April is Cesarean Awareness Month

c section, image of c section, dad in c section, gentle c section, cesarean birth, cesarean picture, cesarean awarenessCesarean Awareness Month is sponsored by The International Cesarean Awareness Network. ICAN is a non profit whose mission is “to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).”

Cesarean section is a surgery that saves babies and mothers lives in special circumstances, however,  the United States, along with many other countries, have rates that far exceed what has been determined as the ideal maximum rate. Currently, the U.S. cesarean rate is over 30%.

About one third of American babies are born surgically. No scientific basis justifies this rise. No change in women’s bodies or birthing abilities has driven the increase in cesareans.

In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; in 2009, some discussion arose surrounding stated changes in WHO recommendations. Henci Goer, an award-winning author, speaker and leading expert in evidence-based maternity care, laid out the details in this 2009 Science and Sensibility article that reiterates the science behind the recommended optimal upper limit of a 15% cesarean rate for any country. Beyond that, it causes harm and increases disease and death in mothers and babies. [Her newest post is entitled: Whether Women Have Cesareans is Mostly Arbitrary. I highly recommend the new book Optimal Care in Childbirth by Henci Goer and Amy Romano.]

So why are our C-section rates so high?

It’s not because more Mom’s are asking for them, it’s not because more Mom’s are older or using fertility treatments and it’s not even due to medical liability concerns. Each of these has small correlations with cesarean choices, however, each has been proven not to be a driving force behind the dramatic rise in cesareans.

The Truth About Cesareans is a must watch video presented by Eugene Declercq, Assistant Dean and Professor at Boston University and leading  researcher on cesarean section in the U.S. I have been privileged to hear Gene Declercq speak at several conferences; he lays out the research and numbers in a clear and humorous way that helps non-science-minded folks understand it.

To me, as with everything in birth and life, knowledge is power, information provides you with options. Increased cesarean awareness can lead to better self-advocacy, better informed decision-making and better advocacy for change where it can make an impact.

A mother remembers her birth for her lifetime. As a culture, we must value, honor and protect the WAY a mother births and her experience of birth.

Check back next week for Cesarean Awareness Month posts on tips to avoid a cesarean, tips to prepare if you know you need a c-section and VBACs.

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9 Responses to April is Cesarean Awareness Month

  1. Been there, done that, and have the 4 c-section scars to prove it. The number one way to avoid a section is: DON’T BE INDUCED! Your baby will come when he is ready. Induction leads to breaking your water, which leads to an epidural because the induction meds are from hell, which will slow your labor. In the end your doctor will say you are “failure to progress” and perform a section.

    VBACs are possible. But here’s a tip: if your dr. is saying yes to a VBAC but is pushing you to schedule a section “so it’s on the calendar” then you need to find a different dr. If you do go into labor the dr. will not be supportive of your VBAC and will try to pressure you into going with a section anyway.

    I recommend finding a midwife and/or doula who will support you through delivery. I’ve experienced 6 different OBs (between “my” dr. and the on-call drs. who finally delivered my kids). Only 1 has been truly supportive of me, my choices, and hasn’t tried to fit me in the medical community’s box for standard deliveries.

  2. […] Month and I am devoting my posts this week to issues surrounding cesarean births. Last week, I wrote about cesareans in general and the U.S. c-sections rate as well as some of the myths as to why the c-section rate […]

  3. […] birth, having an understanding of a c-section is important since nearly one third of Moms in the U.S. have cesareans and most of those are not expected or scheduled ahead. This in itself does not mean they were […]

  4. […] My first thought was she was telling us that she couldn’t see the sex of the baby until it dawned on me what she was really saying: the baby was breech. She verified my realization saying, “You need a C-section.” […]

  5. […] honour of International Caesarean Awareness Month (and the fact that I bloody love a birth story!) I thought I’d share the […]

  6. Amanda Johnson says:

    I delivered both my kids by c-section and not ashamed. I dreamed of having a natural birth with my first, but they were complications and he if hadn’t come out c-section, he would have died or been in NICU. I was given the choice of how to deliver my daughter two years later and decided on another c-section due to the 24 hours of hell I had the first time. C-sections are not for convenience.

    • ldecesare says:

      Thank you for sharing. C-sections are undoubtedly life-saving surgeries in many many cases. I, too, have had a C-section and am not out to criticize the procedure or any mom who has had a cesarean. Like you, the vast majority of moms don’t go into birth expecting or wanting a cesarean and in my experience as a doula, there can be a deep grief surrounding the loss of a vaginal birth.

      I empower families to be informed decision-makers, to ask questions, to select providers they trust and who align with the birth experience they hope for and my wish for families is to be educated. I want those who hope to avoid a cesarean birth, to be equipped and have tools to “stack the deck” in favor of the vaginal birth they desire. The birth journey is different for each mother and every mom should feel empowered, secure, safe, supported, nurtured, beautiful in whatever decisions she makes – however she births.

      I love hearing Eugene DeClerq with his thick Boston accent when he shares his extensive research on C-sections and his work to tease out causes. To way over simplify: there are a variety of mechanisms and reasons for the increases we’ve seen in C/S and there’s a systemic culture at the core. If you have an interest, look him up.

  7. […] and birth are completely unpredictable. We can never guarantee exactly what will happen and with a cesarean birth rate of over 30% in the U.S., (roughly one in every three babies are born via c-section) the chances of being one of those […]

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