Thursday, April 30, 2009

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

I'm slow on this one, but while it's still April, I want to acknowledge Cesarean Awareness Month. You can read anywhere that the cesarean birth rate in the United States is climbing each year - both because the rate of primary cesarean births is rising, and because the rate of VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean) is falling. As of 2007, an average of one out of three babies are born surgically. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in 2007, 31.8% of women birthed by cesarean in the United States.

There is support for women who are recovering from a cesarean birth, including ICAN chapters in many states. If you live in Maine where there is currently no chapter listed, you can still request support. There are also online communities that support women recovering from traumatic birth (cesarean or vaginal), like Solace for Mothers.

In my opinion, one of the most troubling effects of cesarean birth is that it can severely limit women's options for future births. In Maine, there are only a handful of hospitals that "permit" VBACs. In central Maine, the only hospitals I know that do VBACs are CMMC in Lewiston and Maine General in Waterville. Nationally, VBACs are only permitted in about half of hospitals, and frequently only under certain specific conditions or with select care providers who are willing to attend them. Is this information that is offered to women as part of informed consent, especially in the many non-emergent situations like "failure to progress" or "you have a big baby"?

You can read about the lack of choice in Time Magazine, "The Trouble with Repeat Cesareans" and Pamela Paul's follow-up article in the Huffington Post, "Childbirth Without Choice".

You can read about why the rate of VBAC is so low at The Well-Rounded Mama.

Also, you can click on the Cesarean label below this post to read more blog entries on Cesarean birth.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
New Mothers Support Circle

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