Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

I don't normally do this. I'm a blogger who basically just lets everyone know about what our family is up to with pictures and stories of Austin...and of course Brian and I. However, with this month being Cesarean Awareness Month, I wanted to do something different here.....just keep in mind that I'm a horrible rambler....and will jump from one point to another and it might not make any sense where I'm going! :-)

Did you know that our Nation's c-section rate is hovering around 30%? That means ONE out of every THREE moms will have MAJOR abdominal surgery. The World Health Organization recommends a c-section rate of 10-15% for best outcomes. Did you know that the US has the second WORST newborn death rate in the modern world?? We also rank 41st in maternal mortality rates out of 171 countries. There are other factors that play into those horrible stats...but along with obesity, our c-section rate is contributing to those stats the most.

Most, if not all, of you know that when Austin was born, I was that one in three who had surgery to give birth. Luckily, I had a text book recovery...very easy and didn't have a whole lot of physical pain. But, that's not the way it's supposed to be. I didn't get to hold Austin for HOURS after he was born...we missed out on that early bonding time that we needed. I count myself lucky that I only had to deal with minimal pain (with a LOT of swelling) and the usual bonding/breastfeeding issues of c-sections. There are others that aren't so lucky and have a miriade of complications from incision infections and intense pain to a baby who is having problems breathing (which is common with c-section babies) and needs to go to the NICU even after being considered "full term." I thank God that he blessed me with the easier recovery.

Now that I've had one c-section, there are a lot of hospitals and doctors who think that I will always need a c-section. They think the risk of uterine rupture is too great (it's less than 1%) or at least more risky than surgery (do you believe them?). Many hospitals ban vbacs (vaginal birth after cesarean section). The bans are the effect of a "recommendation" that ACOG (basically, a doctors' union) put out saying, "Because uterine rupture may be catastrophic, VBAC [vaginal birth after cesarean] should be attempted in institutions equipped to respond to emergencies with physicians immediately available to provide emergency care." They recommend this despite their own admission to there being no scientific evidence to support this statement! So, many hospitals have stopped accepting moms who wish to vbac....which makes you wonder if they aren't equipped to handle an emergency in a vbac, how can they be sure they can provide emergency care for ANY laboring mother???

In fact, for those in Arkansas...did you know that a lot of hospitals in Arkansas are not allowing vbacs? Yes, I have already checked into it....seeing as how we DO want to expand our family and give Austin a sibling. Missouri is also having their own problems with maternity care in hosptials vs with midwives....I'm sure there are the same vbac bans that plague AR throughout Missouri as well.

I recently watched a film about the state of our maternity care system. It is The Business of Being Born. I HIGHLY encourage everyone to watch it. You can get it on Netflix right now and it becomes available for sale on May 6 at http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/ . It's a documentary that was produced by Ricki Lake, who after a horrible hospital birth had a homebirth that she loved. She started researching and what she found out is documented in her film. The major point they make is....Hospitals are run like businesses.

Check it out...it's eye-opening!

I close with this....With our c-section rate at 30% and rising, what will the maternity care system look like when Austin and his wife are pregnant and giving me a grandchild? Surgery is great when it's needed....it can be life-saving and I'm so glad there are surgeons to do so much good. However, I highly doubt that 30% of the births that end in c-section were ALL emergencies.

If you or someone you know has had a c-section OR you know someone who's pregnant and want to avoid a c-section, please go to

Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I had visited this website while pregnant with Austin.

Thanks for humoring this blog...it's something that I am being increasingly passionate about.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

Hey Steeles! I hope that things are going well for you...do I hear you are coming our way??