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Did I really need to have a c-section?

The problem with doctors, not moms, picking the birth method

By Denise Schipani |

In the homestretch of my first pregnancy, I imagined childbirth would involve some shouting, a fair amount of blood and in the end, a baby. As it turned out – not so much.

I had a C-section. I know women who’ve given birth surgically whose feelings fall somewhere on the spectrum between neutral and ecstatic. I am not one of those women. I am angry.

Labor was a nightmare – the kind where you know you’re having a bad dream but you can’t wake yourself up. It took a night and a day of five-minutes-apart contractions to get a labor room and an epidural (I was progressing, but painfully slowly). The pain eased, but then the nightmare closed in. I was tethered to my IV pole and fetal monitor. The lights were dim. I imagined babies being born in rooms around me in the rush and light and heat that I craved for myself.

At dawn on day two, I’d reached 10 centimeters. I pushed for an hour but it was fruitless, dry and bloodless. The doctor offered a C-section, and I acquiesced. What I’d been through seemed to have no end. Surgery, though I didn’t want it, held out the promise of an end. An hour later, I had my son.

Though his unending needs didn’t at first leave me the brain space to indulge in shoulda-coulda-wouldas, I eventually came to regard my incision, as it hardened into a scar, as a badge of dishonor. The first moments of my son’s life remain at a frustrating remove. I remember the bright lights; the odd, painless tugging at my abdomen; the conversation between doctors and nurses. But I wasn’t really there.

I didn’t want it to happen again. When I got pregnant 16 months later, I discovered that VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section) was no longer the default position. In fact, it was actively discouraged. Caesarean rates, which had dipped in the late ’80s and ’90s, were on a steep incline. The year I had my second son, 2004, 29.1 percent of all births in America were surgical – and it rose to over 30 percent just a year later, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. An increasing number of women request surgery for convenience or fear of labor. Many OBs, whether wary of malpractice or eager to maintain their schedules, seem more inclined take up a scalpel than to try to ease a troubled labor through to a natural conclusion.

So I figured I’d fight. I read Naomi Wolf’s Misconceptions, about how the labor-industrial complex has all but sucked the “natural” out of childbirth. I wasn’t gunning for a homebirth, and I am certainly in favor of pain relief, but that didn’t mean I wanted to submit to chest-down numbing and having my first glimpse of my child be his startled, bloody face above a surgical drape. I wanted to be there, to participate.

My first and second labors were as different as snowflakes. This time, after a day of merely uncomfortable contractions, pain slammed me like a Mack truck in the middle of the night. What happened next was like a YouTube video montage of all the sitcom births you’ve ever watched: The insistence that this baby was going to be born in our speeding, 1997 Corolla, the screech of brakes, the blood-curdling scream as my water broke, the wheelchair careening down the hallway, the urge to push that threatened to split my body in two.

No worries about being at a remove; I was fully present, viewing the scene as if I actually had separated in two – the writhing woman on the bed and her doppelganger floating above. My doctor instructed me to push, but I swear I could sense her giving her watch a metaphoric glance, as though she was letting me labor as promised (it had been a fight to even try a VBAC), knowing that a C-section was on the final page. Sure enough, after an hour that felt like four minutes, she told me that my child simply was not going to slip under my pubic bone.

I gripped my husband, in the throes of one contraction on top of another, and nodded my head yes.

Everyone is quick to tell me that I did the right thing, my second time, opting for the C. Why take chances with my child’s health – or my own? But I’ve been unable to romanticize my surgery. Instead, I’ve felt cheated out of what I imagine is the deeply powerful moment of birth. I didn’t give birth, it was taken from me. Other women’s blas’ attitudes about scheduling a C pissed me off. Stories of women who managed labor with a bit of epidural and some guitar music, or whose babies slid from them into a tub in a New-Agey birthing center, made me feel bitter and blue.

I spent hours replaying the hectic hospital scene, imagining myself doing something heroic and womanly like flipping over on all fours, asking for a birthing ball, a shower, a midwife skilled in coaxing stubborn heads from behind unyielding bones. I didn’t do any of it. Truth is, I was scared to death.

While it doesn’t matter to me as a mother how my sons were born, it does matter to me as a woman. I’m blessed with my boys but cursed with my scar. Were my C-sections necessary for life and health or merely expedient and neat? Did I lack the will to be my own best advocate, ignoring my instinct in the face of my fear? Or did my fear actually serve a deeper instinct, to relinquish my goals for the sake of my child? Maybe the bitterness lingers because I’ll never know. I’ll always have the question, and though I can work to forgive myself, the doubts, and the scar, will never heal.

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About Denise Schipani


Denise Schipani

Denise Schipani writes for national women's and parenting magazines and blogs at Confessions of a Mean Mommy.

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217 thoughts on “Did I really need to have a c-section?

  1. Blue says:

    The notion that a C-section is somehow unwomanly…wow.
    You are entitled to your anger, of course.
    My scar is a badge of honor. One that says, I listened to my trusted OB and my gut and not to the propaganda that says I’m only a Real Woman if I birth naturally. One that says my baby is here, breech position, large head and all.
    If you have something to prove, go run a marathon. Don’t make birth a measure of your self-worth.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’re not alone in your feelings.

    Women should need to defend themselves when they want to have a vaginal birth.

    That you feel you might have missed out on a normal female experience to give birth does not take away from any of us being grateful to have our wonderful healthy children.

    Giving birth is something that is physiologically normal, so the desire is primal to have a birth unencumbered and to be able to give birth normally.

    Many women feel like you, left with lingering feelings about the whole medicalized managed birth that was imposed on them for no reason other than that is what American hospitals and OB’s are doing to our generation when we are giving birth.

    It’s appropriate as a woman to examine our culture, and how we are managed by hospital policy and Ob’s malpractice insurance and that it absolutely affects the way we give birth and our birth outcomes.

    The current state of birth in America is in sorry shape.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Women should NOT need to defend themselves when they want to have a vaginal birth.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Correction: Women should NOT need to defend themselves when they want to have a vaginal birth

  5. Emily says:

    Denise, While I don’t share all your same feelings, I can relate to them. I had two C-sections also, for similar reasons, and I’ve always wondered why my babies didn’t “fit” my pelvis in order to come out. On the other hand, I do feel relief that nothing tragic happened in my attempt to have vaginal births. This is a strictly personal issue, as I see. Each one of us has our own experience and our own reaction to that experience. Your essay was beautiful, touching and evocative.

  6. Denise says:

    @Blue: I want to stress that this is how it felt FOR ME. I know plenty of women who don’t feel the same way about their surgical births, and that’s fine, but I have doubts and unresolved feelings, that I don’t believe will ever fully go away. I felt let down by the medical establishment, un-supported. And part of that is my own fault for not seeking the kind of support that might have led to a different outcome.

  7. JEssica says:

    I don’t see where the anger is coming from. Maybe you had unrealistic expectations.

  8. hayba says:

    get over yourself and move on. good grief.

  9. Blue says:

    Thanks, Denise. I don’t question that your doctor may have hurried you to the OR unnecessarily, and your justified anger over that…just the assumption that you are less of a woman or somehow not heroic. A doula might have helped…maybe next time?

  10. Jill says:

    Commenters, how about this: Give Denise the space to feel whatever she feels about her births. What do you have to gain by telling another person that their anger is unjustified? It really doesnt have a thing to do with you and her feelings and opinions about her birth, as she said in her comment, pertain to her.

    Its interesting that people will sit around and tell their friends about their annoying coworker with no boundaries and their friends are happy to mirror back that anger with an encouraging, Oh yeah, I totally see why youre pissed off, yet saying that one feels angry about their cesarean or birth is completely taboo.

    Have you ever thought critically about why this is a social taboo?

    Why is it that you can’t get over the fact that Denise feels angry?

  11. NoHo Mom says:

    I had two C-sections as well. My first was breech. My second was not but I was definitely getting the sense I would have to argue with my doctor, my insurance company, and the hospital to get a VBAC, and I just didn’t have the energy. I did not have what it took to fight that battle while chasing a toddler around and huge. The fact that you did, kudos to you! THAT took fortitude and determination. You should feel proud about that.

  12. Sonia says:

    Everything you said, everything you did and everything you feel mirrors everything that I went through and I am angry as well. I completely understand. It’s strange how it hits you too, I was just reading your story and started crying because it’s deeply etched into you as it is in me.

  13. Missy says:

    I felt the same way after my c-section, but after awhile, I got past it. I realized that birth is just one day and in the long term it means NOTHING to my child or about me. Do you really care how your mother brought you into this world? Would you think less of her either way? If I were to get pregnant again, I would try VBAC as well. But in the heat of the moment you just have to do what you have to do. There’s so much pressure on women to have the “perfect natural birth” that it makes us nuts. Enjoy your healthy children and move past the birth experience.

  14. Lora says:

    It is rough to have that taken away from you. That happened with our first birth. I did a lot of processing and finding out more in the 20 months between the first birth and our second child. I talked with doctors, midwives and doulas around the world. After meeting with two different doctors when I got pregnant the second time, and not getting a lot of vbac support from either one, I ended up finding a homebirth midwife.

    The doctors were going to give me an hour, tops, to push (standard hospital policy) The midwife had no timeline. She didn’t tell me numbers (I never knew how much I dilated/effaced) and she believed in the ability of my body to do this. And she knew what to watch out for to see if things weren’t going well. I was in active labor from 11:30 in the morning until the baby was born at 9:30 that night. A LOT faster than our first birth. And it was with someone who believed in the ability of my body to birth. And it was about 1.5 hours of pushing, which in the hospital, would have gotten me into the OR for surgery after 1 hour.

    Yes, c/s when necessary is a great thing. But being forced or manipulated into one isn’t respectful.

    It’s okay to grieve and be happy at the same time. It’s all right to question how things were done and find out what could have been. It’s all right not to trust all authorities and find things out for yourself.

    The journey is hard enough with the right support. May you find the right support as you go through this point in your life.

  15. Melissa Tyler says:

    WOW, are you kidding me? These comments are disgusting! Denise, your feelings are valid no matter what they are. I’m horrified at the attitude that “all that matters is a healthy baby.”

  16. Allie Talaga says:

    I totally get what you are saying. I am 9 months postpartum with my second and I hate it. I was barely able to step into the hospital 3 days ago to try and get records. Its so hard and usually unless a mother has been through they have no clue. And many feel for some reason our feeling on things as parents don’t matter since we got a live and healthy child out of it. Im sorry these people are being asshole. There are sadly many woman who get the pain emotionally and physically that you have endured. Here to a better birth next time if you guys so choose.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I think you got screwed. I think I know why. You, it seems, were on your back, right? As an expert once told me for a Parents Magazine article I wrote, it’s pretty hard to get ketchup out of a sideways bottle. Does it come out eventually? Yes, but it’s much easier if the hole is pointing down. Gravity and all.

    Also, if you were 10 cm, they could have done a vacuum-assist. Is that wonderful? No, of course not, but sounds like maybe that would have helped.

    I was one of those women who didn’t want an epidural, opting for HypnoBirthing instead. With my first daughter, the labor was fantastic. The delivery was hell, though. I pushed for two and a half hours. I hated every moment and when she came out, I actually told the nurse I couldn’t hold my baby because I had to rest a moment. I am still ashamed. What does my experience have with yours? I was on my back in a bed.

    My second daughter’s delivery was so different. Again, no epidural, but she slipped out in three pushes. It was the most empowering moment of my life. I would deliver 100 babies just to feel what I felt that day. The big difference? I was allowed to walk. Wasn’t confined to a bed. I was seated in a birthing chair when it came time to push. Yes, the second one is always easier, but positioning has a lot to do with it. Research proves it.

    Bottom line: Your doctor failed you — and most doctors fail women — because they take away centuries of biology and history and make giving birth a medical procedure. Women have always given birth in a seated or squatting position. They’ve eaten throughout the labor to have enough energy to push. They’ve had the support of friends and sisters to get them through the process, and they have stood, squatted or sat to deliver. There are no wires. They were not required to take off their bras unless they wanted to. (I told the nurse they could cut mine off if I went into cardiac arrest; I’m more comfortable with one on than off.)

    We’re going to keep hearing stories like yours until women take BACK their rights and understand that they are the ones in charge — not the doctors, nurses and LAWYERS who set policy and act like we are cattle who will sue at any chance we get.

  18. Anonymous says:

    p.s. I wrote the last comment. — Karen Bannan aka NaturalAsPossibleMom

  19. Sarah says:

    I feel like the people posting things like “get over it”, etc., are people who either a) wanted an elective c-section and/or planned for an epidural, b) never had a c-section themselves and may not have children at all, c) never had a c-section, but definitely planned to have an epidural as soon as they could get it, d) lack all ability to be compassionate.

    As a woman who had an amazing midwife at a freestanding birthing home, and planned an all natural birthing home water birth and wound up being so overdue that I had to go to the hospital to be induced, wouldn’t dilate, finally got an epidural, progressed quickly, pushed, and wound up with an emergency c-section because my daughter’s head was swelling, I can say that I completely understand where you’re coming from.

    I’ve felt so much guilt and anger about my daughter’s birth. Not because I didn’t think the c/s was necessary, I very much believe it was, but because I didn’t get to give birth…I had her cut out of my body. It was the absolute opposite of what we’d planned. I wasn’t phsyically or emotionally prepared for it. I didn’t get to hold her for HOURS after she was born, and even then others had to hold her to me, because my arms were numb. I was so depressed and drugged that the first couple of months of her life are a hazy, sad blur to me.

    She’s 19 months old and I STILL feel some anger, sadness and guilt about it. And they’re VALID feelings. That doesn’t mean I love my daughter any less, and her birth was still THE happiest moment of my life, but it was a very bitter sweet moment. And that’s sad to me. The whole “you should just be happy you had a healthy baby” argument is not applicable. I AM happy I had a healthy baby, but that does not make my other feelings any less important or valid. I was in mourning for quite a while about the birth. And it took my midwives telling me that that was okay and valid for me to not feel guilty about just having the feelings.

    That was very long, and I’m sorry, but I just felt the need to *try* to explain to people who “don’t get it.” And show my support to those who have gone through similar things.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Every article about unnecessary cesareans descends into the same thing – people talking about their own life-saving cesareans. This is NOT what we’re talking about. OF COURSE c-sections are lifesaving when they’re necessary. It should go without saying at this point, yet the disclaimer is made over and over again – but one more time: Cesareans are absolutely modern miracles that I am incredibly grateful we’re able to access when needed. I personally know people who have been saved or had their babies saved by cesareans. NO ONE wants to put an end to all cesareans or is suggesting that many of them are not needed.

    Here’s what we’re talking about.

    You’re on the second floor of a burning building. Fire completely blocks the door of the room you’re in. Your only chance of surviving is by jumping out the window, despite risk of some injury. Of course you’re going to jump. This is absolutely a lifesaving action.

    Bruises or a sprain are a probability, a broken bone is quite possible. Other major injuries are a lower risk, but still real. Once in a great while you could even be killed by jumping out the window, but the chances are very low, and it’s absolutely worth the odds and the healing time to recover from the fall. After all, staying inside the house means facing certain death. THANK GOD we have the option to jump.

    Now take the fire out of the picture. The house is perfectly fine.

    Is jumping out the window still an equal choice to going down the stairs and walking out the front door?

    The women who were pushed out the window unnecessarily are the ones we’re talking about. And the author of this article has every right to her feelings about being pushed.

    (I elaborated on this here:

  21. Anonymous says:

    I had to vaginal births and really desperately did not want a C-section. However, if I would have needed one I would had said yes because at that point you do not know for sure, you have to rely on you OB’s judgment to bring a healthy baby into this world.
    I was lucky enough to have two awesom nurses by my side. The first one told the doctor “NO” flat out when he suggested a C-section and I trusted her because she was with me all the way from the beginning of my labor until the end, while my OB will come by for a few minuts once in a while.
    You should not judge yourself for having two C-sections since it sounds like you needed them. On the first one, it has been too long since you started labor and on the second one, there was a risk for uterus tearing which would have been fatal for you and your baby.
    Look at your scar and think that when you did not have it, you did not have those two blessings in your life either.

  22. Brittney Professional Doula says:

    Thank you for this. People tell women how to feel.. our culture tells women how to feel. Feeling angry over a c-section isn’t “right”, is “selfish”, “ridiculous”, “whiny”. For you to ignore these messages, and write so candidly about your experiences gives me hope. I am so sorry you have gone through what you described. Your feelings are absolutely valid; a healthy baby matters, but it isn’t ALL that matters, and it is abusive to tell women otherwise. We are not machines; we are woman. Mothers. Partners. HUMANS.

    Professional Doula

  23. Denise says:

    @Jill: thank you. Thank you. I have been processing these feelings for a while now (my younger son is almost 6!) and it took a while to come to what you said, which is that my anger at my experience, and my absolute gratitude for my two aggressively healthy sons, are two totally separate things. I don’t have to “get over it,” if I don’t want to; these are my feelings. And you’re right that there’s a weird taboo going on: Would anyone tell someone who’d been abused as a child that he/she needs to “just get over it”? If you do,you’re callous as hell, and most people, in this more enlightened age, wouldn’t go there. But a woman who feels cheated and abused by a birth experience? Oh, just get over it. You have your baby, right?

    Keep the comments coming!


  24. Denise says:

    @Britney — thank you to you, too. Your comment nearly brought me to tears!

  25. Anonymous says:

    30% c-sec rate is criminal in my opinion. It’s invasive surgery that hampers post-partum activity and makes breast feeding more challenging than it needs be. Almost every woman I’ve talked to truly believes she “had” to have a c-sec, and who am I to judge a medical decision? But the numbers don’t lie–many C-secs are done for convenience and not medical reasons. I feel you have every right to question the decision. I am grateful you are writing about it so that other mothers in the same position can carefully consider their plan of action more armed with useful information. Actively questioning these medical decisions is the only real way to make sure that the medical community as a whole is doing what is best for their patients.

