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Trying to Avoid a C-section?

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Statistics show that certain women are at greater disadvantages when it comes to natural, vaginal deliveries. For example, if you are African American, at least 40 years old, and/or under 5 foot 1 inch tall, you are more likely to undergo an unplanned cesarean section delivery (according to USA Today medical reporter Rita Rubin). Is there anything you can do to reduce these odds?

First, and maybe most importantly, is to have clear communication with your health care provider. Let them know your wishes. Also, ask them to write this memo in your patient chart (so if any reason they are not available for your delivery, the physician on call will see your request).

There may also be a few steps to take before even choosing your physician or preferred health care provider. Like, choosing a physician who is comfortable with forceps or vacuum-assisted deliveries (if these are options you are comfortable with too). What is forceps or vacuum-assisted deliveries? This is maneuver performed by a skilled physician that helps the baby move down the birth canal (Mom’s cervix must be fully dilated 10 cm first). The physician works with the mother’s pushing and helps to assist the baby’s head with either forceps (a hinged tool that will grasp either side of the head) or vacuum (a suction cup that gently attaches to baby’s head). This video link shows a good demonstration of both forceps and vacuum-assisted deliveries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGYfia8oI34. These tools may be the deciding factor on whether or not moms will have a vaginal delivery rather than a c-section.

Another option may be hip-opening yoga exercises throughout pregnancy. These exercises are easy to perform and facilitate the opening of the pelvis. Such exercises also help increase flexibility in the muscles around the pelvis and are known to ease the laboring process. Check out this link for free prenatal yoga videos including hip-opening exercises and poses to help alleviate pregnancy-associated back pains: http://www.prenatalyogacenter.com/cmps_index.php?page=free-yoga-videos. (Note: please consult your health care provider prior to starting any new exercises!).

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EmpowHER Guest

As perinatal experts, we are well aware that the more medical interventions a pregnant women has, especially elective inductions, the greater the chance of a C-section. We are concerned by the high rates of primary Cesarean Sections, and are working with hospitals, OB/GYNs, labor and delivery nurses, and other healthcare professionals to promote the use of evidence-based practices and standardized criteria for when to induce and/or perform a c-section.

Cindy Fahey, MSN, RN, PHN, Executive Director, PAC/LAC

September 8, 2010 - 1:48pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.