Ever since women fought against twilight sleep being used in hospitals, questions about giving birth and what practices are helpful or harmful has captivated public conversation. A growing movement hopes to draw attention to the overuse of Caesarean procedures.
In the Daily Beast, Danielle Friedman shares the story of Joy Szabo, a woman so frustrated with her recent hospital experience, she took to scrawling a message on her car:
In bright-yellow paint, Joy Szabo wrote: "Page Hospital, enter my body without permission... Sounds like rape to me." She began driving that minivan around her small, rural town as often as possible-attracting the attention of her local paper, and this week, the country. [...]
To make a long, complicated story short: In June, Szabo's hospital adopted a policy prohibiting women who had prior C-sections from delivering vaginally-from having what's technically known as a VBAC, for "vaginal birth after Caesarean." While two of Szabo's kids were born vaginally, her second child was delivered via emergency C-section.
At one time, vaginal delivery was deemed too risky for women who'd had C-sections. Today, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists officially supports VBACs, but stipulates that an OB and an anesthesiologist must be in the hospital during the entire procedure. As a result, many financially strapped or small hospitals-like Szabo's-can't offer VBACs. And that has many moms and natural-birth advocates up in arms.
Much of the controversy revolves around a mother's right to choose what happens to her body in the process of giving birth to child. However, as doctors and hospital administration face tough decisions trying to balance budget constraints with the needs of patients.
For many women, having a C-section "feels out of their control-like there's nothing they can do, and it doesn't matter if they say no," says Desirre Andrews, president of the International Caesarean Awareness Network, known as ICAN, an advocacy group that helps moms have VBACs. Over the past six years, the number of ICAN support groups has ballooned from fewer than 30 to 112 chapters, in 43 states. "I think that's why, to them, it feels like an extreme physical assault."
And these women do have a point - the article goes on to point out c-section rates have skyrockets, and estimates about half of the procedures are medically unnecessary. And while there have been reports of women scheduling C-sections due to busy lifestyles (though that idea has been disputed), the fight for reproductive choice extends far past abortion rights and into the treatment of mothers. After all, as Michelle Demont, the creator of BirthCut.com notes:
"Healthy babies matter, of course, but mothers matter, too," Demont says. "We're not just vessels for babies to be born."
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