    I avoided c-secs by finding the midwife/nurse practitioner who got a furious look on her face when the c-sec rate was mentioned. I knew with her that I would only get a c-sec if it was truly needed. Sure enough, I was actively *pushing for 5 hours with my first son after a very long dilation process. He was caught on my pelvic bone as well. With some re-positioning he slipped under and was born healthy and whole after 24 hours of labor. But it hurt a lot and I was exhausted. Had my midwife said I “must have a c-sec” I could not have argued. And when I moved to Idaho where the midwifery laws are much more strict I was stuck with doctors who didn’t value my input and bullied me into pitocin and rushed my labor because it was a busy night. I couldn’t argue then either (or not much). And the result was disastrous (in my opinion). So I do know what birthing room bullying can feel like–even though the bullying didn’t involve a c-sec.

    Thank you for sharing this Denise. I found it very interesting and it’s fascinating to see the range of emotions involved in this very loaded topic.

  26. Anonymous says:

    PS, last Comment was by Karma

  27. Mom to one says:

    I appreciate your heartfelt story, and understand your anger and feelings. I don’t know how old your children are, but mine is 5 and it does get better. I had the birth I planned in some ways (vaginal, no drugs, no IV) but not in other ways b/c we were in a hospital and I was not treated well by the on-call OB (my OB was out of town), even though I had a doula with me and my husband. I was allowed to push for 4 hours which ended in success, but it was not pleasant, as I was suffering mightily while being harassed throughout the process, and I didn’t feel great about how I was treated. My son was fine throughout (heartbeat normal) and I was okay, but they made clear to me they were disgusted at having to wait so long for me to deliver. Geesh, after 9 months of pregnancy, 4 hours didn’t seem like too much to ask (pushing time after being at the hospital for only 6 hours to clear the final few centimeters of dilation), but it clearly was for them. Never got pregnant again, so don’t know if it would have been faster for me or better, but I can tell you this. You never know how things might have been different, so don’t beat yourself up. And even if you get what you planned on, as I did, it can still be far less than ideal. I think you did GREAT.

  28. Cerra says:

    Denise, I completely understand how you feel. My son’s birth ended in a csectoon ultimately due to fetal distress (thanks pitocin!). After he was born in his 21inch, 8 pound, 4 ounce, 14 inch head glory I was told he was “too big” to have birthed naturally anyway. I was absolutely devastated. I found myself pregnant again when my son was 15 months old and my second thought was “vbac”. I found an amazing ob an hour away from home that was willing to do it, and on April 19th, I delivered my 8 pound, 4 ounce daughter with a 13.5 inch head. Funny how to one ob, my babies were too big to deliver, but to another, it was nothing. Also, I must say that after having my daughter, I felt so amazing and empowered. There was never a better feeling in the world.

  29. Nikki Gundlach says:

    So many big hugs to you!! This could have been written by me.. every single word.. except mine was a vba2c.. that my child also wouldnt come past that bone almost 6 months ago.. I don’t feel so alone anymore..

  30. Cerra says:

    Er, I think I meant centimeters. Whatever, either way my kids have big heads. Haha

  31. Pencils says:

    I also had a C-section, and that was OK with me, as I had nothing particularly invested in shoving my daughter out my vagina. All I cared about was getting her born as safely as possible, with as little damage to my body as could be managed. If getting her born safely means this big scar over my abdomen, it’s fine with me. Maybe it’s because I’m a distance runner and I already know about pushing my body to the limit, or maybe it’s because I have chronic health problems and I’ve had to learn that I can’t control everything about my body. Didn’t we get pregnant because we wanted kids, because we wanted to be mothers? Is a mother who gave birth vaginally a better mother than one who had a C-section? No, of course not! So stop worrying about it and go and revel in your perfect kids.

  32. Jill says:

    Pencils said: Is a mother who gave birth vaginally a better mother than one who had a C-section? No, of course not! So stop worrying about it and go and revel in your perfect kids.

    Nor was that the point that Denise made. You just invented that. Why?

    What makes you feel so strongly about anonymously telling another person to stop feeling their feelings? Denise is not allowed to express her discontent? Why not?

  33. Jill says:

    Ill be honest. Ive watched hundreds of comment sections implode in the same manner and this is how it starts. This time Im just going to put this out there

    There is no debate about whether a woman should be allowed to express how she feels. Denise was unhappy with what happened. You might have been overjoyed. Or like most, you might just be somewhere in neutral territory.
    I think it would be interesting to explore: 1) why some of you think she should shut up and 2) why you think her opinions are about you. Denise appears to be writing about Denise. Whats with the Emotions Police?

  34. Anika Jackson says:

    I labored for 24 hours, pushed for 2 hours and ended up with a c as well. I had thought it would be easy, since my daughter was head down for months. I was upset for a minute but ultimately it was the right decision.

  35. mbaker says:

    I think that your problem is 2-fold:

    1. You were pushed into a c-section that may not have been necessary.

    2. The way c-sections are done is traumatizing and dehumanizing.

    According to all of the stuff I read about I did almost everything right. I hired an experienced doula and at her suggestion switched a midwife at a local hospital. My midwife let me go until 42 weeks but nothing was happening. The day before my induction was planned for my water broke. Despite the efforts of my midwife and my doula I would only dilate to 1 cm after several hours of labor with monster contractions 1 minute apart. Since no progress was made my midwife suggested I consider a c-section and I listened to her.

    While I have no regrets about the c-section since I felt I tried everything possible to avoid it, I am still upset about how dehumanizing the actual c-section experience was.

    I am now pregnant again. Since my mom had the exact same problem I had (went very late and wouldn’t dilate) the midwife thinks that the problem probably has a genetic component is isn’t recommending a VBAC.

    Am I happy about it? No, but I know she’s probably right. This time I determined to have some say over how my c-section is conducted because I don’t want to feel victimized again.

  36. Alison Scanlon Torrone says:

    Good god, I can’t believe how defensive people get when women display feelings about their births. She has every right to feel the way that she does. I’m so sick of women bashing each other for feeling the way that they do. We’ve been told to just shut up for so long and stop whining? What does THAT accomplish? It’s not about having a vaginal birth or drug-free birth or going out into the goddamn woods to hang from a tree and give birth. It’s about feeling respected; it’s about not feeling like you were powerless and robbed. Can we have sections and not feel that way… YES! But not all situations are the same. If you had a section or vaginal birth and don’t have regrets then FINE!!!! But please respect that not all of us feel that way.

  37. JEssica says:

    In my first post, I said I don’t understand where her anger is coming from. Personnally, I am not saying her feeling are unjustified but she doesn’t really go into detail on why she is angry. I feel her article needed a more indepth view of her feeling. I can only assume her anger stems from being rushed, but her article doesn’t really state why. It is hard to feel sympathy for someone when all they say is I am angry.

  38. Maverick says:

    I am angry, too. I had a c-section with my second son that was absolutely not necessary and because of the inexperience of the doctor on call. It was a much more negative experience than the birth of my first, who was born vaginally. And my second son has asthma, which is more common in c-section babies. I am convinced that if you really want a vaginal birth, especially a VBAC, you have to do it at home with a midwife. But midwives are getting harder and harder to find. Midwife-assisted birth is statistically safer than OB-assisted birth, and cheaper, and yet it is vanishing. Just another symptom of the terminal illness our entire health care system suffers.

  39. Randi says:

    Wow Denise,
    You are so strong. Reading your story made me feel guilty for being so angry about my experience. I feel for you, regardless of how my baby was born because what I experienced doesn’t affect what I feel for you. I’ve found often times those who get defensive and abusive toward your feelings are because they’re uncomfortable with their own choices and feelings.
    You have every right to be angry.
    We hire these professionals with years of practice to keep us as safe as possible. We’re raised to trust them with our lives and are ridiculed when we doubt their advise. You hired someone (twice) and trusted they would take care of you…all of you. Mentally, physically and emotionally. They failed you,twice. It is cruel to expect women to be able to fight for what they want in labor, especially if you’re close to or in transition when you would do ANYTHING to get that baby out of you. They took advantage of your situation and ruined your experience. Your expectations weren’t too high, and even if they were, who is to say this is a bad thing? You’re a very strong woman to not only be able to admit your anger but also to be able to express it in front of others. :)

  40. Sarah says:

    I too feel angry about my c-section. You aren’t alone and there’s NOTHING wrong with feeling sad or mad any other emotion as a result of your birth.

  41. Rachel says:

    I labored for three days with a Certified Nurse midwife in a hospital and pushed for three hours. When the fetal monitor showed a concerning decline in my baby’s heart rate, she said I needed a C-section. Having talked with her at length before my son’s birth, I knew she and I shared a desire for a vaginal birth. She allowed me to labor as long as she thought it was physically safe, and in doing so, she gained my absolute trust. When she said it was time for a C-section, I trusted her. I haven’t regretted my surgery since (he was born 4 months ago). I think some of the issue is feeling powerless in the face of your OB. My midwife empowered me as much as she was able to. In the end, my son’s 14.5″ head and positioning and umbilical cord wrapped around his neck were keeping him from descending into my birth canal. His apgar score was 3 at first. I’m grateful for the care I got.

  42. socalmama says:

    It is a horrible shame that this author had such an awful experience both times. But I can’t help but feel like this is one more article that makes women dread having a c-section in fear that it will rob them of their birth experience. I wish there were just a few more articles getting published by women who had good experiences with a c-section. But typically it’s the complaints not the praise of any situation that speak the loudest. I didn’t intend to have a c-section either. But in my case it was 100% medically necessary and prevented me from having a seizure and my baby from dying. Regardless of the fact that it was not my chosen birth plan, my doctor made it special, walking me through the entire procedure so I felt involved and singing “happy birthday” as he delivered my daughter. Even after my baby girl was rushed to the NICU due to her prematurity, he continued to talk to me and he and the other doctors were even singing a popular song with my daughter’s name in it. While I hope that this next time around I can attempt a VBAC, I’m glad that I have a positive experience to reflect on, as well as trust in my doctor based on the last birth. I know that like the author not all women have the same positive memories of their c-section but I would hope that other women would at least keep an open mind that a c-section doesn’t have to steal the beauty of your child’s birth.

  43. kat says:

    I think it’s great you are writing your feelings down and getting them off your chest, there are probably a lot of moms out there who feel the same way but don’t feel like they are allowed to talk about it. I would have felt really disappointed if I had a c-section, and would most likely have been vocal about it! We need to be asking these questions, because it is highly likely that many women get unnecessary c-sections because they are offered it, not because the baby is in any danger.

  44. Beth says:

    I certainly don’t want to jump on the “get over it” side of things. You are most certainly entitled to you opinions. But I do hope for your sake and your children’s that you do get past the anger. There are many, many women in this world who would gladly give birth through their nose if that’s what it took to carry and deliver a biological child. There are many, many women who would have loved to have been present at that birth of their child, but circumstances involved with adoption often prevent that. In the same way that a wedding is one day and a marriage is for life, birth is just the beginning of your life as a parent. Being a parent is a gift that should be enjoyed, try not to get so hung up on the “delivery”.

  45. EM says:

    Wow. You hit everything on the head. I completely feel the same way. I love my son very much and everyone has told me I made the right choice, but I still feel like I was robbed of an experience – something that, perhaps, would have made me even more bonded to my child. Everything was so unreal, especially with the doctors talking and laughing above me. And the first few moments I had with my child, I was completely out of it. I did choose to breast feed him, but my husband had to hold him, and I barely realized what was truly going on. I couldn’t really experience the wonderful moment that it was supposed to be.
    And I keep wondering about this issue with the pubic bone. That’s exactly what they told me. They told me that my pubic bone was shaped in such a way that there was no way my son was going to slip through. They did let me try for 3 hours, though.
    I will always feel a sad about this experience and wonder if there was anything I could have done to change it. I will also always wonder if I’m not as connected to my son as I could have been.

  46. Julie says:

    I’m sorry you were disappointed with your birth experiences. It can’t be easy to cope with that. However, no amount of advocating for yourself or VBAC-friendly hospital policies could have changed the structure of your bony pelvis. Some women simply do not have pelves that will allow the passage of a baby. In nature, where women are unencumbered by hospital protocols and birth according to their primal urges, obstructed labor is one of the leading causes of death in women. If the woman is lucky, a fetotomy might be performed to save her life. At least in the US with our 33% cesarean rate, we have the luxury of feeling disappointed in our birth experiences. In the developing world, pregnant women really are standing with one foot in the grave. I’ve spent time in Africa. I know what I’m talking about.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Your feelings of anger are completely valid Denise. Don’t let any of these heartless comments make you feel any different.

    I hope that you can work through your feelings and find some healing.

  48. EG says:

    This is a very emotional issue, yes. I had a c-section with #1 after a typical, medicated birth. Pitocin, epidural, heart-rate decels. Never got past 3 cm. Baby never dropped. 14 hours – c-section. For #2 I did a ton of reading, research, preparation. Had a doula. Loved my doctor.

    I labored for 40 hours. 40! From hour 1 the contractions were 5 minutes or less apart. I got to 10 this time, but the baby never dropped. The doctor broke my water hoping to move him down. 90 minutes of squatting and rocking later he was high as can be, and without the pressure of the bag of waters I was back to 8 cm. I was in hysterics (extreme pain doesn’t help you to be level-headed) when they told me there was nothing more to be done for a vaginal birth.

    It turned out he was sunny-side up. Plus both my boys have huge heads. I don’t know what would’ve happened if we’d given it more time – maybe he’d have found his way out eventually. There were a lot of issues from the first c-section and such a long labor which resulted in twice as much pain for recovery the 2nd time.

    I was disappointed, but I don’t regret having a trial-of-labor. And I’m so so thankful that I live in a time when they can get my stubborn baby out of me safely. He turns 1 next week.

  49. Anonymous says:

    EG, same here – mine was sunny side up and I had to have my water broken. And my son turns 1 next Tuesday! Happy birthday to your son!

  50. jm says:

    I had a placenta previa that did not move. From the beginning of my pregnancy I was set on having a natural birth experience. I was devastated and terrified. The C-section experience may have not been ideal – but I have my healthy and beautiful child. Grow up and be thankful for what you have instead of what you imagine you have lost.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Hello Denise and all! I, too had a traumatic delivery; my baby was delivered at 33 weeks via an unplanned c-section, born with deformities not detected on any prenatal tests/sonograms. It was an extremely distressing experience and I was devastated. My son is two and I personally don’t see my (very pronounced/keloid) scar as a “badge of honor”, but as a constant reminder of failure. Denise, please don’t feel shame for having negative thoughts about your births. There are people who care and empathise and I found your story to be very touching. I wish you happiness, health and emotional healing. Good thoughts to you, your family and all of the posters in the comment section. Best wishes to all.

  52. mamaseoul says:

    I think she is angry because she doesn’t feel her doctor was committed to having a vaginal birth. Her babies weren’t in distress, it was just taking too long. An hour of directed pushing on your back should not be considered “too long”. Changing positions and more time could have a made a huge difference. Even if she couldn’t get the baby out, she would have felt supported and felt like everyone gave it an honest try. Very, very few woman truly have a pelvis that cannot birth the baby that they grew unless they had Rickets or some sort of pelvis crushing accident. Most of the time the diagosis of “small pelvis” or “CPD” is due to “failure to wait” or malpositioning. If you do have a bone structure that is a bit narrow or a curved tailbone or something else in the bony pelvis that might make things more difficult, particularly in the on-your-back pushing position, there are other things you can do to help the baby through. The Pink Kit program has you explore your anatomy and discover these potential issues in advance so you can be prepared to deal with them.

  53. Travis Stephanie Fehler says:

    Awesome book that captures how you feel – Sheila Stubbs “Childbirth the Easy Way – from someone who learned the hard way” – the description of her c-section and her *emotions* made me cry…
    Personally, i had four “easy” labours in hospitals – a little laughing gas and that was it – and even so, i felt taken over, invaded and assaulted by the hospital way of doing it. My fifth was a hospital birth in a birth tub with a midwife, lights dimmed and no touching or being up on a bed with my legs spread – the next two (babies six and seven) were both unassisted homebirths – seriously the water is such a good thing for pain relief, and every baby should be born in water… Hospitals and doctors mean well, but i can’t relax there, and feel bad for the babies brought into the world amid the drama (like my third born – i should have filed charges for physical, verbal and sexual assault against that doctor. I honestly really really regret i didn’t).

    (hugs) – i think a lot of people wish their births could have gone differently. I feel blessed that i’ve had the good ones i have…

  54. Jennifer Margulis says:

    I feel like they cheated you too. I know women who have pushed for four to six hours and then had HEALTHY babies born naturally. There were so many other things to try, like going on all fours on your hands and knees (which opens up the pelvis a lot). There was no way your child was NOT coming out. Your doctor made a bad decision. I’m so angry this is happening to so many women. Amnesty International is calling the C-section rate in the U.S. an international crisis. They couldn’t be more right!

  55. Karma says:

    I am astounded by the harsh and utterly unnecessary comments like “grow up”. Being unhappy with a possibly unnecessary invasive surgical procedure does not make Denise ungrateful for her healthy children. And frankly the chastisement against women concerned about this subject is absolutely fueling the rising c-section rate in the US. What is this attitude that we should “shut up and be grateful”? Asking questions and demanding the best can only improve things, not make them worse.

    It is ONLY by boldly questioning and knowing the facts that patients can take the situation in hand and change things. Essays like Denise’s, or investigative journalism pieces exposing the reality of the situation are good and healthy for the medical community and childbearing women….period.

    One commenter even brought Africa into the discussion for reasons I can really not comprehend. The infant mortality rate in Africa (of all places) frankly has NOTHING to do with this discussion. Why compare the US to Africa anyway? Compare countries to countries if you must make comparisons. Why not mention many of the developed European countries that have less than half the c-section rate we have in this country and still beat us at infant mortality? For instance, in Norway 43% of women who had a C-section with a previous child went on to have a VBAC. That is compared with 5% in the United States.

    I am generally a big advocate of our health care system. I think we have so much more than we realize. But if look at the numbers among the industrialized nations the c-section rate in the US is WAY out of whack. Unnecessary c-sections do nothing to improve the infant mortality rate or insure a healthy child. In fact, EVERY c-section done that wasn’t needed only does harm. It makes interaction and breast feeding with the new baby harder. It costs much more money. It uses more medical resources and requires longer hospital stays. It raises insurance rates. It causes more respiratory distress in newborns. This isn’t a minor issue, nor is it one that needs to be hurriedly pushed under the rug because some women might feel embarrassed that they didn’t ask more questions. Perhaps some feel that because one woman isn’t happy with her own experiences that she is attacking anybody who had a similar experience. But these women should really evaluate why they are going on offense so quickly and so vehemently. Denise’s essay is ultimately about *HER* experience, not a judgment against other birthing experiences.

