Avoiding Cesarean Birth

Healing Our Children Book Excerpt:

“If our birth culture was based on wisdom and intelligent foresight we might expect the following to occur:
1. Herbs and acupuncture would be used instead of drugs for pain relief and pain blocking to prevent the “side effect” of groggy, anesthetized newborns with their higher risks of complications.

2. Special foods would be eaten during preconception and pregnancy to help ease the birth process and strengthen the mother and baby for birth. Deleterious foods would be avoided.

3. The mother would perform the special exercises as discussed earlier in this chapter, and receive massage and chiropractic adjustments to release tight ligaments, along with other activities
that help the baby enter the ideal birthing position.

4. The mother would be highly encouraged to keep active and to exercise daily.

5. In nearly every case, labor would patiently and lovingly be allowed to progress before surgery was considered. The mother would feel free to yell, scream, and walk around during labor. There would be no planned cesareans for twins, breech presentation, and so forth.

6. Labor attendants would be trained in every natural positioning technique to help with labor difficulties.

7. Growing girls would be given special foods to ensure their bodies develop properly to make birth easier later.”

Prevalence of Cesarean Births

There is no question that operative deliveries have saved countless lives over the years.  Despite this fact, cesarean delivery is a very invasive form of abdominal surgery. It should only be used when the benefits outweigh the risks. However, in 1970 the number of women having Cesarean deliveries in the United States was around 5.5%, according to the World Health Organization it is currently necessary in less than 10% of pregnancies nationwide. Yet in the United States one out of every three women will undergo a Cesarean. Clearly something is not right!

What is the Ideal Scenario for a Cesarean Birth?

There are a few rare occasions when a Cesarean can be a lifesaving procedure, with benefits outweighing the risks. This includes situations where the baby is sideways (transverse) and attempts to move the baby have failed. Another time when an emergency Cesarean may be needed is if the head becomes stuck in the birth canal and natural labor positioning techniques are not enough to correct the problem. Placenta previa, where the placenta covers the birth canal also necessitates a Cesarean and is likely the most genuine reason for performing the surgery.

Finally there is Cephalopelvic Disproportion or CPD, when a baby’s head will not fit through the mother’s pelvic brim. Though this is frequently given as an explanation for the cause of operative delivery, it is very, very rare. Some researchers question if it even exists.

There may be a few exceedingly rare situations where a Cesarean is necessary outside of those mentioned above. However, it is important for parents to understand that these situations are very rare.

Countless Unnecessary Cesarean’s Take Place

According to a scientific study published in Social Science & Medicine, at least half of cesareans are performed unnecessarily, because medically verifiable conditions requiring a surgery were not present at the time. The medical
industry profits from these needless surgeries to the tune of approximately $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) per year. As of 2008, there are approximately 1,300,000 cesareans performed yearly in the U.S., and thus 650,000 cesareans are performed unnecessarily per year. Based on the comparison of 2004 and 1970 cesarean rates, let’s assume for now that 5.5% is a reasonable rate for cesareans.

The actual figure, then, of unnecessary cesareans is more likely to be over 944,000 per year. Here we can clearly see this is sometimes used as a callous, an anesthetized form of violence against women and their children.

Obstetricians, who deliver most of the babies in this country, are surgeons by training. Many look for pathology when there is none. Others are simply too busy, too rushed, and too inexperienced.

Cesarean and Lack of Progress

About 294,000 cesareans are performed yearly due to lack of progress during labor, and an estimated 24% or 70,560 of those are done for the wrong reasons — for example, because the woman’s cervix was not even given a chance to dilate (open).

The real diagnosis of lack of progress, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is that “women be in the active phase of labor and show no change in cervical dilatation or descent of the fetal presenting part for at least 2 hours.”

Even this, is by many accounts, a conservative measurement. It is based on antiquated, mostly illogical science and bears no fact. Of all the reasons that American women are subjected to the cruelty of Cesarean delivery, failure to progress is one of the most illogical reasons.

Dilation is unpredictable and unreliable as a sign of progression in labor. Some women may slowly dilate from one to ten, a centimeter a day. Others may hit transition and rocket from a six to ten in less than half-an-hour, both of these situations can be variations of normal.

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