Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Did your vagina, like, fall off?"

This is a funny story. Sort of.

A few months ago, when I was monologue-ing about how poor maternity care is in the United States and how much better it is in so many countries, one of my collaborators told me that it is much worse in some places. She pointed out that in some parts of Brazil, the c-section rate is 89%. Gasp! Now remember to exhale.

We lamented over our many fellow sisters Saints in Brazil who we believed were being led like lambs down the path of increasing unnecessary interventions that eventually ends at the knife. I was in a fury for a few days and I even vowed to have this book translated into Portuguese.

Later, I discussed this statistic with another friend and neighbor who is a doula. "Can you believe it? 89%!"

According to my friend (who knows everything or purports to) the c-section rate is that high in Brazil because women there are told that if they give birth vaginally that their vaginal tract will never be the same and sex will never be as pleasurable. Thus, most of these c-sections are elective.

Then she told me a story about a Brazilian woman she knows who came to this country and when she got pregnant wanted to plan her c-section, but her doctor (good for him or her) said, "What? Why? There is no reason for a c-section." Rather than switching doctors, she listened and had her baby vaginally.

Later, when her family and friends heard that she had given birth vaginally, they were shocked. Jaws dropped, and one friend said, "Oh my gosh, did your vagina, like, fall off?"

Okay, that is funny. At first. Then it's sort of sad. What is even sadder is that until not that many years ago, I used to believe something similar. Luckily, God sent me the people and experiences I needed to set me straight.

It is interesting to me how belief systems change. Most of us have had limiting beliefs such as this at different times in our lives--such as where babies come from, or what falling in love is like. But we eventually let go of limiting beliefs and replace them with new ones. We all have about a million beliefs, not just religious doctrinal beliefs, but beliefs about how people view us, how our children are/should be, what is the best kind of diet to eat, what constitutes a good deal, etc. In John Stienbeck's novel, East of Eden, the narrator's mother refuses to believe in airplanes. The fact that she had seen them, didn't matter.

Since I am studying behavioral science in hypnotherapy school, I am very interested in the process people go through when they do let go of beliefs and adopt news ones. I'm still processing it--maybe gestating is a better word. But one day, for sure, I will deliver it as a blog post.

Getting back to vaginas falling off, I would really like someone who has lived in Brazil recently to chime in and corroborate or refute some of this and maybe throw out some ideas on how to help our Brazilian sisters.

Some hot mommas in Brazil. Okay, I have no idea if any of them are actually moms. But if they are, their c-section scar doesn't show in a Brazilian bikini.


  1. I haven't heard about this and its appalling and interesting. One of the sisters from our ward (but recently moved) is from Brazil, but she gave birth to both children here in the US. I might have to message her.

    Have you heard about the birth practices in El Salvador? We know a sister who served her mission there and then returned there to marry afterwards. Her El Salvadorian husband and she lived there for 3ish years and she gave birth to 2 of their 3 children there. Shes expecting #4 soon. She and I are not close by any means, but via stories from her brother and mother I was told that she labored alone in a small, dingy room on a flat cold (or hot depending on the season)metal table. Her mother (who flew in the the US) was not allowed to be present. Her husband wasn't present, but allowed small visits. There were no pain killers to even offer. She was left alone until she was pushing. Then and only then did a doctor attend to her. I'm sure I'm leaving something out. If I can get a better statement from her mom I'll pass it on.

  2. I can vouch for this. I served a mission in Brazil and I knew a number of women who opted to have elective c-sections prior to their due dates. I remember at least two pregnant women who recounted horror stories that they had heard about vaginal birth (excessive tearing, etc.) and said that they were going to schedule c-sections to avoid the pain and disfigurement that they associated with vaginal birth.

    In fact, in Portuguese when you refer to a "parto natural" (natural labor), it better translates as "vaginal birth." I never heard anyone talk about unmedicated birth, although to be fair I don't hear all that many Americans talk about it either.

    If you decide you want some Portuguese translation done, let me know! Busca knows how to find me.

  3. Thanks for the insights, Missy. That is interesting that natural birth means vaginal birth to them. Thanks for the translation offer. We may need you. The Brazilian sisters may need you.



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