    A few comments here shared stories of necessary c-sections and I agree, we can be grateful for technology that allows us to have those procedures. Many c-sections DO save lives. But just because some are necessary and life-saving doesn’t make the ones that are done for convenience, or speed, or just because it’s easier any better.

  56. Julie says:

    Karma, you are dwelling on the wrong statistic. Perinatal mortality is the correct statistic for judging the quality of obstetric care, not infant mortality. The US has one of the lowest perinatal death rates in the world, lower than much of Europe where they are not so gung-ho about c-sections. This is remarkable since the US has a much more heterogeneous population than Norway, for example, meaning we see more high-risk pregnancies here.

    I brought up Africa (hi, that was me) to show an example of what birth in nature (free from cut-happy docs) can be like. But obstructed labor is a leading cause of death in women anywhere there is no access to modern obstetric care. Look it up. I only brought up Africa and not rural Asia, for example, because I have lived in Africa and I’m somewhat familiar with what life is like there.

    I never told Denise to grow up. I think that’s cruel and insensitive. Certainly she is entitled to her feelings and she has my sympathy. What I’m trying to say is that her disappointment in her birth experience is a luxury because she has access to modern obstetrics. Most mothers on living on this planet are just glad to have survived childbirth. Then, of course, there are the many women who didn’t survive.

    By the way, I’m not bitter about my birth experience. I had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. That because I’m LUCKY to have an ample, gynaecoid pelvis.

  57. Julia says:

    I hear you, Denise. I have two sons, both reluctant C-sections, and although I don’t struggle with it very much these days, I felt just as you do for a long time.

    Julie: you make excellent points, but none that will help anyone who’s experiencing the post-C grief that Denise describes. It isn’t a rational or intellectually sensible way to feel. That’s the most awful thing about it.

  58. Karma says:

    Julie, I don’t doubt that c-sections save lives or that US has the most advanced obstetric technology in the free world. I know we have the highest quality in obstetric care, which goes a long way in saving the lives of babies that would die if born elsewhere. But the c-section rate here is much too high and there are many c-sections that are done for expedience and not medical necessity. My son was caught on my pelvic bone. I am quite sure that many an OB would have told me the baby could not pass and not allowed me to push for a few more hours as my midwife did. I’m glad I was repositioned and given every chance for a vaginal birth. I had one. But the midwife had to be patient and wait more than an hour. A lot of doctors aren’t willing to do that, and there is room for improvement.

    That said, I don’t see the point in bringing up the substandard birthing conditions in parts of the world with little to no modern obstetric care. We could as easily say that a poor person should not concern themselves with escaping the ghetto because living conditions in the ghetto are far better than those in third world cities. Just because there are worse places than the ghetto doesn’t make the ghetto suck less.

    I am pretty vocal that US has the best available medical care in the free world, and I believe it. But we also have a tendency to over medicate and treat every medical condition as an illness that needs a treatment. Just because we are the best doesn’t mean we can’t be better.

    By the way, it was “JM” who told Denise to grow up. I didn’t mean to imply it was you. I mentioned several comments.

  59. anon says:

    Julie is correct. And i’d love it if more people were aware of a common and horrible medical problem caused by prolonged labor -fistula- that has DESTROYED the lives of women even thought they did not die. It is horrible to feel the way this poster feels; I think one way to help yourself with any problem like this is to put it in perspective.

    Also, did anyone else read this post? The one that said that planned home births have a greater risk of infant deaths than planned hospital births? I believe it relate to a PP comment…

  60. 2bigboys says:

    I easily could have been you, but because I was lucky to have chosen birth providers with a different attitude, my story isn’t the same. With the first kid, I had over 30 hours of hard, unrelenting contractions. Then, 4 hours of pushing- and a baby that finally squeezed out at 8 lb 13oz, kicking and screaming like a banshee, excellent apgars and a very tired mom. I have a small bony pelvis that just legitimately took 4 hours of beating on until the kid finally passed on by.

    Then, with my second child, I planned a home birth and damn good thing I did! Baby took less than 3 hours start to finish and ended up weighing a startling 9lbs. That first experience had primed all the muscles and ligaments to get it right on the second try. If I hadn’t planned to stay at home, I probably would have had him in the car or a parking lot!

    The reason I share this is that your experiences and mine are parallel except for one thing- your OB or CNM did not let or encourage you to keep pushing in that first labor. Let me tell you- pushing for 4 hours is really unpleasant. Terrible, even. But it can work, and then you avoid the C section, and then you avoid the second C section, and then… well, then you have the birth experiences you had hoped for.

    So pregnant moms out there, listen up. Most OBs are clock watchers. If you don’t want a C section, then you need to find someone that will give you enough time and encouragement to stay the course. This isn’t about babies that become stressed- that’s an emergency- this is about babies and moms that just take extra time.

  61. anon2 says:

    When I read articles like yours I am truly disgusted. You have two beautiful babies. Many many many woman would give ANYTHING to have a child of their own. You make me sic k

  62. Angela Gomez says:

    You should be grateful that you had the choice, c-sections are less traumatic on the baby and your vajay vajay! You should be proud to have that scar (your husband probably is) wow, some women are so selfish and ungrateful. Enjoy your kids and quit thinking that pushing out a baby makes you more of a mother, any idiot can do that, it’s comparable to taking a crap (it really is). Like I said, any idiot can push out a baby, but can you mold and raise that child into a good person? Give it a good life? That is a REAL mother!

  63. socalmama says:

    It seems like because so many unnecessary c-sections have been performed over time in the U.S., people have lost trust in medical providers. When a doctor deems a c-section necessary, many women still believe that ultimately it wasn’t needed. If only they had been given more time or other assistance during delivery, a c-section could have been avoided. This may be true in a majority of cases but the problem for doctors is what happens when that truly isn’t the case. Imagine that a doctor does give a woman longer to struggle with a difficult birth and unforeseen circumstances cause the situation to quickly escalate into a danger zone and the woman ends up losing her ability to have more children or even dying. Who gets the blame there? Not the woman. And who gets sued in the aftermath? It’s not difficult to see why doctors are overcautious in this day and age. That doesn’t make it right and doesn’t make this woman’s regret any less significant but it does make it a little clearer why doctors are so reticent to push the limits in these situations.

  64. Anonymous says:

    I think some of the comments that the writer here is sick are ridiculous. She is allowed to have regrets about the births and she does state that she loves her children and knows that its not the birthing process that makes you a good mum.

    As a UK mum I can read these sort of articles at a remove this was completely the opposite of my experience with my NHS care. As a low risk (young, healthy etc) mother I was all signed up to go to my local MLU (Midwife Led Unit) where there are no obstetricians any emergency C sections needed are ambulance over to the next hospital which isnt far at all. Those mums who go to the MLU are statistically less likely to have a C-sec or epidural as neither are available there youve got a long time to accept that these arent options so labour is generally more relaxed and natural. There are water birthing pools, youre encouraged to walk around, move around on the double bed (no stirrups!).

    I was pretty relaxed about the birthing choices available even though Id been told by 2 other girls my age that Id probably end up with a c-section simply because that had happened to them in both their cases though in was the right course of action one had meconium issues and the others babys heart rate had dropped that particular mum was also hugely overweight so was high risk anyway.

    VBACs arent without their own scars dont forget you just cant see them. I think whats at the heart of this matter though is not a VBAC v C-sec fight but a fight for the right to understand why and what is being done to your body. I know C-sections are brilliant when theyre done for the right reasons but natural birthing can and does take a long time as long as all is progressing well though there is no need to interrupt with the offer of a scalpel.

  65. Denise says:

    What a lively conversation going on here! No, I don’t enjoy being called “sick” for having my feelings about my birth experiences, and as I said earlier, I am absolutely beyond grateful for my gorgeous, healthy, amazing little boys. But that gratitude doesn’t erase the other feelings, nor should it, for anyone. To “anonymous,” below: I lived in the UK for a while, and I wish we had more of that model here — where a non-complicated pregnancy was not treated like a medical condition, but a natural fact. Part of what happened to me was that I had no support, and I think that’s a common feature of American hospital births. My sister in law tried for a home birth with a midwife; she labored for an entire day at home before excruciating back pain sent her to the hospital for an epidural. She still ended up pushing for hours and hours, and had a vacuum assist, before her perfectly healthy son finally emerged. It was tough and brutal, but she had unflagging support from her midwives the entire time. She had (and has) amazing determination and fortitude, and was armed with knowledge, but not every woman has all that. They should. Many of us — such as some of you who have posted here — have felt, instead, disrespected and undervalued as people and as women. It’s just wrong. I’m glad a (mostly) civil conversation sparked by my piece can take place; it’s a vital step in hopefully changing things.


  66. Gina Crosley-Corcoran says:

    I would like to please beg the author to find ICAN ( and Solace for Mothers ( and DO NOT LISTEN TO THESE NASTY COMMENTORS. You have every right to feel the way you feel about your surgical birth, and you’ll find an entire army of women out there who are as traumatized as you are.

    This year, the NIH released a panel statement telling doctors everywhere that VBAC needs to be supported, and and IT is the safer option in the majority of women. The research is clear – cesareans are SERIOUS business, and women AND babies are being hurt by unnecessary ones.

    You’ll find a lot of truly ignorant comments about cesareans on the internet, but if you visit the two links I just gave you, you’ll find many, MANY more supportive mothers (and birth professionals!) who understand what you’re going through.

  67. Danielle Ann Michaud-Elwood says:

    I completely agree with you, and I am a woman who has had an unnecessary c-section. I am disgusted by the number of nasty comments here, but it just goes to show how naive so many people are, especially women and other mothers.
    Get in touch with your local ICAN chapter like Gina suggested.

  68. Sara 'Otero' Eiser says:

    I felt exactly the same way you did after my son’s birth. Cheated. I second the rec to find SOLACE and ICAN – they helped me amazingly. You are normal, and yes, I think you were cheated. My second child was just born in a fantastic HBAC, after 3.5 hours of pushing! A doctor/midwife with more patience could have been the make-or-break for you.

    And huge hugs. I know how you feel, and NOBODY has the right to tell you that you should be feeling otherwise.

  69. Allie Talaga says:

    “You should be grateful that you had the choice, c-sections are less traumatic on the baby and your vajay vajay! ”

    Are you kidding me? Vaginal births are MUCH healthier than a schedules section unless that section is for a medically needed reason. Saving your vagina( which by the way changes as soon as you get knocked up) is not a medical reason. This mama has had a difficult time dealing with birth feels. You are the disgrace as a woman not her. She is allowed to feel as she needs. Its very hard to have an out come you were blindsided with. And many woman are having that happen. 1 in 3 woman gives birth by an incision on their stomach. When its unexpected and you find later it wasn’t truly needed it is DEVASTATING! It also doesnt make you eny less of a mother when you have not so fantastic feeling about the extraction of your child. Many woman dream of pushing out their child, I know I did and to have that stolen from us is very hard.

    Also just and FYI my fiance isnt happy about my section scars. He hates them just as much as I do

  70. Allie Talaga says:

    Sorry for the typos. Heat of the moment. =/

  71. JJ says:

    Please quit whining. Cesareans have saved many lives. Some women do need them and there are a number of reasons. Some women prefer them , and it is their body, their right to choose. C sections are safe and sometimes medically necessary-even when it is not an emergency c-section. Do you have a healthy kid? Did you both survive? You don’t like the scar? What other than that exactly is the problem?

  72. Snakecharmer says:

    Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion and their feelings, but when you post something like this publicly, you have to be prepared for critism.
    I did everything possible to avoid it but ended up with an emergency c-section for my daughter. Do I regret that I didn’t have the experience of pushing her out into the world? Yes, but it doesn’t cloud the emotional outcome of becoming a mom. I was a part of the decision every step along the way so when I hear someone say that they ‘nodded to the c-section’ when offered and then complain about it after the fact, I tend to have little sympathy. Perhaps you needed a better personal advocate there to ensure that you were given more time to push. It may (or may not) have changed your outcome..more time and more pushing does not always result in a beautiful vag birth with a perfect baby. We don’t know these things so hindsight is 20/20.

  73. Allie Talaga says:

    Your right it is the woman body and she is allowed to be happy go lucky but a woman is upset because she wanted a vaginal birth and we have others being jerks to them. Had that mom, who wanted a section, not gotten it, she would be allowed to be upset. And sections are only safer if they are scheduled versus non scheduled. Not safer than a vaginal birth when it is not medically indicated.

  74. HappyPills10 says:

    These comments are crazy and you have every right to feel as though the decision were forced upon you. This is not the first place I’ve seen the stats of the rise in c-sections and I absolutely believe that it’s more to do with malpractice insurance and convenience – for both the doctor and the mother.

    When I went in for my very first prenatal visit, I was presented with three forms to sign – one for a circumcision if I had a boy, one to approve an epidural and a consent form for a c-section. At my VERY FIRST VISIT! I’m sure I was labeled a “trouble maker” when I refused to sign them but I wasn’t about to give them that consent….I wrote across the signature line that if I were unable to consent to an emergency c-section at the time of delivery, that my husband was authorized to do so.

    Look at it this way, if your wedding day is a disaster you might bear some resentment….you can be thrilled to the gills with your new husband and love him like crazy, but maybe be a little pissy with your wedding planner. Sort of the same here….yes you have a gorgeous new babe in your arms that is the joy of your life….that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little cranky and resentful because he didn’t make his entrance the way you hoped ;^)

  75. BL Brooks says:

    Ok, really? There is an organization. With chapters. for whiny women who did not have the “childbirth they wanted”. You are the same women who would have SUED the docs had they went on letting you labor un-fruitfully and suffered injury or loss as a result.
    You are also the same kind who would whine about not having the kids you hoped and dreamed for and would look to blame anything and anyone for the kids being imperfect. Shame on you. If this is your problem of the day or year, maybe you have a boring life with he luxury to whine about something that already happened and resulted in you safely having your healthy kids. you should be thanking the docs.

  76. Anonymous says:

    I had a c section, twice. With it comes a mixed bag of feelings. Thanks for being so open about yours–everyone is entitled to her own feelings.

  77. Ambar Roldan Scofield says:

    I will never understand why women feel the need to tear down other women. I too had any unnecessary cesearan section with my 3rd child. I was fortunate and with he support of my husband and close friends I was able to vbac with my last baby. I felt the same way you did…cheated and mislead. Even with my vbac I felt as if my doctor was already ready to cut me from day one. Our bodies are meant to birth naturally. These comments that suggest you are less than grateful for your children are insane. Natural is well natural. Why our medical community attempts to avoid surgery in every other medical instance but pushes it for childbirth I will never understand.

  78. JJ says:

    “And sections are only safer if they are scheduled versus non scheduled. Not safer than a vaginal birth when it is not medically indicated”

    RESPONSE: Actually, yes, an emergency C Section IS also safer because an emergency C Section is medically necessary and it is usually the baby or mom is in serious distress and at risk. Doctors are not C-Section happy fools. It is cheaper to do a vag birth, for pone thing, and for another docs really do actually know a tad more about what is necessary and why than the patient. Now this hyper anxiety about women being pissed about c-sections is going to scare the sht out of docs and more mistakes will be made thanks to your hysteria. What kind of crackpot feels this messed up about “not pushing the baby out”? Really? Is that what makes your world as a woman or something? Then you have more needs than a yahoo message board.

  79. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to direct this comment to the misinformed commentors who are telling Denise to ‘get over it’ and ‘grow up’ and ‘c-sections are less traumatic on the baby and your vajay vajay’. You hateful women are the ones I feel most sorry for in all this. You nasty, mean, uneducated fear mongers who leave hurtful comments are the ones who get my pity. I feel sorry for you that you feel the need to berate another woman about her feelings. They are HER feelings and completely valid. You horrible people sweep your own feelings under the rug by saying to ‘get over it’ and ‘be grateful’. That might work for you if you want to live your life with your head in the sand, but DO NOT come here and tell this brave woman to shove her legitimate feelings aside, no matter how much better it makes you feel about your uneducated decisions and guilt. Denise is educated about childbirth. She is in touch with her feelings, she writes them openly, she is brave to face these feelings, and work through them in such an open manner. Her willingness to share these dark and personal feelings is only going to help other women face these feelings when they suffer birth trauma. But I don’t pity Denise. I applaud her for her bravery.

  80. Laura says:

    Ambar, not every woman’s body is “made” to push the baby out of her vagina. There are several very real factors that can be involved. Narrow pelvises are one. Also, if a baby is tangled up and choking itself on the cord, then yes, I would say the c section is medically necessary. People to ever claim a c-section is not necessary and all things “natural” are best are narrow minded idiots. The woman needs to quit being bitter and resentful about not pushing the baby out of her vagina and move on. Maybe she can even try to help other people or parent her kids. If this is her major problem in life, then she needs to get on her knees and be thankful as heck for it.
    BTW: no one here has heard of episiotomies? You generally get cut either way. Abdomen or vagina.

  81. Alternative Housewife says:

    What I don’t understand is why more babies didn’t die before we started doing so many c-sections. If the option of c-sect didn’t exist, I’m sure doctors would be trying more natural options to coax labor and that pressure wouldn’t be so on. Pregnant with my first child, I read a lot about c-sections and they are my biggest birth fear – I find that sort of twisted. Knowledge of emergency, life-saving measures should be putting my mind at ease, not making me more anxious.

    I’m so sorry people are attacking you – I truly believe they are just lashing out because they can’t deal with their own emotions, which might be closer to yours than they would like to admit.

  82. rude girl says:

    Anonymous, this is NOT “birth trauma”. So, how are you justified in telling others THEIR feelings are not valid simply because they disagree and feel differently than Denise? You’re contradicting yourself and are too stupid to see it.
    Some people like c-sections. Some people do not. The bottom line is that sometimes they are necessary and whether Denise liked having one or not after all, it was deemed necessary by a medical professional and Denise AGREED to it. It is done. She can be thankful she has the luxury to still whine about not pushing the kid out all this time later or she can help people who have WAY bigger problems.

