Consideration of the effects of C-Section births
Correspondence between Elena and readers in regards to C-section scenes shown in "Birth As We Know It" & the lack of research on effects of C-Sections on babies
Your film would be perfect if it showed only the positive benefits of natural birthing, without causing unnecessary guilt for moms who find themselves in need of medical intervention. I was disappointed to see the Cesarean scene. My son, born by c-section, didn't scream, he was quiet and alert - I think he was glad to have help after 20 hours of frustration.
While I wish his birth had gone more smoothly, I haven't seen any lifelong consequences. At 27, he is the calmest, brightest, and most self-assured person I have ever known. Had I watched this video when pregnant, I would have felt quite worried and guilty afterward - and for no good reason, as it turned out.
It seems inconsistent to help parents avoid trauma for their babies, and at the same time show scenes that can cause trauma for parents who have had to make other choices. In my years of counseling I've learned how much more effective it is to convince people with positive information than scaring them with frightening possibilities. I hope you'll consider a revision.
All the best,
Thank you! The only reason I’ve included the c-section episode was to help women consider not having elective surgeries without medical indication. The great majority of all c-sections are done without any need for it. Just because women don't know what it does to them and to the baby.
And I made a big effort after that scene to explain that the mother's love will neutralize the trauma from the real emergency afterwards. Your son is a perfect example how TLC in action really does it. When it's an emergency, the baby takes it as a life saving and assuring imprint, that "help will come when needed".
But most of the babies born to c-section do not have that privilege, unfortunately... It is for them that I have included this part in the film.
I had 4 letters now with similar to yours reaction to the c-section episode and 2 raging letters about circumcision scene. I have thousands of letters of gratitude - many of them are already posted on my site. Here is the latest: "Every time I watch your film, I heal." - from AZ Many women were able to recover their memory of ability to procreate, which they disowned due to social conditioning, and delivered naturally after all - by just watching my film.
There is an enormous request for this kind of information out there in the world and it would serve well to those unborn babies whose mothers are now getting ready for their elective surgeries, if they would have a chance to see what they are signing for and understand the beauty of natural birth in comparison.
It is not my intention to upset anyone. I can not stress enough how grateful I am for the doctors to be available when they are really needed! But how else can we convince women to at least try natural birth? There is plenty of information written and spoken, but the rates are climbing up and up! I actually overheard a woman scheduling her business lunch 3 days after her c-section! "I'll be fine!" she said.
It's not just my crazy idea that c-section is harmful for babies. There is 25 years of research in the field of pre-natal psychology that speaks volumes about it. You can find more on
I personally, don't have a preference. I mean, my preference is only one: to make my film most effective. And if the majority would vote for removing this scene, I'll remove it with no problem. At this point it looks like most of the people who wrote to me benefit from seeing it. But, may be those who did not appreciate it simply did not write.
Btw, I do have the shorter version already that does not show any of the controversial footage - cream de la cream, 25 min of the most beautiful, inspiring scenes. It's in the "Educational" version of the film. It doesn't have circumcision, c-section, ice-dipping, hippie scenes, nothing that might trigger someone.
I had a couple of complaints just about each of the scenes in my film. There were 3 raging letters demanding me to remove circumcision, calling me 'heretic', mocking up spiritual people;
2 letters calling me crazy for showing winter swimming, how dangerous it is, a few angry people upset that I was promoting a bunch of hippies... If I were to remove everything I was told I should remove, my film would be about 15 minutes long. But the thing is, they were all asking for different episodes to be removed. Each one of them said 'the rest of the film is awesome, but just this one scene..." naming yet another one”...
I want to show your video to my friend who will have birth in 2 weeks. But I have some doubts like:
* although she is open to "new" things, she is not yet spiritually "oriented".
* there are births in the normal hospital shown, and I have a fear that she would somehow "panic", because she is ordered to have a c-section. I am afraid watching this part of video could affect her in a negative way, since she will realize there is just a short time "to go" and there is nothing she could do now.
