Even Jessica Biel Was Unprepared for her Delivery

New book: A star's confession on the blind spots in her birth preparation

Posted Apr 10, 2018

Book pic from Amazon
Source: Book pic from Amazon
Book pic from Amazon
Source: Book pic from Amazon

A new book, in stores today, offers a glimpse into how the rich and famous have babies. Just like the rest of us, it seems. Or not quite.

“We had two midwives, one doula, one meditation birthing class, a ton of hippie baby books, and a lovely home in the Hollywood Hills that we had turned into a labor training facility..." tells Jessica Biel in an interview to InStyle.com. And then, birth happened.

"When all our plans fell apart and the serene, natural childbirth we had envisioned ended with a transfer to the hospital and an emergency C-section, we arrived home exhausted, disillusioned, and totally in shock,” Biel and JT disclose on the occasion of the new book coming out by the nanny who helped them overcome the shock and disillusion from birth.

The bit on shock and disillusio got me thinking – Biel is a well-informed woman, super-aware, with access to every resource on earth. Not to mention having Justin Timberlake by her side. And yes, how well-prepared was she you, if she only prepared for the best-possible scenario? On the other hand, why would you bother yourself with less-than-best-possible scenario, if it’s rare and overall bad kharma?

But how rare are unplanned C-sections? This question is harder to answer than you might think, since hospitals don’t necessarily record the difference between C to shining C (I know, it’s a lame one). Still, some answers emerged: An Israeli 2017 study found that between 2009 and 2014, out of every thousand women who came to give birth, one hundred (!) ended up getting an unplanned C-section. A Scottish study from 2015 found that between 1993 and 2007, out of every thousand women who came to give birth, 174 had their wee baby delivered by un-planned C-section. That is almost twice the rate in Israel. But even if we stay with the lower number, we’re still looking at a minimum of one out of ten women having an unplanned C-section. That is quite a lot. That is not some negligent rare event, which pregnancy prep can overlook. How do we explain the enormous gap between an unplanned C-section happening to so many women, and having a well-informed, super-aware woman, with access to every resource on earth, not know anything about it?

Why should she and her husband arrive home “exhausted, disillusioned, and totally in shock”?

We can find a hint of the reason in works like that of Judith Lothian, who describes how women prepare for home birth. Her conclusion is: “Re-envisioning childbirth education in this way may be a step in the direction of reclaiming the ways in which women prepared for the birth of their babies before birth moved to the hospital and was taken over by “experts” who do not trust birth or women's ability to give birth.” Ouch.

If this is where a birth educator is coming from, the education she gives does not instill much trust in doctors. It does, on the other hand, instill plenty of trust, maybe too much of it in ‘women’s ability to give birth’. I won’t go into the details of Biel’s delivery, just like we don’t know how come 174 of every 1,000 Scottish women ended up with an unplanned C-section. Was it because their doctors did not trust their ability to give birth? Or, perhaps, because of medical circumstances beyond these women’s control?

It worries me that when a C-section, or any other intervention, is portrayed as expressing lack of trust in women, it sends a message to these women, saying – if you’ve received this intervention, you’ve failed.

It worries me that when a woman prepares for one of the biggest events of her life – I was going to write ‘moments’, but a delivery can take hours, even days – she ends up being ill-prepared.

Does it worry you too? I would love to hear your thoughts.

References

Dan, O., Hochner-Celnikier, D., Solnica, A., & Loewenstein, Y. (2017). Association of Catastrophic Neonatal Outcomes With Increased Rate of Subsequent Cesarean Deliveries. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 129(4), 671-675.

Black, M., Bhattacharya, S., Philip, S., Norman, J. E., & McLernon, D. J. (2015). Planned cesarean delivery at term and adverse outcomes in childhood health. Jama, 314(21), 2271-2279.

Lothian, J. A. (2010). How do women who plan home birth prepare for childbirth?. The Journal of perinatal education, 19(3), 62.