April is Cesarean Awareness month
Instead of talking about the shockingly high cesarean rates in the country, instead of bemoaning the multitude of risks that cesareans carry, instead of lauding the benefits of vaginal birth, I have decided to talk about my own personal contribution to "cesarean awareness".
In about ten weeks I will be giving birth to my third child, my second daughter. Though my first daughter didn't get the benefit of a vaginal birth, she has been blessed (and educated) by witnessing my labor with my second child and she will be present for my labor and birth with our new baby girl. We talk a lot about birth in our home. She has seen pictures and videos of women giving birth. She tries to "teach" her little brother about the birth process, and she has an amazing grasp of the process for a four-year-old. She knows that birth is hard and sometimes hurts but, she says, "so it catching lizards!"
I don't know how the "birth culture" in our home will affect my son's view of birth. My hope is that, should he marry a woman who grew up in the same "culture" as he did, he would be fully supportive of her trust in birth and approach it with the same trust.
I do have four sisters, as well, though I'm unsure what influence I've had on them. H hated her cesarean so much that she's decided she doesn't want anymore children. A was so damaged by her cesarean (physically) that she probably can't have anymore children. L gave birth, at age 15, to a 38 week stillborn baby and is scared to death of that repeating itself. No cause of death was ever found. That leaves B, who will be 17 in June, as witness to all these traumatic births of her older sisters. Of all my sisters, it's B I really want to be present for Anna's birth. She needs to see a normal, healthy, joyful birth.
There are wonderful organizations, like ICAN, working to change the birth culture in our country. There are many bloggers; mothers, OBs, midwives, childbirth educators, nurses. I love and admire the work they do and the difference they're making. However, it is so hard to change fears and attitudes in grown, child-bearing women. The fears are deeply rooted. The misinformation already wrapped up tightly in their minds.
Why don't we begin earlier? Give birth to a baby vaginally. Tell a two year old that a baby "comes out of mommy's vagina". Let your four year old tell you that birthing a baby is like catching lizards. Let a six year old witness birth. Let an eight year old hold your hand and kiss your face as you labor. Let a ten year old help catch a baby.
Let's bring our children up in a culture of trust and respect for birth and they will bring the birth machine down.