Friday, September 19, 2014

10 Things You Can Do To Lower Your Chance of Having an Unnecessary Cesarean

1. Be aware that your choices in pregnancy and labor can have a BIG impact on your chance of having a cesarean. c-section-birth

2. Choose a care provider with a low cesarean rate and similar birth preferences to your's. 

3. Hire a doula. Studies show that this can lower your chance of a cesarean by up to 50%!

4. Choose positions in in pregnancy and labor that help your baby to get in the best position for an easier birth.

5. Read a lot of birth stories from woman with atypical labors to see how wide the range of normal is in labor.

6. Trust your body to birth your baby; it's what you are designed for!

7. Switch to a new care provider if you feel you are being led toward unnecessary intervention or a scheduled cesarean.

8. Avoid common hospital procedures that increase your chances of a cesarean, like induction, epidurals, pitocin, or breaking the bag of waters.

9. Be informed. When faced with any (routine or emergency) procedure, ask:
    Why it is being done in my case?
    What are the short and long term effects on me and my baby?
    What are my other options?

10. Last but not least, contact your friendly ICAN of Jackson chapter for more information and       support! We hold free monthly support/educational meetings. Contact us for more     

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A glance at worldwide cesarean rates.

I do hope we are successful at lowering our country's cesarean rate
as planned. It all really starts with
the individual woman preparing and being knowledgeable,
paving the way for a better birth environment for future generations!

Here is what ACOG has to say about reducing cesarean deliveries:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Two Beautiful Births

My name is Melissa and I am the chapter leader for ICAN of Jackson, MS. I was honored recently to be a small part of the birth stories of two of the mamas in our group. Both mamas were VBA2C candidates. Both mamas gave their ALL and both gave birth to beautiful baby girls! The reason I wanted to share this story is because I think these ladies both are such strong women, both were very prepared and both amazed me and gave me hope for my future deliveries. Mama S labored for 41 hours, most of that all natural even on the max dose of pitocin! Her water broke early on and she stayed home laboring for several hours, using the birthing ball, dancing, hip rotations, walking…you name it, she tried it. Her doula couldn’t make it, so another one of our mama doulas in the group came to her aid and they seriously tried everything to get baby to come on down. I got to be there and help for a few hours before the doula came, and I was completely amazed at how calm she was breathing through each contraction after being awake for nearly two days! A few times we were all even laughing about the whole situation. Ultimately a cesarean was necessary. Mama A was in labor for nearly a week! At some point she decided to get checked, thinking she’d not be far enough along and would just go back home…she was 7cm! Shortly after getting to her room, she was 9cm! She had asked me to help support her along with her doula and take pictures. When I got there she was so peaceful and breathing beautifully through each contraction. There was no sign of transition until she was just about ready to push. I was once again amazed at how serene she was during back to back major contractions. Mama A delivered her baby vaginally on her own time without coached pushing. She did have a second degree tear that took a couple hours to repair. All this to say some things are just out of our hands. There comes a point in labor and delivery at which we meet the place where our desires end and birth takes over. Birth is beautiful even if it doesn’t end the way we planned. I think as long as we are prepared and knowledgeable and surround ourselves with love and support, we can achieve a positive outcome. Two days apart, two miracles were born, by two very strong mamas…one cesarean and one vaginal…both beautiful births that they both should be proud of…I know I am!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

New ICAN T-shirts for sale!

In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month coming up in April, ICAN has a new T-shirt that you can buy to help raise awareness. Please check it out and consider making a donation as well. ICAN reaches women across the globe and empowers us all to know our rights and make informed decisions, money raised will help further spread that message.

Monday, February 24, 2014

ICAN of Jackson, MS is pleased to announce our first two professional subscribers!

Mississippi Birth Collective
Services Provided: The MS Birth Collective strives to improve pregnancy, childbirth and the post partum period by creating a central database of Mississippi birth workers passionate about providing local birth related services.

