Crunching numbers

I was finally able to get some figures to try and determine what the cesarean section rate is running with my local hospital.  It’s difficult to get an exact number because of the way they have their figures broken down.  You have to get the actual birth rate from one site for a calendar year and the hospital gives you its cesarean rate for a calendar year, but between the two it looks like we are running around a 50% cesarean rate here.  A surgical nurse told me recently he t hought it might even be higher because he saw so many of them.

Either way….that is criminal.  HALF of the women in this area are not allowed to birth their babies vaginally?  High intervention rates, high induction rates, high epidural rates, and across the board denial of VBACs have resulted in this soaring rate.

My childbirth classes are geared to those intending to have a hospital birth.  I try to teach them how to avoid an unnecessary cesarean birth, coping techniques for a natural birth and the many advantages of natural birth.  If I can save a few women from the trauma, recovery from major surgery and psychological scarring of surgical birth, it’s worth my time.  Some of them learn too late the consequences of their choices in birth.

I recently tried to help an expectant mom achieve a vaginal birth after a cesarean birth for her first child.  I’ve never seen a mom want something so much and work so hard to attain it.  She was a warrior and as long as she and the baby were both fine, I continued to fight with her for her goal.  But ruptured membranes for too many hours, a posterior baby that wouldn’t turn anterior, a large baby and a marginal pelvis combined with a dysfunctional labor were more odds against us than we could fight.  She ended up in a transfer with her uterus still intact and baby still in good shape.  But she had another cesarean.  It was hard emotionally on us both.  I knew she had done everything she could possibly do and I knew I had also, but it just wasn’t going to happen.  I know that the cesarean was necessary and I’m glad that eventually she will know it was the only way to safely deliver her child.

When she and her family arrived at the hospital they were treated as criminals for having attempted a VBAC.  Every person they encountered was rude and misinformed about the statistics concerning VBAC safety (a nurse told them there was a 99% rupture rate!).  The OB on call lied to her and said her uterus was ruptured and that’s what you get when you use an illegal midwife.  When she was finally able to get her actual surgical records, she discovered there was no rupture at all.  This same OB told another VBAC homebirth transfer several years previous to this that he had done a vertical incision just so she would never try something that stupid again.  Again, she was smart enough to request her actual surgical records and discovered only the external incision was vertical, the actual uterine incision was transverse.  This same hospital was doing VBACs themselves until just a year and a half ago, when pressure was put on them by other hospitals in the region, and insurance companies. It had nothing to do with good science or the vast body of medical studies that have shown us there is only a 0.05% chance of rupture, meaning there is a 99.05% chance of NOT rupturing!  It had everything to do with community standards, which are frequently not based on medical evidence.

Is it any wonder some women want to run away?


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