Saturday, October 4, 2008

Illusion of choice

So, as I've mentioned, I've become more brazen in my activism of late. Pretty much any pregnant woman or woman of childbearing age that I have a conversation with, I put on my education hat.

Today I approached two pregnant women in my son's gymnastic class. Both have had cesareans. I was surprised (only because I've never personally encountered the response) and very disappointed to hear that both of them were planning repeat cesareans, one because her hospital is banning VBACs (more on this later), and the other because she lives over an hour from the hospital and thinks it is just easier than risking having to endure labor and end up with a repeat cesarean anyway. They both say they are excited to know what day their baby will be born.

The resignation I heard from them both was so disturbing. I finally encountered the dichotomy; I work to help women who desperately want to avoid a repeat cesarean and here I am confronted with two women who choose to have one. And it is a choice in the sense that they are not being forced. The woman whose hospital is banning VBAC has at least 3 other choices in a 30 minute radius. She also admitted that she is looking forward to avoiding a long labor this time.

I've also heard many women over the years express relief when a reason is given to them for needing a repeat (breech, baby too big, etc.). They don't want to go through the process of labor, only to be disappointed again. Most will say it is a plus to avoid the pain of labor. But I wonder, if they aren't really hoping to avoid the emotional pain of feeling like they "failed" again. If they "choose" a repeat c/s, then they have autonomy and they have not failed. Is this perhaps what they think on whatever level of consciousness they are currently accessing?

The likelihood that either of these women has any knowledge of the risks of that decision is low. I'm pretty sure I've been discredited at this point in their minds; you know, I can't possibly understand, but I'm not giving up. I plan to bring them both a copy of "What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know About Cesarean Section" as well as "How to Plan a Family Centered Cesarean".

I feel strongly to truly make a choice, one has to be informed.

1 comment:

pinky said...

You have to remember everybody is different. Some women are informed about the risks of C-section but want a c-section. In that case it is their decision. It is their body. I have also thought to myself, "Are the women who want C-sections victims of child sexual abuse?" It is a possibility.

I am not a huge fan of C-sections especially the first because then it is harder to get to a vag birth and easier to get to a hystorectomy. But a woman who presents herself to me and can tell me what the risks are and still wants a primary elective C-section and her Doc has agreed? I have to respect her opinion. I need to respect my patients and that means trying to respect their opinions.

However, a woman who starts asking for a C-section after she has pushed for an hour because she does not think she can push the baby out? That totally goes against my grain. But again, if the Doctor agrees to do it, then I am in it for the ride. I don't get to choose.