  83. Ingrid Johanns says:

    Thank you for sharing your real feelings. I know you are not alone. I would have felt exactly the same way if I had had one. I almost did. I labored for almost two days straight with my first one and the ONLY reason I escaped the knife was because of my very special OB-GYN (from Austria, very natural birth friendly!) and a very special nurse – who had done home births for her own children. Don’t listen to any of the naysayers here. They have no clue. I wish you all the best… and my advice, if you want it, is to figure out what you were supposed to learn from this whole experience. Maybe to trust yourself and your instincts more? I don’t know what life lesson this was exactly but you probably do…and just focus on that. Don’t let the c-section happen “to” you… let it have happened “for” you… ie- see it as some kind of gift or lesson to learn from. I know that sounds cheesey, but I hope it helps. It’s what I use for myself when I feel something has gone awry or I’ve made some kind of mistake… I wish you all the best and thank you for sharing. I KNOW you are not alone in your feelings.

  84. jerk says:

    alternative, that is twisted. C Sections are not something to fear. You should be glad as heck they are here. They were invented to save the life of woman and baby. (read up on it). You all should be happy it was invented and yes, more women and babies died during childbirth before c-sections. And, another thing “more natural ways” or not will not force a woman’s bone structure and pelvis to become wider than it is. So, yeah, a c-section is sometimes necessary and maybe some of YOU should quit acting as if women who have c-sections are “lesser” than yourselves. Pushing a kid out of the vagina is not something that makes you more or less of a woman and mother. Nor is a c-section. Nor is adoption or whatever else. Just move on already and quit whining. Are you also going to complain that men do not give birth and make a national organization outcry about that? LMAO-AY

  85. Jennifer Osburn Embry says:

    I will never understand why women have to be so nasty to other women and why so many women are completely ignorant about the birthing process. Please keep sharing your story!

  86. Ambar Roldan Scofield says:

    Laura, you are absolutely right there are legitimate medically necessary csections. But not 30%+ of births. My doctor told me directly his medical malpractice insurance frowned upon him performing VBACs and would not allow him to permit me to have a VBAC after my due date. Narrow minded idiots huh? Comparing a Cesarean section to an episiotomy might qualify for idiot status. The United States ranks 30th out of 31 industrialized countries for infant mortality rates. A rank that has gone up along side our csection rate.

  87. Gina Crosley-Corcoran says:

    “Jerk” I invite YOU to do YOUR research. If you did, you’d find that cesareans are an epidemic in this country that major medical organizations have repeatedly investigated the risks of and found that they are over prescribed and riskier to mother and baby.

    Seriously – pick up a book. Just do it. And stop telling these women THEY are uneducated until you can come back here with an OUNCE of evidence proving otherwise. I’ve got evidence coming out of my pores. You clearly have researched nothing.

  88. Caroline Wood Doula says:

    I think some of you need to take a good look at how you are behaving. Being judgemental is such an ugly ugly behaviour and there is a lot of it going on here. The above is how Denise feels about her own expirience. It is valid, it is hers. She clearly needs support to be able to deal with those feelings. Not to be berated and have people trying to throw guilt on her already overloaded plate. The lack of basic human kindness here is just utterly heartbreaking.

  89. lady says:

    1) No man has the right to “hate” a birth scar be it c section or otherwise

    2) Some women want to not push a kid out of their vagina, and see it as preserving that part of their body and it IS true. No matter how you slice it (no pun intended) the vagina is stretched and often cut (episiotomy) and never returns to original state and it is the woman’s right to have one or not (to an extent, there are medical necessities)

    3)If Denise and other whiners can whine about the others’ not respecting their feelings, etc, then Denise and whiners also need to respect those of other people or really just STHU

  90. Jen says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I almost had a completely unnecessary Cesarean (and to the naysayers who believe no medical professional would recommend anything that wasn’t entirely necessary, they started prepping me for surgery before ever testing me for what they thought was wrong, only bothered to check when I demanded it, and the test results came back negative when they did). The national average for Cesarean births is more than twice the World Health Organization maximum, after which maternal and neonatal death rates have been found to increase, not decrease. Those numbers suggest that more than half the C-sections preformed in the US are unnecessary, and are adding unjustified risk to mother and child. What too many people are unaware of with C-sections is that there are an array of potential side effects, some of which may last for extended periods of time beyond what is considered the normal recovery period, some lasting the rest of the mother’s life. There is also potential for damage to baby. I think there is good reason to be dissatisfied with a C-section you doubt was necessary.

  91. Ambar Roldan Scofield says:

    “Lady” I didn’t see anyone debating the desire of some women to have a scheduled csection for the preservation of their vagina. What is being discussed is women who want to birth naturally and are made to feel as if that is wrong.

  92. victoria says:

    ok, before people keep whining about “judgment” then they need to decide not to judge the ones they are whining about judging.

    Second, yes, Cesareans were invented by a farmer (do not recall the date but it was LONG ago) and her performed the same surgery on his laboring wife that he did a pig ( I think it was pigs he farmed). it worked. Since then, c sections are safe. if they were not saf-ER then docs would not be accused of doing so many to “avoid malpractice”. If c-sections are performed to avoid malpractice, it means there is less risk. Get it?

    And yes, for many women for various reasons, it is always going to be safer. If you want a VBAC so bad, then do it and sign papers refusing to sue or hold responsible the professionals whose job it is to ensure the safety and health of you and your baby.

    Our infant mortality rates need to be looked at but it is not due to a c-section, vbac, or vaginal birth.

  93. zerohero says:

    jen, of course it is longer recovery time. A C section is major abdominal surgery. DUH

  94. billionairebeech says:

    wah. I didn’t want to have a c-section. wah wah wah. Hey Denise, how much you get paid for whining? Maybe we can help the millions of unemployed in this country whine about REAL problems by letting them have a gig like this. Frankly, your whining about not pushing a baby out of your vag makes women look bad and ensures people will continue to refuse to take us seriously.

  95. Ambar Roldan Scofield says:

    If we were discussing a heart or brain surgery someone wasn’t supposed to have would this even be a debate? I am just floored by how many people here view major abdominal surgery as a safer alternative to vaginal childbirth. When every medical organization (not just us crazy women) agree that natural childbirth is better for mother and child. The issue is insurance providers who have weighed a csection as more cost efficient than being sued, not safer. Oh and let me repeat again that I am not referring to medically necessary csections

  96. mommatoazbz says:

    Victoria, cs are NOT “safe”-they are safer than they used to be, but they are still major surgery, and obs will tell you that they get sued for the cs they didn’t do, not the ones they did, so by default when anything looks “funny” they rush to surgery. Of course, they don’t know what normal birth looks like, so just about anything is an excuse for surgery. And moms aren’t being given a chance to sign waivers-most obs just say flat out “no vbacs” due to hospital policy, insurance regulations, or their own inconvenience.

    To the author, I have had four necessary cs (due to a physical deformity-babies can’t line up correctly with my jacked-up body) and I have hated each and every one of them. I love my children with all of my heart, but I never gave birth-they were removed from me, and there will ALWAYS be a hole in my heart where giving birth should have been…I am sorry. I will say that it gets easier, the pain less intense, but I don’t think that it will ever go away…

  97. mommatoazbz says:

    billionbeach, the cs rate directly affects the economy. CS are more expensive, and when the uninsured have them/are forced into them, who picks up the bill?
    And, if you don’t like what you are reading, feel free to stop reading and go elsewhere where putting how people feel down is acceptable.

  98. Kontessa says:

    Dear Denise, I think you where given an seemingly easy option in your move vulnerable time. I do not think your birth was truly supported. You had been through so much already and I know few women who would not do the same as you did. Maybe that is why the rate is so high and maybe that is why our mother mortality rate is so high as well. I do not think your c-sections where medically necessary from the point of view you gave. As you said, no other options had been tried but the standard on you back purple pushing. That is insanity to me, that a Doctor, a System, would jump to the risks of surgery when there was not a life threatening situation in their hands. Risky yes, but I think the surgery is more so. You have a right to be angry. You did not fail, the system failed you. I think many of the women that attack you because they had c-sections are in denial of feeling like you do. It is a known fact that not all c-sections are needed, that they are risky, and that some Drs do them for profit and to save dinner so to speak. You where offered a seemingly easy way out, and you took it. I say it again, Not because you failed, but because the system failed you. Some people fight against the idea that it was a bad thing because they might have to accept that they too took the easy way out. Some have to talk themselves into believing it was life or death to get over it. For some it was, but not nearly most of them. My heart hurts for them. Hurts for you. It didn’t have to happen. Thanks for being a voice in this.

  99. mum1 says:

    I’m enjoying those saying not everyone is ‘made’ to push a baby out. I think that’s called Natural Selection.

  100. Nicole says:

    Thank- you for sharing your feelings about the births of your sons. I hope other women feeling similar feelings will read this and realize they are not alone. Your feelings, whether positive or negative, are valid and nobody should tell you otherwise. I hope that you will find some supportive people to talk to who live near you, sharing helps the healing so much. To the people judging her for her feelings, and belittling her for them and telling her to get over it, shame on you. Who are you to judge what she is feeling? If you are happy with your cesarean, that is great, but not everyone feels that way. All feelings and reactions are valid. We (us who have had, or still have, negative feelings about their cesareans) are not “whiners” about the loss of the “childbirth we wanted”. Yes, the loss of the birth of how it is supposed, and wanted it to go is part of it, but the negative feelings also come from things like being bullied, being lied to, a loss of control (being made to feel as if you have no say in the matter), or being disconnected from the birth (to name a few). I am not saying no cesarean is unnecessary (my first was, and I am thankful that the option was there) but many are not (like my second). And while I am happy my girls are here and healthy, I can be unhappy with how they came into the world and still be a good mother. The same goes for you, Denise; please don’t doubt that. I hope one day you can feel a sense of healing.

    PS, I tried to “like” a comment that I truly agreed with, and it showed up on one I don’t at all, so sorry about that.

  101. bellabuttons says:

    I have had 5 wonderful pitocin induced/water broken/epidural given vaginal births and have LOVED every one of them. They were my ideal birthing experiences. So while I may not be able to empathize with Denise, I certainly can sympathize. As women we are encouraged to be our own health advocates. Good doctors encourage us to be aware of our bodies and potential symptoms of illness…to advocate for our health needs…to get second opinions for diagnoses. Why then, shouldn’t our self advocacy extend to pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I feel like Denise very cleary explained a sense of failure by not advocating for herself. She relied on Doctors, who may or may not have had medical indications for C-sections, to advocate for her. In doing so she felt marginalized. In relinquishing control of her body she feels regret. These are valid feelings.
    She also states clearly that as a mother she understands the ultimate goal of “healthy mother, healthy child”. However, as a woman, she keenly values the journey to that goal. Why is that wrong? Isn’t it the goal of every parent to raise children into successful adulthood. Yet, no one argues that the journey thru childhood isn’t also of value. We as women value our roles, our journeys, as parents raising our children to adulthood. Can’t we also value our roles, our journeys, as laboring mothers giving birth to those children?
    I don’t think that Denise would deny that there are bigger problems in this world. However, the existance of bigger problems or greater suffering does not diminish the valid feelings of anyone in pain…including a mother who feels regret and pain for her labor experience.
    “Be kind. Everyone we meet is fighting a harder battle.” -anonymous

  102. Connected Mom says:

    I understand your frustrations as a “failed vbac” myself. Neither of my sections were necessary, they were the result of doctors who didn’t know how to let a woman be. I’ll be trying for an HBA2C myself in a few years and leaving doctors completely out of the equation.

    And Victoria, you clearly know nothing about the facts surrounding infant and maternal mortality or the actual dangers of c-section. The library has a number of books on it might I suggest you read one before you spread dangerous misinformation further.

  103. Miranda says:

    As I’m reading through these comments, I’m appalled at the number of you who are telling the author that she has no right to her own feelings. That’s the most asinine and ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard.

    I had a c-section with my first. It was unnecessary. But hindsight is 20/20 and I trusted a medical professional that I believed had my best interests at heart. Now, I know she just wanted to get back home to watch Desperate Housewives or get a few more hours of sleep before starting her Monday morning. To her, I was just a patient. Certainly not a human.

    My water broke and I didn’t “beat the clock” with my dilation and effacement, so when 24 hours had passed, she said “we need to do a c-section” knowing good and well that the average first time mother is in labor for far longer than 24 hours.

    As a result of this, I DON’T feel like I gave birth. In fact, I know I didn’t. Birth was taken from me. I didn’t see my son lifted up over the surgical sheet. I didn’t see him until he was cleaned up and swaddled and had received bypass oxygen for nearly 15 minutes because there was fluid in his lungs from where he wasn’t pushed through the birth canal. I laid on that table with my arms strapped down by my sides and I was a body. An open cavity on a table. I was there, but I wasn’t important. The upcoming ski trip that the assisting doctor was leaving for the following week was a topic of discussion while they put me back together.

    That is NOT the experience I want to ever have again. And quite honestly, having that experience the first time makes me afraid to ever have another child.

    The system failed me, just as it did the author. Instead of receiving the support we desperately needed, we were attended by impatient doctors on a schedule.

    Those of you who have never experienced a c-section shouldn’t even be commenting here, really, unless it’s to say “thank you for helping me learn something” or to say “I validate your feelings.” You have no place to tell a woman what she should or shouldn’t feel when the vision she had for herself becomes drastically different.

  104. another comment says:

    Let’s see…did I get a special badge for having a c-section? no. I’ll ask around and see if any moms i know received a special award for having a vaginal birth. Does the mom who adopts a beautiful baby get a special prize either? No.
    All of us are moms. All of us have one thing that is the most amazing thing. A baby. Let’s drop this conversation. I am soo tired of it.

  105. csectionmom says:

    I am a cesarean mom myself and feel your pain. Keep speaking the truth, and one day we will be heard. Remember… “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Ghandi

  106. Lauren Rabb says:

    I have a friend who has PTSD over the birthing experience that she had with her first child and then when number 2 came it was, as she says, all in vain to hope for a vbac. Her son was feet first! I totally feel for you and I think that you have every right to feel the way you do. I have seen first hand how a woman can be effected and affected by her birth experiences! You seem like a strong momma who can speak about it, however my friend can’t and not is battling depression over it all! Stay strong and I think that this story will help other mommas!

  107. Wendy Haaf says:

    Nobody has a right to tell you how you should feel about your births — and it’s possible to feel that way even when the operations were absolutely necessary (which sadly, they’re often not, when you really dig into this stuff). I’m also sorry that you’ve taken so much flack from other women for being honest. I would suggest connecting with a sympathetic, knowledgeable doula, midwife, or another mom who’s gone through something similar (perhaps through a VBAC support group?) who could offer some support. Just talking to someone who can offer some judgement-free support might help.

  108. Anonymous says:

    Birth trauma and birth rape are very very real things that millions of women go through. I’m ashamed to be calling my self a woman righ tnow with all the horrifying comments here from so called women. Her births were traumatic and she has to deal with the aftermath of that trauma- both physical and emotional. If YOU didn’t go through that, fine. But don’t judge other women just because you got away scott free.

  109. Suzanne Ehrheart says:

    women *ARE* made to push babies out of their vagina’s. that is why we have vagina’s. also, sort of a related note, beasts *ARE* made for feeding the babies we deliver. some comments to this post lead me to believe that some of the commentators believe vagina’s are solely for sex. that is biologically incorrect. many sections preformed today are not strictly necessary, many are the unfortunate results of unnecessary prior interventions during labor. look, i am a petite physically disabled woman with a small pelvis and i vaginally delivered TWINS. i was educated about hospital births and avoided a section, unfortunately some women do not know what events in their lives they might want to rewrite until they have taken place. i am SURE we can all relate to that. if you feel that this woman should not speak her piece why are you reading it and wasting you own time posting commentary? why resent her for having employment? YOU COULD START YOU OWN BLOG! good luck getting sponsors for your bitter rants

  110. Anonymous says:

    I had five births – one all natural and 4 c/s. I only regret the first c/s because I was not prepared for it. If you were mentally prepped for a natural birth and that was “taken” from you then you have the right to have whatever feelings about it you wish. I felt badly about the first c/s simply because it was supposedly medically necessary (in my heart I do believe it was MN) due to gestational age of my child (I was only 25 weeks along and this was back in the late 80′s). All subsequent c/s were due to the incision (classical cut rather than bikini) but I was better prepared for those, knew I would be having them, and knew what to do in order to cut my recovery time. My last one was back in 2001 and I had her on a Wednesday in the early evening hours and was home Friday morning. I was up walking 5am Thursday morning. Staff was amazed lol. I had joked with them about my “zipper belly” and they had no doubts afterward :-)

    If I could do it all over again would I have chosen to have natural births? I do not doubt it for a minute but the difference between myself and the author of this story is that I accepted what needed to be done. It is completely normal to question and not accept and god forbid even be angry about choices made for you.

    Kudos to this author for being brave enough to say hey I am mad!!!

    Not many will stand up and do that. Good for you for being brave and not letting up and saying I am mad.

  111. Kristen Aspinall Vo says:

    Birth experience absolutely DOES matter. You have every right to your feelings, and you even address the fact that you are happy with your babies, but have issue with the birth as a woman. I’m so sorry you were robbed. Glad you have healthy children and that you get the joy of parenting them, but sad for you that it happened in the way it did – and that people are being so abusive to you in their comments! Thank you for being open and vulnerable – more women need to know about things like this. Kudos to you.

  112. Anonymous says:

    I am the anon poster @Jul 5 6:59 I just read one comment and have another thing to add – not quite on topic but related (women’s health).

    I had to undergo a hysterectomy 2 years ago and I am extremely mad about it (feel like I am not a woman anymore) and it was deemed medically necessary – just like the c/s. I myself think too many c/s and too many hysterectomies are performed when there are other viable medical procedures that can be done that are less invasive and certainly less painful. The surgery in 2008 had me down longer and was more painful and debilitating than all of the c/sections and the one natural birth I had.

