As a mom who was planning a “natural birth”, having a Cesarean with my first-born was a devastating blow to me for many reasons….. and I know I’m not alone. Whether your cesarean is scheduled or urgent, there is nothing fun or easy about major abdominal surgery, even when it’s absolutely necessary. Cesareans are NOT “the easy way out”.
We also know that cesareans come with increased risks to mom and baby, an extended recovery period, and mothers rarely have the support to properly rest and heal after birth in general, let alone a cesarean. But we can talk about all the reasons many women are adamant about avoiding a c-section later…
Learning how to mother after a cesarean can sometimes feel like an added layer of stress and challenge.
This means many women are asking the question, “How can I avoid a c-section?”
**Before continuing, I want to make something very, very clear: There are some situations where a cesarean is absolutely necessary and the safest approach, and I am so grateful they are an option when needed. No one should ever feel bad about how their baby came into this world. The reality is, though, that health officials around the world agree that cesarean rates must to be lowered to improve maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Less unnecessary cesareans is believed to lead to overall better health outcomes. Please remember this post is not intended to substitute for advice from your healthcare provider, however it is intended for educational purposes only and to serve as a jumping off point for researching and labor with your team**
The answer is yes. You CAN take steps to avoid reduce your risks for cesarean. Today we will explore 3 ways you can increase the odds of a complication free vaginal delivery.
Carefully select your provider
Not all doctors or midwives are the same. Not all have the same birth philosophy, practice habits, or bedside manner. Moreover, some are better trained in supporting physiological birth while others are better trained as fantastic surgeons. Every type of provider has their place, and their place might not be at your birth. When you are early in your pregnancy, do not be afraid to have very frank conversations with your provider and do a bunch of research. For instance, if you want a VBAC but your OB doesn’t support that, then the odds of you getting that VBAC are much slimmer… Switch providers. Check out this post about choosing the right provider for you!
Build a support team, get a doula
Did you know that having continuous labor support is proven to decrease the risk of cesarean (and overall maternal outcomes) ? This is why doulas are a vital part of the birth team. Even in a climate where doulas are not allowed to be present, having trained support help you and your partner prepare for birth can result in a more positive experience. Having continuous support helps mothers to cope with labor more effectively, reducing the need for more interventions. Even when those interventions are recommended, having someone emotionally support you as you advocate for yourself can make the difference between personalized care and getting swept up in an overworked, understaffed system designed for impersonal care.
Understand your options, risks, and benefits to every intervention.
Understand that some interventions might be “recommended” routinely, without medical need. I know we want to live in a world where we trust that our doctors would never order a medication or intervention, or suggest ordering them, without absolute medical need. The reality is different. The reality is some providers order interventions out of fear, habit, routine, and convenience, because, well… they’re human and imperfect. Even with the best screening process and prenatal relationship, you never know how your provider will approach your labor when the time comes… so its on you to understand what your options are, when you’re comfortable consenting to certain interventions and when you’d rather avoid them. Understanding the risks and benefits of common interventions can help you make sure you’re not subject to interventions that result in a cesarean without actually needing that intervention.
One example is routine use of Pitocin - Now there isn’t much evidence to suggest medically indicated use of pitocin significantly increases risk of cesarean, however, it does come with the risk of dropping Fetal Heart Rate, which, if unrecoverable, is grounds for an emergency c-section for fetal distress. Is that risk worth it if the only reason for using pitocin is simple impatience and it wasn’t really needed?
I could go down a whole rabbit hole on that conversation so we will table that conversation for another time… but just remember that prenatal preparation is vital in actually having the birth experience you’re dreaming of.
If you haven’t already, check out the Mama Bear Resource Library where you can snag some cool free resources to jumpstart your journey into channeling your inner Confident Mama Bear. I add to the library often, so if there is something you’d like to see included let me know!
Make sure you check in next week to learn about bogus but common reasons for cesareans
Jaimie Zaki is a military wife, mother, and nurse turned Doula, Birth Photographer and Lactation Consultant. Jaimie has personal experience with scheduled cesarean, hospital VBAC, and homebirth VBAC. Jaimie is passionate about supporting women in person and virtually, to connect them with resources and support to encourage a positive birth experience.