As mentioned in author and doula Ananda Lowe’s recent NPR piece, the term “homebirth cesarean” didn’t exist before 2011. However, today more and more birth professionals have picked up the lexicon which refers to “a planned out-of-hospital birth that ends in the hospital operating room.”
Cesarean surgery is the most commonly preformed surgery in the US. One-third of all American children are born via cesarean section. While America’s high cesarean rates are certainly concerning, for mothers who hope to deliver in the safety and comfort of their own homes (or home-like birthing centers), a transfer to the hospital for a cesarean section is particularly jarring. We all benefit from the important contributions of Courtney Key Jarecki the author of “Homebirth Cesarean” and “Healing From a Homebirth Cesarean.”
When I read about Jarecki’s work, I am taken back to a singular and defining moment in the birth of my son.
After over 20-hours of laboring at home with the intention of birthing at home, I knew instinctively that I needed to go to the hospital for medical support. At the time, I didn’t realize that my son’s presentation was asynclitic, nor did I understand that I had inherited a J-shaped tailbone from my mother. She broke her lower back in nearly all of her 7 vaginal deliveries and suffered from low back pain throughout my childhood. All I knew was that I was beginning to suffer and could no longer worth with the pain.
The epidural allowed me to sleep, rest, and begin to gather my energies. It also allowed for my pelvic muscles to relax and my son was able to find his way down. My 8-hour adventure “stalled” at 7 centimeters was over. Now I was ready to push. Or was I?
All I remember in that defining moment was not caring if my son was born vaginally or via cesarean. The prospect of major abdominal surgery no longer concerned me. I simply wanted the labor to end. For one moment, I stood on the precipice of becoming a “home birth cesarean.” Gratefully, my husband, my midwife, and my doula believed in my strength more than I did. They surrounded me. They loved me. They encouraged me. A few hours later, after a vaginal delivery, my son was safely in my arms.
I can only imagine what the emotional aftermath would have been if I had succumbed to my intense (and at the time rather irrational) desire to escape working with labor and go to the OR. How would I have handled the memory of surgery, especially given my initial plan to birth at home?
Consider these words.
I didn’t have the kind of story my midwife would ever put on her website. I didn’t share my experience on my homebirth email group because it didn’t fit their narrative. It was outside the bounds of a happy, empowering homebirth. My story was silent inside me, festering and bound by shame.
—Ann (2011/HBC,Midwestern U.S.)
Jarecki’s work is all about unpacking this shame.
More information about Jarecki’s work as well as links to her books follow.
The book “Homebirth Cesarean” eloquently captures over 250 voices from mothers, partners, midwives, OB/GYNs, and mental health professionals about the physical, emotional, and psychological trauma associated with homebirth cesareans. World-renowned childbirth and postpartum experts, including Penny Simkin, Sarah Buckley, Pam England, Elizabeth Davis, Sister MorningStar, and Michel Odent, help set the stage for a new benchmark around conversations, tools, and shared healing before, during, and after a homebirth cesarean. These far-ranging conversations form the multidisciplinary foundation of “Homebirth Cesarean.”
“Homebirth Cesarean” aspires to bring deeper understanding to these unrecognized births, to celebrate the women and birth professionals transformed by them, and to give childbirth and postpartum professionals the tools they need to support families as they begin their parenting journeys.
In concert with “Homebirth Cesarean”, this companion workbook, “Healing From a Homebirth Cesarean“, adds a deeper level of understanding and exploration for mothers healing in the aftermath of a planned out-of-hospital birth that ended in the operating room.
This workbook is a trusted and ideal companion for HBC mothers no matter where they are in their journey or how recently they experienced their HBC. Over six chapters, HBC mothers chart their course of self-paced healing with simple practices, creative exercises, and meditations. A powerful and safe exploration into healing after a difficult birth, this is an essential guide for women seeking their identity as a birth warrior and mother.
Courtney Key Jarecki is the author of “Homebirth Cesarean: Stories and Support for Families and Healthcare Providers” (Incisio Press, 2015), a book for mothers, families, and birth professionals that details the HBC experience from pregnancy through the subsequent birth of another child. As a companion piece, she also authored “Healing From a Homebirth Cesarean” (Incisio Press, 2015), a workbook for HBC mothers that offers a powerful and innovative approach, complete with self-directed practices, to align the cognitive, physical, emotional, and relational areas of life affected by an HBC.
Courtney envisions a future where women of her daughter’s generation will birth with knowledge and dignity regardless of location, and in the company of care providers who respect and understand their wishes. To help move this dream forward, she is the executive director of Homebirth Cesarean International (HBCI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit she co-founded. HBCI works to broaden the conversation and education around homebirth cesareans, through the support of mothers, families, and birth professionals.