Guest post by Andrea Owen
I love passionate people. I love when people take whatever makes them want to shout out from a mountain the thing that makes them sound like a preacher at a Baptist church. They can rant, or write about it and people shout out, “AMEN!!”
What I also love is VBAC. I love hearing about VBAC, reading about VBAC, telling my VBAC story, educating people about VBAC and anything that has to do with VBAC.
In 2009, after I had my daughter via VBAC, The Unnecesarean was nice enough to post my birth story to her Facebook page. In efforts to give people hope that a hospital VBAC is possible, even at hospitals with higher than normal cesarean rates (the hospital I had my daughter in had a 41% cesarean rate in 2008). As the comments came in, most were warm, supportive and comforting.
And then came the not-so-supportive.
While I can’t remember the exact words, but a couple of women commented on the fact that I had opted for an epidural (gasp!). Yes, the “E” word. I do remember one saying, “I don’t like how she was told when to push” and mostly how I, at 7 centimeters dilated, had opted for pain relief. I very much remember walking away from the computer feeling one very distinct thought:
I had done it ALL WRONG.
Forget the fact that I had fought tooth and nail against my OB to have a repeat cesarean. Forget the fact that I had spent time meditating and listening to my body and maternal instincts telling me, my body and baby were healthy enough to have a successful VBAC. Forget the fact that I had to trust myself enough to go against my OB’s “recommendation” when he had 25+ years of experience. I had chosen to get the epidural and
I had done it ALL WRONG.
Or so I was made to feel. Now, I get that the way I felt was all my own shit, and that no one can make me feel any sort of way unless I let them. But, here’s where I get to the meat (yep, that was just potatoes, y’all).
In the past couple of years since I’ve become passionate about birth, VBAC and women’s choices in birth and parenting, what I’ve come to realize is the radical thinking and opinions of many mothers when it comes to VBAC. And yes, I know who I’m writing for; The Unnecesearean is a blog dedicated to the education and support of VBAC and ending unnecessary and unwanted cesareans. Every post on here is opinionated and in my opinion, serving the greater good. What gets my panties in a bunch are the mothers who think that natural birth is the only way. And again, I get it. I own a copy of “The Business of Being Born” and even got a little star struck when I met Ricki Lake and took a picture with her like a giddy little girl. I believe natural birth is what we were made for.
But, you guys, we have SO FAR to go when it comes to VBAC. Just last week I was having dinner with some girlfriends and two of them didn’t know that a vaginal birth after cesarean was even allowed. So, my big, meaty point is can we please just support each other in VBAC no matter what? So few women are “allowed” a trial of labor that the preparation for both a natural birth as well as trying to prepare for the possibility of another cesarean can be so overwhelming. If a VBAC mother opts for the epidural, my God, she had a freakin’ VBAC!
I think it’s fine to educate those who want a VBAC and give credible resources on epidural during VBAC. But, at the end of the day, I’d much rather see a woman who got her vaginal birth with an epidural than one who was so afraid of going natural that opted for an unwanted repeat c-section.
As women, we are still fighting for so much. There is so much pressure on us to be so many things and to do all of it perfectly. (Don’t even get me started on how we’re supposed to “get our bodies back”). When it comes to VBAC, can we all just get along and agree that a VBAC is a VBAC? Like I said before, I think it’s great that women are passionate about things like birth, natural birth and attachment parenting, but let’s leave the ferocity for unnecessary cesareans or hospital VBAC bans.
And while we’re at it, how about we start with the assumption that women are fully capable of making autonomous decisions about their own bodies and medical care? Especially when it comes to VBAC, let’s assume women are educated about birth and the decision to have a vaginal birth after cesarean. Being hostile or judgmental about a VBAC’er getting an epidural is like complaining about a piece of trash you might find on the ground at the Sistine Chapel.
Let’s put the guns down and stop fighting each other in terms of natural birth and VBAC. Support VBAC no matter if the mother gets the epidural or not.
Andrea Owen is a speaker and Certified Life Coach. She is passionate about helping women empower themselves to live their own kick-ass life. You can read more about her at www.yourkickasslife.com and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yourkickasslife.