  113. Suzanne Ehrheart says:

    to “another comment” if you want a c section badge and it will soothe you i will MAKE YOU ONE. women who are expected to care for a new born directly after major surgery certainly deserve something for their efforts

  114. Emily 'Donahue' Dickey says:

    The rude, inconsiderate and ignorant comments on here make me cry. A woman is allowed to feel what she feels–to everyone that is telling her to quit “whining,” I’d love to see how you react when something dearly important to you is taken away. Yes, c-sections are great for women that NEED them, but they are done unnecessarily all too often. As for a woman’s right to choice? EXACTLY. I’m not sure I see how that makes an argument against Denise. If you CHOOSE a c-section, wouldn’t you be damn upset and disappointed if it was taken from you? If you were all but forced to have your baby vaginally??? These women CHOOSE a vaginal birth, and it is being taken from them when there is NO reason for surgery. Denise is upset about the loss of the birth she wanted–why are so many of you threatened by that? What reason in the world do you have for coming here and attacking her? Get a life. If you can’t be sympathetic, at least be considerate and go be an ass somewhere else.

  115. Compassion says:

    I understand your feelings completely, although I had a ‘natural’ birth, if you can call an augmented labour, twice failed suction extraction and finally by forceps, a natural birth….I had hours away from my new born while they surgically repaired the damage they caused to my body.
    So I completely understand your explanation of not giving birth…I feel like my child was ripped from me. I never got to feel the urge to push.
    If we were only shown compassion and given multiple options (as there almost always are other options) so we could make an informed choice about our care, then maybe we would feel less like slabs of meat on a butchers table and more like a human.
    All many women need is for their FEELINGS to be validated. Not dismissed or attacked.
    I am still suffering from Postnatal Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2.5yrs after the birth of my child. There are serious concequences for women who have experienced birth trauma.

  116. anon says:

    Women are always told to shut up and “quit whining” whenever they advocate for equality or more rights, which in this case would be the right to birth in a manner that is best for them and their baby (that does not include UNnecessary surgical birth).
    Also, this insistence on referring to vaginal births as something “any idiot can do” or in disparaging terms really misses the point. It is NOT easy, it IS challenging, it can be amamzing, and I think there is enormous hidden sexism in the way people disparage the actual birthing process.
    And by the way? It’s usually quite smart of someone to research, do their homework, and manage to have a successful birth despite the birthing industry. I’d hardly call that something “any idiot can do”.

  117. Nicole says:

    I, myself, have never had a c-section with any of my four births, but I feel I got lucky because with each of those births, I had my bag of waters artificially ruptured to move along labor. Knowing what I know now, I would have never allowed my bag of waters to be artificially ruptured! Denise, your feelings are to be validated about YOUR birth! I can’t believe that their are people (women) who are so insensitive about the feelings one woman has about the birth of her own child! C-sections are risky (for both baby and mother), create more recovery time for a mother (who needs to be caring for a newborn child), and they make more unnecessary risk for her should she choose to have more children! How is it whining if a woman is mad because she wanted to avoid these things??? Like another said, if this had been unnecessary surgery for any other reason, no one would debate your feelings about your surgery. Actually, they would probably push for a malpractice suit, but since it is about c-section, you are just a whiner. How sad. As a woman who spends most of her time in my line of work helping postpartum women, I can’t tell you how often my clients struggle with recovery from their c-sections, to only find out WEEKS later that the reason they are not healing correctly or feeling better is because they now have staph from their incision!!! If they had been allowed to birth vaginally, that would have never happened. How is that not malpractice? Or at least negligence? Or at least unthoughtful to a patient? C-sections can be wonderful procedures when they are really warranted, but in Florida (where I live) the c-section rate is about 40% (at least last I had the numbers) and are the c-sevtion advocates trying to tell me that 40% of women can NOT birth children??? Wow, how would the human race have survived? Denise, I am sorry for your experience and wish you all the best!

  118. Confused says:

    I’m trying to figure out where in this article Denise ever says that having a vaginal birth makes someone a better mother or woman…

  119. Anonymous says:

    I am completely in shock over these comments. She can feel however she feels and those feelings are not only valid but important for her and for us as women in general. We need to hear each other’s stories, even if we feel differently or think differently. It’s how we learn and keep ourselves safe and healthy. The medical community does not always have our back–we need to stay aware and informed.

  120. Astabeth says:

    I know exactly how you feel. It took me years to accept my c-section. I was ignorant – I trusted my doctor when I shouldn’t have.

  121. Anonymous says:

    Just wanted to add: Of course Denise has a right to feel angry about being hurried to the OR. Many women do get unnecessary C-sections. I think the reason that some people found this piece problematic is the implication that a c-section is inherently un-womanly or “the easy way out” i.e. somehow not a valid experience. These are two separate issues: the unnecessary c-section itself vs. the pressure (whether internal or external) to give birth vaginally, or without an epidural, or at home, or whatever.

  122. Blue says:

    Sorry, didn’t put my username: Just wanted to add: Of course Denise has a right to feel angry about being hurried to the OR. Many women do get unnecessary C-sections. I think the reason that some people found this piece problematic is the implication that a c-section is inherently un-womanly or “the easy way out” i.e. somehow not a valid experience. These are two separate issues: the unnecessary c-section itself vs. the pressure (whether internal or external) to give birth vaginally, or without an epidural, or at home, or whatever.

  123. evelonies says:

    i feel so sad for the author’s experiences. a first-time mom’s pushing generally lasts 1-3 hours, so for hte doc to basically give up and urge mom to go for the c/s is wrong. i would have been horrified and fought tooth and nail to be given a FAIR chance to birth my baby naturally. c/s’s have their place, i have no doubt about that, but i am appalled at the medical community’s lack of support for women who want to give birth the way nature intended.

  124. Anonymous says:

    I feel really sad that she feels that she was robbed of HER birthing experience. I think that if doctors were more open to birth as a process, rather than a schedule of events that have to occur with in a certain time frame it would benefit so many mothers. Also it sounds as though if she was allowed to move into a different position, squatting, standing, she would have likely been able to achieve the birth SHE WANTED.

  125. anon says:

    Where is this pressure to birth naturally or vaginally or at home that I keep hearing about? I was pregnant four times and heard nothing but encouragement to get the epidural as fast as I could. If I said the words “natural birth” people would roll their eyes and get defensive (b/c obviously they felt uncomfortable with their own choices).

    Regarding this story, I don’t think they are separate issues at all. An unnecessary c-section and being treated poorly during the experience is usually directly related to feeling upset by her experience.

    Though as an aside, I had three natural births in the hospital and was still at times treated like cattle, which was very difficult at the time emotionally. So I would argue that the disrespect toward birthing women goes all around, but of course it’s the unnecessary procedures that have more dire consequences.

  126. Blue says:

    @anon july 6 12:07: I was referring specifically to the author’s own labeling of her feelings of being unwomanly or less than heroic. Look at the second to last paragraph. It’s this idea that only a vaginal birth makes you womanly that I argue with and that YES, I do think is partly because of NCB zealots. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with NCB, but it’s a choice, not proof that anyone is superior.

  127. allenbeat says:

    I rarely comment in these kinds of boards, but I feel compelled to do so. I am sorry that you did not experience the kind of childbirth that you hoped for, author Denise. I hope you can find solace in the health and beauty of your children. But, I encourage you to reframe your outlook on your birth experiences so that the details become “not your fault!” You didn’t choose to have a too-small-to-fit-the-baby’s-skull pelvis! It is unfortunate that it worked out that way, but that’s the way it turned out. Nobody’s fault! Let me also add that, we will never know what would have happened if you had been allowed to labor on. Maybe you would have been able to push your baby out after much struggle and effort, and everybody would have been fine. That would have been great, wouldn’t it? But what if something more ugly had happened? What if you kept pushing and pushing for another hour, and then suddenly the baby’s heartbeat dropped, and they couldn’t get the baby out fast enough to revive him and he was harmed for the rest of his life? I’m really glad that didn’t happen in your case. And frankly, I would have liked to have had your C experience instead of my first birth experience. I have had 3 vaginal deliveries, but my babies were all on the big side. For my first delivery, I sustained a 4th degree perineal tear (ripping from the vagina through to the rectum). It took me 6 weeks to recover from this injury immediately after the birth. Now, it is 12 years later, and I will never be the same. I can barely control the release of intestinal gas. I lose control of my rectal sphincter completely if I have diarrhea. I have visited colo-rectal surgeons, who tell me that they cannot guarantee that surgery would help me at all. So I go to work every day hoping that I don’t suddenly release gas at an inopportune time (it has happened), and very much hoping that I don’t have any sudden onsets of diarrhea. This has also happened at work. Try to imagine the embarrassment. The point of my story is that I very much wish I had had a C for my first delivery. I believe I could deal with an ugly lower abdominal scar much better than the problems I’ve detailed. But, the most important thing is that I have 3 healthy children. I wish you nothing but the best in dealing with your birth experience memories.

  128. anon says:

    @Blue, Yes it’s unfortunate that she feels regret for not acting “heroic”, b/c no patient should have to wonder if they should have not trusted their doctor and taken over the reigns. But she did not say that vaginal birth makes you heroic or womanly. I don’t believe she even implied it. She’s describing (in an almost hyperbolic manner, I’d argue) what she wishes SHE had done in the situation. Nor do I think her choice of words should be inherently insulting to someone who did not have a vaginal birth. And why exactly aren’t we allowed now to use empowering words about birthing? I don’t think we should have to demean or play down the experience simply b/c some women take offense to it. I’d say society already devalues it as it is. I think I was quite strong during my natural birth and hour and a half of pushing, and I’m proud of myself. I also think my friend who pushed for three hours before having a c-section was pretty damn strong. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the author even cites an epi as an enviable experience.

    And I am very thankful for the “zealots” b/c they are the ones who are changing the stage of birth in this country and making it safer, actually. They are not trying to take away a woman’s right to choose pain medication, or the option for interventions. But they are trying to make them options, and not the norms. Challenging the medicalized norms is an attack on the birthing establishment, not on individual mothers who who are or are not victims of it.

  129. lisanurse says:

    I have been a labor and delivery nurse for 10 years. We don’t just want people to have c-sections because we’re lazy or something. We do it for your safety and the safety of your baby. I have only seen a uterine rupture of a VBAC 5 times in 10 years but once is enough. Your risk of uterine rupture without a c-section is 1/10,000. With a uterine scar the risk is 1/1,000. Nine times out of ten if you had a c-section because the baby wouldn’t descend in the pelvis or your cervix wouldn’t dilate the same thing will happen again. I have had many patients who desired a “natural” child birth in the hospital and who were successful. That is fine and wonderful if that is their choice. We also don’t force epidurals on women and it’s usually the patient who is begging for pain relief. I don’t think having an epidural makes you less of a women either. No one would suffer through a kidney stone without medication although that’s “natural” process also. I don’t know who has put it in your mind that you aren’t “heroic”. Recovery from abdominal surgery isn’t a walk in the park either. As for being worried about scars, PUH-LEASE! I’m sorry to be insensitive, but really you should be more ashamed of this whining than of your scar (that is probably so low nobody sees it but your or your husband anyway). As a labor and delivery nurse I’ve seen the other side of labor, the side that is terrible and sad and tragic and that is the loss of a baby. Some people will never know the joy you experience with your children. Some people try for years to have a child and despite the miracle of IVF and infertility treatments will never have a baby. Some people will leave the hospital with empty arms after a miscarriage or a still birth. Some patients leave their babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with months of only visiting their baby for short periods of time. Some of those babies will still die despite the best efforts of the medical staff and despite the prayers of the family and staff. Some mothers have to plan a funeral while in the hospital. Think about these true heroes the next time you complain about your scar.

  130. Anonymous says:

    in other words, stop whinging, you have a healthy baby. missing the point.

  131. Anonymous says:

    You’re feelings are your feelings. You wouldn’t tell a crying widow who’s just lost her husband “stop crying, at least you had a husband for 30 years, many never got that chance.” And those scars hurt! I have an ugly bulge in my abdomen. I can’t wear bikini underwear any more as the elastic hits my scar. Our feelings are our feelings!! I think pitocin is evil for induction. Yes, c-sections are offered way too often.

  132. Frances says:

    @lisanurse- I think your belittling of the author’s feelings is ridiculous. And I am saying this as a woman who has lost a child. The author isn’t saying that she doesn’t appreciate her children, or that her children’s births were any less special to her, only that C-sections are offered much too often and she feels like she missed out on something because she had one.

  133. Anonymous says:

    @lisanurse, I respect your experience as a labor and delivery nurse, but I don’t appreciate being told to shut up and be happy for my kids. I am beyond happy for my healthy sons, but I’m not going to shut up just because a large portion of the rest of the world wants me to. Speaking up is how things change. Also, I never said I hated my scar for cosmetic reasons, for heaven’s sake. I hate it for what it represents.


  134. Denise says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to peg myself as anonymous in that last comment! I stand by every word I write, as ever.

  135. anon says:

    Denise, I hope you stand by your every word in a letter that you write to your doctor. You should really enclose this article. You don’t know if this was medically necessary? Why not raise the question with her? I suspect she recommended this route because she felt it was better for your health and better for your child’s health. You want to feel supported in your “feelings” about it. I sure hope your doctor feels supported. Because unless you are unconscious and need help emergently, all your doctor can ethically do is make a recommendation – based on her YEARS of training and actual experience – that she feels is in your best interest. And see how you’ve paid her back.

  136. Anonymous says:

    anon- July8 7.30- do your research.

  137. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous, I’d really enjoy it if you read this:

  138. MaxMom says:

    @lisanurse, your post was condescending and BEYOND rude. So what if you are a nurse, she wrote from her heart and she has every right to those feelings and she, along with all women should be able to question their Doctors. If a C-section is not always just for the health of the Mom and/or the baby. Many times it is just for the convenience of the Dr. and/or staff. Many times if a woman is allowed to labor naturally or has a competent Dr. or Midwife that is able to try different positions etc…instead of resorting to a midwife. She has EVERY RIGHT to question as to the WHY of her particular C-Section. I am glad you are not one of my nurses as I would of kicked your ASS if you ever pulled any of your B.S. with me lady!

  139. MaxMom says:

    Denise, I loved reading this and I don’t blame you a bit for wanting answers. You are a gifted writer! You are not doing a disservice to anyone by asking questions. It is alarming how c-sections are skyrocketing and if we don’t question the why, then they will continue. I think you are amazing for trying a VBAC and you can complain about your scar all you want, I will listen!

  140. MaxMom says:

    Re:Comment directed at lisanurse, that should read “resorting to a C-Section”.

  141. MaxMom says:

    @billionairebeech: Do you kiss your Mother with that mouth? There is something called empathy, try it, you might like it.

  142. Irritated says:

    Denise, honey, you sound pretty crazy to me. C-section rates are up for a lot of inappropriate reasons, but there still is a reason for them. I don’t get all this drama about birth and this weird nostalgia for the natural. A new study released shows that fetal deaths occur three times more often during home births than in a hospital. In fact, prior to the 19th century in many places women had a 25% chance of dying in childbirth. It’s not that big of a deal you had a C section. Seriously, self-absorbed much? Would you really want a doctor to let you push and push until it was too late to save your baby? Is your birthing experience that important to you? Because in my world, in my four vaginal childbirths, three of which was totally au natural without any drugs, what I cared about was a healthy baby.

  143. SmartMom says:

    I love how all the posters and the writer KNOW they had a medically unnecessary Csection. I’m sure all the posters and the writer of this article have medical degrees and certainly extensive training in childbirth. Interesting how doctors are dammed if they do and sued if they don’t. Because I guarantee you that all these whiny moms who so desparately need their feelings validated and need the ideal birthing experience would also sue their doctor in a heartbeat if in fact something went wrong during their birthing option of choice. Suddenly the story would be, well, I didn’t KNOW. You KNOW. You’re the doctor. So basically, you know how to do everything until something goes wrong and then its the doctor’s fault. Gee, I wonder why Csection rates to avoid malpractice are skyrocketing?

  144. ANON says:

    Exactly right, SmartMom. For a much more interesting and informative look at Cesarian rates (one that is also focused on a woman who got a Cesarian she didn’t want – but this woman happens to have medical training) see this wonderful New Yorker piece from four years ago:

  145. no says:

    No they don’t “know” their c-section was unnecessary, but you don’t need a medical degree to know that a rate of 30% and climbing is unnecessary. C-section rates began skyrocketing well before malpractice did. Doctors may practice defensive medicine to avoid being sued, but they also take an oath to do no harm, and unnecessary interventions that carry risks outweighing the one present (if any) is not justifiable b/c they fear being sued. Furthermore, if you’d read up on the topic you’d realize that the medical model of birth in this country has more to do with skyrocketing rates of c-section than malpractice. And women weren’t dying in the 19th b/c of the lack of c-section, either.

  146. Anonymous says:

    “And women weren’t dying in the 19th b/c of the lack of c-section, either.” Really? Women didn’t die in the 19th century because of obstructed labor? Our current Cesarian section rate may be too high, but nothing I have ever read from any reputable source would back your statement up. To cite just one example from that New Yorker article,
    “Mothers have sometimes labored for astonishing lengths of time, unable to deliver, and died with their child in the process. In 1817, for example, Princess Charlotte of Wales, King George IVs twenty-one-year-old daughter, spent fifty hours in active labor with a nine-pound boy. His head was in a sideways position, and too large for Charlottes pelvis. When he finally emerged, he was stillborn. Six hours later, Charlotte herself died, from hemorrhagic shock.”
    Read more:

  147. Anonymous says:

    No, I didn’t say they didn’t ever die of obstructed labor. But the direct connection that fewer die now and therefore we are doing better is false. The person “irritated” said that 25% of women died in labor in the 19th century, and therefore (!) it’s not “that big of a deal” that Denise had a c-section. The 30% rate of c-sections IS big deal, and I simply pointed out that the two factors are not even directly related b/c many other factors (like sanitation for instance) played a role in the earlier high rate of maternal mortality. The U.S. actually has a terrible maternal mortality rate. This has a lot to do with our model of birthing.

  148. Mariecel Myrtle says:

    i have mine three boys to a c-section not because it would be for convenience nor for the fear of hard labor, fact i go through hard labor for almost 24hrs to have realized not good for the baby(he was in distressed)that sort to c-section simply because i have a diamond shape kind of pelvis-not common to all women-it is called cephalo-pelvic disproportion.