Sunstone Birth Services - Susan Stonecypher
Phone: 769-232-9968
Services Provided: Professional birth doula and placenta encapsulation services in Central MS.
ICAN's Professional Subscriber Network includes doulas, CBEs, chiropractors, massage therapists, hypnobirth therapists, midwives...... Anyone who feels they have a service they can provide to pregnant women. To be eligible for this listing you must become a professional subscriber of ICAN. Please contact us if you wish to become a subscriber. You will be listed on our website as well as ICAN National's website, helping you reach more mothers.

ICAN's Professional Subscriber Network is a resource for consumers and for birth professionals.

The ICAN website gets between 4,000 - 5,000 hits per month, ranking high in browser searches for "cesarean" as well as "VBAC." Many of our initial contacts are from women seeking "VBAC-friendly" birth professionals. Our professional subscriber program connects women to birth professionals in their area that profess support for ICAN's mission. ICAN's Professional Subscriber Network also links to our searchable chapter feature further enhancing your exposure.

ICAN Professional Subscribers also receive:

•Discount to ICAN's conference

•10% discount at ICAN's bookstore

•Additional recognition in Clarion & Annual report

•Website Listing for one year

ICAN is a 501(c)(3) organization in the USA. Donations are tax deductible by most US taxpayers. Your subscription is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


ICAN's Professional Subscriber Network is intended as an informational resource for consumers. ICAN is pleased to pass along the names of professionals who have given us permission to release their names for referral. Please understand that ICAN is not a credentialing agency or a regulatory body. As such, we are not responsible for the competency of the professionals listed. Consumers are encouraged to take responsibility for their birth experience by informing themselves regarding the competency of those professionals that they retain. Asking questions, obtaining local references and understanding that you are responsible for your own choices by thorough reading and discussing care with other parents and care providers is essential and is your responsibility.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two beating hearts...let's keep both healthy during pregnancy!

At February's monthly meeting we'll have a local Chiropractor joining us to field questions and discuss overall healthy in pregnancy, adjustments during pregnancy and the Webster technique used to help turn breech babies.

If you are interested in attending this meeting, please email:

Here's more information for keeping two hearts healthy during pregnancy:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Birth Story/Cautionary Tale - first two births...Spoiler Alert: She had a VBA2C last month! (We'll post that story soon.)

