Ok let me start by saying I have no personal experience in this area...yet. But then again, many OB/GYNs don't have any personal experience in it either, and they are still trusted and respected.
So hear me out (if you want)...
FYI many of you may think this is coming out of left field, but one of my "hidden talents" is that I took the course to become a doula, but never finished my certification. I only attended one birth and three are required. I was in nursing school at the time and pretty busy, and I'm terrible at marketing, so I just let it go. But I've been fascinated with pregnancy and birth practically my whole life. My high school research paper was on Midwifery. I entered nursing school with the intention of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife (but decided the time commitment and crazy schedule and great responsibility was too much). I did a research paper for my bachelor's on Kangaroo Care in the NICU. About half of my nursing career was working with mothers and babies, although in pre-delivery and recovery, not labor and delivery. Anyway, let's just say I do have more than an average knowledge.
I'm certainly at the age where a lot of my friends are having children. And I mean A LOT! Or so it feels. And I've been silently (mostly) troubled by how some of their births have turned out. By births in America in general really. And no, I do not know all the details of every situation. But I am informed on statistics and reports of the INSANE C-section rate in our country and the complete breakdown of natural birth. It's really sad to me that women are not more informed about birth. I can understand that most of us think what our doctors tell is what is best. And I think most of them are doing what they think is best. I think the problem is that they themselves have been misinformed in their training, and they are all worried about being sued. And rightfully so in this highly litigious society we dwell in.
But let me tell you, just because you are told a c-section is the safest route, does not mean it is not without risks. Lest we forget, it is major abdominal surgery. Yes, it is more controlled (if planned and not done emergently) than natural birth and much more predictable. That alone is enough to make some women choose it. But, is that how birth is really meant to be? Are we really meant to circumvent the natural process in this area? Birth is not a sickness. It is not a disease that needs treatment.
I wish that more women could trust in the ability of their own bodies to function as God intended. I am more than aware there are circumstances where natural birth would truly be unsafe. Such as a placenta covering the cervix, an active STD, a congenital defect that could be traumatized during birth, multiples (although natural birth with twins can be safe), a severely pre-term infant, need for emergent delivery to save the life of baby or mother. But most of the c-sections in my circle have not been for these reasons. They've been more like:
"I'm overdue, the baby is too big, the baby is breech (who tries for a version anymore these days?), I was not dilating, I had a c-section before."
Or in medical terms "Post dates, Cephalo-Pelvic Disproportion (CPD), breech, failure to progress, repeat C/S."
Let me tell you that for each of these reasons there's a plethora of research on why they do not necessarily require a c-section. Unfortunately in our "fast-food" society, we want what we want and we want it now! Doctors should inform their patients that a "due date" is actually an EDD (estimated delivery date). Your baby is not aware they should arrive within a certain 24-hr period. Most midwives agree that going 2 weeks past your due date, as long as your checkups are good, is perfectly acceptable.
On CPD- research has shown that all measurements and markers used to determine head circumference to pelvic outlet size are grossly inaccurate. This is because our bodies stretch, conform and move in ways we never thought possible when giving birth! Ladies, if you've been told your baby is likely "too big", especially if it's your first, please, at least try! I've seen and heard of very tiny women successfully giving birth to very large babies.
On breech- Most women have a c-section for this and it most cases that is perfectly acceptable. However, if you and your doctor are willing and your pregnancy is healthy- they can actually attempt to "turn" the baby from the outside, called a version. This is usually done in the hospital and labor may be induced directly after to ensure the baby doesn't turn back before it can be born.
On failure to progress- many times it is not a failure rather than an impatience. TV births (which I love to watch) make us think that birth happens in 2 hours and pushing lasts 5 minutes. This is SO not the case for most women, especially if it's your first baby! But hospitals often have time limits for births, especially if your water has broken. Especially if your doctor is missing his golf game. Especially if he/she would rather deliver you at 3pm then 3am. Oops, did I just say that? I know not all doctors think this way, but I've heard reports of those who surely do.
And let's face it, birth is hard! No woman wants to think that laboring for 24 hours or more could be normal! But I urge you to trust in the time-honored process. To at least give your body and your baby the chance!
Repeat C/S- Did you know that now even the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now agrees that vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is safe for women with one or even two previous c-sections with a low horizontal scar? See here. The reason for most surgeons doing a repeat c-section was the risk of uterine rupture, a life threatening emergency situation. The risk of this is between 0.5-0.9%. Well, that's about the same risk rate of life-threatening complications for mother or baby in a c-section.
Ok so I understand that I probably sound like some birth-Nazi. But what I really want is for women to inform themselves. To make an educated decision beyond "My doctor said". To explore options. To renew their faith in the ability of our bodies to function as God designed.
And let me tell you that personally, I am considering a home birth, when the day comes. The problem is getting insurance to pay for it, and deciding if the very minor risk of major complications (should my pregnancy be healthy) is a reason to be in the hospital for birth.
There's probably more to come on this later, but I realize I've made this post insanely long as it is.
I welcome your comments and questions. Even disagreements :)