During the month of April, we’ll be raising awareness of caesarean abdominal births, and the fact that whether it is planned or unplanned, it is a way of birthing a baby and an option that we have. The most important thing is we are using evidence based information to make our decisions, and feel supported in what we feel is best for ourselves and baby.
So where does Caesarean Awareness Month come from?
This is an event organised by ICAN – The International Cesarean Awareness Network. ICAN is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
(Source: ICAN website)
1 in 5 babies are born abdominally in the UK. The majority of those births are unplanned scenarios. Yet, much of the antenatal education available to parents does not include information about this type of birth. We believe this is because of the huge taboo that is still attached to caesarean abdominal births and the lack of understanding of what’s actually involved. In many peoples minds, it’s a medical procedure so we should just let the medical professionals do what they need to do, right? Wrong! This is still birth and there are lots of incredibly important factors for parents to consider, just as they would for a physiological birth. It’s become apparent that even if people do want to learn about it, it’s very difficult for them to find educational and helpful information to prepare themselves. Educational content is what is needed to empower parents to make decisions about their birth- whether it be planning for a physiological birth and then consenting to an abdominal birth at any point, or planning for an abdominal birth as their first preference.
To quote the NICE guidelines (the organisation that provides evidence based guidelines to our health services), NICE recommends that maternity health care professionals should:
– Offer all pregnant women information and support to enable them to make informed decisions about childbirth. Make sure that:
– The information is evidence based
– Any information provided is accessible, ideally with a choice of formats to suit different women’s needs
– The language used in any information (written or oral) is respectful and suitable for the woman, taking into account any personal, cultural or religious factors that could form part of the woman’s choices
– The woman’s or birthing person’s preferences and concerns are central to the decision-making process. [2004, amended 2021]
You can read the full NICE Guideance for caesarean birth here.
The reality is, we do not all receive the level of individual and evidence based information we need to make an informed decision about abdominal birth, and from our experience and observations of supporting parents, the parents’ preferences and concerns are not always central to the decision making process.
So how can you educate yourself to make informed decisions about abdominal birth, no matter what your birth preference is? Here are our recommended resources:
BOOKS: We recommend reading these 2 short books whether you are planning a physiological or planned abdominal birth.
- Why Caesarean Matters by Clare Goggin. Understanding abdominal birth with this informative book will help support any type of birth preference and any path that birth may take, no matter what your 1st preference may be.
- Why Oxytocin Matters by Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg. Oxytocin is an important hormone not just for physiological birth, but for bonding with baby and breastfeeding too so it really is worth understanding how and why your body produces it for both birth scenarios.
However you plan to or end up meeting your baby, the most important thing is you are able to make your decisions from evidence-based information, for your personal situation, and your decisions should be whole-heartedly supported and respected by all around you.
If you are expecting and would like to learn everything you need to know about all births scenarios and be supported every step of the way, book onto a Mindful Birth Group® course and be supported by a team of caring professionals.
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