So, is it better not to know all this things, since she will have a c-section soon OR you think that nevertheless she can benefit from watching it, although she doesn't have time to have a natural birth?
Thanks a LOT for you response!
Thank you for your active approach in this issue! I absolutely understand your concern, it is a very delicate subject. For one, without knowing your friend personally and not knowing why exactly she was ‘ordered’ to have a c-section, I have no way of predicting her reaction... She, most likely, will get upset… But there is also a good chance that afterwards she would find the strength she did not know she had and get inspired for a more active position.
It will definitely bring up a lot of unresolved issues for her, and if she has someone to help her, she can cover a lot of ground in 2 weeks. The sooner she would deal with those issues, the better it would be for her and her baby. I am sure there are a lot of practitioners in your area to reach out to, I especially recommend EFT or rebirthing sessions for such short time frame.
My general observation is such: you can not help anyone who is not open to receiving help. Either specifically from you, or, in general, about some issue that is in their ‘blind spot’, or even more general – problems with receiving.
But, having said that, I do have LOTS of letters from women who discovered my film days before their pre-scheduled elective c-sections (they wanted it without any medical indication, just because they thought it was a good thing to do - to have their baby mechanically extracted from their bodies), and after watching my film they had the same experience - described in same terms,- it's like waking up (which doesn't take much time: one moment you are asleep, and the next moment you are awake) - they snapped out of the mass hypnosis they were under - that they can not give birth.
Giving birth has nothing to do with being 'spiritual', whatever that means... any cat can give birth. A woman is adequately equipped for it by her physical constitution, by design, if you wish, - it's ok to remember this. Many women were able to recover that memory, which they disowned due to their social conditioning, and delivered naturally after all. I guess, they were ready to receive that reminder and just watching my film did it for them.
If a woman is healthy, all she needs to give birth - is to rela-a-a-ax. Basically, that’s what the preparation time is for – to learn to relax in the middle of all the drama; (which cats don’t have to deal with - our stress level!)
1) to relax mentally, consciously and unconsciously, into the notion of having this baby,
2) to relax emotionally into surrendering all the inner conflicts, fears and contradictions,
3) at the time of actual delivery – to relax physically.
As for your friend, why don't you ask her? She is the one to birth soon. Just share how you feel about wanting her to watch this film. I believe that if nothing else would come out of it, you yourself would benefit just by articulating your own feelings about the subject of birth. You are not really responsible for her. Only she is. So if she can't face watching what she is about to go through, there is, probably, not much anyone could do – the stage is set. But that’s also OK:
There are no accidents in the matters of birth and death. From my experience of 26 years working in this field, I got this very clearly. The way we come and go has something to do with our soul’s agenda. I believe it sets the stage for us in just the right manner for our spirit to evolve. We get the exact circumstances that our soul requires to master finding the way ‘home’, recovering our connection with the Source. And who is to say what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ experience? (The other topic is how to succeed in this recovery – it’s an ‘equal opportunity’ kind of gig, but the ‘circumstances’ are not equal… - but that is over the format of this little discussion). All we can do is do our best, and that’s exactly what everyone is doing… If this ‘best’ is not up to someone else’s standard, that’s exactly where the notion of ‘mastery’ comes in. We can’t really make anyone evolve faster then they are already evolving.
Going back to your friend, even in the hospital, she has the right to request some gentleness and consideration - not to cut the cord immediately, to keep quiet, to dim the lights and not blast the baby with sensory overload, keep the baby with her, skin to skin and breastfeed right away. Even in the hospital, she has the right to remember that it's her baby, she is now in charge of protecting this little one from harm. They both have the right to be treated appropriately. And if she will be able to fully love this baby, it will mend the trauma fast. Babies are very forgiving. They love.
It is very interesting how you called c-section hospital birth – ‘normal’. Sad, too. Here is what normal birth is:
Remember, what I said in the film – emergency c-section is not a failure! It’s a blessing that we have this help available. The main thing – the baby is alive and smiling and the healing will happen fast if the mother is smiling, too, - if she is relaxed and happy.
