you?ve heard that vaginal birth is bad for vaginas. The whole melon
being squeezed through an opening the size of a lemon thing. The
stretching. The virgin pelvis.
There?s no data showing that vaginal birth in and of itself is bad for your body. But there is data showing that certain maternity care practices will do your bottom harm.
A note about incontinence: Some studies have shown that women who
give birth vaginally have more short-term urinary problems than women
who give birth by cesarean. But these studies do not control for the
damaging labor practices common in standard American maternity wards.
To really examine the physical impact of vaginal birth itself, we?d
need to compare women having cesareans to women having spontaneous,
physiological, supported births. So far we have no such study.
A note about size: it generally doesn?t matter. For the past
century, physicians have tried various means to predict whether a
woman?s pelvis was ?adequate.? They tried using a tool called a
pelvimeter; they took X-rays (to the developing fetus?s detriment);
they examined with their hands. But unless a woman has a physical
deformity or a truly enormous baby (we?re talking more than 12 lb),
nobody can really predict whether the pelvis is too small or the baby
too big, because the pelvis stretches during childbirth.