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The C-section rate in the United States is currently just over 31%, and many families wonder how they can truly avoid this huge major abdominal surgery for their birth. While this percentage is much higher than the recommended 10-15% from the World Health Organization, and can feel like we are powerless to do anything to prevent a cesarean. There are things that you can do to help lower your chance of a c-section.

Below are 5 ways to avoid a c-section that are simple yet effective.

1. Education

Knowledge is true power! Imagine approaching a transformative life event that requires endurance, involves pain, and is unlike anything you have ever experienced with zero preparation. Imagine the difference in this experience if this life event was prepared for, if there were people rooting for you, and if you understood the process before you.

Childbirth is truly a life-altering event. Preparation and education can make an enormous difference in not just fear but actual outcome. In fact, a great birth class can actually significantly lower the chance of cesarean.

Plus, the preparation of a partner is enormously important, too. If the partner is terrified of the birth process, that will rub off on the birthing woman. It’s just as important to prepare the partner for the birth as much as the birthing person!

2. Carefully choose your care provider

One of the biggest factors in how a woman births her child is simply how her doctor or midwife practices. Do they encourage a more physiological birth, or do they consistently suggest interventions? You can ask your provider for their C-section rate, as well as talk to local birth educators, doulas, and friends to find what other people think about your provider and how they practice.

3. Stay moving in labor

One simple and surprisingly obvious but often ignored thing a woman can do in labor is to MOVE. This will not only help the baby move down in the birth canal, but it can also keep mom more comfortable as she uses gravity to help her labor progress.

Curb walking, climbing the stairs, laying on your side, kneeling- these are all great ways to move in labor. Listen to your body and intuition in labor. It will tell you the positions you need to be in to help your baby be born comfortably. You will learn about all of these positions and ways your partner can facilitate in your childbirth class.

4. Re-think induction

A first time birther who is induced, significantly increases their chance of having a cesarean birth. In some studies, by as much as double.

Knowing your Bishop score prior to the 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 can give some indication of the chances that the induction will end in vaginal birth.

Some believe that the reason induction can increase the chance of cesarean birth is because it begins a so called “cascade of interventions.” Sometimes one thing, like a Cytotec or Pitocin induction can cause extra strong contractions, a need for pain relief, fetal distress, and eventually a need for a cesarean.

5. Hire a doula

A hands on and knowledgeable person who is trained in assisting laboring woman can really make the birth experience more positive for both mom and dad and some studies have shown can actually decrease the C-section chance for that mother.

A trained doula is like a specialized “birth friend” who knows positions, tricks, and comfort measures to make your birth as awesome as it can be. A great doula brings so much more than a back massage and a hot pack! The doula forms a relationship with the birthing person and their partner. She provides relational support– she knows what you want, what causes you fear and joy, and she brings that all together to support the birth you desire.

Who couldn’t use all that during the marathon of birth?

Childbirth isn’t something that works better when we are fearful. Yet many women feel very afraid and helpless regarding their chances of cesarean section. Concern is absolutely merited considering the high c-section rate, but there are things you can do to decrease your chances of cesarean section.

You can have an amazing birth!

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