If men didn’t have a choice…

I am a strong proponent of natural childbirth. This is, in part, because of my own experience as a first-time pregnant woman of “advanced maternal age.” I was 41 when I had my first pregnancy and birth. My daughter was breech. I was able to have a vaginal breech birth. There were several reasons I was able and “allowed” to do this: my supportive husband, my supportive doula (Amy Chavez of Bhakti House), and my supportive (and highly unusual, and old-school) obstetrician (Dr. Stephen Guy in Dayton). And more than all that, which was huge, was the fact that women, if well supported and encouraged, and barring other medical complications, are perfectly capable of giving birth to babies in breech position.

I am working on an essay about the birth, and it’s a subject I’m always interested in. I just read excerpts from an interview with Dr. Stuart Fischbein, a California VBAC-and breech-supportive doctor, who, according to blogger The Well-Rounded Mama, “is in trouble with his hospital for supporting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) and vaginal breech births.”

Here is an excerpt from her post, his interview:

“There’s a study that came out in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology last December that found the morbidity of a repeat cesarean section is higher than a successful VBAC.

A successful VBAC occurs about 73% of the time. If a hospital bans VBAC, they’re basically telling 73% of women that they have to undergo a surgical procedure that carries more morbidity than if they had a vaginal birth. That’s outrageous to me. It leaves me speechless, and for me that’s no small thing!

The same model applies to breech deliveries. Some women are being told to have a procedure that carries more morbidity than a vaginal delivery. But they are never being told the numbers or given the option.”

I know many women have truly necessary medical interventions to birth healthy babies, and I’m grateful that there are many options for birthing. I’m not saying that everyone must or should have natural birth. But it’s incredibly unfair that so many women aren’t informed or given a choice, and that so many pregnancies end in C-section (a major surgery) for the wrong reasons: because doctors are not trained, because home birth is not legal or accepted, because the medical establishment is more frightened (or motivated) by lawsuit than by the idea of all the secondary problems that can result from unnecessary surgery.

If there were any major surgery like this that was de facto mandatory for men, Congress would be coming up with solutions. There would be legal home birth in every state; midwives would be the norm, and doctors would be schooled in how to support various birth positions.

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