How To Avoid An Unnecessary Cesarean Section

Our BWF Community is a diverse group of women with different birthing experiences. Midwives, doulas, mothers who have birthed only at home, others who have had cesareans, VBAC’s, natural or medicated hospital births. Women have valuable information and support to offer one another.

cesarean birth

I recently asked the BWF Mamas how to avoid a c-section and here are the top answers. Research them more and decide what will help you get the birth that is best for you and your baby!

  • Stay home (number one answer)
  • Avoid an induction
  • No AROM…artificial rupture of membranes
  • Hire a doula
  • Research and know your rights
  • Do not consent unnecessarily to interventions such as pitocin, constant monitoring, and epidural.
  • Take childbirth education classes…Bradley, Hypnobirthing, Birthing From Within, etc
  • Know what you want and do not waiver or compromise (of course unless baby or mom needs help)
  • Be patient
  • Trust yourself, your body, your baby and birth
  • Ask your doctor what their cesarean section rate is. According to WHO it should be lower than 15%
  • Ask your midwife what her transfer rate is and why they were necessary.
  • Find an OB or midwife who supports your choices (can switch at anytime)
  • See a chiropractor who can do Webster Technique to help optimize position of baby. Can find one here.

“Caesarean section without medical indication increases risk of short-term adverse outcomes for mothers. Caesarean section is one of the most commonly performed surgical operations in the world today. However, in a growing number of cases worldwide, caesarean section is being performed without any medical need. The rising number of such deliveries suggests that both health-care workers and their clients perceive the operation to be free from serious risks.” ~World Health Organization

cesarean birth rates
Map created by Jessica Turon, from the Unnecessarean.

{If you find yourself needing a cesarean, read about a gentle cesarean approach here and a family centered cesarean birth plan here}


  • Nicole

    I especially like the “trust your body” response. Mother’s know what they need for themselves and their baby. This goes for both AVOIDING and (when necessary) HAVING a c-section.

  • Stephanie

    The WHO has also come out and said that 15% is the highest they would like it to be. They do not feel that 15% of women need to have a surgical delivery. Another good post BWF!

  • anna

    This is good information..Considering my friend who had tried for a VBA3C she was in active labor and was pushing…had a c-section forced on her by a medical team set on bullying tactics. The surgeon found that the babies head was in the birth canal already when he was doing the surgery ๐Ÿ™ She had complications during the surgery…they found that her bladder had adhered to her uterus and while cutting it off the cut into her bladder as well ๐Ÿ™ She had to have a catheter in for 10 days then they did a dye test and when they did the dye test not only did the dye leak out of her bladder it also leaked into her uterus! Not good! now she has to wait and hear back from a Uro Gyn Dr to see what they can do..This is so sad and it was so preventable. Dr’s and nurses really do need to disclose that c-sections are major surgery and can be fraught with side effects and complications..I hope everyone really does the research behind c-sections before they have one

    • wendy

      omg, i so can feel with your friend and would love to communicate with her. the same thing happened with me, my bladder being ripped open during a forced c section (my 4birth AND 2ND VBAC, ) i was in constant pain and discomfort for near 6 months and had plenty of “procedures” and then finally hemoridged and near died. i had a transfusing and was told it was just my period returning (it by the way didnt return for another year.) after the hemoridge though i had no further pain. i was also told not to have any further children….this is my biggest regret from going anywhere near a hospital. wish you friend well.

  • Snorkle

    Stay home, or doctors WILL cut you open. It happened to a friend of mine who transferred from a natural HB to a hospital. STRAIGHT into surgery, even though she was SCREAMING that she wanted a natural birth.

    • Friendship

      Snorkle, re: “Stay home, or doctors WILL cut you open.”

      Does it matter at all WHY the doctors are cutting you open? If, say, it decreased the chance of baby dying by a certain percentage, at what point would it matter to you? And should a doctor ignore those risks depending on how loudly the mother is screaming?

    • Ashley

      I’m very sorry that your friend had such a bad experience, and I hope that the doctors had a good reason for doing what they did. But to say “If you go to the hospital they WILL cut you open”…

      Laboring in the hospital does not ensure a csection. I delivered my son in the hospital vaginally, and had NO pressure to have csection done. My midwife was awesome!

