The following is a guest post from my good friend, Bethany at Strength Love Birth.
8 Ways to Avoid a C-Section
If you’re wondering how to avoid a c-section, these 8 tips will provide you with exactly what you need to know.
Talking about preventing cesarean births can be a little bit risky.
The last thing I want to do is hurt you if you’re a mama who had a c-section birth, whether it was truly medically warranted or not because that is your story and your baby’s story. And it’s okay.
Your worth as a mom has zero to do with how your baby came into this world.
But the fact is that c-sections are risky surgeries that carry that risk to both mother and baby, and unnecessary c-sections are currently par for the course at most American hospitals.
Cesareans aren’t bad. They are amazing, lifesaving surgeries that we are lucky to have.
But we all benefit when they are used only when they are needed.
Truth is, I was born via an unnecessary c-section due to a doctor who told my mom “Once a cesarean; Always a cesarean” back in the late ’70s and then planned my due date a week early in order to meet up with his vacation plans.
At that time, the c-section rate was around 10% and now it’s well over 30%.
So 3 in 10 women heading in to have a baby will have a cesarean for one reason or another.
The good news is, there are things that you can do to lessen your own personal risk of cesarean.
By educating yourself, learning how to avoid an unnecessary c-section, and taking some smart steps in the right direction, your chances of a cesarean should be significantly lower than the general population.
If you do need a cesarean, you’ll definitely want to be prepared by reading how to have a gentle cesarean and this Complete C-Section Birth Guide that shows you what to expect along the way.
With that in mind, here are:
8 ways to prevent a c-section
1. Be very selective about your pregnancy and birth healthcare provider
If you really want to avoid a c-section, who you choose as your caregiver, whether OB or midwife, is imperative.
If your caregiver has a high rate of c-sections, thinks that rate is completely justified, encourages early induction, feels threatened by your birth plan, or ignores and dismisses your birth plan, you need to start shopping for a new provider for your labor and delivery.
This sounds alarmist, I know. It sounds like a lot of work to you, but trust me, the best thing you can do is get out from under the care of a toxic doctor who has no interest in actually providing you with evidence-based care.
2. Refuse an induction
Induction is so normal in the culture of birth now that most people pass it off as just a regular part of childbirth.
It is not.
Unless you have a medical reason to induce, it is safer and better for both you and baby to not have an induction.
An induction is the first in a series of interventions that you probably wouldn’t need if it wasn’t for the induction in the first place. Your body knows that the baby needs to go, and it will start that process when it’s ready.
Repeat after me: My body knew how to grow this baby, and my body will know when and how to birth this baby.
3. Stay home as long as you can
Staying home in labor is hard.
We have been conditioned to think the safest place for labor is the hospital because something terrible could go wrong at any moment.
But this is far from true. The chance of a catastrophe needing immediate medical assistance during pre-labor or early labor is very low.
Staying out of the hospital provides you with the opportunity to enjoy your labor in a comforting setting with just your chosen loved ones at your side.
4. Avoid an epidural if at all possible
Just like an induction, an epidural is seen as normal, but can often just invite further intervention. Epidurals also come with risks that you may not even know about!
It is far better to prepare yourself to work with your body through each contraction and to move around during labor than to numb yourself and be stuck in bed.
Having an epidural during your birth is definitely not a failure, but it shouldn’t really be your first line of defense, either.
5. Take a birth class that teaches comfort measures and informed choices
There are a wealth of amazing birth classes available today, both locally and online.
Most of them are NOT at your hospital, although some may be.
You want to find a class that feels empowering and not just laying out the stages of labor and what to expect at the hospital. A good class will teach you multiple comfort measures for labor and will share with you how to make informed choices on your care throughout pregnancy and birth.
6. Hire a doula
Multiple studies show that having a trained birth companion like a doula is going to result in a faster birth and less chance of a c-section, up to a 39% decrease in your risk for a cesarean!
Doulas can help you during your pregnancy to make sure you are doing all you can to prepare for birth, and they are invaluable at a birth to remind you of your choices and options while you are in labor.
A good doula will help your partner to help you in the best way possible.
Find a doula that you really connect with. A good place to start is DoulaMatch.
7. Drink red raspberry leaf tea
A tea that can make your birth faster and easier with fewer complications and reduced risk of c-section? Sound like an old wives tale?
Red raspberry leaf tea has, in fact, been shown to do all of the above with no side effects. So what are you waiting for?
Start drinking red raspberry leaf tea and get that uterus ready to go! (With clearance from your care provider, of course!)
8. Balance your body
One often overlooked option to prepare for an easier birth that does not need a surgical intervention is making sure that your body is balanced.
If you are having pain in your back, legs, or shoulders, you may be out of alignment.
A small twist in your body, often showing up with one shoulder sitting higher than another when you are trying to stand straight, can have major implications during your birth.
That small twist is changing the shape of your uterus, which changes the way your baby is lying, which changes the ease with which baby can make its exit.
The best way to start aligning your body for an easy exit is to start with these daily exercises developed by a midwife at Spinning Babies. This link brings up a huge list.
Please do not be discouraged. Start where you can, doing just one or two things a day and adding more as you feel able.
I know it may feel like a lot, but these simple exercises are huge helps in having a comfortable pregnancy and easy birth.
Knowing how to avoid a c-section is half the battle. The other half is acting on that knowledge.
I encourage you to do the work here so that you can have a great birth.
Action Items to Help Avoid A C-Section
-Find out my provider’s c-section rate
-Show my provider my birth plan and gauge the reaction
-Ask my provider what percentage of women are induced in his/her practice
-Ask my provider how many drug-free births he/she attends every week
-Find a great birth class and sign up
-Start emailing doulas and setting up consultations
-Order red raspberry leaf tea and start drinking it
-Begin doing one or two of the daily exercises recommended by Spinning Babies and work my way through the list
We can’t control our birth, but we can prepare ourselves along the way. Being educated and fully supported is really the secret to having the best birth possible.
All the best, mama, as you prepare for an amazing birth!
Bethany Dykman is a writer and doula with 14 years of experience. She helps women succeed in empowered birthing and natural living at StrengthLoveBirth. Be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram!
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Thursday 18th of July 2019
I love this! I was heartbroken when I found out that I needed a c-section because my baby was breech. I know that some women do have success breech births, but after my daughter was born and had to have surgery for severe hip dysplasia, I truly believe she was stuck in the same position half of my pregnancy, and I can't imagine how horrible things could have turned out if we had attempted a vagibal delivery. I'm grateful that my daughter was delivered safely, but recovering from a c-section was awful, and it's definitely not what your body is designed to do. Take every opportunity you can to prep your body for a natural delivery!