Saturday, June 10, 2006

Are elective C-sections the flip side of homebirth?

Elective C-sections are often portrayed as one end of a spectum that has homebirth at the other end. That may not be the only way to understand the two phenomena.

I wonder if elective C-sections and homebirth are opposite sides of the same coin: the desire to take control of birth. Many women are very unhappy with the experience of hospital birth, and rightfully so. They want to wrest control of birth from hospital personnel and design an experience that fits with their needs and philosophy. The different results are a reflection of their differing needs and philosophies.

So women who believe that technology has only a very limited place in the experience of normal birth want to deliver at home and have total control over who is there, how they labor, what meds they can or cannot receive, etc. In contrast, women who value technology, fear uncertainty and want to control the timing of birth, the method of birth and the amount and type of pain they will have ask for elective C-section.

Perhaps homebirth and elective C-sections have more in common than is apparent at first glance.


7 Old Comments:

Believe it or not, I actually pretty much agree with this. I don't think many women are actually requesting c-sections, though. I have one question for you... do you think a higher perecentage of female obstetricians (than the general population) opt for elective c-section?

By Blogger Mama Liberty, at 10:24 AM  

Oh yes, we are the exact same thing... STUPID!
Is that what you are implying? Only major abdominal surgery impacts your paycheque more than those of us who are too stupid to read your studies properly... right?
This just gets better and better...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:00 AM  

Hi Amy,

I just stumbled across this blog. I've read parts of it. Have you ever birthed a child at home or witnessed a home birth?

I have birthed three children at home and one in the hospital. And I am a doula who witnesses the births of babies born at home and hospital (in multiple hospitals in the Bay Area).

99% of the time the experiences for mother and baby are so distinctly different depending on the location that it seems these differences should be taken into account in this debate.


By Blogger Sandy, at 12:35 PM  

I can agree with you to a degree...probably more like elective c-sections = to Unassisted births-- because I do think that it is greater danger to mom and baby. On the other hand the risks are reduced because this is being done at a time someone is actually on shift and waiting to do the work...

I am not liking the name calling going on here...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 PM  


"Have you ever birthed a child at home or witnessed a home birth?"

No, I have never done it or witnessed it. What I know about it is what I have learned by reading scientific papers and homebirth advocacy websites.

By Blogger Amy Tuteur, MD, at 4:01 PM  

Homebirthing as I see it (and have experienced it) is about empowerment more than control.

By Blogger Rebecca, at 5:30 PM  

As a homebirth midwife, I actually agree. I shocked a large panel during a debate on women's health policy when I said I had no problem whatsoever with elective c-sections. Every version of the story related to birth has risks, and if a mother walks in informed of the all the risks, she should be able to birth how and where she wants without ignorant, judgemental banter coming from both sides of the argument.

Ultimately, between my work, my family, and just generally enjoying life, the bottom line is that I have way more enriching ways to spend my life than trying to convince people what to do with their own bodies.

By Anonymous Lee, CPM, MPH, at 9:22 PM