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by Anna Holder CCE(BWI)
Truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it cures. - Han Suyin
The fourth annual Hudson Valley Birth Options panel took an especially hard look at the truth this year. As in previous years a number of childbirth educators, doulas, midwives and mothers form a panel for local families to explore their birth options. Families from a wide range of backgrounds and birth experiences attend in hopes of connecting with providers and to better understand the choices in pregnancy and birth.
It is interesting to note that the hospital with the highest cesarean section rate (58%) once again failed to send a representatives and that two Ob/gyns who were slated to appear did not. This year’s panel experience was different in that many of the women in the audience were moved to tears. A brunette raised her hand and began to speak
. “ This question is for any of you, I am just wondering if I have any options; I am 8 weeks pregnant and I have had multiple c-sections and it was so horrible that I didn’t want to have any more children and now i find myself pregnant and I just….”
She began to sob and was unable to continue. Luckily she was in a room full of support and love and thus was quickly surrounded by hugs and tissues. The most interesting development was from one of the older homebirth midwives in the area.
“ You have to leave the state. I can’t tell you what your birth will be like but if you want an honest chance at a vaginal birth, then you have to leave the state.”
            Even sadder is that the entire room full of women knew she was right. What kind of society are we living in where it is easier to schedule a major surgery with its inherent risks, than it is to have a natural, physiological birth?  What kind of society are we living in where mothers fear having more children because of trauma from previous births? What kind of society are we living in where a woman is told that her only option for a VBAC is to leave her home, children and familiar surroundings to go to another state? Someone brought up the familiar OB saying,” I don’t get sued for doing the C-section”
If the upper limit of the World Health Organization (WHO)  recommended rate is 15% then we can conclude that the other 23% in New York State and 17% nationally are more likely than not unnecessary.  Doctors are failing to practice by their governing bodies (ACOG) guidelines, which state that women should be given a trial of labor even after multiple cesarean sections.
The evening further explored:
  • Suing for non urgent or emergent primary cesareans
  • The limited availability of skilled providers to attend breech vaginal births and the failure to recognize breech as another variation of normal
  • The fact that even positive birth stories can be detrimental by “setting the bar too high “ and influencing a mothers idea of a “good birth”
 It is clear that the climate of birth is changing, at least in New York State.
In a time when we are facing an ever-increasing C-section rate, there is a small but not discountable group of women rallying against it saying “We are taking back birth,” but  we need to remember is that we never gave it away in the first place!