Cesarean Awareness Month

Kristin Gunner


a doctor showing a baby to its mother after c-section
a doctor showing a baby to its mother after c-section

April is Cesarean Awareness Month. The International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) started Cesarean Awareness Month with three goals in mind:

  • decrease the number of preventable cesareans

  • increase support for cesarean recovery

  • advocate for more VBACs

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the ideal rate of cesarean sections is 10–15%. As of 2022, the rate was 32.1% in the U.S. This increasing rate isn't because more and more women need them. It's because the number of unnecessary C-sections is increasing all the time for reasons that can't be justified.

Two things can be true at the same time.

Women who have had c-sections should absolutely be proud of themselves.


The number of C-sections in the U.S. is unnecessarily high.

Sometimes c-sections save lives.


Sometimes C-sections put lives at risk.

Unnecessary C-sections lead too many women to feel traumatized. They often struggle to bond with their new baby. They feel like their birth experience was robbed from them. They now have to spend more time recovering, and they could have more complications with future pregnancies. And all of that could have been prevented.

Preventing an unnecessary C-section

Choose your provider carefully

If you plan to give birth in a hospital, ask about their cesarean rates, including specific providers. Talk to them about their beliefs regarding childbirth. If you don’t agree with them, don’t feel bad about finding someone else.

Henci Goer wrote:

“Studies show that whether you have a cesarean depends on such factors as what part of the country you live in (the South is the worst, the West is the best); whether the hospital is for-profit; the hospital culture and policies; which nurse you get; whether you have an obstetrician, family practitioner, or midwife: whether you plan to have your baby in a hospital, in a freestanding birth center, or at home; and most especially, your particular caregiver’s cesarean rate. This last, in turn, depends on your caregiver’s beliefs about birth.”

Educate yourself

Take a childbirth education class. Look for a class on C-sections/VBACs. If you’re a reader, read lots of books. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you want.

Stay active

Labor can be long, and it’s hard work. It can get exhausting. Exercising during pregnancy helps you stay in shape and allows your body to be more prepared for labor. Then, even during labor, continue to stay active when you can. Walk around. Dance. Change positions often. Moving helps your labor progress and is good for your baby.

Avoid an induction when possible

In some cases, there is a medical reason for an induction. It can be the best option. But unless that’s the case, allow labor to start and progress naturally. Induction often leads to a longer and more painful labor, and it increases your chances of having a C-section.

Hire a doula

Many studies have shown that having a doula to support you during labor decreases your chances of having a C-section. Doulas are present the whole time, offering support, encouragement, and suggestions. They know how to help, and they want what you want.

Dr. Nils Bergman says, “You invite a midwife to your birth so you are safe. You invite a doula so you feel safe.”

As a doula, I always advocate for informed consent and informed decision-making. A woman should understand exactly why she's about to have a C-section. She should understand the pros and cons. Even if she chooses it for herself, she should have all the information beforehand. No woman should ever feel pressured into a major surgery without fully understanding why.

Every woman deserves respect and agency in her birthing journey.

And to everyone who has had a c-section or will have one:

Cesarean birth is birth.

You did not fail.

You did not take the easy way out.

You are strong and brave.

More resources:

Cesarean rates in North Carolina: https://www.marchofdimes.org/peristats/data?top=8&lev=1&stop=86&reg=99&sreg=37&obj=1&slev=4

Cesarean rates in Charlotte, NC: https://www.marchofdimes.org/peristats/data?top=8&lev=1&stop=86&reg=99&sreg=37&creg=3712000&obj=1&slev=5

A great mini-course on Preventing Unnecessary Cesareans (I've even taken it myself): https://courses.birtheducationcenter.com/products/courses/view/1112972




woman holding newborn baby under blanket
woman holding newborn baby under blanket


logo of a sun with the words new day doula support
logo of a sun with the words new day doula support