Why I’m Improving Birth

Did you all have a nice Labor Day (or, as they call it everywhere else in the world besides the U.S., Monday?) What did you do? Barbecue? Spend time on a boat or a beach soaking up sun? Get caught up on chores around the house?

Me? I rallied. Have ya’ll heard of the organization Improving Birth? No? Definitely check them out. It’s not just for pregnant women. Nor is it just for doulas and midwives and the hippie-granola-crunchies of the world. This is real information for real people. Are you a mom? A dad? A daughter? A son? A sister? A brother? A friend? Then this information is for you. Because it is not just “that one woman with the rare situation of a really traumatic c-section” that is affected here. It’s the pressure, the fight, that every mother in this country faces the moment she becomes pregnant.

Want to hear some interesting facts? 33% of all births in America are now major surgical procedures (c-sections). That’s ONE OUT OF EVERY 3 BIRTHS. For what is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. You tell me: do you really think nature and women’s bodies have changed so much in fifty years that 1 out of every 3 babies would die or suffer serious harm if they weren’t born by c-section? That’s right: in 1965 the US c-section rate was 4.5%. Yet, 33% of babies were not dying or suffering harm from lack of a c-section in 1965, now were they?

Want more? Check out this evidence-backed quote from Mothering.com: “A survey by Robbie Davis-Floyd, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Texas, found that 81 percent of women in US hospitals receive Pitocin either to induce or augment their labors.21 Regardless of exactly how many labors are induced in the US today, the majority aren’t medically necessary, and between 40 and 50 percent resulted in failed induction.22 A review of the medical literature on routine induction of labor reveals that disagreement among medical researchers in different countries is rampant, and no conclusive evidence exists that routine induction of labor at any gestational age improves the outcome for either mother or baby.23 Caldreyo-Barcia concluded that induction is medically required in only 3 percent of pregnancies24 and that therefore approximately 75 percent of all inductions put both the mother and baby at risk.25

Are you mad yet? Irate? FURIOUS?!?!

There’s more.

Most of you have probably read my posts about Zoey’s c-section birth and Eleanor’s VBAC birth. About the PTSD I struggled with after Zoey was born. Since my successful VBAC I have become active on VBAC forums. Daily, I see posts from other moms who are driving for four hours while in labor to get to a hospital that will will “allow” them to try to VBAC. They are changing providers at 38 weeks pregnant because their “VBAC-friendly OB” suddenly told them that they must go into labor on their own by 39 weeks or schedule a repeat c-section. They aren’t even allowed to continue to their due date! This is despite a plethora of high quality, peer-reviewed medical evidence indicating no improvement (and often worse outcomes) for inducing labor early. The evidence also supports the majority of women being allowed to VBAC. Do you know what the evidence doesn’t support? An unassisted (no doctor, no midwife, no doula, no one) VBAC birth at home or in a car by a mom who was desperate to avoid another unnecessary major surgery. But that is exactly what is happening – frequently, as in daily – by moms all across this country. Want to know the real facts about VBACs? Check out VBAC Facts. It is a website dedicated to compiling high quality, unbiased evidence about c-sections, VBACs and inductions so that each mom can make an educated decision about what is best for her and her baby.

So yeah. I’m mad. I’m furious. Because a mom in labor shouldn’t have to fight for the right to just give birth. Because I don’t want my daughters to grow up to be moms in a world were 50% of births are c-sections. Because insurance companies and money-seeking hospital policy makers shouldn’t dictate the circumstances of a women’s labor, of a child’s birth.

This is why I rallied on Labor Day. This is why I will continue to do so every Labor Day until something changes. This is why I’m choosing to Improve Birth. We can do better.

What’s your reason for improving birth?

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