Thursday, November 4, 2010

Funny Story

We are right now living with my parents. Every two weeks, two latina women come to clean their house. These two ladies were eagerly anticipating my son's birth, and last week, they had a chance to meet him. Their reaction to the circumstances surrounding his birth made me smile because of the contrast that I usually experience when I tell other (usually white) friends.

The first question: "Cut or regular?" By this, the older of the two women meant, "Did you have a c-section or a vaginal delivery?" Somehow the terms "cut" and "regular" bring into focus the reason that vaginal (regular) delivery is so important to me. Vaginal deliveries are "regular", and usually you can't beat the design God gave you. On the whole, women's bodies recover faster from vaginal delivery for that reason. Babies often recover faster, too (nursing and breathing may come more easily to vaginally-delivered infants). "Cut" also brings into focus the fact that a c-section is a major abdominal surgery, which always carries additional risks. I do not believe that c-sections and vaginal deliveries are equally good ways to get your baby out.

Don't hear what I'm not saying - c-sections are necessary for mom or baby's health somewhere between 5-10% of the time. And most women and babies that go through them do just fine. But a national c-section rate of upwards of 30% is grossly out of proportion to what is considered necessary by the WHO, and I don't think it's just because U.S. citizens are horribly unhealthy, as some doctors may claim. It's largely a product of fear, both on the part of women (fear of the pain of labor, lack of control) and their doctors (fear of being sued if they contradict ACOG protocols for individuals that don't fit the traditional mold, and lack of control).

The second question: "Libras (pounds)?" When I told them that my baby was 9 and a half pounds, they exclaimed, "Healthy! Strong!" This made me smile because what I normally hear from people is, "What a gigantic monster! That must have been horrible!" But the fact of the matter is that my baby is healthy and strong, and it's time that we stopped thinking about big babies as monstrosities. So be proud of your big babies, ladies.

The third question: "Boob?" Yes, she actually said "boob." She was asking if I breastfeed my son, which I do. When I answered in the affirmative, she said, "Oh, very good. Very healthy." And it's true. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding babies for at least one year, for their health, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least six months, for your health. It's worth the sacrifice of time, sore nipples, and other inconveniences.

The conclusion that these ladies had for me and my baby? "Very good. You will be able to have 5, 6, many more children." They hit it spot on and their conclusion was extremely gratifying to me. Because one of my intentions is and always has been preserving my ability to continue to have children until my husband and I deem it imprudent to continue. I would never want the fact that I happened to have an unnecessary c-section or the fact that a doctor is afraid the baby will be "too big to fit" when the baby fits just fine to keep me (or anyone else, for that matter) from future childbearing.

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