  • JscaG

    Do these rates take into consideration the population of the state? I mean, wouldn’t a state with a higher population effect the percentage rate of c-sections (i.e. make the percentage rate would be higher for more women)? Don’t get me wrong, I am not for c-sections either and think that the American medical system has hi-jacked women’s birth. But I am wondering how these rates were determined.

    • kristine

      Same with hospitals. One of our BEST Dallas hospitals for normal birth also has a very hot c section rate because they are a high level NICU & care for a large high risk pregnancy population. But in all truth its the very best hospital to birth in. I’ve had 5 normal uneducated births 3 of those at home & I would jot hesitate to birth there. They bend over backwards to honor mothers wishes & unless there is truly an emergency, mothers & babies are NEVER separated.
      Take the whole picture in.

      • Mindy

        which hospital would you be referring too? Just curious because everyone has their own definition of “the best” hospital.

    • Jessica

      I am confused why you think a higher population would mean a higher percentage of c-sections. Of course, the higher the population the higher the number of actual cesareans would be. 1/3 of 30 is 10 and 1/3 of 100 is 30- the actual number is higher but the percentage remains the same. Is there something I’m missing? (and there very well could be ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • mary aspinwall

    Homeopathy helped me turn both my babies to the correct position and other remedies helped me in labor, so I was able to deliver naturally.
    My husband and a dear friend also advocated for me when I had to transfer to hospital during the first delivery. They went through my birth plan with hospital staff and they made my wishes clear. Happily for me they were honored.

  • Brenda the doula Shamwow

    and let’s please remember – have regular chiropractic care during pregnancy and at the VERY LEAST during the last few weeks. these OP and acynclitic presentations have been buggers lately ;-(

    read and become familiar with SpinningBabies including the page with homepathic (like cures like) remedies that can be so helpful with aggravating things like chronic back pain in labor or painful pro-dromal that is difficult to ignore and sleep through.

    LOVE YOU MS. BWF! *I could squeeze you till you POP!*

  • Valerie

    Let’s not forget, breech baby doesn’t mean C-Section. I gave birth vaginally with no drugs to my baby in breech presentation, in a busy Chicago hospital.

  • Briana

    I have to have “c-sections” I had brain surgery when I was a kid and it was a major surgery. My ob said he didn’t want to risk me having my daughters naturally and having hemridging on my brain. I really wish I knew if this was true I would like to have my next kid naturally.

    • bellabirth

      Gentle birth is possible, I would certainly seek alternative opinions. And if you get consistent responses saying c/s is needed: you can have an empowered surgery. xoxo

      I would be asking for evidence to show the likelihood of a Hemorrhage, so you can way up the odds. Ultimately the decision is yours. Many women breathe out their babies, it may be that the OB only sees ‘purple pushing’ and does not know that birth can be very gentle. Certainly birthing upright or on your knees would help.

      Seek information, make an informed decision (be it an empowered c/s or a natural birth). xoox

  • Beverley Lawrence Beech

    I sat on the WHO target setting conference in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 1985 at which it was found that there was no evidence of health improvement when the caesarean operation rates exceeded 10%. The north and south American obstetricians protested at setting this target on the grounds that they would be laughed out of court if they returned home with that proposal as their caesarean rates were far above this. It was then agreed that the target should be set at 10-15%. I objected on the grounds that if they gave a range the highest figure would be used as the target, and that is precisely what has happened. The important statement to remember is: ‘There is no evidence of health improvement for either mother or baby when caesarean operations exceed 10%.’ And that statement still stands today.

  • B.D.

    Let’s not also forget, (a cesarean can be needed)…

    My daughter may still be alive if the doctors hadn’t waited 28 hours after I was admitted to the hospital (you heard right!) to perform.

    • Maddy

      All this is a reminder that medicine is not sacred, not are medical professionals gods. I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. You’re not alone. Many of us are familiar with loss, and we know that you never really ‘get over it’ or stop wondering ‘what if’, and that even future children never fill the hole left by the loss of a child.