My first birth story is not extraordinary. It's not unusual or unique. I don't say this to be self-deprecating. I say it to point out that, sadly, it's one of millions. It's happening every day. It's not a happy, exciting birth story and that's not because anyone did anything horrific or hateful or malicious. It happened because I didn't know that I needed to know more. I didn't know that when people say becoming a mother is like starting a new job and you need to prepare, they don't just mean for what in the heck you're supposed to do with the human they let you leave the hospital with. The job starts when the positive pregnancy test shows up. Well, I guess if you're really industrious you could start before that- but that's probably a whole other kind of blog post. Let's just say- you made a baby, now what are you going to do? How about you don't do what I did, very little. And maybe your birth story won't be the cautionary tale that mine is.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I didn't have a clue. I know most of us don't and this isn't a new theme but it is true. I spent 9 months planning the nursery, reading books about how to get my baby to sleep once it was here, and the obligatory What to Expect When You're Expecting. I signed up for updates from BabyCenter and enjoyed informing family and friends that my child was the size of a spaghetti squash that week. It wasn't that I thought I was above more research or that I was too lazy to do it. It's that I didn't know there was more to it than in the movies. I believed the stereotype of the woman's water breaking in the restaurant (I still REALLY, REALLY want my water to break in a restaurant, mall, grocery store- anywhere. I would settle for being with a friend when hers does,) the mad dash to the hospital while baby is about to crown, the screaming for an epidural and then the rapid delivery where everything ends in soft focus and a perfect baby. I took the childbirth classes at the hospital and learned a lot about how everything works at the hospital, if you fit a certain mold and follow a certain pattern. I basically tuned out during the cesarean section discussion because I didn't plan on having one. I even turned and whispered to my husband, "that will NOT be us." But I hadn't done anything to prevent that. In fact, the first decision I made regarding the birth of my child was made flippantly and with a laugh. I had been seeing an OB recommended by many who had delivered a friend's child with no problems. She was no longer delivering and I needed to pick a new doctor. When I got the positive pregnancy test we had been waiting on for 3 months, I called the OB's office and asked for the first appointment available. I didn't care who it was with- I just wanted confirmation of my pregnancy so we could tell our families. I figured we would decide who to go to later after I asked around. The first appointment was with Dr. P. He was funny in a sarcastic way. Very laid back and an incredibly dry sense of humor- it was almost as if he was bored. See how I typed that in red? Well, let's just call anything in red font a red flag. We joked a bit with him, told him we didn't plan to find out the sex and he said he really liked that because it was more fun for him too once the baby was born and it's rare that he gets to enjoy that these days. This made us like him, he was already telling us we were cool! We left the office and I said, "He is a big enough smart ass to be able to handle me when I'm in labor- let's stick with him." My husband agreed and we officially had a doctor.
My pregnancy progressed just fine. I am one of the lucky ones who doesn't have morning sickness and I was actually hard pressed to find some pregnancy symptoms to whine about for the entire first trimester. I WANTED something to complain about like everyone else who is pregnant so I made sure to lament my sore arches and introduction to what constipation is for the first time in my life. But other than that-nothing. I spent the rest of my pregnancy buying maternity clothes, gender neutral baby clothes, picking out suitable gender neutral baby bedding and nursery decor. I spent HOURS online one time in search of a light fixture, HOURS people! (I did finally find one that I loved so much- I made sure it was written into the contract when we sold out house that it would be moving with me, I still have it in my daughter's room today.) I assumed that the hospital childbirth classes would take care of all we needed to know and thought people who attempted natural birth were insane. Why would you do that if you didn't have to? I didn't think they were stupid or trying to one up everyone else, I just thought they must be scared of needles and didn't want to admit it.
I was due January 3. When my doctor told me my due date, I told him I had used ovulation predictor tests to conceive and knew for a fact that I didn't ovulate on day 14 the month we conceived. I ovulated on day 21, an entire week later so my due date should be January 10th. He said, "Well, my handy dandy little due date calculating wheel is based off of day 14 ovulation, don't make me argue with it. Due dates don't mean much anyway and first babies love to come late. You tell people you are due early January and call it a day." This kind of bothered me but I went with it. Ooooh how I wish I had made him change my due date in my chart.
Fast forward to my last month. My doctor was checking me and finding some effacement, no dilation, and the baby was high. I wasn't concerned-just ready.  The week between Christmas and New Years I had a sonogram at 38 weeks to determine baby's size and position. My baby was supposedly weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces already. I saw the nurse practitioner in their practice at that appointment and she declared me dilated to 1 cm. Yay! But then she started talking about how big the baby was and how I might want to start thinking about an induction or c-section. I told her flat out I wasn't having a section and that I would talk about an induction when my doctor was back in town. The next day I was getting my haircut when my cell phone rang with a call from my doctor's office. It was the scheduler calling to schedule my cesarean section, "What day would you prefer? Friday or Monday?" I was flabbergasted. I was barely coherent at first and then managed to get her to explain to me that the nurse practitioner had told her to call me to set it up. I said, "But I'm not having a c-section. I'm not even due yet! I never said I wanted a c-section." She was thrown a bit and just kept saying she was told to call and schedule it. I told her I had an appointment scheduled with my primary doctor for Friday and I would talk with him then and I would not be scheduling anything with her that day. I think I hung up on that poor woman who was just doing her job and following the directions of the doctors she works for. I started crying and called my husband. Full disclosure- I wasn't just getting a haircut. I was getting my hair highlighted. So I am wandering around the salon in a big black cape, over my big huge full term belly, with all my hair sprouting out of pieces of foil like a space alien. My stylist is trying to catch my eye to tell me I need to be shampooed now because my timer went off. I keep walking further away from her trying to get away from the hair dryers and sinks and noise to have these phone conversations- all the while my hair is chemically frying on my head! I have a quick conversation with my husband who talks me down off the ledge saying the nurse practitioner was confused and I don't have to do anything I don't want to and we will talk to my doctor in a few days and to chill out because it was just a scheduler doing her job- nobody was coming after me with a scalpel. I got my hair shampooed. It was not platinum white or breaking off from the extra long processing time. Thank you Lord for small mercies. It really looked pretty good actually.
