by Chandra Fischer
“I never paid any attention to cesareans.” “I ignored the part about cesareans in our childbirth class because I was planning a natural birth.” “My care provider told me that he only does a cesarean when the baby is in trouble.” “I was shocked when I had to have a cesarean.” “I had no idea that an induction or epidural would increase my chance of cesarean.” “Isn’t a cesarean a better choice if I want to protect my pelvic floor?”
Sound familiar? That’s the echo of thousands of pregnant women bypassing an issue that will, in effect, impact at least 1 in 3 pregnant women in the United States. Yep. You heard right. One in every three women in this country will have a surgical birth. Some of those will be life-saving. Some of them will be necessary. A great majority of them are entirely preventable, with higher risks to you and your baby.[i] Because, let’s face it, an intervention that is unnecessary has NO benefit. It’s all risk.
With that in mind, here are a few important things you can do to avoid an unnecessary cesarean:
- Read. Learn about what a cesarean surgery entails. Learn about the times when it *is* truly necessary. Educate yourself about the risks, benefits and alternatives. One fantastic, evidence-based, resource is “What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Section” — downloadable booklet located at http://www.childbirthconnection.org. Another is the International Cesarean Awareness Network’s (ICAN) website http://www.ican-online.org, and your local ICAN chapter at http://www.icantwincities.org.
- Hire a Doula! Research fully and repeatedly backs up the importance of trained labor support in the reduction and prevention of a variety of interventions, including cesarean section.[ii]
- Stay active and mobile during your labor. Gravity and freedom of movement are a birthing mother’s best friend. The ability to change your position allows you to respond to your baby’s spiraling movements and descent down the birth canal, opens up your pelvis and helps your baby to be born gently and easily. This mobility can help prevent your baby from getting stuck in a less advantageous position, and, if your baby is already malpositioned, it can enhance your baby’s chances of moving into a better position for birth. If your movement is limited or if you are confined to bed, ask your doula to help you change your position every 30 minutes. [iii]
- Avoid induction of labor unless there is a true medical reason to do so. Simply put, induction of labor, especially in first time mothers, increases your chances of a cesarean by 50%. [iv]
The work of parenthood begins in pregnancy. Advocating for the healthiest birth possible is just the beginning. So, cesarean prevention isn’t for the other women. It’s for you. It’s for your baby. It’s for this pregnancy. This labor. This birth.
-Chandra Fischer, Birth Doula
Prajna Birth Services