International Cesarean Awareness Network » http://www.ican-online.org Education. Support. Advocacy. Sun, 01 May 2016 16:01:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.ican-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/cropped-ICAN-bkgd-light-32x32.png » http://www.ican-online.org 32 32 Elise Schultz named ICAN Volunteer of the Month for April! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/elise-schultz-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-april/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/elise-schultz-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-april/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 02:15:49 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5290 Continue reading →]]> Thank you for all your hard work, Elise!

Thank you for all your hard work, Elise!

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.

In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Elise Schultz as the April 2016 Volunteer of the Month.

Elise Schultz, this month’s honoree, is a dedicated volunteer out of ICAN of Huntsville in Alabama. She’s done great things for her community!

Get to know our Volunteer of the Month:

How long have you been an ICAN member?

I joined ICAN in September 2013, a month after I attended my first meeting. Due to other commitments I first said no to becoming more involved in our local chapter. However, less than a year later I saw how much ICAN had helped others and was helping me on my emotional recovery and was convinced to join the chapter leadership team as a co-leader and Treasurer in July 2014.

How did you first find ICAN?

I first heard of ICAN right after my cesarean with my first child when a friend mentioned it as a resource for my recovery. I emailed the contact for the local chapter listed on the main website but got no response and realized the chapter was no longer active. So I followed the main ICAN FB page. When my son was 10 months old, several moms started chatting about their cesareans in a local FB group. They took the plunge and formed a local chapter. I remember going to the first meeting and being so thankful that I had found other women who had similar emotions with their cesarean. I have been forever grateful for the support ICAN has provided me through my miscarriages and my recent VBAC.

What motivates you as a volunteer?

I want women to feel empowered with knowledge to make the best decision they can for their situation. I remember what it felt like to be overwhelmed by emotions during my first pregnancy and afterwards. I want to give back for the support I received on my journey towards healing. I joke I’m not a words person which makes finding the right thing to say to a mom challenging for me. Instead, I’m a numbers person. This has helped provide a wonderful balance when birth statistics or chapter finances are involved.

Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?

I have always had a passion for the weather. I work as a research meteorologist at a local university in addition to being the Chief Technology Officer of a weather analytics startup. There are many parallels between the weather and birth/medical world which has allowed me to bring different perspectives to serve each area better.

What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?

One of my proudest moments as an ICAN volunteer has been seeing our chapters hard work towards establishing the ICAN of Huntsville Doula Grant for Expectant Mothers pay off through the stories of empowerment our grant winners have shared. The hardest moments are knowing there are limited or no options when women ask if there are care providers locally that support VBACs.

We appreciate you so much, Elise! Thank you for all that you do to support birthing women!

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Introducing Alexis Appleton, our newest chapter leader! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/introducing-alexis-appleton-our-newest-chapter-leader/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/introducing-alexis-appleton-our-newest-chapter-leader/#comments Sun, 17 Apr 2016 01:34:25 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5268 Continue reading →]]>
ICAN is excited to announce Alexis Appleton as our newest chapter leader! She has completed training and will be with ICAN of Northwest Louisiana!
 
How did you find out about ICAN? What drew you to our organization?
After my first baby was born by Cesarean in 2002, I had a pretty good recovery, but sadly, I was devastated by the feeling that my body was broken. A few weeks later, I called my friend to congratulate her on the birth of her second baby. During our chat, she mentioned she had a VBAC! I can’t really put into words the sense of relief and hope I felt when she told me that. At that point, I knew it was definitely something I wanted to look into, so I began to search the Internet for information not long afterwards. Back in the “early days” of the net, ICAN was probably one of the first resources I came across. The site was definitely a goldmine of information. Fast forward 17 months later, and I had my first (of five!) very healing VBAC! I am so thankful that ICAN and the website were there to provide the information I needed to educate myself!

 

Alexis, her husband, and five beautiful children!

Alexis, her husband, and six beautiful children!