  149. Rachel J says:

    @lisanurse: “Recovery from abdominal surgery isn’t a walk in the park either. As for being worried about scars, PUH-LEASE! I’m sorry to be insensitive, but really you should be more ashamed of this whining than of your scar (that is probably so low nobody sees it but your or your husband anyway).”

    Do you have a cesarean scar? Because if not, you would do well to consider that maybe you don’t know much about having one and hold your tongue on the matter. I have a “nice” one. You can hardly see it but guess what? After almost 4 years it still hurts sometimes when the elastic from my clothing presses on it, and still itches furiously like it’s healing all over again, for no apparent reason. I don’t have painful adhesions but know women who do. And while my cesarean saved the life of my premature son who, with IUGR, would likely have been still-born, my scar still hurts physically and emotionally as it reminds me of the fear, loss and hardship associated with his birth.

    Please stop being the all-knowing professional and just allow women their voice. Allow them to express a sense of loss that perhaps you don’t personally understand.

  150. janedough says:

    I’m not going to try to talk you out of your anger; I applaud your self-awareness and honesty. I think you have a right to be angry. I have had two vaginal deliveries, the second one natural, and the feeling of pushing out a baby is the best feeling I’ve ever had. I call on that moment to give me strength. I don’t know the medical details of your births — even I believe SOME c-sections are necessary, albeit a small percentage — but no matter whose fault it is, it’s simply too bad that you missed out on it. I hope by just recognizing and holding the sadness and anger, you will find a creative way to express it. Your entry above might be all it takes.

  151. Amy Tuteur MD says:

    Mothering is now measured by a set of socially sanctioned “performances” at purported critical moments. A vaginal birth without pain relief is the socially sanctioned way that birth is supposed to be “performed” in 2010. It has no more validity that the socially sanctioned “ideal” weight that Hollywood starlets must achieve and that young women therefore aspire to.

    Rebecca Kukla, a feminist scholar, has written a fascinating article in the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics entitled Measuring Motherhood examining the middle class penchant of evaluating other women’s mothering by signal moments.

    “As a culture, we have a tendency to measure motherhood in terms of a set of signal moments that have become the focus of special social attention and anxiety; we interpret these as emblematic summations of women’s mothering abilities. Women’s performances during these moments can seem to exhaust the story of mothering, and mothers often internalize these measures and evaluate their own mothering in terms of them. “Good” mothers are those who pass a series of tests they bond properly during their routine ultrasound screening, they do not let a sip of alcohol cross their lips during pregnancy, they give birth vaginally without pain medication, they do not offer their child an artificial nipple during the first six months, they feed their children maximally nutritious meals with every bite, and so on…”

    In other words, mothering has been reduced to a set of achievement tests that can be that can be passed or failed. Among those achievement tests are birth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting. It is important to note that these sanctioned “performances” are not universal or cross cultural. They reflect the preoccupations off Western, white women who are relatively well off, just as the preoccupation with “ideal” female weight is phenomenon largely restricted to Western, white women who are relatively well off.

    The bottom line is that a small group of privileged women hold their own choices choices regarding birth and infant feeding up as standards to which all women should aspire. This is wrong on several levels: there is no objective evidence that the claims of “natural” childbirth advocates are true; there is no objective evidence that single moments of motherhood determine the long term well being of a child or determine the strength of the mother-child bond; and insisting that the cultural rituals of a privileged group of women are the standards to which all other women should aspire reinforces existing cultural and economic prejudices.

    Denise Schipani’s “problem” is not the result of her C-sections; it is the result of her uncritical acceptance of the notion that women should be judged by their birth “performance.”

  152. Denise says:

    @Amy Tuteur — actually, that’s not my problem in the slightest. If you take a gander over to my blog, you’ll see that bucking the current mothering trend is pretty much what I’m all about. I did not aim for or aspire to what the so-called feminist ideal of socially sanctioned birth (and said as much in my essay). What I did write about was my dismay at the rising rate of C-sections. What I don’t care for at all (and which is in evidence in this comment section!), is the notion that women who were not happy with their birth experience should shut up/get over it. I’m not the shut-up type, I’m afraid; just ask my parents! And no matter how I felt about my birth experience, I did not and have not let it color how I feel about my children.

    For the record: I drank the occasional glass of wine during pregnancy, I ate processed foods, and I supplemented with formula here and there. I’m not a Sanctimommy, nor do I play one in my work; in fact, quite the opposite, and I don’t enjoy being told that I am that type. I’m not crazy, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, or privileged. Thanks to everyone for a very lively discussion!


  153. JR says:

    You need to come to peace with this! You have two healthy children and having regret over how they were born isn’t helpful to anyone. How you give birth does not define you as a woman or a mother. If one of your babies had gotten stuck during birth, gone without oxygen and suffered brain damage, then you would have a reason to be upset and to feel let down by the medical community. Their job is to make sure you and your babies are healthy, not for you to realize some potentially unrealistic birth plan.

    Obviously you feel how you feel. I can relate to some extent and, obviously, other women can relate. But I realized within a few weeks of my emergency c-section that what happened was to protect my son’s health. And that’s all that matters. I’m at peace with that.

  154. sdoula says:

    Bravo for telling YOUR story, sharing YOUR feelings…I am sure there are others that will be touched by this.

  155. janedough says:

    @Amy MD – You write: “Denise Schipani’s ‘problem’ is not the result of her C-sections; it is the result of her uncritical acceptance of the notion that women should be judged by their birth ‘performance.’ I disagree. The problem is that from 1965 to 2007, the U.S. caesarean rate increased from 4.5% to 31.8%. American women’s uteri have not changed; something in the medical field has. Let’s find out what, and fix it.

  156. e90 says:

    i am sorry, but is this for real?
    if so – you need to get over yourself- this is one of the most self-focused, disturbing articles i have read on the topic..

    if i didn’t know better i would assume this anger came from your children having health defects, etc- but no, it seems in the few words actually spoken about them, that they are fine. you just had a dream-land view of what it was like to give birth and it didn’t happen..

    well sweet heart, let me tell you – instead of being so focused on how you were cheated from some idealistic view of childbirth – why don’t you take a look around and see how you were also spared the pain of a child with disabilities – that most likely would have happened if you had gotten your way.. take a look at cerebral palsy stats… you are lucky you weren’t trying to pull off some home birth – you were lucky to have access to medical care, and lucky to have 2 healthy babies.

    take a look at medical care in 3rd world countries, and women who get to have the birth you “dreamed” of.. check out the mortality rate.. check out birth defects, etc..

    really take a few minutes to look at ANYTHING other than yourself.

    i get this is an opinion, but to see this much ranting, rage, and anger spewed onto a page over the birth, and not the outcome (aka the child) is just weird, and wrong.

    you have 2 healthy kids, go be a mom to them, and move on from this.
    you sound just like a bride who only wanted the wedding,and not the marriage.

  157. puasamanda says:

    It is a simple fact that the current medical model of “actively managed” birth is a direct contributor to the rise in C-sections in this country. Time after time, study after after study, and expert after expert show the same thing: the single most important thing contributing to an optimal outcome for mother and baby is the CONSTANT SUPPORT and presence of a trained birth professional. How could a hospital ever support that? It wouldn’t be financially feasible, so that first, most-important thing isn’t even an option for laboring women. Furthermore, it has been proven over and over that current “standard procedures” such as continuous fetal monitoring, withholding food and drink from the laboring woman, restricting the movement of laboring women, and the lithotomy position for pushing all actually work AGAINST birth. Are C-sections wonderful tools? Yes, they are, and I for one am very glad to have access to them when necessary. But until the current standards of care are updated to optimize the chance for a non-surgical outcome, then women have the right to question their C-sections. Telling this woman or any other to just be happy about their healthy baby and quit “whining” about the surgery makes no sense at all unless one can know for sure that everything possible was done to ensure that a non-surgical birth had every chance of success…and it is a simple truth that in almost every hospital, that happens so rarely that it might as well be never. Hospital policies actively work against unremarkable, vaginal deliveries, and there is no denying that! Hoping to have a non-surgical birth experience isn’t some “idealistic” or rosy-colored pipe dream for women who have bought into the idea as some marker for “perfect” motherhood. It is simply envisioning birth as something that should be as close to what nature intended as possible. There is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, it is in fact the healthiest and best outcome for both mother and baby. Until policy turns to support that (starting with simple things, like allowing women to move around, for goodness’ sake), women have every right to question their surgeries, and even be angry about the possibilities that were lost to them. Knowing that everything was done to support you in labor and THEN you had a C-section is one thing…but knowing that hospital policy was working AGAINST you and then you had a C-section? Yeah, I might be pissed off, too.

  158. Denise says:

    @puasamanda: Thank you. What you said, exactly. Thank you.


  159. anon says:

    The World Health Organization says that once Cesarian rates exceed 15 percent, Cesarian starts leading to worse health outcomes for mothers and babies. I don’t think a single poster here supports a too-high Cesarian rate. The problem with Denise’s essay, however, is that it is hardly clear that her Cesarians fall into the unnecessary/harmful bucket. Her doctor offered them when her labors were failing to progress – in the second case, apparently because the child was lodged under her pubic bone. In the many places where Cesarian is not an option for women, this is the kind of thing that can and does kill and injure thousands of women and children each year. In her own two cases, Denise does not cite ANY of the negative health outcomes – from breastfeeding problems to infection to problems with subsequent pregnancies – that society is trying to avoid by reducing the Cesarian rate. She and quite a few commenters appear to have confused the push for healthier births with her own “craving” for an ideal “birth experience” – one with “light and rush and heat.” This is the point she appears to be missing. I care whether Denise and her children are healthy, but don’t particularly care if her ideal experience was lost in order to get them there.

  160. anon says:

    “Failure to progress” is bullsh*t.

  161. Docwife says:

    My husband is a family practice doctor who recently decided to quit doing OB, mainly because the lifestyle is difficult and because of the increase in liability. He never had a bad outcome of any sort in the thousands of babies he delivered, but after reading this article, I am glad as anything he is out of this business. I know there are certainly bad doctors but in reality most doctors try to do what their patients want. And- wow- seeing into the mind of this writer shows me exactly how hard some people with their ideal birthing experience and their I-know-more-than-doctors attitude are to please. Thank goodness he doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.

  162. anon says:

    “Until policy turns to support that (starting with simple things, like allowing women to move around, for goodness’ sake), women have every right to question their surgeries, and even be angry about the possibilities that were lost to them.” It doesn’t sound like hospital policy that Denise wasn’t allowed to move around. It sounds like she asked for an epidural.

  163. Denise says:

    to Anon, below: Actually, well before I got my epidural with the first labor, I was not allowed to move around; they put a fetal monitor on you right away. And in the second labor situation, I didn’t even get an epi until I was about to have the section, because of how quick it all went.

    And to Docwife, yes, most doctors do want to work with patients and do what they want. Many don’t. I didn’t put this in the essay for space reasons, but the first OB I had with my second pregnancy (I’d just moved so I had a new practice since the first pregnancy), had me scheduled for a C-section before he even met me. When I found out, at 20 weeks, and questioned him, he lectured me with scare stories and refused to listen to me, treating me like a misbehaving 5 year old.


  164. anon says:

    That’s unsurprising, since when you ask for an epidural a fetal monitor is almost automatic … because epidurals have been associated with slowing or stopping labor. Since you say you favor pain control, and that “it took a night and a day of five-minutes-apart contractions to get a labor room and an epidural,” I’m assuming that you told them you wanted an epidural.
    It was clear that you didn’t have an epidural the second time, and presumably you were free to move around.
    I wonder if the “scare stories” the doctor lectured you with involved things he witnessed himself such as uterine ruptures. I imagine he was pretty scared, too.

  165. hipmama says:

    Denise, I think it’s shameful that women are made to feel like they are the ones who are messing up. It’s shameful that we should HAVE to advocate for ourselves. It’s shameful that birth in this country is on the course that it’s on. You have every right to be pissed off. I’m pissed off every time a women is told a c-section is necessary because her baby is too big, or her hips are to wide or because baby isn’t in the perfect position. It pisses me off that doctors will say, “Well, we’ll just induce you at this date” because it’s neater and easier for them and not tell women, “though this will increase your risk of cesarian by 60%.” I’m shocked that you made it as far as you did with both pregnancies (full dilated and pushing… an hour of pushing isn’t long at all)! and your doctor wasn’t rallying by your side cheering you on to Thank you for your article.
    And to Docswife — if your husband trivialized his patients feeling and their ability to give birth naturally (as that is exactly what God designed our bodies to do), like you have in your comment I’m glad he’s not in obstetrics anymore either. It sounds like he’s one of the people who is helping contribute to the 30% cesarian rate we have in this country. A rate that is completely troubling to say the least and should be infuriating to anyone who cares about the health of women and babies.

  166. hipmama says:

    edit: I meant to say, “hips aren’t wide enough.” The message over and over again is, “There is something wrong with you. YOUR body is what is defective. Not the system.”

  167. hipmama says:

    omg. i need coffee.
    how the hell do you edit on this thing…
    should read… “rallying you on to finish what you started…”
    And again. Thank you for your article and sharing your experience and feelings.
    Now I’m going to get that coffee.

  168. cantab says:

    I was born by very necessary c-section – my mother and I were both in danger – so I am grateful that that sort of birth was possible.

    However, I think it is interesting that you talk about “fear.” I think people do sometimes fear the pain and enormity of the birth experience, which perhaps leads to a lot of epidurals and elective surgery.

    Although I hadnt’set any kind of hard and fast birth plan, as it turned out I had two natural births and there were moments of fear in both of them – more intensely so the first, time, but my amazing, incredible, skilled, and wise OB pulled me through – she didn’t pressure me – she just had faith in me – “No fear, only baby,” she repeated in a gentle, supportive mantra. The second time I felt a flutter of fear at a distinct moment – oddly enough that was the moment when I felt the baby shift and knew it was almost time to push.

    It probably sounds crazy, but I treasure the memory of that fearful moment. It was intense, it was real, it was scary….It was the moment right before I met my son for the first time…..Maybe similar to the memory of what it feels like right before you jump out of a plane to skydive?

    I guess what I’m saying is – it’s ok to be scared sometimes. And you don’t always have to make the fear go away with medicine and technology. I have since heard about hypno birthing and love the idea that that helps you build tools in advance that you can use to address your fears during labor.

    After all, we encourage our kids to face their fears – my son was deathly afraid of the swimming pool for years, but we didn’t just decide he should always use a motor boat on the water. We worked through it over time. He loves the water now, and he knows his strength.

  169. Docwife says:

    Denise, I think I understand your point a little more when you explain what happened with your first doctor. I do agree incidentally that c-section rates are too high and since I had four vaginal drug-free births, I think its fine to want what you want. The larger point is one of trust. You should be able to trust your doctor and the doctor needs to receive similar respect back from patients in order to properly be able to advise the patients regarding safety for the mom and baby. If the trust breaks down, you’re better off going elsewhere. Also, incidentally, my husband’s c-section rate was very low, but that’s also not a fair comparison because he only did uncomplicated births as a family practice doctor. I do think that this is breaking down, bigtime, in our country and I find the attitude of “doctors are bad” frusterating and wrong. I think you are probably making a different point, but we all come at it with our own sensitivities which is probably why I had a bad reaction to your article. It sounds like you tried very hard to do the right thing and in the end, you had healthy babies so you should be proud of yourself and find peace in that, which you likely do. Good luck to you.

  170. Julie says:

    Thank you so much for your article. Though I’ve always been scared of the pain of childbirth, as a woman I cannot wait to experience it! My EDD was yesterday, and I’m carrying a brilliant 9+ lb baby according to the ultrasounds. He’s head down, I just need to go into labor. Well at my 40 apt yesterday my OB almost scared us into schedule a C, simply because of baby’s size. She listed scary possibilities like shoulder dystocia, and made it seem like our son was in danger. We almost caved– JUST because it is 40 weeks and I haven’t yet delivered and baby is “big.” When I got my head on straight after an hour of crying at home, my husband and I did tons of reading and realized she was just trying to sell us a C, even though we trust her and she’s a great doctor.

  171. Shannon McMahan says:

    I’m expecting my first baby and have been reading a lot of articles like this lately, and on the one hand I’m glad because it’s at least got me thinking, but on the other I honestly don’t relate to women like this. First of all, my mother had me by c section, and she only talks about how excited she was to meet me when she woke up. She doesn’t give a crap about the scar. I’ve also never understood women that passionately want to experience labor pain. Why? Shouldn’t the focus be on a healthy baby, not how it got here? For me, I’m not only scared of labor, but also of the baby getting hurt trying to squeeze through that little opening. People seem to think natural labor is so great, but I’ve personally seen a lot more complications in natural childbirth than with planned c-sections.

    Regarding uncaring doctors forcing decisions down your throat, it’s not cool, but it happens in all kinds of situations not just child birth. For some women I guess it’s the first time they’ve experienced it? I think you just have to learn from the experience, move on, and try to select a better doctor next time. Or if it was really that vile, file a law suit. But what I can’t understand is letting it take the joy of children away and just wallowing in what seems like exaggerated self-pity.

  172. Unpleasantly Surprised says:

    @Shannon McMahan, I’m a little blown away by your comment and I feel that maybe you don’t appreciate the gravity of the debate here. Perhaps it is because you haven’t yet had a baby, but you seem emotionally distanced from the process. I would urge you to look into the benefits of a natural labour and to become better educated about this issue. Watching ‘The Business of Being Born’ is a great starting place. OF COURSE having a healthy baby is ‘what counts’ – no one is debating that, but you only need to look at some statistics to see that American women are being pressured into unnecessary C-sections to suit the business agendas of insurance companies and schedules of some doctors.

    I have two happy, healthy, intelligent, fabulous children and they are an amazing blessing. Every day I feel filled with love and gratitude. The cherry on top was that I was able to deliver them naturally in a supportive environment with no one rushing me or telling me it was taking too long, or otherwise creating unnecessary panic. As a result I was able to give birth with no meds, no interventions, no IV, no one telling me I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink or that I couldn’t move around. I was encouraged to put faith in my body’s ability to rise to an amazing challenge. I, too, am so grateful for Caesarean sections because, without them, my husband would not be here. His mother was hemhorraging from an undiagnosed placenta previa (it was 1968) and it is likely both would have died without a C-section. But this type of situation should be the exception to the rule – there are far fewer emergencies than the American Healthcare system would have us believe.

