ican-bannerAmong many other things, April is Cesarean Awareness Month. In the U.S., 1 in 3 babies are delivered by cesarean section. To be clear, as a doula, I am not anti-cesarean. I am pro healthy mom and baby, and pro informed choice. With the exception of certain very high risk medical situations, a vaginal delivery is the healthiest option for both mother and baby for a multitude of reasons. (That is a topic for a more detailed discussion in a different blog post).

Here are the most important steps you and your partner can take to avoid an unnecessary c-section. (If you or your baby develop a medical condition that warrants a medically necessary cesarean delivery, this does not apply to you. Again, I am not against all cesarean deliveries)


  1. Just say no to induction. The last few days and weeks of pregnancy are very draining, both emotionally and physically. I’ve been there. You’re tired, you’re achy, you are anxious to meet your new baby, and you just want it done and over with! For mothers and care providers alike, induction may seem like a very appealing option. Depending on which study you refer to, the chances of cesarean delivery raise anywhere from 40-60% after an induction is started. New guidelines set by the ACOG no longer recommend non medically indicated induction until at least 41 weeks of pregnancy.
  2. Labor at home longer. Many hospitals have a policy about how long you are ‘allowed’ to labor before they will throw out the infamous “failure to progress” diagnosis and recommend a c-section. Thankfully, the ACOG has just recently relaxed their guidelines to extend this timeline, but it may take a while for hospital policy to catch up. Speak with your care provider about how long you should labor at home before heading to the hospital, and when at all possible, spend more time at home before heading to labor & delivery.
  3. Hire a doula. Of course I’m going to be partial to this one. However, numerous studies have shown that the continual presence of a labor support person such as a doula reduces your chance of cesarean delivery by up to 50%. This is due to multiple factors. A doula helps you ask questions, make informed choices, and helps you better manage your labor. Hiring a doula also lessens the chance that you will require pain medication or an epidural, therefore lowering your risk of needing augmentation such as Pitocin (see point 1).
  4. Take care of your pregnant body. By this, I mean exercise lightly as recommended by your care provider, and see a chiropractor or physical therapist of possible. Many c-sections are performed due to breech presentation, or a prolonged labor (failure to progress) because the baby is simply not in an optimal position. There are exercises that can be done daily during your pregnancy to better alight your pelvis to help baby settle into a proper position. Seeing a chiropractor who specializes in the Webster method, or who is familiar with pregnancy, will also greatly increase your chances of beginning your labor in optimal conditions. www.spinningbabies.com is a wonderful resource. Check with your care provider about using these exercises.

In some instances, a cesarean delivery is truly a life saving operation. It is my hope, and the hope of doulas worldwide, that enough information can be shared to women to help prevent the many c-sections that are not medically warranted.

For more information on Cesarean Awareness Month, visit http://www.ican-online.org/cam/april-cesarean-awareness-month-0