I want to start by saying I have met some incredible midwives and obstetricians during my pregnancy journey and while I have been a birth professional, so I want to continue to show absolute respect and appreciation for the amazing work some of them do on a daily basis.
We are moving in an era where we are unpacking more evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of VBACs, and we are finding more ways to support women's rights as a whole. I know we still have a long way to go, but we are making progress even if we are taking baby steps to get to the end goal.
We need to respect women's rights and decisions
We must not silence the mother's voice by scaremongering her
We must protect her birth space
Encourage, support, nurture and empower the mother through education
Create a system that takes time out to listen and advise the mother's whats, whys, wheres and hows
Train all birth professionals to be understanding, good listeners and to be more readily available for the mothers during labour.
I think we can all agree, we have made a bit of progress and the more we unpack these essential skills we will start to see a better system that can flourish and grow internationally to promote a better birthing culture and outcomes.
So, I have not created this blog to bash or criticise Midwives or Obstetricians, that would be unfair. I am writing this blog so mothers and birth professionals can hear whats going on from someone who champions women's birth rights, as well as hearing the first-hand experience from a VBA2C x2 mother, who's currently pregnant and planning for my 3rd VBA2C.
Today, my midwife told me she would not issue me a letter to fly in a couple of weeks because I am high risk!
You are probably thinking what I was thinking at the time, why and how dare she?
The midwife said because you have had two c-sections...
My blood started to boil, but I had to find out what her belief system was to articulately present pieces of evidence to challenge her perception. I could feel myself erupting. I made sure I slowed down the speed of my words and told her because at that point I was a furious mother. I needed to calm down and put on my professional cap quickly because anything else she probably wouldn't internalise, but if I challenge her policies, what she has learned and remind her I am human and words cut and destroy birth visions, she will have to listen.
Even if she did not receive what I was saying, she would have to hear me while I was sitting in her chair and I was not planning on making this appointment a short one. I calmly told her who I was and that actually, what she has said to me has made me furious because I am not high risk at all. In fact, having her at the centre of my care and hearing negative views and words made me high risk.
Women interested in VBAC are made to feel they are treading on thin Ice. We must remember no matter what happens, having an elective c-section carries more life-threatening risks which will make a woman high risk as opposed to the mother having a VBAC which the statistics show us she has a greater chance of having a successful one.
You will find many statistics that quote different percentages, but there is a consensus that uterine rupture happens in under 1% of women attempting a VBAC.
As a birth professional and an NLP practitioner, I realise how powerful our words are. I recognise how we internalise and build our representations through our senses, hear, see, smell, touch and taste. Our emotions are formed by what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch also. When we tell pregnant women they are high risk and treat them like they must follow our policy or rules, we are not only robbing them of their experience but stripping away any certainty or chance of them believing in themselves or their bodies ability to birth.
Do you know the midwife called me a patient!
I told the midwife, I am appalled at her stance and that if I were not a birth professional, she would have, in fact, put absolute fear and worries into me. I started thinking about all the women who've been misinformed by this midwife, and it just made me even more frustrated. I felt as though I needed to take back all power from this midwife and show her I am in control of me and my birth.
However, she called me a patient... I could not seem to rid that from my head. With all the training this midwife had, I assume she has taken continuing education to further her learning yet, she is using language to disempower me. This is another reason mothers have failed labours from my experience. They do extremely well labouring at home especially if they have support from birth partners but as soon as they get to the hospital, labour stalls and things take a step back, or labour becomes slower.
I keep hearing birth professionals say we support VBACs but whenever I have had interactions with them as a professional or a mother going through a VBAC, I see something different. A few weeks ago, I attended a VBAC antenatal class at my local hospital.
I am still working out if I will have a home birth or a birth centre birth. Unfortunately, I nearly choked when the midwife told me my baby and me with slides that having a VBAC was convenient but we have a less likely chance to have a successful one and that we are most likely to die with our babies from Uterine rupture.
I was shocked when 5 of the nine women left wanting a repeat c-section because the midwife insinuated and stated we are in fact doing something dangerous.
I told the midwife at my antenatal appointment I am having a home birth
Moreover, it does not matter if no one is on my side, I have rights and choices.
I am disgusted that women are still scare mongered indirectly and directly through words and visuals to have an elective repeat c/s.
I pose a question: How are your words impacting mothers interested in having a VBAC?
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We need as many professionals and mothers changing how we approach VBAC..