I didn't tell anyone else about this phone call. I told my husband not to tell anyone else either. If the doctor's office thought I needed a section then I must have failed at this whole birthing thing and this was something I didn't want people to know. It was like being told, "You aren't going to get this right so let's cut our losses and get this over with. You can't do this." I know this is a gross overreaction to a call from a scheduler, which was made based on one person's directions after meeting me once when I wasn't even officially overdue yet- but I felt ashamed.
January 2, a Friday, I met with my doctor again. He said I was still not dilated at all. I asked how that could be since the nurse practitioner had said I was 1 cm? He said, "She has little skinny girl fingers, we are going by my fingers and my fingers say you might be almost 1/2 cm but no more." Then we discussed my sonogram. He was distracted, writing in my file and looking at his watch. My husband was with me at this appointment and we were both trying to get him to tell us something. He finally turned to us and said, "We are to the point of diminishing returns. You are not favorable to being induced because you aren't dilated much or effaced much, which increases your chances of a failed induction resulting in  c-section. But your baby is big and every day it stays in there it's getting bigger, which increases your chances of a c-section because you might not be able to push it out." And then I asked the question I wish I could take back with all of my heart. "So, what do you think we should do? What would you do if it was your baby?" He said he would schedule an induction.
We went in the night before for cervadil. Our families were all in town and more coming the next day. Everything was set. We even took my husband's laptop and the current season of Entourage on dvd to watch that night. We were so smart, we wouldn't be bored- so on top of this thing. The cervadil put me into back labor and upped the strength of the Braxton Hicks I was having enough to keep me from concentrating on the show. I didn't make it through one whole episode.
The night of discomfort only resulted in a 30% increase in effacement by the morning, bringing me to 1cm and 70% effacement. Between 6-7am my water was broken, painfully, (I was officially on the clock and needed to make progress that looked like I would deliver in 24 hours or less), and the pitocin was started. By 12:30pm I was contracting to the doctors satisfaction on the monitors, me and baby were picture perfect. I was feeling the contractions but could still totally function and pain relief was not on my mind yet. I didn't know any better than to just sit in bed waiting on things to happen. My OB came in and asked why I didn't have an epidural yet. I said I was fine and didn't want it to slow anything down. He checked me finding me dilated to 2/3, baby was still very high and not engaged at all. He said, "your contractions are pretty strong and you're not dilating enough, I think you're tensing up against them and you need your epidural to relax you and your cervix so you can dilate." I said I was thinking of going for a walk soon since I wasn't gushing fluid as badly anymore. He said no you need your epidural. So I got it. Now I am stuck in bed, with a baby still at a very high station and I can't do anything to help her move down. But I didn't know this- this was never covered in my hospital childbirth classes. I didn't know the combination of being induced, having my water broken, and being immobilized in bed with an epidural was the kiss of death to my vaginal delivery. Not. A. Clue.
At 2:30pm he came back to check me finding no change, not surprising since I was stuck in bed. He started talking section. My husband and I both asked if there was anything wrong with the baby? Baby's heart rate? My heart rate? Temp? Blood pressure? He said, "no y'all are both fine but you've been at this a while and the strength of those contractions means sooner or later one of you will get stressed and it's not going to be you." We went back and forth with him a bit more and I convinced him to give me an hour. But what can you hope to see change in an hour when you're stuck in bed and can't do anything to help the baby move down? Nothing. And he came back at 3:30 and found no change. My daughter was born at 4:16pm and my doctor was home for supper. I cried and cried and didn't want the section but didn't know anything else to do. I didn't know I had more options. I didn't know I could refuse. I just went along with it crying. So of course the anesthesiologists saw a crying woman and doped me to high heaven so I didn't freak out on the table. I had to fight to stay conscious. I had to fight to be present. I had to tell my husband I loved him but to please stop talking to me so I could focus and not throw up. I remember saying in my head "you are having a baby! Do not go to sleep! Do not miss this!" She was pulled out, my husband announced we had a girl and I cried more. They took her to the other side of the room to clean up and I gave myself permission to fade, to give in to the drugs making me so fuzzy. She didn't ever leave the OR and my husband held her while I drifted. She weighed 8lb 6oz, so unless she lost weight in the womb-the 38 week sonogram was very wrong. While being wheeled from the OR I said I needed to throw up and promptly did so into a kidney shaped basin pressed against my cheek. Ever wonder why those things are shaped like kidney beans? Because then they fit perfectly up against the face of someone laying flat on their back who can't get up to vomit. Maybe there's another reason for this but that was the one conscious thought that went through my head before they pushed more meds and I was out for the next hour. I woke up in recovery to see my husband standing over a bassinet and heat lamp talking to our baby. I said, "Well, if you're not going to hold her bring her to me!" He didn't know he could pick up his own daughter. I held her for the first time and she latched on but I was shaking so badly from all the drugs the nurse tried to take her from me. When I looked at her like I might hit her and said, "I am not going to drop my baby-we're fine," my husband said, "I'll hold her up to you, we've got it." And she backed away. It was the first time I stood up for myself and my child and have wished I'd done it hours before for years since.
Two years later I asked my new OB (we'd moved), about a vbac and he said it was against practice policy but IF I went into labor on my own, and IF he was on call (because he couldn't speak for the other doctors in his practice,) and IF everything went ok he would let me have a trial of labor. I didn't do anything else to encourage the success of a vbac. I just hoped it would happen, a lot. Again, I didn't know I should know any better. It was obviously a little 'out there' to even be asking for a vbac- so I didn't want to rock the boat too much... I just waited and hoped.
I reached 40+3 weeks and no dilation, little effacement, and baby very high-he said we could schedule a section for a few days later or my next appointment. I had no faith I would go into labor. I had no clue my baby was posterior and needed me to help her spin to be able to drop onto my cervix. I decided my body would never do what it was supposed to do, and I gave up. I scheduled my section for 3 days later-as a last ditch effort to give me a little more time but I didn't believe anything would happen. And it didn't. My second c-section was much better after a 'come to Jesus' talk with the anesthesiologist about how I didn't need any 'don't let this mama freak out on us' drugs or anything to relax me. I wasn't scared or nervous. I just wanted to be present and not loopy. He stood by his word and I was totally coherent the entire time. The whole experience was much better than my first, but I still grieved the loss of my vaginal birth, because NOBODY tries to have a vaginal birth after two cesareans-unless they are crazy or stupid. Or so I believed at the time.