What part of being an ICAN Chapter Leader are you most excited about and why?
I am most excited about being able to support and educate moms who are recovering physically and emotionally from a section. I don’t want anyone to feel like I did! I also want to continue to get the word out in my community that VBAC is a viable option. Anyone who knows me well knows this is something I’ve been passionate about for over thirteen years!
 
What do you wish other people knew about ICAN?
I wish people knew that ICAN does promote VBAC and discourage unnecessary Cesareans, but that does not mean that ICAN wants to minimize the occasional necessity of a Cesarean delivery or dismiss it as an inferior way to give birth. ICAN just wants women to be educated on their options and empowered with the knowledge to be able to make the informed choice that is best for them!
 
What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about cesarean/VBAC awareness?
Cesarean delivery is MAJOR abdominal surgery and is not to be taken lightly! ACOG clearly states that VBAC is a reasonable and safe option for most women. The risk for uterine rupture in a low risk mom attempting a trial of labor is about the same as the risk for other emergent complications that can suddenly occur during any labor and delivery and that is not a reason for a hospital or physician to deny access to VBAC. Also, two of my favorite rules of thumb are that a) your EDD is NOT an expiration date and b) your cervix is NOT a crystal ball….just be patient and let baby cook as long as s/he wants.
 
Alexis Appleton, MidSouth's newest ICAN Chapter Leader!

Alexis Appleton, MidSouth’s newest ICAN Chapter Leader!

How would someone describe you?

Passionate, practical, knowledgeable, quirky, and BUSY! I have been referred to many times as “the short hyper one” and maybe even a non-conformist, go against the flow type a time or two. 

 

Please share a little about yourself.

I am a mom of six married 17 years to my college sweetheart. My BS is in Clinical Laboratory Science because I love all things science, but I went on to get a Masters in Education so I could teach elementary school because I love kids. I taught for a few years until I “retired” to have my kids and be a stay at home mom, although I did get my real estate license and work from home for several years to help out with extra expenses. I have four sons and two daughters. I have an amazingly supportive and patient husband who is an engineer.  I love to read just about anything. Currently, I am taking a few courses to meet prerequisite requirements for applying to PA school. I hope to eventually be a PA in pediatrics or family medicine. I can’t wait to get to know and work more with our growing local birth community!

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NOVA Chapters of ICAN and Hope for Accreta Hold Blood Drives http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/03/nova-chapters-of-ican-and-hope-for-accreta-hold-blood-drives/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/03/nova-chapters-of-ican-and-hope-for-accreta-hold-blood-drives/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2016 16:49:02 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5218 Continue reading →]]> Give local and save a local mother's life

Help save the lives of mothers who need blood after giving birth!

Most people have heard of a cesarean birth but few have ever heard of the life-threatening pregnancy complication called Placenta Accreta that is a potential risk of future cesarean births. The Northern Virginia chapters of ICAN and Hope for Accreta Foundation are hosting two blood drive events to help save the lives of these mothers. Both organizations are coming together to educate those with risk factors for Accreta and to encourage people to donate blood. This gift of life could save mothers with Accreta and anyone else in need of a blood transfusion. More details can be found on Hope for Accreta – Northern Virginia’s facebook page, and the event page’s for April 1st and April 2nd.

There are several Accreta survivors in Northern Virginia who experienced one of the most dangerous pregnancy complications and they will join the blood drive efforts. Most of these survivors lost blood after childbirth and required blood transfusions. Placenta Accreta is a condition in which the placenta embeds into the uterus wall and grows through it, sometimes attaching to other organs. Placentas are supposed to just hover over the wall of the uterus and then detach after birth. But some have a mind of their own and decide to cause a whole lot of trouble — life-threatening trouble. Life-threatening because it can cause catastrophic hemorrhaging putting the life of the mother and child at risk.

When Accreta is either diagnosed prior to birth or found surprisingly after birth, physicians and blood banks must be prepared. If the placenta will not detach they must do everything they can to prevent hemorrhaging and the mother’s death. Hospitals typically gather a large group of experts to handle the situation, usually performing an emergency hysterectomy, and blood donations must be available in case of massive blood loss and a blood transfusion is necessary.

