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The Necessary C-Section

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Let me be clear: I think the C-section rate is much too high.  When it comes to childbirth, a woman should be able to have a vaginal birth.  Like John, I know that C-sections can be complicated.  Like Danielle, I wouldn’t elect to have a Cesarean section.

But I had a C-section when I had my twins. And even though it’s major surgery, it went very smoothly. I was up and about in a day and my overall recovery was  pretty easy.

And, there’s this: the C-section probably saved my life and my daughter’s. Who knows if my son would’ve made it if I didn’t, I’m glad we didn’t find out.  Why did I need that C-section?I had a complication called placenta previa.  Actually, it was a partial previa, which means that a section of my daughter’s placenta overlapped with my cervix.  Since the placenta delivers blood to the fetus, during childbirth, as the cervix opens, heavy blood loss for mother and child can result.   While I was pregnant, I was writing a pregnancy book, a holistic pregnancy book, and for it, I interviewed many people, including a midwife.  As we sat over tea, I told her I had a previa.  “Well,” she said, “then at least that decision is made.”

I didn’t really doubt that the previa would mean I’d have a scheduled C-section, and after trying to get pregnant for a good long time, I couldn’t let myself get too invested in the birth experience. I felt plenty lucky enough to have a pregnancy experience.  And still, I hoped.

I asked my yoga teacher if there was anything I could do about the previa, since sometimes what looks like a previa early on turns out to be simply a low lying placenta. Could I nudge the placenta over?  She is a very, very senior yoga teacher and gave me a sequence to do which involved a lot of inversions.

“Is it OK to do headstands?” I asked my doctor at 22 weeks.  He just looked at me and said, “I’ll let you decide.”

I stopped at 24 weeks.  But I still took a private Bradley birth preparation class, just in case the unthinkable happened and the previa moved and both kids turned head down (one was breach, the other transverse) and I could try a vaginal birth.  During the Bradley class I had a few days when I felt simply sad that I wouldn’t even get to have a contraction, and I’m grateful I did, have that sadness, I mean.  But, also being slightly oppositional by nature, I couldn’t help but poke a little fun at how earnest our instructor was about birth, never mind pacifiers.  I appreciated her passion, it just wasn’t mine.

I’ll admit to having had a few VBAC fantasies (not that I’m having a baby, but a girl can dream), to feeling a stab of jealousy when my sister-in-law described the elation she experienced at the physicality of birth, but I can’t knock the necessary C.  One of my oldest friends is a home birth midwife.  Her line is this: “If you want to talk natural childbirth, then you’ve got to talk death because in nature that happens during childbirth.  The point is to be fully present during your birth experience, and to accept what it is you need.”

I’m glad to be here to hear that.

What was your birth experience like?

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