Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The New Yorker on Childbirth

Atul Gawande has written an absolutely riveting article on the history of childbirth and obstetrics for The New Yorker. It balances the rhetoric that childbirth has become too medicalized with history and data that explain how much better off mothers and infants are thanks to obstetrical advances. I can relate to this story because I'd planned on having a natural childbirth with midwives and minimal intervention (but in a hospital, thank you very much). But because she was breech, I ended up with a scheduled C-section five days before Z's official due date.

I was disappointed that I was contributing to our country's unnaturally high rate of Cesarean births, but Z did well on her Apgar score and I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty. Plus, never having gone into labor meant my delivery and recovery were pretty easy.

That wasn't the case for Elizabeth Rourke, who says to the author, "'I felt like a complete failure, like everything I had set our to do I failed to do. I didn't want the epidural and then I begged for the epidural. I didn't want a C-section, and I consented to a C-section. I wanted to breast-feed the baby, and I utterly failed to breast-feed.'" Elizabeth "was so debilitated that her milk did not come in" after almost 40 hours of labor and a Cesarean section.

If and when I deliver again, I wonder if I'll be able to go the more natural, vaginal route. It's what I'd want--the more correct choice--but I'd risk a one in 200 chance of uterine rupture as well as every laboring woman's one in four chance of having an emergency C-section anyway.