    The truth is that epidurals and electronic fetal monitoring (common practice in many American hospitals from what I understand) force women to remain horizontal and that position makes it physically impossible for the pelvis to fully open. Then babies get trapped in the birth canal and go into distress. (Call in the forceps or the c-section.)

    Clearly, this is NOT a case of the occasional doctor letting his or her patients down; it’s a widespread epidemic of women having control over their bodies taken away from them at the time when they are most vulnerable and (at risk of being) fearful. That’s what’s not cool.

    Childbirth is a normal process which a woman’s body (generally speaking) is designed to do. A normal delivery should not be a retroactive diagnosis. I feel for Denise and I acknowledge that she was possibly robbed of an amazing, life-altering experience. Fortunately, she will ALSO have the amazing, life-altering experience of raising her children and I think she is well aware of that fact, despite some of the patronizing comments on this thread.

    Everything puasamanda is RIGHT ON.

  173. Anon says:

    This thought that epidurals and electronic fetal monitoring FORCE women to stay still and take away their choice seems a bit backward. No one forces laboring mothers to choose an epidural. And it appears that the Cesarians in this essay were in fact Denise’s choice.

  174. Shannon McMahan says:

    I appreciate your perspective “unpleastantly surprised”, but I come from a very large family and my perspective is largely based on their experiences. Of course I’m open minded and willing to entertain the opinions of those on internet chat boards, but honestly, of all the many women I know I don’t know ANY that would describe their experience in the way that I’ve heard it described by you or others on this thread. My cousins and friends were all in horrible pain, glad the pain was over, and speak more about just being relieved that the baby was healthy. Even if you take into account stories I’ve seen of women on television, they all go in wanting natural child birth and end up being on drugs because they can’t handle the pain. Why should I walk around thinking that A.) my baby is magically going to be in a great position, and B.) I can handle the pain no problem even though I know no one who could. I pray that my experience won’t be as bad as theirs, but I am prepared for the worst.

    Based on all that, I can’t help but think that the wonderful experience you describe is rare, and for some reason women like this writer are bamboozled into holding that up as a standard… then are crushed with anger and disappointment when it doesn’t turn out that way. If only the doctor would have let me lay in horrible pain for 3 more hours maybe I would have avoided this c-section! I just don’t think of things that way. Actually I think that my attitude is realistic and healthy in that it isn’t setting myself up for some gigantic fall bc my experience wasn’t as awesome as some urban legend I heard once.

  175. Shannon McMahan says:

    And another thing – why is she “pissed off” that other women are blase about c sections? I can understand being bitter toward the women that had easy births (similar to the way overweight people are angry at naturally thin people), but blase about c sections? How is that any of your business? Talk about issues.

  176. Unpleasantly Surprised says:

    Hi again.

    “I can’t help but think that the wonderful experience you describe is rare, and for some reason women like this writer are bamboozled into holding that up as a standard… then are crushed with anger and disappointment when it doesn’t turn out that way.”

    I think it’s the opposite, in fact. People in the US hear about the birth experiences available in other countries (usually countries with a system where midwifery is part of the healthcare system and not seen as outsiders or an hippy outsiders) and are fighting to make that the norm. This is BECAUSE of the negative childbirth experiences had by so many people, including the friends and family you described.

    I didn’t have my babies in the US. That’s precisely why my experience sounds so foreign (‘rare’) to you.

    “If only the doctor would have let me lay in horrible pain for 3 more hours maybe I would have avoided this c-section.” Well, umm, no. It’s the lying down while in labour that CAUSES so many unnecessary c-sections, which is why I would advocate avoiding epidurals and electronic fetal monitoring… does anyone else think that’s ironic that the thing that is supposed to monitor your baby’s heart rate to ensure it is stable is the same thing that causes it to drop?! It’s completely backwards and there are (obviously)other reliable, safe ways of monitoring a baby’s heartrate while in labour, that enable you to move around and stay vertical. Gravity is an enormous help in a successful vaginal birth.

    Re: “why is she ‘pissed off’ that other women are blase about C-sections?” She isn’t. Her comment specifically refers to scheduled C-sections, which is a completely different discussion.

  177. Unpleasantly Surprised says:

    Many apologies; my post is riddled with errors. I find it hard to edit when the two little joys of my life are running around!

  178. puasamanda says:

    @ Shannon McMahan

    Just wanted to say congratulations! It is such an exciting time – my first just turned a year old, and it has all been everything I ever dreamed of and then even BETTER than that :)

    I do want to add to what Unpleasantly Surprised said regarding the chance to move around during labor. It really is one of the most effective ways of reducing pain and discomfort. Labor hurts, no question there. But so does a charley horse, you know? Imagine having that terrible muscle cramp and not being able to move around and stretch to ease it out. It is so much worse if you just sit there and stay still! Lying still in the prone position in labor is like that…if you can get up, walk, move around, change position freely and often, the pain of labor does not have to be the all-consuming marathon of suffering that so many women in this country are involved in (which, naturally, results in yelling “I want my epidural NOW!”). Moving around helps ease pain, it assists the baby in getting into the right positions (as they have to move several times for a vaginal birth), and good ole gravity gets to help mom out, too. With my son, I had a good OB, who was not actually present until the time came to “catch” the baby. This is not at all unusual. My labor was actually managed by three OTHER doctors who were working labor and delivery. A woman can’t “shop around” for a doctor as easily as people seem to think. The doctor you see for all your prenatal care may indeed not be at the hospital until the baby is arriving. After all, they have other patients, too – a full practice, appointments to keep, etc. Anyway, although my OB was a great doctor, and I trusted him very much – he wasn’t there until it was almost over! So I was subject to “hospital policy” just as much as anyone else. This meant that WITHOUT AN EPIDURAL, I was still restricted to bed on my back. The fetal monitor, the mandatory IV, and the mandatory blood pressure cuff meant that I had to unhook everything just to use the bathroom. Every time I did, a nurse would come bolting in wondering why the readings were all off (they didn’t stay with me or anything – they just watch your readings from the nurses’ station). After the second time, I had to actually argue with FIVE PEOPLE to NOT get a catheter (they didn’t want me going to the bathroom and having to unhook everything each time). Obviously, a catheter would have been one more thing tying me to bed. The whole labor was like that…arguing constantly to be able to do simple things that would HELP speed labor along and provide me non-medicated relief…nothing out-there, just things like leaning over the bed and having my husband rub my back, or rocking in the rocking chair that was in the room, or getting into a warm shower (in the room). It wasn’t like I was trying to have the baby under a tree in a garden in the moonlight. I was just trying to utilize the “birthing suite” as it was set up already! They treated me like I was a big, crazy inconvenience (which I suppose I was). The constant harassment to just “lie back and let us tell you everything” continued right up to pushing. The SECOND I was at ten centimeters, they started having me push like hell (the baby was in no distress, was tolerating labor beautifully, and indeed, appeared quite relaxed). Did you know that many, if not MOST women don’t feel the urge to push immediately upon reaching ten centimeters? Instead, it is not uncommon for labor to quiet at the point…quiet enough for mama to get a little sleep even (awesome to rest before the big push)! And to push before there is an urge to push is a big, EXHAUSTING exercise in futility. Nothing will happen. But hospitals want you in and out…so they will have you push, even though it has no effect other than making you too tired to finish the job when it really is time. An hour into pushing (like the author here), they called for a C-section. In order to make it official, they wanted my OB to sign off on it, because I was saying a big, fat NO, not until I talked to MY DOCTOR. He rushed in and saved the day by insisting I have more time. In fact, he made sure I had another two hours…keeping an eye on the baby the whole time, of course. I didn’t start feeling a strong URGE to push until almost two hours after reaching ten centimeters. Once the urge hit me, that baby was out in ten minutes (and had not once shown a single sign of distress). If my OB hadn’t been able to be there to advocate for me (the baby was FINE throughout, why did they want a C-section?), I would have had surgery. The pressure to do so before he arrived was INTENSE, and I was definitely caving. I couldn’t make a sound decision in the middle of all that chaos! Thankfully, I had my son vaginally. When I think of how close it came to an unnecessary surgery, I cringe. That is why I will always support women like this author who question that surgery. I have seen, up close and personal, how a progressive, cutting edge hospital with “liberal” policies can rope a mom into the surgery with absolutely NO INDICATORS to do so. I’ve also seen how choosing the “right” doctor doesn’t guarantee that you will escape an unnecessary surgery. What if he had been dealing with a TRUE emergency and couldn’t have been there? I wish I knew then what I know now about birth, but I will always be grateful that it worked out even though I was ignorant enough to trust the hospital. I will never take for granted how lucky I was to escape the scalpel.

  179. anna says:

    It is a relief to see so many women chiming in and being great birthing advocates. I worked as a labor & delivery RN for eight years before I quit to become a photographer (lost a baby and my fertility with my second pregnancy, so I needed a new direction for a while). In that time, I feel I trained myself–I went from being groomed for the “system” to realizing that the system is what is defeating women again and again and again. It defeated me while I was even trying to advocate for myself. One thing to point out that no one (or at least I hadn’t seen it mentioned) is that all of this terrible labor that women think of over the last decade-plus? Most of it isn’t REAL LABOR. Most contractions women remember are Pitocin or (God-forbid) Cytotec-induced. This isn’t how your body was meant to birth. We really do have a pretty close-to-perfect-system. My heart breaks that the author was scared to death and felt no one there was empowering her. Her head and heart were absolutely in the right place. Who’s to say what was really going on during her second labor, but I’d venture to guess that she was laying down while pushing, which does no good for anyone at all. Just giving hugs to everyone here.

  180. JillyBean says:

    Having done it both ways I found that a scheduled C-section is the most civilized, dignified and easy way to give birth. I would choose it a thousand times over a natural birth. I’m unhappy that I felt I had to do it naturally as some sort of “badge of womanly honor” when it could have been so much easier by simply scheduling the C.

    The only thoughts that came to mind when I read this essay were “get up out of your pity party and get on with your life already.” This over romanticized idea of birth is getting so old already. How many times must this subject be rehashed and the two sides fight each other? How many times must The Business of Being Born be pimped out as the bible for natural birth?

    There are thousand upon thousands of women in America who would give a limb for the chance to give birth to a healthy child via c-section. Lets try and keep a little perspective here.

  181. Arghhh says:

    The reading comprehension on this thread beggars belief.

    Once and for all, this article is NOT about scheduled c-sections; it’s about c-sections that are peddled as ‘emergencies’ when, in fact, they might be completely unnecessary uses of major abdominal surgery. I really don’t think this is unclear.

    And JillyBean, don’t you think it’s a little ignorant to start talking about what you would ‘choose a thousand times over’ when, in fact, the whole point of the article is that author is traumatized by the fact that she feels her ‘choice’ was taken away?

    What I would choose or what you would choose is totally irrelevant. This is the story of a woman who suspects that, during her most vulnerable and frightened moments, her trust was betrayed by the very people she hired to encourage and empower her in that moment of need. She feels her choice was stolen from her.

    Seriously, don’t they teach reading comprehension in U.S. schools?

  182. anon says:

    I think if you asked most doctors and nurses, they wouldn’t say their main job is to “encourage and empower” patients, although they probably hope they accomplish that while doing their main job. Which in the case of labor and delivery, is to preserve the health of mother and child. They can’t stop a patient who perhaps unwittingly wants to pursue an unhealthy course of action, but they can refuse to participate in that case. Why would you empower a patient to do something that is medically disastrous? You could say that preserving someone’s life and health is probably the biggest source of power you could ultimately give that person.

  183. Jillybean says:

    Arghh, it’s people like you and your BS lines about empowerment and choice that make it impossible for women like the author to get on with their lives. It is not the job of the doctor or nurse to encourage and empower a mother in labor, it’s their job to safely deliver a baby. If you want your choices over a medical opinion have a home birth, but don’t you dare demonize doctors for making a decision they deem medically necessary.

  184. Arghh says:

    But it isn’t a ‘BS line’. Medical birthing professionals are in agreement that the key determinant in a successful vaginal birth is for the mother to be a supportive environment where she is free to move around, eat and drink to keep her strength up and, importantly, to be accompanied throughout the labour by a person who offers encouragement. So this isn’t some hippy mumbo jumbo – it’s documented fact, demonstrated by numerous studies, as well as by the lower rates of emergency c-sections in midwife-led practices. In fact, it’s common knowledge… and common sense.

    If a doctor’s job is to safely deliver a baby (and I have no doubt that this is precisely what his/her job is supposed to be) then why do so many doctors insist on strapping electronic fetal monitors on and making labouring women lie down, thus disabling the mother-to-be’s pelvis from opening fully and often sending the baby (you know, they baby whose safe delivery they are responsible for?) into distress?

    Yes it’s illogical, isn’t it?

    I think Anna the former L & D RN’s comment (below) addresses this issue quite well. Doctors are people and they are part of a system – I’m sure they are doing the best they can but they system needs to be questioned and changed where appropriate.

    For the record, I did not have home births but, if I had, they would have been attended by certified nurse midwives, who ARE experienced, educated, medical professionals. Therefore, I would not have had to make a choice between what I wanted and medical opinion. The medical opinion would have been right there beside the birthing tub and (in this scenario) if they decided I needed to go to hospital, I would have done so.

    The majority of women’s bodies are built to deliver babies; this is how the world was populated. We are very fortunate to have Caesareans for emergency situations to enable the other women (up to approximately 15% if you believe the World Health Organization or a plethora of other professional health organizations) to safely deliver their babies.

    Studies show that there are (statistically) far more negative health outcomes for women and babies following C-sections than for vaginal deliveries – this information is widely available. For this reason, it is the responsibility of medical professionals to avoid them unless medically necessary.

  185. anon says:

    It sounds like the only medical birthing professional you actually trust is a certified nurse midwife. Who might send you to a hospital and a doctor. Who might conclude that the best option is a Cesarian. Who you would then slag as being part of the evil interventionist system. In Denise’s situation, she read up on childbirth and Cesarian, rejected the first doctor who thought a VBAC attempt was too risky, and found another doctor who was open to the risks of a trial of labor after Cesarian. And how does she repay this open-minded and courageous doctor, who is willing to deal with the somewhat daunting uterine rupture stats? She insults her and labels her part of the Cesarian-selling machine by IMAGINING that the doctor is glancing at her watch. Why would she do this? Why doesn’t she trust the doctor who let her try? You can’t tell from the essay – which is easily one of the shortest I’ve read on Babble.
    If you want to read something that makes a compelling and non-whiny case for the feelings of women who have experienced unwanted Cesarians, both necessary and not, try this thread from Mothering:

  186. Arghh says:

    Truth is, I wouldn’t have a clue who to trust if I had to give birth in the U.S. The American birth stories I read online scare me, but I can only assume that people are more likely to post about bad experiences than good. That’s what I hope, anyway. I have no inherent fear of or problem with doctors – quite the opposite, in fact. I tell you who I wouldn’t trust though: someone who made me lie on a bed against my wishes while I was labouring normally because that’s just stupid. In Denise’s case, we will never know whether her c-section was medically necessary and I feel sorry for her – not because she had what could very well have been life-saving surgery – but because she lives with the knowledge that she MAY have gone through the trauma without good cause. Because we can all see that there is plenty of evidence that that DOES happen, especially in the USA, and it is wrong and dangerous for mothers and for babies. Thank you for the link; I’ll read it in the morning.

  187. Denise says:

    Anon, Jul 30, below: The doctor’s practice I switched to had a lead doctor, an older-ish man, who was willing to let me try VBAC and who agreed with my assessment of the research that VBAC wasn’t the big scary dangerous approach other doctors did. The woman in his practice who ended up being on call the night I came in I had met once, and had said to me, at that appointment, “Oh, you’re the VBAC. Well, I guess we’ll let you try, but I think you’re crazy.” So yeah, respect. She was not the courageous, sympathetic doctor you make her out to be.

  188. Anon says:

    Respect the readers enough to put salient points like this in your original and not-very-persuasive essay.

  189. Reflections on the State of Our says:

    I just finished reading Half The Sky, a book about the way women are treated throughout the world. I recommend it as required reading for all women. There is extensive coverage in the book of the desperate need for so many to women in the developing world to have access to prenatal and adequate maternity care. The book makes the point that a skilled midwife has NOT proven to be effective for saving women’s lives and that the critical component is to have doctors or other practitioners able to perform c-sections. The author discusses how many woman and babies die because they do not have access to c-sections and the horrible consequences of a lack of maternal care (fistulas, etc). I finished this book right before I read this article, and I think it is sad that here we are in our country complaining and fretting about the “gravity of the debate here” about c-sections. Yes, there are too many c-sections. But we need to keep a little perspective here. We are complaining from a standpoint of great blessing and what we are complaining about- not having the ideal birthing experience- is sort of a like a rich teenager complaining about not having her 15th pair of designer jeans. What we as women should do is fight for access for health care for the rest of the world and care as much about the women dying from A LACK OF C-SECTIONS as we care about the trauma of our own less than ideal birthing experience.

  190. Anonymous says:

    @Reflections… this is precisely why midwives and doctors work together as part of teams in countries outside the U.S.

  191. But says:

    Also @Reflections, in terms of gratitude you are right on the money. We SHOULD be grateful for the care available to us when we *need* it. In terms of comparisons, though, I think we should be looking at other developed, progressive nations (ones with C-section rates hovering around 15% ideally) and seeing what they are doing well that we could be doing better. Obviously, prenatal and maternal care in developing countries is unlikely to be as good as ours. It’s comparing apples and oranges. Be grateful, yes, but always keep striving for improvement befitting a first world nation. Especially as in the States, we *pay* for it. The only way to improve maternal care is to openly discuss it, not to shut down such discussions.

    And yes, we absolutely should fight for access for health care for the rest of the world – it’s sadly underprioritized. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be fighting a related-but-different battle at home.

    And the comparison about the teenager complaining about designer jeans? Sadly, it’s more like a teenager complaining about her second nose job. Because it’s surgery.