Two more years later, I've switched doctors to an OB known for supporting vbac, who believes in it and in me and I'm planning a vba2c in December. I don't know how to fully explain what happened in those two years but I guess it could best be described as water on stone. I read a lot of natural birth blogs. I'll admit, I started reading them for the curiosity factor. Who are these people? Why do they do this to themselves? Whatever the initial attraction, it drew me. Slowly and surely, it started to make more sense. I was reading and believing 

Anyone who knows me could look at this picture and know I'm faking it. I'm fighting to stay awake, to pretend I'm happy- I'm about to have a baby! Of course I'm happy, right? When I see this picture I see a woman who has resigned herself to her failure and is trying desperately to fake it until she makes it. To put a smile on for the future days when she will look back at this picture with her daughter and tell her about the day she was born and needs to have something to show her it was a wonderful day! I still don't know how that conversation will go, but she will know she was welcomed with joy and love regardless of the mode of her entrance. I do know that by the time she is old enough to be planning the births of her children that she will know the mistakes I made and that I have done something in the years between to help change the atmosphere surrounding birth-and that I did it for her.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

ICAN of Jackson, MS Meetings

We meet once a month in Flowood, MS.
Please email if you are interested in attending a meeting.

If you are unable to attend a meeting and would like more information, please email also. We have brochures we can mail and can provide further assistance specific to you.

Happy New Year!

If you would like to know where the ACOG stands on VBAC/TOLAC, please check out this post from Birth Without Fear:

The article above includes the following:
Risks/Benefits of a Trial of Labor after Cesarean (TOLAC)
Success Rates
Who is a candidate for TOLAC
Management of Labor
and more...

If your provider doesn't "allow" patients to VBAC, find another provider. Don't believe the blanket statement, once a cesarean always a cesarean. Do your research, ask questions and be prepared to move on.