FAQs about ICAN

Disclaimer: All of the content provided on this website, including text, outcomes, charts, webinars, graphics, photographs, and images, are for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content is not intended to establish a standard of care to be followed by a user of the website. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health. ICAN is a peer-to-peer support group, and does not provide medical services or advice.

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Frequently Used Acronyms

  • VBAC – Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
  • TOLAC – Trial of Labor After Cesarean
  • CBAC – Cesarean Birth After Cesarean. Usually used to describe a birth in which a woman wanted or planned a VBAC, but the birth ended in a cesarean.
  • VBA2C (or VBAMC) – Vaginal Birth After 2 Cesareans (or Vaginal Birth After Multiple Cesareans)
  • UBAC – Unassisted Birth After Cesarean. A vaginal birth in which no birth attendants were present, usually only the mother, and perhaps her partner or family members.
  • ECV – External Cephalic Version. This procedure is used to try to turn a breech baby to a vertex position during the 3rd trimester. The care provider will place his/her hands on the outside of the pregnant mother’s abdomen and will press on the abdomen in order to manually force the baby to turn.
  • ERCS – Elective Repeat Cesarean Section. A cesarean usually scheduled and performed without labor, when the mother is not planning a VBAC.
  • OP – Occiput Posterior. A position in which the unborn baby is facing toward the mother’s front, which may make delivery more difficult.
  • LOA – Left Occiput Anterior. Considered the best position for the unborn baby during labor.
  • CPD – Cephalopelvic Disproportion. A questionable medical diagnosis in which the baby’s head is supposedly too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis. This is one of the most commonly used reasons for performing a cesarean.
  • FTP – Failure to Progress. This is a questionable diagnosis that declares the woman’s labor to be too long, or stalled. This is another commonly used reason for performing a cesarean.
  • PROM – Premature Rupture of Membranes. This is when a woman’s “water” breaks before labor begins.
  • SROM – Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes. This is when a woman’s “water” breaks on its own during labor, in contrast to having a care provider break the membranes manually.
  • NST – Non-Stress Test. This non-invasive test, performed in a doctor’s office or hospital, is an indicator of how well a baby is doing inside the womb. This primarily involves monitoring a baby’s heart rate over the course of about 30 minutes or more. An NST may be recommended by your care provider if you have any complications or risk factors that may impact your baby’s health. It is common for care providers to also recommend an NST when a pregnancy extends beyond a woman’s due date.
  • BPP – Biophysical Profile. BPP is a prenatal ultrasound evaluation of fetal well-being involving a scoring system, with the score being termed Manning’s score.[2] It is often done when a non-stress test (NST) is non reactive, or for other obstetrical indications.The “modified biophysical profile” consists of the NST and amniotic fluid index only.
  • ACOG – The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This is the professional organization that publishes guidelines for doctors to guide their practice.

How can I volunteer with ICAN?

Because ICAN is run by volunteers, we always need help fulfilling our mission. If you would like to contribute your time and talents to our mission, please contact our volunteer coordinator at volunteer@ican-online.org or visit our “Volunteer Positions” page. Opportunities are available at all different levels of involvement.

What are Professional ICAN Members?

ICAN’s Professional Membership Directory includes doulas, childbirth educators, chiropractors, massage therapists, hypnobirth instructors, midwives, obstetricians, lawyers and anyone else who feels they have a service they can provide to people during their childbearing years. Professional Members have paid a fee to be listed in our directory and agreed to support our mission; however, this is not a guarantee that they will be the right professional for your needs. ICAN’s Professional Membership Directory is intended as an informational resource for consumers. 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 journey by informing themselves regarding the competency of those professionals that they retain. Arranging interviews, asking open-ended questions, and obtaining local reviews (Local ICAN Chapters are a great resource!) can be a great place to start in vetting the service providers you hire.

Are you a Professional interested in being listed? Learn More.

My local hospital has banned VBAC. What can I do?

Visit our Advocacy page to read about options when your hospital does not permit VBAC. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology guidelines on VBAC can be found here.

How can I get a list of ICAN-recommended providers?

ICAN does not recommend care providers. Many local chapters will collect names of providers who support VBACs and Family Centered Cesareans, but ICAN realizes that choosing a care provider is a personal choice and no one provider is right for every person. Each person should determine on their own what they will need in labor, and find a care provider whose values and personality line up with their needs. Start the process of finding a care provider by talking with peers about their experiences, and then consider scheduling consults to discuss your birth plan. Some states will also make cesarean and VBAC statistics available by hospital. You can also check to see if your hospital currently has a ban on VBAC. You might want to call the hospital yourself to determine their current policies, as guidelines may change without notice. Remember that you can change care providers at any time in your pregnancy.

What does ICAN do with my membership money?

ICAN divides the money collected from memberships between the local chapter and the national organization. Local chapters keep 30% of the membership funds to use for meetings, events, activities, or education as needed. The remaining 70% is used by the national organization to pay for the website and software, tax assistance, insurance, postage, and office supplies; all the things that keep ICAN running as an organization. Local chapters and ICAN national may choose to fund raise or accept donations to aid their chapters or the organization as well. ICAN operates with a very small budget, and the board of directors works hard to use those funds wisely.

How much is membership?

Membership in ICAN is available at several different levels, beginning at a 1-year supporting membership of $30. Members receive our quarterly newsletter, The Clarion, along with discounts to our bookstore and ICAN conferences. Throughout the year, ICAN will also provide free or discounted access to educational webinars featuring some of today’s greatest voices in the birth community. While most of ICAN’s services do not require membership, we urge anyone who believes in ICAN’s mission to become a member in order to support our work. Visit (Join page) to join ICAN today.

Who runs ICAN?

ICAN is an all-volunteer organization. The ICAN board of directors consists of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Legal Advisor and other Board Members as needed. In addition, Regional Coordinators help support local chapters. An Executive Team leads various volunteer projects for ICAN nationally and internationally. Contact information for the current leadership team is available on the Contact page.

How did ICAN start?

ICAN was founded in 1982 in the United States as the Cesarean Prevention Movement, in response to a birth climate that enforced a “once a cesarean, always a cesarean” rule. In the 21st century, the rate of cesarean births in the United States has skyrocketed to 33%. While ICAN believes that cesareans do save lives when used appropriately, we recognize that the increase in the number of cesareans has not resulted in an increase in healthy mothers and babies. ICAN has worked tirelessly to encourage evidence-based birth practices, and educating mothers about their choices in birth.

What does the burgundy ribbon stand for?

ribbon2The burgundy color of the ribbons represents birth and the wearing of the ribbon upside down symbolizes the state of distress many pregnant women find themselves in when their birthing options are limited. The loop of the inverted ribbon represents a pregnant belly and the tails are the arms of a woman outstretched in a cry for help. The shape also signifies the uterus and fallopian tubes. The Cesarean Awareness Ribbon debuted in April of 2004 for Cesarean Awareness Month.

How do I find a chapter near me?

Visit our “Find A Chapter” tab to search for a chapter near you. If you cannot find a chapter close to where you live, we have a general ICAN group that may be helpful: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ICANOnline/. You may also be interested in starting a chapter. This information can be found at “Starting a Chapter”.

How does ICAN fulfill its mission?

There are currently over 100 ICAN chapters throughout the world. Volunteer chapter leaders do most of the work in supporting families in their communities through in-person meetings, email, social media, local activism, and fundraising. In addition, ICAN hosts a private Facebook group, online support and educational webinars.

What is ICAN?

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).