April is Cesarean Awareness Month

About a third of women giving birth today do so by cesarean. (1) According the World Health Organization, the rate for cesareans to be optimally beneficial for mothers and babies is between 10-15%. (2)

This issue is far from cut-and-dried, but it merits careful thought by each woman who ever wants to have children. I urge you, as a mother myself, and as a doula, to educate yourself to the best of your ability. Seek out good resources, like the ones found at the International Cesarean Awareness Network (I-CAN) website for starters.

Realize that your birth choices are your responsibility, and that you and your family are the ones who must live with the ramifications of those choices for the rest of your life. Your care provider does not. Know your facts, and choose wisely, based on what is best for YOU, and YOU ALONE.

Don’t put more time into choosing your cable package, cell phone, or new car than you do into the birth of your child. You don’t have to be a doctor to understand birth. As a woman, created by God to do this, you already understand it more than you know. Learn to trust that instinct, paired with accurate, evidence-based knowledge, and you will walk away from your birth with an “I did it!” sense of achievement, no matter how your birth manifests itself.

This experience of empowerment and meaning is not reserved only for those who birth vaginally with no drugs. It can be true for cesarean births too – if you are informed and have full confidence that the choice of a cesarean was right for YOU. That is critical.

Here are some things you can do to get started:

  • Choose your care provider wisely.
  • Hire a doula.
  • Take independent childbirth classes that focus on building your confidence the normalcy of birth.
  • Read books like this, this, and this.
  • Read positive birth stories of all kinds. Start here.
  • And more…

There is so much more to birth than method. It’s a rite of passage, and you cannot separate the emotional or spiritual from the physical. It’s not possible. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life.

Remember: You cannot fail at birth, but you can be failed by others. So, take responsibility for your birth choices, own it, and you will come out stronger on the other side.

1: Cesarean rate jumps to record high – Up 53% since 1996.
2: World Health Organization. Appropriate technology for birth. Lancet 1985; 2: 436-7.

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