As the month of April comes to a close, so does Cesarean Awareness Month #CAM2017. People usually become passionate about certain causes when they or their loved ones are directly affected by said cause. For me, I had a great deal of ignorance about cesarean births before I had one myself.
Before getting pregnant, I viewed cesarean births as a cop-out, the easy way out of labor pains--cheating. I subconsciously viewed mothers who've had cesarean births as having not tried enough, or not strong enough to endure real birth. I qualified my mother’s own cesarean experience to say hers was necessary because she had twins, one of them breech. Which one was breech? Me. I caused my mother to have a cesarean birth.
Twenty-four years after I came out of my own mother’s abdomen feet first, I found myself laying on an operating table awaiting the birth of my own child. She was head-down, engaged, and had managed to help me dilate 8cm. However, 20 hours of position changes, nipple stimulation, pitocin, or prayer would not help me to progress any further. My water had been broken for over 30 hours, I had not eaten or drank anything, had not slept, and was ready to meet my baby. (See how I’m trying to justify my decision for a cesarean. It’s what we do when we feel we could have done better). When my doctor mentioned a cesarean, it sounded right. We had tried everything and I was exhausted. What else could I do? At the time, I felt 100% ok with this decision.
Needless to say, I changed my tune about how I felt about cesarean births and moms who have had them. My cesarean was not a cop-out, I experienced hours upon hours of labor pains, and I most certainly did not cheat. There a million different rhymes and reasons for Cesarean births, I know my story is not everybody’s. But I know we all want what's best for us and for our babies. I am now passionate about a cause that I before had very little experience or sympathy for.
This post is to legitimize every mother who feels like her body failed her, that her birth team wasn’t enough, that her birth wasn’t real, and that the scar on her abdomen means she’s broken. You are strong, and beautiful, and your worth as a mother is not defined by which part of your body your baby came out.
I know that not everybody feels ill-will about their cesarean and does not want to be categorized accordingly by their experience. I see you too. I want to celebrate all mothers who’ve had a cesarean birth be it elected or not, necessary or not, emergent or not, gentle or not. Our scars tell a story and yours is important to me.
I will end with a Maya Angelou quote that I learned from a friend at our local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter meeting: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
--Jenny Knight, BbD birth doula.
Jenny sees every woman as a being of deep power, capable of birthing new life into the world. She is honored to serve and guide women and families as they embark on this journey. No matter the circumstances, pregnancy and childbirth are extraordinary experiences. Every woman and family deserves love and support through this miraculous time.
Thanksgiving week is upon us, and here in Central Arkansas, the weather is finally staying cold!
Most people at this time of the year reflect on what it means to be thankful. I love it when kids are thankful- my nephews are thankful for skunks and cows, my daughter is thankful for her aunts, and my son is thankful that he has a week off of school.
Lots of families have bigger things to be thankful for this season! November is National Preemie Awareness month, and National Adoption Awareness month. Birth by Design works with parents of preemies, providing support for birth and postpartum. We also provide postpartum support for adoptive families. We are here for you, and hope that you can find the support you need and deserve.
If you are the parent of a preemie or an adopted child- we love you, we empathise with you, and many of us have even been in your shoes! We hope that your successes are many and beyond your wildest dreams, and we hope that your struggles are few and easily overcome.
If you are the friend or family member of the parents of a preemie or adopted child, what can you do? I’ve got a little list for you...
1- Listen. Wholeheartedly and without judgement. Ask them how it’s going, ask their story, and listen with love and empathy.
2- Help. Help within the boundaries and rules the parents have put down. (I.e.- don’t pop in expecting to hold a cute baby for a couple of hours. Most preemie parents are cutting out visits until their little one’s immune system is healthy, and lots of adoptive parents are doing all of the cuddling themselves in order to bond. Instead, expect to do some cleaning, laundry or errand running.)
3- Stick around. Lots of families get help at the beginning, when things are new and different and maybe scary. But for families dealing with preemies or adoptions, their story stretches out much longer. They need support that is going to keep coming back and checking in months and even years down the road.
4- Educate yourself! See March of Dimes or Graham’s Foundation for information on preemies. See National Adoption Day or Adopt.org for information on adoption and adoption options..