There is no explanation for Placenta Accreta but most physicians believe it happens because of previous trauma and scarring to the uterine wall. This could be caused by uterine surgery such as a cesarean section, dilation and curettage (D&C), hysteroscopy, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or the placement of an intrauterine device (IUD). Placenta Accreta now affects 1 in 333 pregnancies and the rates are increasing, according to the Society for Maternal-Fetal MedicineThe American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believes the increase of Placenta Accreta seems to parallel the increasing cesarean delivery rate. This rise in Accreta cases puts great pressure on local blood banks and they must be ready to handle the increased demand for blood.

The community blood drives will be held at the Inova Blood Donor Center in Sterling, Virginia on April 1 from 10-4 and American Horticultural Society’s River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia on April 2 from 10-3 in partnership with Inova Blood Donor Services. Local mothers, blood recipients, and survivors of Placenta Accreta will share their birth stories, answer questions, offer support, and help educate men and women about the risks of uterine surgeries.

All donors and volunteers will be entered to win door prizes from generous donors and businesses including AuPairCare, Bathologie, Team Beachbody, DRP Belle Haven, Greenplicity, Jamberry, Lemongrass Spa, Stella & Dot, Soupergirl, Sugar Shack Donuts, Usborne, Wegmans, and Zoobooks. Both events are family friendly — the Alexandria blood drive will feature a crafts table, hosted by Arts on the Horizon, for children to keep busy while parents donate blood. Additionally, diapers and essential baby care items will be collected for nonprofits My Grandmother’s House and It Takes a Village, Baby to help provide health and happiness to mothers and babies in need.

The goal is to attract at least 60 donors at the blood drives. By donating just one pint of blood, donors have the potential to save up to three lives. Anyone who is in generally good health and meets the eligibility conditions can donate blood. The entire process takes about an hour, and all blood types are needed. Donors should bring a photo ID. To schedule an appointment to donate blood call 866-256-6372, or visit www.inovabloodsaves.org and use sponsor code: 8131. The events are free.

Most do not realize or understand that massive blood loss during and after childbirth is a possibility. However, we can be prepared, and we need the community’s help and generosity to ‘Give Local, Save Local’. Find your local blood bank today and donate blood to save a mother’s life! You can also find other Accreta blood drives here.

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Rebecca Noel named ICAN Volunteer of the Month for March! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/03/rebecca-noel-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-march/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/03/rebecca-noel-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-march/#comments Thu, 17 Mar 2016 11:46:35 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5197 Continue reading →]]> ICAN is excited to honor Rebecca Noel as our March 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

ICAN is excited to honor Rebecca Noel as our March 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.

In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Rebecca Noel as the March 2016 Volunteer of the Month.

Rebecca Noel, this month’s honoree, is a dedicated volunteer out of ICAN of Treasure Valley in Idaho. She’s done great things for her region and has been instrumental in making our upcoming conference a success!

Get to know our Volunteer of the Month:

How long have you been an ICAN member?

I have been an ICAN member for about 1.5 years.

How did you first find ICAN?

After my 4th baby, my first born via cesarean, I started doing research about VBAC and came across ICAN. I followed on Facebook for a while and got support by reading what others were going through. When I was pregnant with my 5th baby, I found a local meeting and starting going to the meetings.

What motivates you as a volunteer?

I feel compelled to give back and participate in an organization that did so much for me in my journey to healing. I strive to be a support for other women in their journey.

Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?

Outside of ICAN I am trained as a doula (not practicing) and a mother to 5 boys. When I have time, I like to volunteer for other organizations in my community.

What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?

My proudest moments are when a woman attends a meeting and feels able to share her story. The hardest is when a meeting doesn’t have a good turnout, but I try to stay positive and look ahead to the next meeting.

We appreciate you so much, Rebecca! Thank you for all that you do to support birthing women!

