Thoughtful Thursday: Cesarean Awareness Month

April is Cesarean Awareness Month and this year is shaping up to be a busy one. Governor Nathan Dean released this proclamation earlier this month. And this Saturday, ICAN of Atlanta and the Georgia Birth Network are hosting a rally outside of Northside Hospital to promote cesarean awareness, education, and prevention.

Cesarean is a hot button topic and those on either side of the issue feel strongly about their cause. For a woman who’s about to give birth the issue may seem overwhelming and frightening. But it really just comes down to knowing the risks and benefits of any choice you make. Here are some tips about avoiding a cesarean:
•    Choose your birth attendant very carefully.  This is the single most important decision you will make during your pregnancy. If your birth attendant’s cesarean rate is more than 15% including high risk moms, s/he is practicing outside of the World Health Organization’s recommendations.  Ask questions, including what their statistics are for cesarean, induction, pitocin use, and other interventions.  If the answers are outside of what you are comfortable with, or they are not forthcoming, it is never too late to find a provider who supports your birth philosophies.
•    Hire a doula.  One study found a 50% decrease in the cesarean rate among mothers who had doulas compared to those who didn’t.
•    Avoid medications, including Pitocin, narcotics, and epidurals.  The more the natural process is interfered with, the less likely it is to progress on its own. Epidurals will limit your ability to move around, which limits the ability of the baby to easily move down the birth canal and may lead to a cesarean for failure to progress, or otherwise limit your body’s ablility to birth your baby.
•    Take a comprehensive childbirth class.  The more information you and your partner have, the more likely you are to avoid a cesarean.  The cesarean rate among mothers who have taken an Intuitive Birth class is 60% lower than the Georgia average.
•    Consider homebirth.  Homebirth midwives consistently maintain low c-section rates with outcomes as good as or better than hospital births.  Homebirth has been proven safe for low-risk moms, and the countries with the lowest rates of c-section, maternal mortality, and infant mortality have the highest rates of homebirth.
•    If you choose a hospital birth, labor at home as long as possible to avoid time limits and excessive interventions.