Thank you for your newsletter—I so appreciate your willingness to do
your life's work, and to pull together all this information for us out
there, around the world.
I wanted to comment on one statement you made, however:
"It's not just my crazy idea that c-section is harmful for babies.
There is 25 years of research in the field of pre-natal psychology
that speaks volumes about it”.
I don't believe that this statement is true, much as I would like it to
be. There is very little actual research in the prenatal
and perinatal psychology field, or anywhere else, that proves that
cesareans are harmful to babies. I completely agree that they can be
harmful, not only physically (and there is definitely research with
statistics about injuries to babies during cesarean surgeries), but
emotionally. However, very few scientific studies have been conducted to demonstrate emotional/psychosocial/spiritual damage as a result of
cesareans. I guess you could say that there are specific studies that
talk about specifics, such as respiratory problems, breastfeeding
initiation, etc., but they're not prenatal/perinatal psychology
research. Students at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute are beginning
to do small, doctoral research studies in various areas of prenatal
and perinatal psychology, but these studies are typically unfunded and
inadequate to make any strong impression sufficient to convince even
parents to think twice about unnecessary cesareans. So I feel that
your claim above is misleading, and wish, very sincerely, that there
actually was 25 years of real research in our field, as opposed to
"anecdotal" evidence from clinicians, which has little credibility in
the scientific world. I have been an APPPAH member for years and am
supportive of its existence and purpose, but I don't believe the field
can claim 25 years of research. I hope this will change with time and
determination, and designed my own doctoral research with this in
mind: to create a stepping stone for further research and to raise the
question of the enduring influence of birth experiences. It just
worries me that people will be confused when they go looking for this
research that pretty much doesn't exist yet!
Anyway, please keep up the great work, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Thank you so very, very much! It will help me to be more accurate in my statements.
I am not a scholar, you see, I am just a passionate human being. :):)
And my English is fairly new, I didn't catch up on the reading yet. I
sincerely thought that something of that importance would be researched by now:)
Everything that I know, including what c-section does to babies, WAS
explained to me in 1982 by Igor Charkovsky, the Russian waterbirth
pioneer. At that time we never heard of ‘prenatal psychology’ or any research in these matters. And he was not a doctor at all,
he worked as a swimming instructor. But he also was and still is a
deeply mystical Siberian SHAMAN. His understanding of the birthing
dynamics came to him directly from his unique experience of communicating with wild dolphins and by direct download from the
Source. He never thought that scholarly approach to people-making was a relevant one. He is and always was a wild Nature man.
He was passionately talking about the dangers for our species of unnecessary medical intervention since the early 70ies, when nothing was written or translated yet in Russia. When I heard in the
90ies that there is 'prenatal psychology' field in the US, I was very
happy that somebody else talks about those things:) I am really surprised to learn from you that the effect of Cesarean on
babies is not researched. Something that is used so widely with no
indication of safety for all involved?????
But in any case, I think that if my statement would encourage someone
to, actually, go and dig into what's there, looking for information, -
information they will get, even if different then what they thought
they looked for. My job would be done:)
And what is my job? I am not a doctor, not any kind of professional, - never claimed to be!
I am just a woman with a common sense. Not a super woman, not a guru, just me (normal, middle-aged woman: kind, when I can; smart, when I'm not overly tired, fun loving, when I have time, bitchy when exhausted, can do stupid things if not paying attention).
But I am committed to doing this work – advocating for the babies. I truly wish enough professionals and doctors were doing it, - researching, publishing, learning… but very few do! Those few are doing amazing work, but what are others waiting for? I wish it would be done already! If professionals would be doing it then I could just go and do what I really want to do - go dance and hike and play! Today is Thanksgiving and I didn't even get up from my computer yet since I woke up! Because I have a few months of unanswered mail (because I didn't have sufficient help in my office! Go figure!
So, I'm thinking... should I include this lil exchange into my next newsletter? Would it be ok with you?