Seven Ways to Avoid a Cesarean

1. Don’t be induced.

Inducing labor for convenience can increase the risk for complications, including an unplanned cesarean birth, according to the Mayo Clinic.   In a study reporter in Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who went into labor spontaneously had a cesarean birth rate of just 7.8%, but women who were induced for any reason – medical or elective – had a cesarean birth more than 17% of the time. Another study by the Intermountain Healthcare Agency shows a 51% chance of a cesarean in women who are induced but who have a low Bishop Score, an indication that their body is just not ready for labor.

2. Choose your caregiver carefully.

Ask your obstetrician or midwife if or when they would recommend a cesarean. Find out, based on your current health status, what they think your chances would be of needing a cesarean. Knowing your hospital’s cesarean birth rate might also be helpful. In some states, the Department of Health keeps those statistics, or you can contact the hospital directly.

3. Become educated.

Knowing what to expect in labor – including the risk of complications – is key to helping avoid an unnecessary cesarean. If you know the facts, you’ll know what questions to ask if or when a cesarean is recommended. Happy Birth Way classes go beyond the basics of birth and fully educate pregnant moms about how to stay low-risk and how to prepare for a cesarean if it becomes medically-necessary.

4. Choose good labor support.

Your partner, friend or relative might make an excellent labor supporter, as long as they are knowledgeable about labor and have either read or taken a class about how to support a woman in labor. (All labor supporters are welcome to attend Happy Birth Way classes.) Otherwise, you might want to consider a professional labor supporter, called a doula, who can help you adhere to your birth preferences while offering support through positions, massage and verbal encouragement. All Happy Birth Way birth doulas are certified through DONA International or the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA).

5. Move and Breathe in Labor.

The breath controls whether the body goes into a state of panic or acceptance during labor. Practicing slow, conscious breathing, while walking, swaying, rocking and swiveling can help keep a laboring woman calm, allow her body to naturally produce the right amount of oxytocin and endorphins that will move labor along, and help get her baby in just the right position for birth. 5. Allow the water to break on its own.

6.  Allow the water to break on its own.

Cochrane review of studies has found that “breaking the water” does not conclusively start or speed up labor. What we do know for sure is that once the water is broken, it increases a mother’s risk for uterine infection and can also set a time limit on how long she will be allowed to labor before another intervention, such as pitocin, is recommended.

7. Remain low-risk.

You have a better shot at a birth without any medical interventions, such as a cesarean, if you don’t have any health problems, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or severe weight gain. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can help you stay low-risk throughout your pregnancy.

More Cesarean Resources:

More Facts About Cesareans

National Institutes of Health

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

American Pregnancy Association