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Cesarean Awareness Month shirts available now! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/03/cesarean-awareness-month-shirts-available-now/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/03/cesarean-awareness-month-shirts-available-now/#comments Thu, 10 Mar 2016 09:42:59 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5200 April is Cesarean Awareness Month, and we have the perfect shirt to spark those important conversations this year! The most important element of cesarean awareness is YOU reaching out to your community. Only available for purchase through the month of March. All proceeds go directly to ICAN!
Cesarean Awareness begins with... YOU!

Cesarean Awareness begins with… YOU!

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Jesse Franks Named ICAN February Volunteer of the Month! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/02/jesse-franks-named-ican-february-volunteer-of-the-month/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/02/jesse-franks-named-ican-february-volunteer-of-the-month/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 11:17:01 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5146 Continue reading →]]> ICAN is pleased to honor Jesse Franks as our Volunteer of the Month Feb 2016!

ICAN is pleased to honor Jesse Franks as our Volunteer of the Month Feb 2016! 

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.

In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Jesse Franks as the February 2016 Volunteer of the Month.

Jesse Franks, this month’s honoree, is a dedicated volunteer out of ICAN of Phoenix in Arizona. She’s done great things for her area and for all of ICAN!

Get to know our February 2016 Volunteer of the Month:

How long have you been an ICAN member?

I have been a member and volunteer since late 2010 for both my local chapter and ICAN national. I’ve filled several roles: Assistant Chapter Director, Regional Coordinator, Facebook Admin (I started sharing followers questions and tripled our “likes”), New Chapter Ambassador, and ICAN of Phoenix Co-Leader.

How did you first find ICAN?

Actually, my husband found ICAN for me. I was dealing with postpartum depression and I was really feeling lost. He was looking for something, anything to help. I went to every meeting available. I cried a lot, learned a lot, and started to come out of the darkness.

What motivates you as a volunteer?

I want women to have options and informed consent. REAL informed consent. Too many women are only given one sided statistics and it’s unbelievable to me that in this day and age we are being so mistreated during childbirth. Pregnancy and birth should be as calm and gentle as possible, not full of scare tactics and misinformation.

Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?

I have 3 wonderful girls aged 5 1/2, almost 4 and 16 months. My passions (outside of the birth world) are running, crochet, arts and crafts in general, and trying not to lose it while raising 3 kids. Every once in a while my passions collide and I love it. Hopefully someday I can attend a VBAC/PPD/crochet/painting/wine night. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?

Honestly anytime I get a personal message thanking me for my help and encouragement it makes me proud and keeps me moving forward with volunteering.

We appreciate you so much, Jesse! Thank you for all that you do to support birthing women!

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Support Accreta Awareness http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/02/support-accreta-awareness/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/02/support-accreta-awareness/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 03:07:24 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5134 Continue reading →]]> Willow7Accreta is a life changing diagnosis. Living everyday knowing that you are facing a 7% mortality rate is devastating. Waking up after surgery to hear that you had an undiagnosed accreta when you never, ever expected something like that is devastating. Loosing your fertility because of accreta is devastating. What adds to that devastation is never hearing the word accreta before you are diagnosed. ACOG recognizes that the incidence of placenta accreta has increased and seems to parallel the increasing cesarean delivery rate. So many women have and will face this diagnosis after having cesareans. The risks associated with accreta has never been explained to them. We can change that. We can bring awareness to accreta and to the risk factors. We can bring awareness to accreta so that moms can truly make an educated decision when looking at the risk and benefits between a VBAC and a repeat cesarean.

We are very excited to have this shirt for sale. The proceeds will go to support ICAN of Hagerstown and Frederick and future accreta education and advocacy efforts.

https://www.booster.com/accreta-awareness

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Birth Grief http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/01/birth-grief/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/01/birth-grief/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:42:43 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5094 Continue reading →]]> Guest post submitted by Natalie Short of ICAN of Birmingham, AL.