  • Elizabeth

    I had a doula, a specific birth plan and a supportive OB when I went into the hospital to have my son. Of course, though, I went into labor on my OB’s half-day and I was “passed off” to one of her call partners, whom I had never met. I had labored pretty intensely for 12 hours and pushed for 3 of those 12 hours. At the end of 3 hours of pushing, I was *finally* making progress and the attending OB made me choose between an epidural and laboring down to rest for awhile or to have a c-section, neither of which I wanted. My doula was quietly insisting in my ear that my DS and I were fine, his heart tones were good and there was no need for either intervention and that I could make my opinion known that I wanted to keep pushing. After a few moments of consideration, I chose the c/s. I proved to myself that I could labor without medication for over 12 hours of back labor (even after 3+ months of bi-weekly chiropractic care, my DS was still “sunny side up”, so I’m skeptical of chiropractors now).
    So now that we’re trying for #2, I have my regular OB’s blessing to try for a VBAC. Unfortunately, where I live in Alabama, midwives aren’t allowed to practice, so my desire for a home birth isn’t possible unless I wish to put someone’s freedom at risk.
    I never thought that I’d have a c/s, and I beat myself up about it for months… Sometimes I still do. I feel like I failed, that I wasn’t strong enough for my son, that I was just lazy and selfish to want to see my boy sooner rather than later. And I certainly didn’t give myself the proper amount of recovery time, either. I’d never had major surgery before and had no idea that I should have taken it easy for MUCH longer than I did. 8 weeks post-partum, I traveled solo with my son to see his grandparents 2 hours away. 9 weeks post-partum, we traveled as a family to Memphis for a weekend. I look back now and think what “rookie” mistakes those were…

  • Alissa

    I had a forced c-section!!! It was horrible, my sons head was almost out when they shoved him back in, then knocked me out and delivered him!!! I will never get another epidural, nor go to that hospital again!!!

  • Bethany

    I don’t know how to put this delicately. I am sad to say I’m not surprised that states with high obesity rates have high Cesarean rates. I think that preparing your body for pregnancy AND labor should be on the list of things to help prevent an unnecessary c-section. Labor is WORK and that work is easier to do when your body is strong. Women should take pride in their ability to care for their bodies, not because they will look more like models (they look to lean to carry any real muscle to me) but because it prepares you for the hard work labor takes, and betters your chances for a long and healthy life with your kids, your grandkids, maybe even see some great-grandkids, etc.

    My aunt is significantly overweight and even with an epidural and a fast labor, she got to push #1 and said it just felt too tiring. She felt like she didn’t have the muscle to do it. My mom and I are/were in good physical condition when we gave birth (25 years apart, of course (; ) and feel that it was because we had the muscles necessary for the work and that our bodies were prepared for that battle because we take care of them.

      • Mommy for life

        Seriously?! I am over weight i had my first child 100% natural without complications, I had a c/s with twins not due to complications just both where breech and i was uneducated. I had no strenght issues having my first child what so ever. I was up walking around doing stuff on my own 30 minutes later. Don’t patronize people with the whole fat bit. I am fat, i am strong, i am not a statistic. Thank you!

        • Mrs. BWF

          I’n not sure what you’re reading? That’s my point. I AM OVERWEIGHT and have had different types of births and I think weight has nothing to do with it. So, maybe you misunderstood what I was saying? No patronizing here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Safire

      ยปI am overweight and have delivered SEVEN babies vaginally. My first two were induction/epidural births. My third was a natural hospital birth and my last four were home/water births. I am strong. Weight is irrelevant.

  • Megan

    I am trying to do some research on all of this. I have had 3 c-sections but have had my stomach (not uterus) cut 4 times due to an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. My son is getting ready to turn 5 months old and my girls are 10 and 6. After my last c-section the dr told me that I had alot of scar tissue and my rectum/intestines is adhered to my uterus. She said she removed alot of it but not all and if I ever have to have a hysterectomy or another c-section it could cause complications…but she didnt say what complications. I attempted a VBAC with my 2nd child but my contractions were barely menstrual cramps and they said they couldnt use pitocin because it could cause my scar to rupture. I should add that I had LEEP surgery when I was 18 so I never dilated past 1cm with any of them but they “stretched” my cervix to 4cm during my 1st labor. And as far as rupture I have heard that you dont have to push the baby out because your body will work the baby out on its own. Any advice would be helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Megan

    Oh…and when I said I never dilated…the first time they said it was because I got my epidural too soon (my 1st labor was an awful experience. The dr’s messed me up bad), and the 2nd time they said it was probably due to scar tissue in my cervix.

  • marien

    Dr’s make more money (insurance wise) performing C-section compared to natural birth… money is 1st nowadays (sadly)

  • Esther

    Who defines overweight. I definitely am that now but I imagine by standards set by whoever sets them, I would have been considered overweight yet, though I considered myself overweight at the time,I no longer consider myself to have been overweight then.

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