When you think of childbirth, you generally don’t think of an operation table surrounded by doctors, face masks and knives, do you? Hopefully the image is more like that of the primal awakening, a raw atmosphere of pure power and energy heralding the arrival of a new being. Looking at how many babies are born these days, it seems the prior is becoming more and more common place and sometimes even preferred by many mothers. The studies report that Cesarean births are becoming increasingly popular world wide, and though frequently chosen by both mother and hospital, may not be the best option for all.
First of all, C-sections are a major surgical operation, not a standard, natural-life process like vaginal birth. Though complications can occur on occasion through ‘regular’ birth, the risks are still far less than for that of a C-section. A World Health Organization survey of births across the globe has informed us that in Asia, between 2007-2008, 27% of all births were Cesarean. Women in Asian countries have a tendency to opt for C-sections, apparently, often thinking their body’s will be stretched too much by regular birth, or because they want to have their baby during an ‘auspicious’ time. In Latin America, C-section rates were closer to 35% and in Europe, rates varied between 40% in Italy and 14% in Nordic countries. WHO states that no country in the world is justified in having C-section rates higher than 10-15%. In the United States we are now at 32%, or about one in every 3 births ending in C-section.
Elective Cesarean – by mothers and hospitals
There is a new movement toward the Cesarean birth named “Cesarean delivery on maternal request”, that some think began in Brazil where the country held one of the highest C-section rates in the world. According to experts:
An elective cesarean section increases the risk to the infant of premature birth and respiratory distress syndrome, both of which are associated with multiple complications, intensive care and burdensome financial costs. Even in mature babies, the absences of labor increases the risk of breathing problems and other complications. Cesareans can delay the opportunity for early mother-newborn interaction, breastfeeding and the establishment of family bonds.
Hospitals benefit a great deal financially off of Cesarean births, as this operative procedure costs parents and insurance companies nearly twice as much as a normal, uncomplicated vaginal birth and up to 9 times more than a home or birth center birth. According to the WHO study, “62 percent of the surveyed hospitals in Asia reported having a financial interest in performing C-sections.” I am sure they are not the only country aware of the financial differences and benefits.
Healing from Cesarean
To look at this whole situation from a completely different perspective, what if you have undergone a Cesarean, either wanted or unwanted, and still feel as though you missed something in the birthing experience – what do you do now? Birthing a baby through the normal routes is a profoundly transformative experience for both the infant and the new mother. Certain hormones are released by both participants and the process of moving through the birth canal not only empowers the child to be able to approach life aggressively, but endows women with a sense of accomplishment and inner strength that honestly nothing else can do in quite the same way.
When a woman does not go through the normal process of birth, but ends up on the operating table having her baby ‘extracted’ instead, there is no surprise that feelings of disempowerment, failure, loss and sadness can arise. Some of this may be from a ‘normal’ drop in hormones, postpartum, but much is no-doubt due to a feeling of in-completion. We have already touched on the influence this has on the baby’s health, but what of their trust in the process of life?
In order to heal from Cesareans there are several things a woman can do – inspired by ancient yogic traditions – to take back those lost birthing moments and reclaim their power. One is by simply acknowledging the ‘navel birth’ they did have. A birth happened, not in the traditional avenue, but it happened ‘perfectly’ for you and your baby. In yoga, the navel center represents the center of personal power and creativity. To birth something from the navel is akin to the way the mythological gods and goddesses of Sanskrit writings were sometimes birthed – straight from the navel of the mother. In this way, the creative nature of mother and child is immediately activated, by-passing the need to drop down through the ‘lower levels’ of fulfillment and safety.
By visualizing the birth as coming down and out the naval, or picturing the birth in your mind – happening exactly how you would have wanted it to – helps heal old wounds and allows stored memory to be reprogrammed. When a mother can heal herself from negative feelings surround Cesarean birth, the effect is almost immediately noticed in the child as well, as the bond is so interconnected. Though Cesareans can be more dangerous, difficult to recover from and bring extra challenges to mother and baby, they are in no way ‘wrong’, especially if they happened to you…or rather, for you.
Cesarean are often life-saving for both the birthing mother and the baby, who might not make it any other way. It is just when chosen out of a flippant desire to avoid the ‘inconvenience’ of regular labor, for either doctor or mother, that the procedure ought to be questioned. Studies say that Cesareans are becoming more and more frequency despite the fact that the choice may not be the best option. Perhaps more consciousness around the subject by all involved is the most important step in enacting change. Birthing is a beautiful, natural process of life. We can all learn to curb our fears of the ‘what if’s’ and trust more fully in what our bodies were made to do – if you are a mother with child – that process is to birth.
Written by: Stasia Bliss