Earlier this week I read an incredible post by San Diego midwife, Barbara Herrera, LM, CPM – aka the Navelgazing Midwife. She wrote about a mother that had hired her as a montrice (a private nurse), to help her have a VBAC. But, due to circumstances out of the mother’s control (i.e. her body’s cooperation) she ended up with a second cesarean birth (CBAC).
The mother was disappointed, but working through it quite well until she encountered the “NBP” (Natural Birth Prosthelytizer). The NBP had been watching birth shows on television and felt herself an expert. She asked questions of the mother, shaking her head in pity at what had happened. Suddenly the mother’s confidence was rattled. Did they try everything? What if this? What if that? She had to start the processing of her second birth over.
I believe I’ve come across more than one NBP. My first birth was not perfect (it ended with an emergent transfer and vacuum extraction due to placental abruption), and shortly after I ran into a NBP who had not yet given birth, but was planning to have her baby at the same birth center I had gone to. When I told her my birth story she immediately gave me the brush off – like I was an amateur. She looked at me like I was less of a woman for “attempting” a natural birth, but “not succeeding.” It may have just been inferred, but I feel like I remember her saying, “Oh. Well. If they gave you an episiotomy, then if wasn’t a natural birth.” Nevermind the hours of drug-free labor before hand, or the fact the my son was crowning before the transfer to the hospital. I think I told her good luck with her birth and found someone else to talk to.
As I read this woman’s story, I suddenly wondered if I had unwittingly been a NBP myself? I am very passionate about natural birth, and I am sure that before I gave birth, I easily could have asked questions or been dismissive or even judgemental towards a new mother. Then, I flashed to the recent months, where my close friend had a CBAC after attempting to VBAC her second baby. Did I do this to her? Quickly I sent her an email with the Navelgazing Midwife post, asking if I had done this, and apologizing profusely if I had.
Thankfully, she assured me that I did not, though she had met such people in her birth class with her first cesarean birth, including the instructor, who had been hired as her doula. Ouch.
I think we have to be so mindful of the questions we ask postpartum. Whether were asking as a friend or a professional, we need to remember that every birth is unique and that sometimes, even the mama that was giving birth doesn’t always know all the circumstances (especially immediately postpartum, when she hasn’t yet asked all her questions). Mammas need love and support, no matter their birth outcomes and especially when things did not go according to plan. And we all (mammas included) need to remember that a cesarean birth is still a birth.
No matter if you have or want a natural birth, if you’ve had a cesarean or VBAC or CBAC or want to VBAC, please read the post written at the Navelgazing Midwife blog. I can not replicate Barbara’s beautiful words!