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32% of women in the United States birth their babies by Cesarean section, but according to the World Health Organization, mortality rates aren’t improving with such high surgical birth rates. Many moms want to avoid a c-section, despite the staggering numbers. 

“Since 1985, the international healthcare community has considered the ideal rate for caesarean sections to be between 10-15%. Since then, caesarean sections have become increasingly common in both developed and developing countries. When medically necessary, a caesarean section can effectively prevent maternal and newborn mortality. Two new HRP studies show that when caesarean section rates rise towards 10% across a population, the number of maternal and newborn deaths decreases. When the rate goes above 10%, there is no evidence that mortality rates improve.”

So what can you do to prevent an unnecessary cesarean and increase the likelihood of a positive birth outcome? Here are our top 5 tips:

5 Ways to Avoid a C-Section

1. Education

Education is powerful. Education deflates fear, which decreases tension, and ultimately decreases pain.

Imagine waking up and deciding to run a marathon later that same day. No endurance training, no education on proper techniques, and no mental preparation. What kind of experience would you have? Now imagine how different your experience would be if you spent weeks learning, training, and mentally preparing, if there were people rooting for you, and if you knew what to expect.

Childbirth is no different! Preparation and education can make an enormous difference in not only how you handle the birth, but also in the actual outcome. In fact, a great birth class can significantly lower the chance of cesarean and other unnecessary interventions. Check out our online birth classes HERE or find an in-person class HERE.

2. Carefully Choose Your Care Provider

One of the most important decisions you can make regarding your birth is choosing the right care provider. Find a care provider that supports the type of birth you want to have. If you know you want a natural birth with intermittent monitoring, no IV, and the ability to eat and drink as needed during labor, find a provider who doesn’t just tolerate, but actually supports and encourages, that kind of birth. Talk with them about their C-section rates, and talk to local birth educators, doulas, and friends to find what other people think about your provider and how they practice. If you decide that your provider isn’t right for you, it’s never too late to switch to one who is more supportive of how you want to give birth.

3. Stay Active in Labor

Movement in labor is key to working with your body (and your baby!) to bring your baby into the world. Remember when we talked about the pelvic ring and how movement in labor supports a faster and often easier labor? Walk the halls, climb the stairs, sit on a birth ball, kneel over the back of the hospital bed, or find other ways to use gravity to your benefit. You’ll learn many positions to labor in when you take one of Birth Boot Camp’s childbirth classes.

4. Rethink Induction

A first-time mom who is induced significantly increases her chance of C-section, in some studies by as much as double. Knowing your Bishop score prior to an induction can indicate what your odds of a vaginal birth are. The Bishop score takes into account the dilation, position, and firmness of the cervix as well as the fetal position, and a score of 8 or above indicates that induction will likely result in a vaginal birth.

You may have heard of something called the “cascade of interventions”. This refers to the domino effect that often happens when we accept a single intervention. Take the epidural for example. It’s not as simple as a “needle in your back”. You will also have a blood pressure monitor, IV, catheter, pulse ox monitor, contraction monitor, fetal monitor, and oftentimes an oxygen mask. The same is true for inductions. It’s very easy for more and more interventions to be added until eventually a cesarean is suggested.

5. Hire a Doula

Hiring a doula for your birth is like hiring a personal marathon coach. She will help you prepare for your birth and then coach you through the process while you’re in labor. She will provide specific care for you and your birth. Studies have shown that the mere presence of a doula in the room significantly reduces a woman’s risk of having a cesarean birth. When that doula uses her knowledge, skills, and training to support movement in labor, comfort measures, and pain-relieving techniques, that risk is even further reduced.

Birth is unpredictable, and while we do the best we can to prepare, sometimes things still don’t seem to go the way we plan. We may do all the right things, but we may still need a cesarean. And that’s okay. It’s still your baby’s birthday, and it’s still beautiful. Do your best. Prepare for birth the way you’d prepare to run a marathon. While your outcomes are not guaranteed, they will significantly be helped by following our top 5 tips to avoid a cesarean.

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