Many pregnant moms hope to deliver vaginally and seek advice on how to avoid a c-section. However, as new parents often come to learn, things don’t always go as planned. Even if you’re planning a vaginal birth, it’s smart to pen a separate birth plan for cesarean delivery, just in case.

If your baby has distress, you have a history of herpes, or you’re having premature labor or bleeding, having a c-section can be a life-saving grace. [Read More: Early Signs of Labor]

The most important advice I can give is that the best birth memory is always delivering a healthy baby. So, make sure you pick a great team and tell them exactly what you want…then put yourself in their hands. You deserve to experience the full joy of welcoming your baby, however, he or she arrives!

But if you want to try to avoid a c-section, there are a few things you do that may stack the deck in your favor.

Hire a Birth Doula

A doula’s job is to comfort and support you during labor. That special encouragement can be so reassuring and de-stressing that it can lower the risk of a C-section by up to 25%. [Read More: What is a Doula?]

Home Births Have Lower Cesarean Rates

As many as a third of all hospital deliveries are cesarean. Interestingly, having a home birth can significantly reduce this risk, perhaps by as much as 80%. Of course, home births can have their own risks and aren’t for everyone. So, if you are thinking about a home birth, you have to make sure to choose an experienced OB/GYN or midwife, and you have a detailed emergency case you run into issues. [Read More: What to Know About Giving Birth at Home]

Does Walking and Exercise Prevent C-Sections?

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, women who participated in moderate exercise during pregnancy were 34% less likely to have a cesarean delivery than their non-exercising counterparts. Just remember to talk to your doctor before starting a fitness routine during pregnancy. 

Should You Pass on Pitocin to Avoid a C-Section?

Even during labor, there are ways that may help you steer clear of a c-section. Pitocin is an IV medicine moms are given to speed up contractions. It is often given at the same time as an epidural, because the latter may slow labor. Pitocin has good sides…and bad. It can definitely help speed up a stalled labor. However, it can also intensify painful contractions. That’s no fun for moms, but more importantly, it may overly stress the baby and require an emergency c-section. Pitocin is one of those areas where your doctor or midwife will make the best call. That’s why it’s so important to pick someone you fully trust.

Take Childbirth Education Classes to Prepare for a C-Section

Preparing yourself for the birth can dramatically ease the process. Classes like hypnobirthing teach calming techniques and tips to help reduce pain. Here’s the key: The more you relax your mind, the more you can relax your muscles…and that encourages your labor progress (instead of prolonging it). And, a faster labor usually leads to a vaginal birth.

If You Can’t Avoid a C-Section, Embrace Your Experience

Sometimes, nothing can be done to prevent a cesarean section. We are so lucky the procedure is an option and modern medicine allows c-sections to be performed more safely than ever before.

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.