How Many C-Sections Can You Have?
Seven little children in Brisbane, Australia, know their mother is pretty special - she gave birth to all of them by Caesarean section. Deborah of the Old Testament was a valiant woman and Deborah Mitchel qualifies for the title in this age, as she had to battle the medical 'experts' to be allowed to give life to her babies.
"My husband, David, and I believe that children are a gift from God and we always pray that we will do His will. I trust in God's promises but the doctors have always tried to frighten me and tell me all the things that could possibly go wrong," she says. They were never happy until they had me in tears in the ante-natal clinics."
Before her third caesarean, the doctors told Deborah that her uterus would probably rupture. However nothing happened. Every pregnancy after that, doctors predicted all kinds of emergencies. Deborah would come home distraught and in tears, but never once did she need a blood transfusion, Never once did she have any kind of complication during or after the pregnancy.
Amazingly, Deborah and her baby son, Jonathan, survived a bout of appendicitis during her seventh pregnancy. "I was nine weeks pregnant and after three days of bad pain, they operated on my appendix. I just had to trust my life and my baby's life into Gods hands." Today, Jonathan is a sturdy boy, coming up to his third birthday.
After her fourth child, Deborah came under strong pressure to be sterilized by a tubal ligation. The doctor who did the caesarean came out of the theatre and berated David for allowing his wife to have so many babies. When her sixth child was due to be born, Deborah was afraid that he doctors would sterilize her against her wishes.
"The surgeon was talking to my G.P. behind my back and inferred that he would do it without my consent." Deborah had so little trust in this doctor that she did something unthinkable in medical circles. She changed her doctor and hospital one week before baby Annaliese was due. "I phoned the Mater Mothers Hospital late one night and asked if I could please change over to them. The staff at the Mater were very good to us and they delivered the baby cheerfully."
Deborah was 32 years old and she believes the scripture which says that "women shall be saved in child-bearing." She has another favourite quote from 2 Chronicles 16:12 about a King called Asa who "in his disease sought not the Lord, but the physicians."
Deborah is glad when she finds a physician who also seeks the Lord's will and does not try to impose his own. The Medical Superintendent at Mater Mothers hospital, Dr. James King, gave her a lot of encouragement and hope. "Dr. King wanted to meet all my children and told me I was not a high risk."
The biggest scare Deborah had was in 1984 when AIDS was discovered in blood supplies, but there was no test available. This was just before Reuben was due to be born. She asked to set aside her own blood but was told it was not possible. "The whole church prayed for me and I didn't need any blood products."
Deborah had done nursing training before her marriage so she read up all the books she could find, searching for information about Caesarea birth. "It seems to be there is a whole area that doctors just don't know about. That's why they try to make me afraid." One encouraging fact was that Ethel Kennedy had all of her 11 children by Caesarean.
By the time her seventh baby was born, Laser treatment was being used during the operation which speeded up the healing of her wound. "I bounced back and came home on the third day," she said.
"When we first married, we lived in a caravan and had one frying pan. If we'd looked ahead we'd have thought we could never cope but, every time we had a baby, David had a pay raise. It's like a message from the Lord that He is looking after us." David is a building contractor and the Mitchell family now lives in a brick house in the outer suburbs of Brisbane. Deborah says, "I like the old saying that 'With every baby God sends a loaf of bread'." Deborah knows from experience the 'motherliness' that comes over women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. "I always feel a calmness and a contentment that makes me love being at home and being a mother."
COMMENTS FROM DR. JAMES KING ON C-SECTIONS.
Dr. James King is Medical Superintendent of the Mater Mothers Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia.
Dr. King delivered a mother of her 13th child by Caesarean section in Dublin in 1973. He was doing his specialist training as an obstetrician in the Rotunda Hospital which served a poor area of the city. He delivered her 11th child in 1971, her 12th the following year and the 13th in 1973, all by Caesareans. He said that this mother's abdominal wall was in very good shape with no adhesions and her uterus healed fine every time.
Dr. King comments that, "We were sailing uncharted seas for it was the biggest number of Caesarean deliveries anyone had known. When we did the operations, there were an increasing number of people attending each time to see what it was like. She was a celebrity."
Dr. King said that doctors might exaggerate the risks of childbirth to mothers because they are no longer used to seeing large families at all, let alone by Caesarean section. He says, "It is rare for women to have more than three babies, so the doctors are in unfamiliar territory. Doctors sometimes make assumptions about people from their own value system. We have no right to do that, or to advise people on what should be the size of their family. In western society, the dramatic drop in the number of births has changed the whole atmosphere surrounding birth, both for mothers and for doctors. There is a lot more fear and doctors are not so comfortable with birth. It is no longer a normal part of family dynamics in our society."
After four years of working in Ireland, Dr. King was struck by the difference in attitude when he went to North America. "In Ireland, the women had an emotional preparedness for birth as an inevitable consequence of life. They had an instinct and intuition that birth was women's business and that they were capable of it. Birth seemed to be a far greater hurdle for North American women. It was something you had to train for, pass an exam in, and be a graduate of a preparation programme. Whatever the dynamics of it, the facts today show that Caesarean rates are much higher in Brisbane than in Dublin." Dr. King wonders if medical technology has devalued the privacy of birth, the quiet and almost secret aspect that is part of bringing a new child into the world.