  192. Anonymous says:

    Reflections, with all due respect you are missing the point here. No one is advocating that women forsake prenatal care, shun all medical interventions and give birth in fields, with no doctors on call. What they are advocating is actually along the same lines as what you are describing- what is best for women and their health. I suggest you next pick up one of the many many books on THIS topic. More medical interventions than necessary is not better simply b/c some medical interventions are at times necessary, and it is exactly that line of thinking that is undermining women’s and babies’ safety in birth in the UNITED STATES. And frankly what you say makes me really angry too. It just doesn’t make any sense. Be grateful you have the access to medical health! Therefore never complain if it is misused! Totally illogical. What you describe is a travesty, but has nothing to do with what is going on here. This is far, far more than some women upset that they didn’t get a homebirth with all the hippy trappings. It is so, so much more than that.

  193. anon says:

    Anonymous, I’m not sure there’s real agreement on what “this topic” is. You seem to think it is about unnecessary Cesarians. But there’s really no evidence in this essay, aside from the high U.S. Cesarian rate, that her particular Cesarians, after her particularly long and unsuccessful labors, were unnecessary. So to the average reader, this topic looks more like a woman who had the privilege of choosing a medical procedure offered by her doctors, chose it, and has spent years complaining about her choice.
    As a side note, I’d love to hear from some experienced OB’s on whether there’s any way to know for sure that a labor is going off the rails. I suspect it is as much art as science. Exactly how long are you supposed to let someone push when they are making no progress at all? Because it’s pretty clear there was no progress either time. I’m guessing that period is quite a bit shorter for a trial of labor after Cesarian.

  194. Anonymous says:

    No evidence? Really? She pushed for ONE HOUR, was offered surgery, and you think that that indicates a healthy, responsibly handled labor? That is not “pretty clear” that there was no progress, at all. The average reader thinks she sounds spoiled b/c the average person has no idea how messed up our system is.

  195. anon says:

    What evidence there is in this essay:

    During pregnancy number one: she had been in labor, according to her telling, for a full day and a half. Hard to say precisely, but it sounds like 36 hours. Pushing was “fruitless.” Her doctor offered a Cesarian and she CHOSE it.
    Pregnancy number two, the child was apparently stuck behind her pubic bone, according to Denise via the doctor (although as she didn’t mention in this essay, she does not trust her doctor.) Yet when this untrustworthy doctor offered her a Cesarian, she again CHOSE it.

    Babble editors have given this the subtitle : “The problem with doctors, not moms, picking the birth method.” Why?

  196. Anonymous says:

    Without being there, simply stating that labor lasts a day and a half means nothing. Active labor? Labor from start to finish? Pushing for one hour is not evidence either. Pushing can feel fruitless. But it’s not. You need ENCOURAGEMENT from people who are going to suggest fruitful alternatives, like moving, resting, standing up, changing positions, relaxing the mother. The choices women make in this birth model are choices they make when they are in pain, vulnerable, unsupported, and they are choices provided by doctors who are trained to intervene, not let a unimpeded birth unfold while supporting a mother emotionally and physically. (Another tidbit: labor is more likely to go smoothly when the mother is relaxed, not hurried) The reason I don’t think she CHOSE it freely is one that is complex and requires looking more closely into birth in this country, and how it compares to other industrialized nations with lower infant and maternal mortality, and lower surgical birth rates. I don’t fault her for “choosing” that b/c I know the context that women often choose it. It’s not much of a choice. Instead I try to have compassion to understand the enormous regret they must feel for not expending huge amounts of time and energy learning how to have an optimal birth experience. They shouldn’t have to do that. They should be able to trust their doctors. And then they have these experiences and their trust is shaken, and they are left to work out the emotions. And if they do so publicly, they get shamed.

  197. Reflections says:

    The anonymous posters says my point does not make sense because I am comparing apples to oranges. I hear from you that you absolutely certain c-sections are rarely necessary. You also seem to be perpetuating some kind of dreamy myth about the naturalness or beauty of birth. Birth can be brutal, hard, and very deadly without medical care. This is the point Half the Sky drives home. Your opinion is routed not in fact nor in any sort of sophistication. If you know only your own culture, where you have the luxury to complain and complain about TOO MUCH healthcare, then you forget how desperately so many people in the world are for a little healthcare. It is like the fools who refuse vaccines while people in other parts of the world will walk hundreds of miles to vaccinate their children. Those people know the difference medicine makes because they have lived without it. They know death. We know luxury. Of course doctors make mistakes and c-sections can be driven by patients who are scared of natural labor. But I’ll let the doctor be the judge of it, not me. And a little gratitude from all of us about the luxury we have to assume life in the face of birth is warranted.

  198. Anonymous says:

    On the contrary, our opinions are based in fact.

  199. anon says:

    American women are so “unsupported” in hospital births with doctors, nurses, and husbands/partners at their sides that the vast majority of them give birth vaginally. If labor were an election, vaginal birth would still be winning by what politicos call a landslide. But because that rate is 70 percent, rather than 85 percent (and to be frank, the WHO confesses that it doesn’t really have all much evidence that 15 percent IS the right number, Cesarian-wise) some here are demanding that American women ALSO be supported automatically by midwives and doulas. Because we are not privileged enough.
    Unless, perhaps, you are saying that they should ONLY be directly supported by midwives, which is the way it works not only in many poor countries, where childbirth kills and injures women every single day, but also in many progressive countries, where midwife-attended births are the main option and complications lead to what I’m sure is a super-pleasant and peaceful hospital transfer. Frankly, I too favor this model … for MYSELF. It is already available in this country, in the five cities I have lived in as an adult. The biggest loss there, of course, is the ability to get epidural pain relief. You and I -who both favor natural birth, by the way – may think that epidural is not much of a loss. But I am not voting to take that choice in particular from laboring women, because I don’t think absence of choice for pain relief truly qualifies as support. And there’s the rub about choice. Most women in labor report experiencing intense pain. Many women in labor are scared. That will be true no matter where they are, who is around them, and what their choices are. It is not only Cesarian that leaves women with emotions that they must work out – birth trauma has a million ugly heads.
    Which leads to a word about shame. In this case, the shame, like the Cesarians, appears to have been chosen.

  200. Anonymous says:

    Yes, doctors are really supportive of intervening. You make it sound like free standing birthing centers are plentiful, available, and readily supported. I’m in Chicago and there were none in my state when I gave birth. Homebirth was not covered by my insurance and I couldn’t afford it. I chose a supposedly progressive hospital, used a midwife, and was treated like garbage without rights, though I won’t get into that, and ultimately my birth went as planned, thanks to my midwife. I won’t even get into the mistreatment and lack of autonomy women face while laboring in hospitals. This is not ideal, considering the optimal conditions we supposedly have. And it’s something that be fixed. I’m so sick of women who complain about these gross misuses of medical care being told to stop complaining, b/c we have a baby, could be without ANY care, and on and on. It is a straw man in this argument.

  201. Anonymous says:

    oh and regarding the choice for an epidural, of course I wouldn’t take that away either. But for starters they aren’t generally even educated about the potential risks, and the likelihood of a cascade of interventions.

    I’m saying they should be supported BETTER and more effectively and more humanely, not that we need to be privileged MORE. Again, the spoiled, whining accusations. I’m saying laboring women are not truly supported in a manner that actually helps them have the best outcomes for mother AND baby. Defensive medicine is not safer.

  202. anon says:

    But you are responding to an essay in which a woman DID have the best outcome, and is complaining only about the loss of a “birth experience.” About a situation in which her Cesarians may well have been completely necessary – she really should talk to her doctor about that. And about a situation that she chose, as much as any laboring woman can choose anything. I haven’t seen anyone here argue that our health care system here can’t be improved, that the Cesarian rate shouldn’t be lower, and that there aren’t problems associated with unnecessary Cesarians. That’s what you are attempting to write about. The problem is, Denise’s essay doesn’t seem to be related to any of that. Yet, still, she is “angry.” And you are angry, too, about being treated like garbage. But that’s not what this essay was about.

  203. Anonymous says:

    No, a cesarian that may not have been necessary is not the best outcome.

  204. Anonymous says:

    You can endlessly obsess about whether or not your c-section was necessary. There are many people out there who will help you obsess about it, especially if you look online. But you know what, the by-line is pretty… incredible? Yes, doctors, not mothers have the knowledge to suggest you have a c-section. I mean, they have the knowledge and the experience. I would never second guess my OB.

  205. anon says:

    Indicated vs. un indicated Cesarian. Population analysis versus individual analysis. The quest for certainty that only a time machine could grant. A truly fruitful discussion here:

  206. Thank goodness for csections says:

    i had a c-section after having dilated only 3 cm a day after my water had broken, even after having been pumped with pitocin. It wasn’t optimal but I refuse to feel like I’ve failed as a woman. in fact. I’m grateful to have had the surgery. Giving birth for me was less about my personal fulfillment and more about the safety of my baby.

  207. JP says:

    Denise (Author), I am so sorry you had to go through that experience. My C-section was for a different reason, but I definitely remember that feeling of not being there, not being a part of my child’s birth since he was “taken from me.” I feel like I failed as a woman, even though it wasn’t my choice to get a C-section (and in my opinion, I don’t think I needed one.) I know it was not your ideal experience, and you feel scarred from it, same as I do. I feel your pain. I’m still in “mourning” due to such a horrible birth experience, 2 1/2 years after my son was born.
    I read one of the comments earlier that said another woman has PTSD due to a traumatic birth. I’ve never been diagnosed with that disorder, but certainly think I have it due to my C-section. I’m glad to hear that at least some doctors acknowledge how devastating and traumatic alternate births (something straying from your ideal birth plan) can be.

  208. birth anarkissed says:

    @ Denise. I hear you. Thank you.
    @ Dr. Amy you seem to suffer from a ‘foot-in-a-mouth’ disease proving it time and time again.
    You say posted a quotation from Kukla’s article “there is no objective evidence that single moments of motherhood determine the long term well being of a child or determine the strength of the mother-child bond;” You must be joking! We know that single moments in a woman’s life can have life-long lasting effects and determine a myriad of things, particularly her relationships with others (partners, children, parents, etc.) and her sense of identity. We know that very well from survivor’s stories that were for so long disregarded and muted by ‘just get over your self-indulgent and obsessive whining’ and the medical community. We have mountains of studies showing the profound effect that a few minutes in woman’s life can have. We also know from studies that are there, and that you have access to and are aware of, showing that the childbearing experience can have tremendous impact on many effects of a woman’s life – like her identity, her relationship with her partner and her children, her bonding experience with her infant, as well as future health concerns for both her and the child from the birth if she is unable to breastfeed. Why do you continue spewing these lies masquerading as facts I do not understand. One has only to check out your website to realize that you are just crazy and must really hate other women. I do encourage you to seek help in getting your issues resolved because dear Dr. admittedly your totally and paralyzing fear of childbirth and hatred of woman’s fertility can influence other uneducated and uninformed individuals.

  209. blessed with a scar says:

    I am so tired of hearing women complain about c-sections, and I know it won’t ever end. I had a complete previa with NO chance of a “regular” birth. My scar is a wonderful reminder that I am a woman who was lucky and blessed enough to have a successful pregnancy and bring an amazing little girl into this world. Not every woman can even become pregnant. I love my scar and will never forget the tears of joy I had during my surgery because I choose to wrap my arms around the moment instead of being selfish enough to let my mind be elsewhere during the birth. I did give birth, I have a scar, and I think no less of myself as a woman.

  210. Midwives Rock says:

    Clearly, there are cultural variations in how we see and treat childbirth. For myself, I was far more terrified of a csection, and had the misfortune of going to an ob/gyn for 7mos with my first. Because I had moved, I needed to get a new provider pretty late in the game, and a group of midwives (who are part of a large ob/gyn practice) were highly recommended by a few friends. This was clearly the best choice for me! While my first ob. provided little to no birthing info – the midwives STRONGLY encouraged education on pain meds, birthing techniques, factors that might lead to c-section – everything! They engaged me in a very active role in my pregnancy and baby’s birth, and I am grateful for it! They not only provided great peace of mind, but helped me be as prepared as I probably could be first time going in. I can only appreciate the mourning process of not having that “ideal” birthing experience when one has a csection – but I think it helps for women to empower themselves LONG before they go into the delivery room and hopefully find an advocate they can trust to help execute your wishes (with you and your baby’s health as a first priority). I understand my care was likely and exception in the US, and I truly hope this high quality of care becomes more available. Unfortunately, I DO think the childbirth process is still OVERLY laden with poor patient education and simple fear.

  211. mylittleclotheslinecom says:

    My friend who had a voluntary C-section was encouraged by her doctor months ahead of time to schedule it. She was told her baby was going to be big (around 10 pounds). So she did, but the baby only ended up being just over 8 pounds. I know many doctors who offer fantastic (not to mention knowledgeable) advice, but I think it’s always important to question further and ultimately make the decision yourself.

  212. justathought says:

    So the patient was in labor and was offered the option of a c-section for delivery. She chose the c-section instead on continuing to try to deliver vaginally. Now she is upset about her choice. Fine, she has “buyer remorse” completely understandable. However it is not the doctors fault Denise later regreated her delivery choice. How can the doctor know that Denise will be unhappy later with her choice? How can the doctor be blamed for doing a proceedure that the patient agreed to? Clearly the doctor though the C-section option was a resonable choice at the time. Clearly the patient agreed the c-section was resonable as she agreed to the proceedure. How is any of this the doctors fault? You want to be upset you chose a C- section fine, but don’t blame your choice on the Dr. A Dr. has to give the patientthe delivery options. People keep complaining about C-section rates, well that is a delivery option, and people have the right to choose it. If you don’t like it make a law that says Drs. cant offer c-sections unless it is an emergency. bUt don’t plabe the doctors for the high rate of c- sections when poeple are choosing them. Also don’t put ” choice” in quotation. They can say no, if they didn’t and now they feel bad about it that doesn’t mean the didn’t choose it, they just had a change of heart.

  213. Kearsten Hall says:

    @blessed with a scar, I think your X-section and that of Demise cannot be compared really…yours was that of absolute necessity! You and/or baby could have died had you gone into natural labor. Demise got to pushing and the doctor simply couldn’t be bothered! An hour of pushing is on the low end of normal delivery timing for a first time mom, and with a epidural, it usually takes much longer. I pushed for 3 hours with my first and although I ended up with an assisted delivery (no doubt because I had an epidural and was flat on my back), I AM glad that at least my Ob-gyn didn’t make me feel I HAD to have a section. She never even brought it up. She feels cheated and I can understand why. Had it actually been a section because she or baby had needed one, I imagine she would feel much more at ease with the decision. The fact it just wasn’t fast enough for her doctor’s schedule…well, it is no wonder she feels cheated. I would, too. I feel cheated because of some of my birthing experiences, even ones that were out of my control, and I delivered vaginal both times, med free the second time (which is what I had wanted) but I did end up with a spinal the second time due to things out of my control, which meant no water birth for me and although I am happy over all with my last birth, there are things I wish hadn’t happened or I wish I had known about earlier to avoid the need for pain relief to help me quit pushing, but there is nothing I can do about it now and possibly nothing that could have prevented it during…

  214. pam says:

    My story is very similar to this and I had a lot of feelings I had to deal with after. I thought I had finally found peace with how it all played out until I got pregnant with #2. One of the OBs at the practice I used told me a VBAC was not an option. At some point during a visit with one of the other OBs, whom I felt more comfortable with, I had a melt down and asked him to explain why that wasn’t an option for me. I told him about all the feelings of weakness, inadequacy, frustration, guilt and anger I had over my first c-section. He set his chart down, took off his lab coat and we talked. He was kind and gentle. He gave me some questions to think over, told me to do some research and he would consider it and let me know his decision at the next appointment. I cried at the next two appointments, not because he wouldn’t let me have one. One the contrary, he said he would be willing and I just had to let him know my decision by a certain date. I was suddenly worried and confused because of the research I had done. I thought for sure I wanted the VBAC but while all the risks of problems during a VBAC are low, they do exist. I had ended up with a life threatening infection after my first c and my biggest fear was a repeat of that. Apparently, an emergency c-section has higher risk of complications, including infection. There are a lot of other things I took into consideration, but ultimately I decided to have a repeat c-section. I still feel cheat bc I don’t feel my original c-section was necessary and i’ll never have the joy of a vaginal birth, but I finally do feel peace with my decision. In the case of my second child, I felt like I made a decision, MY decision and it was the right decision. I kind of became my doctor’s pet project. He went to extremes to make sure my experience was a good one this time (different doc than when I had my first child). And my husband and I loved his commitment and concern. I think for me, I felt as though I had no say the first time. Like something was taken from me and I no one cared for me properly emotionally or physically. My second experience was much different and I’m okay with it. I still wish I’d gotten to experience a vaginal birth but it doesn’t make me feel weak anymore.

  215. anon says:

    From 10 Centimeters blog:
    “According to a 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal, The Netherlands has a shockingly high perinatal mortality rate, one of the highest among European nations. In the study, the researchers found that infants of LOW RISK pregnant women whose labor started in primary care under the supervision of a midwife in the Netherlands had a higher risk of delivery related perinatal death and the same risk of admission to the NICU compared with infants of HIGH RISK pregnant women whose labor started in secondary care under the supervision of an obstetrician. Doesnt sounds like all those Dutch homebirths are lowering the perinatal mortality rate to me.”
    (chart of maternal mortality, by country)
    And what about maternal health? Thats an indicator of the level of maternity care, too, right? Well, even with its relatively heterogeneous population and universal access to healthcare, the Netherlands has consistently had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Europe as well, especially in the last 10 years. Youll notice that even though the Netherlands has by far the lowest c-section rate in Europe, they have a much higher maternal mortality rate than, say, Italy, whose rate of cesarean delivery exceeds 40%.”

  216. EG says:

    While the C-section rate in this country is high and many decisions to make them are overly conservative and perhaps driven by not right motivations, mortality rates were a lot higher when we didn’t have access to them. Labor is natural but it doesn’t always go the way nature intends. I think the natural birth movement can go too far in playing down the very real complications that do happen in birth and the valuable role medicine plays in those circumstances. sometimes you really do need a C-section and when that happens we should be thankful to have access to safe, reliable ones.

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