As a doula I always work to help my moms avoid having an unnecessary cesarean birth. That still leaves necessary cesarean births though. If you have had a cesarean birth, at some point you need to incorporate this into your life. It doesn’t happen all at once. Here are some pointers to help you:
1. Call it a cesarean birth. You gave birth with obstetrical assistance. Believe me, they couldn’t have done it without you!
2. Try to evaluate the medical necessity of your birth. Give it a scale of 1-10. Ask your caregiver for assistance. Then look at was it a medical necessity for your baby, for you or a combination of the two (such as CPD cephalo-pelvic distocia = baby didn’t fit).
3. Evaluate the cultural necessity of your birth. Most women give birth where they live. Most do not fly off somewhere to a more congenial place to give birth. Therefore, the birth culture of where you are living will make a difference. Ina May Gaskin has claimed a cesarean rate of 2% in her community on the farm. Pittsburgh’s is closer to 30%, but most Pittsburgh mothers can’t go to Ina May’s farm to give birth. After you evaluate the cultural necessity, give it a scale of 1-10.
4. Define the moment you realized you needed to have a cesarean. Call it your cesarean moment. Then learn to accept it. Use can use artwork. Nursing your baby also helps.
5. Try thinking of your cesarean birth as part of your gift of mothering. We all give things to our children we never expect them to repay. Cesarean birth is one gift.
6. Define what issues made it a C-birth and then explore your VBAC possibilities. The Bishop Score can help as well as this VBAC score.
7. Write your birth story with you as the heroine. Give yourself credit!
Life is a series of crucial moments. Birth is one of these. Don’t lose faith in your ability to give birth when the crucial moment comes! Instead, trust yourself and remember that you are a strong woman.
Isis breastfeeding Horus taken from the Isis Temple, Philae Island, Egypt.
It is a human thing, to breastfeed our young. We also attribute this to our gods. Here, the goddess Isis is breastfeeding the young god, Horus. The King, Ptolemy II is bringing Isis a gift or offering (right) as Anouket serves the goddess (left). I think it would be great if all nursing mothers were made to feel like goddesses or queens!
photo by Sebastien Fauvel
Every birth is a story. I write a birth story for each birth I attend. In each story the mom is the heroine and the dad or partner is the supporting hero. The doula is the assistant and the recorder. She notices all the details which the mom can’t notice while she does the work of birthing her baby. Birth stories are riveting, especially for the mother and I always hope that the baby will be interested in hearing the story when he is older.
A woman’s hopes, fears, decisions and one of the strongest moments of her life are told in a birth story. A new life’s beginning are the details of a birth story. It is the beginning of a biography. I think every baby should have one.
Ask your doula when she wants you to call her. I like my client-moms to call me:
- after each doctor or midwife appointment
- If she has any concerns about how she is feeling or about any test results
- When her water breaks or leaks
- When she loses her mucus plug
- When she thinks she might be in labor (even if she is wrong)
- After her birth if she is having any concerns about breastfeeding or how she feels
As she gets closer to her due date, I like to keep in closer touch with her. That way I get an overall picture of how close she is to her birth and how advanced her cervical changes are when she starts labor. Then I can usually tell approximately how long her labor will be (without an epidural). When it comes to keeping up with birth cues, communication is key.