Sadness, anger, disappointment, anxiety – sometimes our emotions postpartum are unexpectedly heavy. A lot more has been written in recent times about the legitimacy of birth grief and birth trauma, and, increasingly, women dealing with these emotions postpartum don’t have to suffer alone. But how does disappointment differ from trauma, and how might it matter?

Imagine these two scenarios – Katie was planning a home birth, but she ended up transferring to the hospital for an epidural. A couple hours later she gave birth vaginally to a healthy baby girl. In another state her sister, Dana, also transferred for an epidural and gave birth to a healthy boy. When they spoke on the phone later that week Katie expressed some disappointment about her birth but seemed otherwise pretty happy about her situation. However Dana seemed rather disjointed and upset on the phone. In the following weeks Dana would rehash her experience several times and seemed to be having some trouble coping with the stresses of new motherhood whereas Katie who, although tired and occasionally moody, seemed to be coping well. Despite their close bond, both sisters were having trouble understanding each other. What happened?

Despite their close bond, both sisters were having trouble understanding each other. What happened?

Here’s one possible scenario: Because midwifery is legal in her state, Katie’s midwife accompanied her to the hospital to provide continuous care, and hospital staff respected that Katie had wanted to birth out of the hospital and only came to the hospital because it offered something she couldn’t get at home – spinal pain relief. Despite her midwife’s support, Katie ended up feeling disappointed in herself for not having her daughter at home where she could curl up in her own bed instead of dealing with IVs and people constantly coming in and out. She occasionally second guesses her decision and cried after seeing pictures of her best friend’s home birth but otherwise appreciates that she was supported and encouraged throughout her labor.

Contrast this with Dana’s story: In Dana’s state, home birth midwifery is illegal, so her midwife wasn’t able to support her in the hospital. Despite having a healthy baby and labor, the doctors and nurses pushed a highly interventionist protocol on her, and the anesthesiologist made disparaging remarks about the women who decide they “don’t want to be a hero.” In the end, Dana felt bullied into accepting several unwanted and unnecessary interventions and had to talk her way out of the OR when her doctor tried to call for a cesarean after only two hours of pushing. Post birth her wishes were again ignored when her son was whisked away for “routine checks.” Now Dana finds herself spending a lot of emotional energy going over what happened and what she or her midwife could have done differently. When talking with Katie she struggles to express her frustrations and wonders if there’s something wrong with her since Katie seems pretty okay with her own hospital transfer.

You could imagine a variety of other possibilities – perhaps one mom had been sexually abused or suffered from anxiety. Maybe she had an emergency transfer for cord prolapse. It’s even possible that one of them experienced obstetric violence. Multiple factors go into making a birth peaceful, disappointing, or traumatic and those factors include the woman’s history, temperament, birth process and outcomes, her support network, and how she’s treated by her medical team.

As a general rule grief or disappointment in birth comes up when our experiences didn’t match up with our expectations, or our expectations were otherwise thwarted. Maybe you had to transfer. Maybe your VBAC wasn’t the peaceful, smooth birth you’d envisioned. Perhaps your doctor wasn’t on-call, or your husband/mother/doula didn’t make the birth. You either got the epidural, or you got there too late for it. In some respect, the birth you anticipated didn’t happen, and you’re sad about it.

Sometimes moms need to hear that no one is at fault and that their less than ideal birth doesn’t reflect on their preparation, choice of care provider, or expectations. In a normal birth it’s okay to have moments where you feel overwhelmed or scared or frustrated.

We need to remember that birth reflects life, and minor disappointments aren’t something to fear. When the ice cream shop is out of rocky road you might well discover how much you enjoy strawberry. Now, if they lied about having rocky road or if you’re allergic to strawberries that’s a much bigger deal, but in birth as in life we should be prepared to encounter and navigate minor disappointments. Sometimes moms need to hear that no one is at fault and that their less than ideal birth doesn’t reflect on their preparation, choice of care provider, or expectations. In a normal birth it’s okay to have moments where you feel overwhelmed or scared or frustrated. For many moms this won’t be a problem, and they can expect to handle these emotions if and when they occur.