Please don’t forget Birth by Design this holiday season! We are still seeking donations and families to serve for our Spirit of Giving campaign.
Love and pumpkin pie,
Desiree and the whole BbD Team
April is Cesarean awareness month, and we would like to spotlight all you awesome moms who have experienced a cesarean birth. Whether it was part of your plan or totally unexpected, this birth experience became yours. Whether you had a tough recovery or a relatively uneventful one, you experienced the cesarean recovery. Whether you had a difficult time emotionally dealing with the trauma, or were able to mostly overlook it due to your gratefulness for modern medicine, you were cut. You have a scar, and a beautiful one, at that. We want to celebrate it, because of the strength it represents. We want celebrate you, because this strength of yours is deserving.
Cesarean births presently occur in approximately 1 out of 3 births here in the United States, which means that this experience is much more common than many might believe. They occur for many reasons. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary and can save the life of mom or baby--or both. Other times, it isn't necessary and was performed out of a lack of patience of the medical staff. Sometimes, it is completely by choice of the mom. Whatever the reason for the cesarean birth, women are having to recover from them. What so many that have not experienced a c-section do not understand is how trying the recovery can be. It can be painful both physically and emotionally. Those who have gone through it usually come out on the other side with new strength they had not previously discovered within themselves.
The physical recovery of a cesarean is challenging and very different from its vaginal delivery counterpart. This is no walk in the park....we are talking MAJOR SURGERY! Top that off with having to care for a new baby, that sleeps precious little, and the task seems doubly daunting. The best thing doctors tell you to do in recovery from surgery is to rest; kind of hard to rest well when you are up....a lot....feeding and caring for your new baby. In a vaginal recovery, sometimes the most worrisome task is that first bowel movement. A cesarean recovery, on the other hand, taunts you with every laugh, sneeze, or cough that you dread....repeatedly. You need help to get up, or sometimes even to get back in bed. You are supposed to be walking in order to help the recovery process, but you loathe the moment of getting up to start the walk. Did I mention that after surgery there is some serious gas to deal with? Hopefully this delightful post-op gift will bless you with its presence when no one else is around, but that is not always the case. When it does rear its ugly face, control is hard! Just let. it. go. (As if you had another choice!). Additionally, that beautiful scar needs extra care and can become quite itchy. But you, cesarean moms, you didn't let all of this get you down. You rock! You have dealt with the recovery and have survived and all while taking care of you AND your sweet baby!
The emotional recovery can be even more difficult to some than the actual physical part. Many women went into their pregnancies assuming that the culmination would be beautiful vaginal births. Some want an all natural, drug free birth and come out with completely the opposite. Their expectations, hopes and desires seem to have deserted them. They feel robbed. They feel as if they have somehow failed as a woman. They may feel let down by their own bodies or by people they trusted. The emotions can take months, even years to deal with and accept. Cesarean moms, you have journeyed through many of these valleys. You are stronger for it, although you may not realize it. You deserve a sash and a crown!
Later, down the road, a cesarean mom will have to think of the future. Will she try to VBAC? Will she have a repeat c-section? Will she continue to have children? Whatever her decision, it probably will come after much mental wrestling and internal debating. Her decision can have the backing of the whole family or none at all. Whatever the case, there is a lot of support out there for you. There are doulas, who are trained in all kinds of birth experiences to help you on your next birth, to assist and to encourage you in all your decisions. There are support groups such as ICAN where women with previous cesarean births can share their stories and gain the love and encouragement of others with similar experiences. Maybe you have made that decision and have achieved your desired birth, perhaps with a doula, or perhaps with a bit more knowledge. Maybe you are already drawing upon your own strength to help others in their own experiences.
Whether cesarean rates increase or decrease, there will still be women who experience them, therefore there will always be beautiful scars and beautiful women to celebrate. You, you cesarean birth goddess, overcame!! Your unique birth experience has put a beautiful baby in your arms! Your birth story is that baby's journey into the world and is unlike anyone else's on earth. Embrace it--the joy, the pain, the trial, and the victory. Embrace your story. It is beautiful and so is your scar. WE CELEBRATE YOU!!!!
Blog Post Written by Mekelle Daniel VBA2C Certified Birth Doula