Midwife Shares Shocking Facts About C-Section Epidemic (VIDEO)


ina may gaskin speechI had the pleasure of seeing Ina May Gaskin speak last year. She was inspirational and living proof how doing what you love and believe in makes you glow from the inside out. Gaskin is a midwife, arguably the most famous one, and her life's work has educated and empowered so many women on the beauty of natural birth.

Cue the anger of the women who had c-sections. Let's not get angry though; let's discuss. I had an emergency c-section. This isn't about when a cesarean is needed. This is about trusting our ability. This is about how we are misled because information out there is wrong. This is about taking back birth. And a midwife like Ina May can help us. Gaskin was given the Right Livelihood Award and is the first midwife to receive what is called the alternative Nobel Prize. Her acceptance speech was eye-opening as she talks about the rising numbers of c-sections and along with it the rising maternal death rates. This is why the topic of birth matters -- because we can die.

Ina May mentions how the c-section rates are rising beyond what the World Health Organization recommends. I can't help but think that we tend to fall back on technology when we don't necessarily need to. Yes, technology is amazing and it may have saved my and my twins' lives when I was having them, but that is and should be a rare occurrence. As she says, "As cesarean rates increase, rates of maternal death and serious injury rise as well, and women’s fears of birth increase." She goes on to mention how in Brazil the c-section rate is 95 percent because of the fear women and doctors have of birth. Ninety-five percent!

Many people don't understand why I care if a woman gets a c-section or not -- they question anyone who is on this 'crusade' to talk about natural birth. The reason I care is because women are being mistreated during pregnancy and birth, and I feel it's a woman's right not to be mistreated. I'm not judging. This isn't at all about that. This is about looking forward (not in the past) and helping women have the rights we deserve.

A breech birth doesn't have to mean c-section. Multiples can be born naturally. Babies can be maneuvered in the womb so the position is more favorable. These are facts.

But over the years we as a society have grown to not believe in a woman's ability to birth. That is an injustice. There was a time when midwives were considered witches and instead doctors pulled from their mothers’ bodies with forceps. It was believed that "birth was necessarily a brutal and bloody affair and that human females actually represented a serious failure on the part of nature -- one that could only be remedied by routine use of technology and medication," says Gaskin. And while so many women don't want to know the reality of all of this, we have to question why? Why not educate yourself and learn all you can from many on what is one of the most important days of your life -- the birth of your child? You deserve the best experience. We think our doctors are going to guide us properly. And yes, our doctors should be. But some (not all) are not. So we have to be proactive. And help other moms be proactive.

Gaskin talks about her work on the Farm where she and many midwives deliver babies:

From the beginning of the Farm Midwifery Center, my colleagues and I placed women’s needs at the center of our policy-making and found that this way of organizing care yielded huge benefits for our babies as well as their mothers. We learned how to prevent complications by providing good antenatal care and we developed practical methods for preventing unnecessary cesareans and inductions of labor.

It's this knowledge that she wants to share with obstetricians. She wants midwives and doctors to work together to bring down the soaring c-section rates, and she is also calling on pop culture to stop perpetuating the childbirth fear, depicting birth as a frightening and all pain for the mother. As she says, "Popular culture, the profit motive, fear, prudery, and ignorance all play a role and should be addressed."

The facts on mothers dying with greater frequency the more c-sections there are should be cause for alarm:

Simply put, as rates rise beyond 15-20%, more women die from complications such as pulmonary embolism, infection, hemorrhage, and a sharp increase in placental complications in subsequent pregnancies. None of the countries with the highest cesarean rates can report on low maternal death rates. This is especially true of the U.S., where women now face at least twice the chance of dying from pregnancy-related causes as their mothers did. In California, between 1996 and 2006, the maternal death rate tripled, with much of the increase being attributed to an excess of cesareans.

So what we can do? Because we have to do something. We shouldn't be dying from complications from childbirth in this day and age. It's why I write about it whenever I can. Ina May suggests we learn about and work to encourage hospitals to implement the 10 Steps to Optimal Maternity Services. We need more midwives. More doulas. We need insurance that covers this care. We need OBGYNs to work in harmony with midwives and doulas. We need to do our own research. We need to empower ourselves.