Trauma, on the other hand, comes largely from outside ourselves. You were bullied in birth or ignored or had medical procedures done on you without our informed consent. An emergency arose that had you flying down the halls towards a swift and certain surgery. You hemorrhaged or tore badly. Perhaps your baby required immediate and extensive medical care. Your birth story suddenly became one of those stories no one wants to hear, and it has affected you deeply and inescapably. Of course, many women come out of traumatic birth incidences with a healthy mental outlook because they were respected, involved, and nurtured, and women with otherwise healthy deliveries can be traumatized simply by being bullied and ignored. There isn’t a hard line between the two experiences, but it’s valuable to make some sort of distinction even if we acknowledge that it’s partly artificial.

For instance, when speaking within the birth advocacy community many of us understand that emotions around birth can flow in very interconnected and complex ways, and we are comfortable just sitting with those emotions and not trying to categorize them too specifically. However, when we’re speaking to medical professional or people outside the birth community it’s crucial that we hammer again and again that birth trauma largely comes from a truly scary birth incidence or from disrespectful and callous birth care. As has been pointed out repeatedly – if birth is so scary and dangerous that it has to be closely managed in the most medical and restrictive of settings, no one should be surprised if women are traumatized by it. People who do scary and hard things do occasionally get scared and worn out, and people who have to put up with bullies or hostile experiences are often traumatized. It’s that simple.

When speaking to birth trauma skeptics, it’s important to make plain how those experiences are truly traumatic, arising from circumstances outside our control and not attributable, falsely or not, to us creating some “fantasy” about “how birth should be.” A medical provider bullying or coercing a laboring woman is something that is wrong no matter your birth philosophy. A cord prolapse is a scary medical emergency even if it occurs while driving to the hospital for an elective cesarean. In other words, it’s not about her. It’s about the care she receives and/or the statistically rare events that can make birth a difficult or even heartbreaking experience. When we group traumatic experiences with disappointing one we can lose this very important distinction.

By focusing on the human elements of compassion, respect, and informed consent we highlight the one thing we can give all women regardless of how or where they birth or any other circumstances – respectful, compassionate care.

The human element in maternity care can have a dramatic impact on whether a mother feels traumatized. To return to our original scenarios – the primary difference between Katie and Dana is that one woman received compassionate care based on evidence and informed consent, and the other one did not. By focusing on the human elements of compassion, respect, and informed consent we highlight the one thing we can give all women regardless of how or where they birth or any other circumstances – respectful, compassionate care.

Sifting out the exact differences between disappointment and trauma isn’t as important in communities that routinely validate, support, and comfort birthing women, but it is important when speaking into communities that dismiss women’s voices in and around birth. So long as women are scolded and shamed for having negative feelings after birth, there will exist the need to confront people with the realities of birth trauma in a very plain and bald manner. Birth trauma isn’t something confined to hypothetical over-privileged, ungrateful birth hippies and can affect women of various birth philosophies across the socioeconomic spectrum and impact their mothering and mental health for months or years, and our stories should reflect this.

Natalie Short is a wife and mother of two – her first born via a traumatic emergency cesarean and her second via a peaceful cesarean after a long trial of labor. She’s also chapter leader for ICAN of Birmingham, Alabama. When she’s not volunteering in her community, she enjoys knitting, photography, and not cleaning until the kids are in bed.

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ICAN Names Laura Soisson January 2016 Volunteer of the Month! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/01/ican-names-laura-soisson-january-2016-volunteer-of-the-month/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/01/ican-names-laura-soisson-january-2016-volunteer-of-the-month/#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:37:28 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5091 Continue reading →]]> Volunteer of the Month for January 2016 Laura Soisson

ICAN Volunteer of the Month for January 2016 Laura Soisson

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.

In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Laura Soisson as the Januray 2016 Volunteer of the Month.

