A cesarean section should be a relatively rare way to deliver a baby. In the United States, over 32% of women give birth in an operating room. While a C-section may be the safest way to deliver under high-risk circumstances, research indicates that this major surgical procedure is often unnecessary and actually poses a higher risk to the health of many mothers and babies.

Risks Factors that Increasse Your Chances of Giving Birth by Cesarean:

Risk Factor

  1. Early Hospital Admission (less than 4cm)
  2. Induction of labor before 41 weeks or unripe cervix
  3. Continuous Fetal Monitoring
  4. Slow?  No Progress First Stage (2-4 hours)
  5. Slow/No Progress second stage (>5 hours)
  6. Position of Fetal Head
  7. Breech Baby

If you’re pregnant for the first time, here are 10 things you can do throughout your pregnancy that can help reduce the need for a C-section.

During your pregnancy

Don’t go hungry, but try not to overdo it.
Many U.S. women gain more weight during pregnancy than is recommended. You only need 30 extra calories a day, so make them count!  Ask your provider what your weight gain goal should be, and do your best to eat a moderate, nutritious diet throughout your pregnancy. Eat 80-100 grams of protein daily, salt your food to taste, drink half your numeric body weight in ounces of water and other nutritious fluids.  Here’s a guideline for a good nutritious diet for you and your baby:

  • Protein: 6-8 servings
    • Daily protein from all protein sources should total 80-100 grams
  • Milk/Milk Substitutes: 4 servings
    • Extra Calcium (if using a substitute): 2 servings/ substitute 
  • Eggs: 2
  • Dark Leafy Greens: 2 servings
  • Whole Grains/Starchy Veggies/Fruit: 4 servings
  • Foods High in Vitamin C: 2 servings 18-30mg per serving
  • Fats: 3 servings
  • Yellow or Orange fruit or vegetable (“vitamin A foods”): 1 serving
  • Extra liquids to stay hydrated

Get plenty of exercise.
You can safely engage in regular, moderate-intensity physical activity during pregnancy, although you should always consult with your provider before starting a new exercise program.   the best activities are those you enjoy and/or those that make you feel good, ie: yoga, walking, swimming, stretching.

Take childbirth classes.
So many women are terrified of labor and birth so they just stay in denial.  It’s too scary to even think about!  You need to take classea and start early- as early as your 5th-6th month.  this gives you plenty of time to prepare physically, mentally, emotionally, and to practice what you’ve learned.  You wouldn’t run a marathon without training for it, so why head into childbirth without adequate preparation?

If the baby is breech, take him or her for a spin.
If your baby is breech (feet first) and you’re at least 36 weeks pregnant, you may be a candidate for a procedure called an external cephalic version (ECV). ECV involves applying pressure to the mother’s abdomen to turn the baby to a head-down presentation.  Try to avoid this situation by practicing the daily Exercises in Pregnancy at Spinningbabies.com and do the Miles Circuit starting at 37 weeks, daily.

Minimize stress with yoga and meditation. If you’re not into yoga or meditation, try prayers, try birth stories, find positive birth stories in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth or Mindful Birthing. They have changed the perspective of so many of my students.  Discuss your fears and concerns with your provider, and remember that you were born to give birth. Trust in what your body can do.

Hire a Doula

A birth doula is a companion who provides people with continuous support during labor and birth. There have been 26 randomized trials that tested the effects of continuous labor support on more than 15,000 people giving birth. Overall, people who receive continuous support are more likely to have a normal vaginal birth and less likely to have pain medication, negative feelings about childbirth, and Cesareans. In addition, their labors are shorter and their babies are less likely to have complications at birth or be admitted to a NICU. In these studies, the best results occurred when the continuous support was provided by a trained doula—someone who was not a staff member at the hospital and not part of the birthing person’s social network. www.evidencebasedbirth.com

When you’re near the end of pregnancy

Avoid labor induction.  Read My Post: Understanding Labor Induction
Women who undergo labor induction have higher C-section rates than those who wait for it to begin spontaneously. If you are less than 41 weeks of pregnancy, avoid the temptation to have your labor induced unless your provider has identified a medical reason for it.

READ MY POST:  What’s Induction of Labor? Why Induce? Why Not? How it Works.

Consider waiting on that epidural.
Epidural anesthesia is the most popular method of pain relief during labor. Once an epidural is given, continuous fetal monitoring and IV fluids are required. Maternal risks with an epidural: longer 2nd stage, hypotension, need for Pitocin augmentation, Cesarean risk increase, itchy skin, nausea, spinal headache, fever. There are other risks to the baby.


Be prepared for the possibility of a long labor.
For many first-time mothers, it can take hours to deliver a baby. It’s natural to become impatient as you anticipate the opportunity to hold your baby. However, your doctor or nurse midwife will do all in their power to make your labor experience a happy and comfortable one. Keep in mind that early labor (when your cervix is less than 6 cm dilated) can sometimes last for more than 20 hours, and it’s normal for some women to push for up to three hours. If you think you’re. in labor:

  1. EAT
  2. DRINK
  3. WALK
  5. SLEEP

Get as much rest as you can in early labor and don’t leave for the hospital until your contractions are 3 minutes apart, one minue long, for a FULL TWO HOURS.

Once again, relax.
Remember, it’s best to stay pregnant for at least 39 to40 completed weeks. By relaxing and waiting to give birth spontaneously, and then taking your time during what may be a long labor, you give your baby the time he or she needs to get fully ready for life outside the womb. Think positively, remind yourself that you’re in safe, experienced hands, and stay focused and strong.