Cesarean awareness month

April has been Cesarean Awareness Month. Why is there an awareness campaign for a common medical procedure? Because it’s way too common!

The World Health Organization (WHO) and medical studies agree that the best outcomes happen in places where the cesarean rate is 5 – 10%, but in the U.S. nearly 1 in 3 mothers delivers by cesarean. That’s cause for alarm.

It’s important to understand that this crisis is not caused by mothers in any way. Researchers have identified several causes within the culture of medical care. But there’s lots that mothers and fathers can do about it, from lobbying elected officials to holding hospital staff accountable.

Meanwhile, it’s useful for anyone planning a birth to understand that a cesarean birth is a substantial possibility. I wrote in Birth On The Labyrinth Path,

Even when medical circumstances necessitate a cesarean that is either planned or an emergency, there are things that you can do to hold a surgical birth as sacred as any other birth.

I firmly believe this is true. Pagans tend to want unmedicated “natural” births (and with good reason too!), but the work of mothering a new person into being is sacred no matter how it’s done.

I hold these twin truths: We must work to change the culture in which so many mothers and babies are violated and put at risk by unnecesary medical procedures and all births, at home, in the hospital, medicated, unmedicated, vaginal, surgical, ALL BIRTHS are holy events.

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About Sarah Whedon

Sarah Whedon is founding editor of Pagan Families, the author of Birth on the Labyrinth Path: Sacred Embodiment in the Childbearing Year, and former Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary. Sarah’s teaching, research, and advocacy work center around topics of spirituality, feminism, and reproduction. She makes her home in the Boston area with her partner and their children.


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