This isn't a quest to bash anyone who had a c-section -- this is a quest to reduce maternal deaths, to own our right to birth naturally if we can. To stop the injustice against women. To better our medical care.

Are you passionate about empowering women when it comes to birth and their bodies? Do you think we need to worry about the c-section epidemic?

c-sections, homebirth, labor & delivery, pregnancy health, natural parenting


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mlber... mlberry4172

Roatating is NOT always in the best interest of the fetus. My understanding is ob's in canada won't perform the procedure. I had my first son turned cuz he was breech. He had problems w/his heart rate dropping w/my contractions. So I was induced, had a prolonged labor (40 hours), then had a c-section anyway! I don't know what it's like in the rest of the country, but here in IL it all comes down to lawsuits. My ob gave me info on turning my son, but no recommendations. The ob on my 2nd pregnancy gave me the info on vag after c-section, but again no advice or recommendations. I felt completely unable to make these decisions on my own, but the Drs are scared of being sued.

nonmember avatar Cee

Its a personal choice. There are many things our body does naturally but we also as women have to stop speaking as if all we are, are baby making/raising machines and thats all we our "meant to do." It is really not empowering.

Our bodies naturally have to poo, pee, bleed monthly, reproduce (if we want), breastfeed (if we want). But we have the god given right and rationale to do some of these with modesty and in our own terms.

Pregnancies are risky from beginning to end. If a woman is able to trust and see no harm in birthing a baby in their living room using a kiddie pool while a hippie chants around, another can trust they will deliver fine under a scapel with their doctor.

MamaR... MamaRockett

Cee, I gave birth in, my bedroom on my bed with a highly trained midwife. Me and my friend were the only hippies there, and had there been chanting I'd have punched someone. Learn more about homebirth before you assume to know what it is, and try to be more respectful in general.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

mlberry, ECV is getting less common in Canada not because it's a bad idea, but because we do breech vaginal birth in far more cases here. It is no longer the recommendation in Canada to do a cesarean for a frank breech. Because it just isn't any safer. It's not that they won't do them, though. My SIL had one done when she had a transverse breech baby.

I think a good part of the problem is just how ignorant women are of how dangerous c-sections really are. I don't know how many times I've heard it referred to as "just playing it safe" and scheduling a c-section. And for the most ridiculous reasons, mainly simply because they had a previous section. One because the ultrasound predicted a 10+ lb baby. BTW, the baby ended up being 6.3. Yeah, just huge.

Senia... Seniahmom

I do question the prevalence c-sections because I've known far too many talked into having them for "big babies" and not one of the babies was near the 10 pound estimate - all were high 6lb- low 8lb.

While c-section is a marvel because of the life saving measure it can be when truly needed I do believe there are doctors who exaggerate a necessity due to the convenience of scheduling.

Bertha21 Bertha21

I agree with you 100% thank you for this article!!! Whenever I try telling people that vaginal births should be considered more instead of c-sections they always get annoyed and say to stop judging. I am not judging! I just am wishing people would think of how much it can hurt a woman's body and how if possible vaginal birth is best.

nonmember avatar Felecia

I live in Canada and just had my fourth baby naturally - after having an ECV (External cephalic version) at 39 weeks! If it had failed I was given the option to try and deliver breech or have a C-Section. Thank goodness it worked though! I had all four of my children vaginally (only this last one without drugs) and I was terrified of the prospect of a C-Section!

hutch... hutchfam2007

I am scared to death about the possibility of a C-Section... I cannot understand WHY women would CHOOSE this?? When its medically necessary or your dr. tells you so, then, no brainer, but to Choose this?? unfathomable.

hutch... hutchfam2007

Education, Education, Education!!!!!! With my first baby, I didnt know much about birth in general... if my dr. had suggested a C-Section for ANY reason, I would have done it because I wouldnt have known the complications to warrant one. I have done my homework this time and know, generally, when a c-section is needed or when it is for convenience...

missn... missnickia

My youngest baby was 10 pounds 7oz. They guessed she was 10 lbs 6oz. My dr told me everything that could go wrong with vaginal delivery so together we choose a c section. He also factored in my really high blood pressure. I love my dr.

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