A few months ago, Roanna Rosewood contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing her soon to be released book, Cut, Stapled and Mended : When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean. I agreed but once I received the book, I kept putting it aside as I found myself busy. One quiet evening, I finally picked it up to start reading and I did not put it down until three in the morning when I finished the book, tears in my eyes.
Cut, Stapled and Mended is unique to birthing books because it is not a ‘how to’ manual written by professionals, but rather the personal and very emotional story of Rosewood’s three births; the first an unnecessary cesarean, the second a cesarean that saved her life and the third was the VBAC homebirth that she so desperately wanted, but even that did not happen as she anticipated.
Honest, moving, funny and riveting, Cut, Stapled and Mended will resonate with the legions of women who have attempted natural birth or VBAC only to find their dreams shattered by unnecessary interventions.
Roanna has such a wonderful, engaging style of writing that you will feel you know her and her family by the end of the book. I am delighted that she agreed to answer a few follow up interview questions for our readers as well as offer a signed copy of her book to give away.
Q: I think we all agree that the best way to avoid the VBAC conundrum is to avoid the first cesarean. Any tips for first time moms to avoid one?
Rosewood: The single best way to avoid an unnecessary cesarean is to choose a provider with a low cesarean rate. I also recommend truly accepting responsibility for pushing your baby out of your body. For most of us, this is terrifying. It’s much easier to expect someone else to deliver our babies for us. But the truth is, providers don’t actually deliver babies. They can only cut or pull them out. If you want to avoid a forcep or cesarean delivery, moving through your feelings relating to birth is essential. What do you need to know/understand/feel/do to push your baby out of your body?
Q: Do you recommend “talking sense” into first time moms who may not know what a hospital birth has in store for them? Do you have any tips to inform expectant mothers without scaring them?
Rosewood: What a wonderful question! I absolutely LOVE home birth. But I don’t believe it’s a magical panacea. Traumatic births outcomes aren’t limited to hospital deliveries. Yes, midwives can provide negligent and disrespectful care and doctors can honor and tenderly care for their patients. While this isn’t the norm, it does happen. I think we have to be very careful about feeding this idea that the birth wars are about home vs hospital and midwives vs doctors. Birth isn’t about them! It’s about mamas and babies. Our lives and our babies lives are on the line. We have every right and the ultimate responsibility to choose who we entrust with our care. If we want women to be empowered decision-makers in birth, than we need to trust women’s decisions, even when we disagree with them. We cannot simultaneously say that women must have rights in childbirth and that they are incapable of making decisions.
I’m not suggesting that we sit quietly while our sisters blindly succumb to one of the most dangerous maternity care systems in the industrialized world, rather that we add our voices to the movement instead of challenging individual mamas. We can demand true informed consent and fight for persecuted midwives. We can participate in online groups and join or host improving birth rallies. We can ask bookstores and libraries to carry important books in hopes they will make it into the hands of browsing mamas-to-be. We can tell stories of the beauty and pleasure of birth and we can normalize birth for our children.
The above being said, I’m guilty of begging a family member not to induce and I can’t swear that I wouldn’t do it again. Perhaps the happy medium would be to offer to loan her some books or movies that made a difference to you and to simply let her know that if she has any questions, you would be happy to share your experience with her.
Q: As you know, the physical and mental pain involved in a traumatic medicalized birth is hard enough to deal with but the subsequent realization that it was unnecessary opens up a whole new can of worms in terms of trauma and something to “come to terms” with. Knowing this, do you ever suggest to a recovering mother that her cesarean might not have been necessary or do you let them come to that realization after their own research?
Rosewood: If a woman talks flippantly about it, I will plant seeds in a non-accusatory way. For example, if someone says that they needed a cesarean because of fetal distress, I might mention the interview I heard on BirthPlan Radio where I learned that electronic fetal monitoring has a 98% false-positive rate.
But when a mama is feeling trauma, I believe the best way to help her is by listening instead of talking. It is after she asks for my opinion that I have any business forming one. Since this is about her trauma instead of my beliefs, it is right that she peels back the layers at her own pace. Tearing them off for her just results in her birth being invaded again, this time by me instead of a surgeon.
Be patient with mamas. Our birth experiences aren’t limited to the hours or days surrounding delivery. It entwines itself around parenting, intimate relations, sexuality, self worth, and our deepest understandings of who we are. It can take a very long time to move through the many layers.
Q: You seem very committed to a cruelty free vegetarian diet but you ate meat and eggs during your pregnancy. What are your feelings on a vegan/vegetarian diet now? Do you feel it is inappropriate for pregnancy and nursing?
Rosewood: In my heart, I’m vegetarian! I want all animals to roam freely and live long lives. But adding meat to my diet resulted in such a drastic improvement to my health that, even though I’m not emotionally at peace with it, I eat animals. When I fall off the wagon and go vegetarian for more than a few days in a row, I feel the difference to my overall energy and health.
I don’t feel qualified to say what is or isn’t appropriate for someone else to eat but for those interested in nutrition, I highly recommend exploring the work of Weston Price http://www.westonaprice.
Q: During your third pregnancy, you worked closely with an obstetrician, in a hospital that would not even “allow” a trial of labor so you hid your homebirth plans. After you successfully birthed your daughter at home, were you forthcoming with your OB?
Rosewood: I was! I believe my call was intercepted by the nurse which was a bit of a let-down. But a couple of years ago, I emailed the obstetrician my manuscript. I wanted her to have the chance to discuss things before I went public. She was very complimentary and appreciative of my story. She expressed that she is “in alignment with much, though not all” of my perspective in the birthing area. She also signed her letter with her first name. If you’ve read the book, you will realize the significance of this
Q: If you could change one thing to improve maternal/infant welfare, what would it be?
Rosewood: I would put mothers back in the center of decision-making and responsibility for childbirth, shifting providers roles from one of power to one of service. They would support mothers, give true informed consent, and provide a safety net.
Cut, Stapled and Mended : When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean is available on Amazon of course, but you will get more goodies if you order through the Cut, Stapled and Mended website. Maybe you wont have to buy a copy! Fill out the easy entry form below and you could win a signed copy of this great book.