Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I hate the fact that I can be indecisive. I blame it on my ascendant in Libra. Little stuff, like what to cook for dinner, well, I always have an opinion about that. But big stuff, like how to deliver a baby? I might as well have a boa contrictor coiled around my brain. The synapses are just not firing.

Last week, after my conversation with the doctor, I felt two things: relieved and resigned. Relieved I wouldn't have to think about any alternatives, and resigned to a four week recovery with very little help. But the doctor said that ultimately, the mode in which I was delivered was up to me *gulp* and to think about it some and get back to him *double gulp*.

Have I also mentioned that I hate the fact that I went to graduate school, where I learned how to conduct research? I could have probably gone through my life quite happily without having the slightest inkling that it was possible to look up the life cycle of the tstse fly at a moment's notice. But now I know and I spend a good chunk of my life researching useless information on the internet.

So as soon as the doctor said "think about it," I went to work.

I have researched c-sections, vaginal birth, natural birth, medically assisted vaginal birth, and all of the pros and cons associated with each. I have read websites written by doctors, midwives, doulas, and chiropractors. I have looked up pelvic shapes and fetal head averages. I have researched average fetal weight at 39 weeks, whether second babies are typically larger, and statistics regarding pelvic laxity in subsequent deliveries. I know the difference now between epidural, spinal, and general anasthetic, typical outcomes, drawbacks, and pain levels associated with each. I know the precise size of an abdominal incision, the various degrees of episiotomy, and the angles at which they can be cut. I have researched the differences in costs between deliveries, insurance statistics, and allowable recovery time in the hospital. I have looked into the physical limitations associated with both types of deliveries. The post-natal prognosis. The likely physical and emotional effects of both types of delivery on me and the baby. I have even read about the (albeit kooky) notion that babies internalize the experience of childbirth and that all psychological trauma in their lives can be tied to their birth experience including and up to the manner in which they commit suicide.

I think I can safely say, I have thought about it. And after I thought about it, I polled all my friends.

And I still don't have a clue what to do. So far I've come up with:


Pros- quick
lots of pain meds
no more pelvic damage
no stuck baby
no emergency c-section after hours of labor
no cord prolapse/placental abruption from polyhydramnios
no passing out during labor
very little likelihood of fetal distress/trauma

Cons- painful
will probably pass out without general anathesia
more difficulty breastfeeding
doesn't help pelvic damage I've already sustained during this pregnancy
4 weeks of recovery at least - 2 of which will be at my grandmother's house
and 2 weeks spent alone with an infant and toddler (god help me)
10 weeks before I can go back to the gym
more dangerous-complications include hemmorhage and infection
doubles the risk of maternal/fetal death
John might end up stabbing himself to death at some point *rolling eyes as I
type this*

Vaginal -

Pros - no "surgery"
quicker recovery time
easier breastfeeding
could be scheduled
thanks to the epidural-doesn't have to be painful
more natural
lower risk of death and complications
would not require a week of recovery at grandmother's

Cons - painful
would probably require vacuum or forceps delivery
might require episiotomy
long recovery in an unsavory region of body
more pelvic damage
higher liklihood of birth trauma for John
could result in a stuck baby
could result in an emergency c-section after hours of labor
could have cord prolapse/placental abruption from polyhydramnios
possibility of passing out during labor
more likelihood of fetal distress/trauma
would have to recover and take care of infant and toddler on my own

As far as I'm concerned, neither scenario is really pleasing to me. So long as John stays in a good position, and the doctor is willing to take him by hook or crook (induction or section), I'm willing to throw my hands in the air at this point and just do what my doctor tells me to do. The plan for my appointment tomorrow is to ask the doctor which option is the most medically sound for my particular situation. Once I know that, I'll know how this baby's going to be born. And then I can start researching something really important, like baby poop colors.

1 comment:

  1. Brittany—I read both your posts on C-section versus vaginal delivery. I have to weigh in, because two weeks ago I had a C-section with my fifth baby—the other four were all delivered vaginally.

    I am someone who puts a lot of emphasis on “natural” and “organic.” I breastfed each of my kids for up to a year and half; never made an ounce of formula. I’m a vegetarian. I hate taking so much as Tylenol for a headache. I spend lots of money on organic produce, clothing, and household products. I had a midwife for my first delivery and resisted pain meds for as long as possible with the first four. In short, I burst into tears when I learned, at the hospital two days before my due date, that I would need to have a C-section. (Not an emergency section, mind you, but the baby needed to be delivered that day, and induction was not an option.) I had never considered the possibility that I would end up with a section. I felt robbed of the whole labor process.

    But you know what? The C-section was, amazingly, no big deal. I felt nothing other than pressure during the procedure. It was actually kind of fascinating in a clinical, writer-taking-notes kind of way. I was able to breastfeed about 15 minutes after delivery—and in the meantime, cuddled with the baby as my husband held him by my face. The baby was born at 6:30 on a Wednesday and my milk came in on Friday morning. No breastfeeding issues whatsoever.

    I took occasional Percocet for the first five days—after that, just ibuprofen—and at 2 weeks, I’m not taking anything at all—I don’t need it. Today I got the all-clear to drive, and I really feel fine. I’m not supposed to pick up my 3-year-old for another two weeks, so I’ll be changing him on the floor when my husband goes back to work tomorrow. Assuming I get the green light at my 6-week checkup, my OB says I can start exercising again.

    So, all of this just goes to say that even being someone who was completely against the idea of a C-section or any other intervention that wasn’t a dire necessity, this experience has really not been a big deal. My only advice is to remember that during the first 12 hours or so, you still have spinal meds floating around. I thought I was really pain free, and declined the Percocet, only to end up in a lot of pain the first time I had to get out of bed. You need to stay ahead of the pain in the early days—but it’s not a problem if you manage it well. Sure, I wouldn’t elect major surgery over the “natural” delivery method for no reason, but knowing that my baby would be safe was obviously the most compelling issue.

    If you have to make the most of having a C-section, consider: delivering in a matter of minutes makes for an easier recovery in the sense that you didn’t go through a triathlon getting the baby out. You also bleed less afterward. (And hey, one thing I didn’t miss? Trying to sleep with that ice-filled rubber glove between my legs for the first two nights!!)

    I hope that some of this ridiculously long comment helps in your decision-making process.


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