Laura Soisson, this month’s honoree, is our dedicated chapter leader for ICAN of Hagerstown and Frederick in Maryland and has been working hard to bring awareness to her area.

Get to know our January 2016 Volunteer of the Month:

How long have you been an ICAN member?

I have been an ICAN member for almost two years.

How did you first find ICAN?

I knew of ICAN when my son was a baby. I think I heard about it in a moms’ group. I was glad to get involved when my local chapter needed more volunteers.

What motivates you as a volunteer?

I am motivated because we see every month the difference our local chapter makes by providing information and support. Every time a mom feels supported by our chapter, or a mom is empowered by information, or a mom finds out about resources or options she didn’t know were available, it is clear we are making a difference.

Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?

I have been serving families as a professional doula for almost three years. I also volunteer with La Leche League and I’m a proud mama of an 8 year old.

What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?

My proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer is any time a mother is helped by our chapter. My hardest moment as a volunteer has been staying encouraged and patient as we get the word out about our meetings – and that has paid off, we now have moms returning to meetings and our chapter seems to be growing.

Thank you Laura for all that you do to support birthing women!

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Birth Story: Cassandra’s VBA2C http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2015/12/birth-story-vba2c-cassandra/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2015/12/birth-story-vba2c-cassandra/#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 16:47:17 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5020 Continue reading →]]> By Cassandra Forcier (originally shared in the ICAN of Chicago Facebook group)

WE DID IT!!!
On November 12th my daughter was born vaginally with no epidural.
Juniper Celeste
9lb 8 oz, 20 3/4 inches
It was the biggest single accomplishment I could have made. I didn’t do it alone. I really couldn’t have. I needed support. I had my husband and my doula by my side for the craziest 12 hours. 6 days later and I have never felt so good. I have never been so happy. I want to help anyone I can to reach their goals too. If anyone needs help, please message me.

Cassandra Forcier vbacphoto used with Cassandra’s permission

Guessing at approximate times, things are a blur!

8:20 AM: OB broke my water, I was at 4 centimeters. OB was giving us 6 hours to show at least some progression. We had a total of 24 hours.

9:30 AM: Shawna Mertens, our doula, arrives and helps get me into all kinds of movements and exercises to get labor going. I felt fairly clueless about how to make it go really fast. We were on a clock after all. We all spent the next hours talking, laughing (during contractions was not very fun for me, but my hubby can’t help but crack jokes). It really helped to pass time and keep positive.

1:00 PM: 5 centimeters is enough to have the OB let me continue to labor. More dancing around and squatting and talking. Doula transforms bed into a rocket ship (just kidding, but hospital beds can do so much if you know what you are doing) so that I can get some rest while still in a great position to bring baby down.

6:00 PM: 8 centimeters, OB says we “bought more time,” husband and doula are not too happy with bedside manner. I had no real recollection of that, I got to hear about that after.

6:45 PM: 8.5 centimeters, OB reminds me that if I get an epidural, they won’t have to put me under if there is an emergency. I found the next hour to be unbearable. I couldn’t focus or tell anyone how that scared me. I am terrified of general anesthesia.

7:45 PM: OB is called because I am so ready to push I can’t think about anything else. It took my amazing husband yelling for me to not push before this. It was so uncontrollable.

7:50 PM: OB is trying to give me instructions on how to push, I could not care any less.

8:02 PM: My daughter is in my arms.

BACKSTORY:

I had two very traumatic cesareans with my first two babies. They are 8 and 5 now. My husband and I tried for what felt like the longest two and a half years of our life to have another baby. This time we were sure that no matter what, we would do anything we could to not repeat a cesarean. It’s funny because when we first talked about it, it didn’t cross my mind too much that a cesarean could even happen. I wanted to have a VBAC and nothing could stop me. My cesareans had gone “well,” no crazy complications, and my other two pregnancies were perfectly normal. The only reason I had my first cesarean was because of doctors’ and nurses’ agendas and my lack of knowledge at the time. This time would be different though. My husband and I were armed to the teeth with info, statistics, and a fierce need to succeed.

