Let me start off by saying that cesareans are an amazing thing and often necessary and life saving. The first records of the c-section being done successfully were in the 1500’s. The sordid history of the cesarean in America includes the bodies of black women being used for experimentation by doctors learning the procedure. Then comes the monetization of birth and the conveniences of cesareans for doctors’ schedules. And, now, here we are, with 1 in 3 births in America by cesarean, significantly larger than the global average. But, I digress.
There are necessary cesareans and there are preventable cesareans. I’ve had two very different births- one was a scheduled cesarean and one was a VBAC at home. My first birth may have been a preventable cesarean.
After working with a doula and midwife for my home birth, I came to realize how many tools these amazing people have in their tool chest for common issues that arise. In my work, I also came to learn of how the modern day system of birthing actually creates many of the problems it then seeks to resolve. For example, pitocin is used to induce labor but since it causes contractions to come on stronger and faster, it can also have a number of side effect such as slowing down baby’s heart beat and causing fetal distress.
From malpositioning and cord around the neck to twins, high blood pressure, and stalled labor, midwives use a number of natural tools to address, and successfully, resolve these challenges. One example, midwives are trained to deliver breech babies through some of the tools listed below and obstetricians are not necessarily.
Some of the tools used by birth workers include:
- Essential oils
- Spinning Babies exercises
- Music therapy
- Manual manipulation
- Laboring in different positions
- Water birth
- and more
Often times, what constitutes an emergency situation can be rectified and the conventional intervention either makes matters worse or creates new problems. For example, it is unnatural and against gravity for mama to labor on her back. Or constant cervical checks and rushing labor can make labor take longer as mom and baby are in a heightened state of fear.
How babies enter this world does matter. Your birth experience does matter. So much so that 68% of women have birth trauma, which can lead to Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety.
In My First Born was Breech, I talk about the unexpected journey that took us to a Cesarean and how I avoided trauma and regret. Here I want to share 5 tips on how to avoid a c-section and 5 tips on how to recover.
5 Tips on How to Avoid a C-Section:
- Get your Body Ready: Pay attention to what you eat, drink lots of water, and please reduce stress. Look into natural interventions like herbs, acupuncture, and chiropractic treatment for side effects of pregnancy like nausea, heartburn, or round ligament pain. I once had a doctor prescribe Vicodin for my headaches during pregnancy. Vicodin! I followed my instincts and declined and found relief through holistic options.
- Get Your Mind Ready: Educate yourself as much as possible on your birth options. Take a birthing class series (not a one off workshop at the hospital). Learn about evidence based birth and not the “business” of birth. Advocate for yourself. You determine your path and your intuition is everything.
- Hire a Doula: Having a doula can help prevent your chances of having a cesarean significantly. They can help you advocate for yourself, when you cannot, for a labor without certain interventions.
- Consider Out of Hospital: If you are healthy and have an uncomplicated pregnancy, consider a midwife at a birthing center or at home.
- Let Go: After you’ve become empowered and done everything right, it’s still possible that you will need a Cesarean. A doula will still be necessary to help you advocate for a Gentle Cesarean, like I requested. This made the difference between having regret and accepting the reality. Have no regrets.
If you’ve had a cesarean, here are some things you can do to help you recover.
- Be Equipped: Invest in supplies like a perineal bottle, adult diapers, witch hazel, etc. The road to recovery will take many weeks and you want to help your body heal from this major surgery.
- Take Care of Your Heart and Mind: Write or speak about your experience. It will help you identify any feelings and grievances and will help you be more present for your baby.
- Take Care of Your Body: Eat healthy, warm, nourishing foods that will help you recover along with lots and lots of water.
- Get Body Work Done: If you are experiencing leaking or ongoing pelvic floor issues, go to a chiropractor and a physical therapist. Remember, leaking is common but is not normal. In fact, I’m seeing a physical therapist now to recover from my birth.
- Hire Help: The 4th trimester is incredibly challenging and moms are not meant to pass through it alone. If you are able, consider hiring a postpartum doula or a night nurse to help you recover and help you with your responsibilities while you recover.
I don’t know if I could have avoided a cesarean during the birth of my first daughter. What I do know is that medical schools for obstetricians are lacking a lot of the knowledge and know how that midwives possess. Let midwives handle the easy, uncomplicated deliveries (aka baby catching) and let obstetricians do what they do best, surgical procedures. I’m sure our birth outcomes as a country will significantly improve if pregnant mamas were supported more throughout their experience and not just put through a prescriptive funnel.