for birth, including all the risks associated with cesarean sections, and vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC), and suggest the following resources:

Childbirth Connection:
A source for up-to-date, evidence-based information and resources on planning for pregnancy, labor and birth, and the postpartum period. Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of maternity care.

A woman-centered, evidence based, website providing childbearing women and maternity care professionals access to research-based information, resources, continuing education and support for VBAC* (vaginal birth after cesarean).

International Cesarean Awareness Network:

The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Esther Booth Zorn in 1982. ICAN’s mission is to prevent unnecessary cesareans through education, to provide support for cesarean recovery, and to promote VBAC. Information about local ICAN chapters can be found on the website.

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