“HIGHLIGHTS” OF MY PREGNANCY OB APPOINTMENTS:

It wasn’t until about our 20-week appointment that our OB would really talk to us about VBA2C. We originally asked him if he would be okay with a VBA2C. Immediately he said no, too dangerous. We left that appointment pretty upset and concerned. My next appointment, I decided to tell him that I wanted a VBAC, so what do I need to do to prepare now to make sure that happens. I told him about the statistics and risks and why it was so important to us. I asked him if there were any extra risks because of my previous c-sections and asked if we could pull charts to prove that they went well. I reminded him that each cesarean poses even more health risks.

Suddenly it seemed like less of a big deal to him. He said he would check with his group at Illinois Masonic. At our next appointment, he gave us decent news. There are 9 OBs total, 3 opposed, 3 said yes, and 3 said if we come in near transition. We felt okay with this.

Later, we started getting rules about our VBAC. He wanted an epidural in place in case I need a cesarean, we needed constant fetal monitoring (good thing they have wireless), if our baby got “too big” we would need to have her sooner via cesarean, etc. Everything was okay until 38 weeks though. That’s when things got really scary for us.

I got excited first, after a week of pre-labor I was 1 centimeter dilated—glad something happened. Our OB told us that if we wanted to “pull the plug at any point and just schedule that cesarean,” we could. I pretty much lost it. I was in shock. I realized that he was against us and this was not going to happen. I got so scared. We told him absolutely not, we weren’t doing it. He said, “well, we will try stripping the membranes next week, and see what happens.”

That is when I got in touch with a doula. I realized that we needed extra help if we were going to get this to happen. Damn, did that make all the difference, for so many reasons. 39 weeks, the OB says he will give us until 40 weeks because our baby was already at least 8 pounds at the last ultrasound. He stripped the membranes and I was 3-4 centimeters. Nothing happened. I started to really lose it.

Supportive hubby and doula helped me to keep my head on straight. 38 weeks on, we were walking miles, eating spicy foods, pineapple, sex, literally everything you could try to start labor. EVERYTHING. Our 40-week appointment came around and I felt like I was headed to the chopping block. After a good talk with our OB, telling him again why having a VBAC was so important to us, he gave us a choice. To have the cesarean or have my water broken in the morning the next day. Obviously we opted to have my water broken.

TIPS THAT MIGHT HELP YOU:

1. Make sure your OB/midwife knows that you know what you are talking about. Don’t let them brush things off, they may not be totally opposed, it might be more about them trying to take the “easy” way out.

2. Know your stuff. This might seem redundant, but it’s really important to keep you confident that what you are saying is the best outcome for you. Your OB might not even know all the facts.

3. Get a doula or at the very least, an extra birth partner. I really think our doula saved us in the end for multiple reasons. My husband needed her so that he could do his best for me. She also knew some crazy tricks that helped us get labor to really get going.

4. Try to stay positive. Even when it is hard, you need to get yourself in the right state of mind to get things working. I really had my ups and downs, but when we went to the delivery room, I left my fears at the door. If you can’t forget, make distractions. Laugh, joke, play games. Whatever to pass the time.

5. Seriously consider no epidural. I think that I needed all of the experience to make it work well. Transition was hard, but it is short and pushing may have been the best part to me. Can’t even explain that one. It only took 7 minutes because I could feel what I was doing. I think it makes a real difference.

This birth story was originally shared in the ICAN of Chicago Facebook group with the following note from Cassandra: “Hi everyone! I just want to start off by thanking each and every one of you in this group. I know I haven’t spoken to everyone, but this group stands for so very much. I have posted a couple of times during my pregnancy, and each time, I got some sort of great response. It helped me keep my chin up and keep trying to stay hopeful. Sorry this post will be really long! Skip to the end if you just want highlights and things I’ve gathered from my whole experience, I just needed to write!”

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