Judgment in the birth community: Fitting in after a cesarean
A woman who had four cesareans, after planning VBACs and home births, recently contacted me. She didn’t know where she fit into the birth community.
My heart went out to her because there have been periods in my life when I have felt isolated and alone. And it’s a crappy feeling.
I replied to her:
A vaginal delivery is not required to participate in the birth community. There are many cesarean moms just like you who are seeking compassion, connection, and understanding. You could be a soft place for other women to land as they mourn (or celebrate!) their cesarean deliveries.
The mission of VBAC Facts goes above and beyond our personal birth preferences. Really, the goal is education and access to VBAC.
The goal *is not* for everyone to have a VBAC because, as you know, there are many reasons why someone would have a cesarean birth, including scheduling an elective cesarean. And that is that parent’s choice! And those mothers are no less of a parent, advocate, or sister to those within the birth community.
I know one woman who had four cesareans and runs an ICAN chapter. Again, it’s not about how her births played out, but rather education and, ultimately, respecting the choices other parents make while holding space for them when birth doesn’t go as planned.
If you are feeling rejected, perhaps you need to find a new group of people to hang with! 🙂
We all don’t have to birth the same to support each other
The judgment that this mom is experiencing is why I spend so much time in my workshop, “The Truth About VBAC” talking about individualized risk assessment. This is a fancy way of saying, “There are a lot of different reasons that go into why someone plans a specific type of birth.”
I discuss this subject at great length, including all the factors that one might consider and the fact that both VBAC and repeat cesarean are valid options.
I really want to assure students that there is no Right Way to Birth. Only what is Right for Them.
Releasing the judgment about how other people birth
I also want to explore the subject so that people who staunchly believe that there is a Right Way to Birth can see how there are so many reasons why someone might choose to birth differently than them… and possibly release that judgment.
The whole point is: How you birth, is up to you. It’s frankly no one else’s business. Not mine. Not your girlfriend’s. Not the PTA president’s. It’s Your Birth.
And no matter what birth you choose, if you believe that parents should have access to VBAC, VBAC Facts is your birth community.
I have said this so many times in so many venues and yet I still receive comments like this from email subscribers:
I’m leaning toward repeat c-section. I already feel you scrunching up your face. I feel shamed for going with repeat c-section. People assume I am ignorant to the facts. They assume a lot of things. I feel like I have to justify this decision to everyone.
Ouch. Dear reader, I don’t feel that way at all. It hurts my heart that what should be a joyous time in your life is filled with deflecting the unsupportive opinions of others. Regardless of how you birth, your choices should be respected because it’s Your Birth.
Supporting access and respect, not dictating outcomes
It’s tough because there is so much judgment and so much defensiveness when it comes to birth and even what advocacy really means.
For me, VBAC advocacy is about access to VBAC, which is very different than saying, “I think everyone should have a VBAC.” And because my focus is access and not a specific mode of delivery, I don’t judge women who plan to have a repeat cesarean section. Full stop.
One of the reasons why I started VBAC Facts is that I saw people cherry picking information, misinterpreting the conclusions of medical studies, and basically manipulating the facts in order to convince other people to make the same birthing decisions they did.
Because they judged those that birthed differently than them.
How what other people think can impact your options
I created VBAC Facts, and I ultimately developed educational programs, so parents, birth professionals, and even medical providers could get the actual facts. The actual statistics. The actual recommendations. Rather than basing their opinion on someone else’s personal risk assessment of what was “safe” or “risky.”
And sometimes what other people think – like the Head of Obstetrics at your hospital or your hospital administrator – can set the tone of your facility and even if they “allow” you to attend VBAC.
And for pregnant people, it can be the well-intended, but misinformed opinion of their friends and family. And that judgment and disapproval is enough to persuade some mothers to schedule a repeat cesarean just to keep the family peace.
It’s all about learning the facts so you can make your own decisions… and giving others the space to make theirs. And once people realize that there is no Right Way to Birth and that everyone knows the Right Way for Them, we can truly celebrate how we each start and grow our families without judging each other for how we do it. That’s what I call #factsoveragenda.
How do you describe your birth community? As a cesarean parent, how were you received and did you feel supported? If not, where did you go to find support?
What do you think?
Leave a comment.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
As a nationally recognized maternal health advocate and Founder of VBAC Facts®, Jen helps perinatal professionals, and cesarean parents, achieve clarity on vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) through her educational courses for parents, online membership for professionals, continuing education trainings, and consulting services. She speaks at conferences across the country, presents Grand Rounds at hospitals, advises advocates seeking legislative change in their state, and serves as a expert witness in legal proceedings. She envisions a time when every pregnant person seeking VBAC has access to unbiased information, respectful providers, and community support, so they can plan the birth of their choosing in the setting they desire.