International Cesarean Awareness Network » Education. Support. Advocacy. Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:56:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 » 32 32 Jesse Franks Named ICAN February Volunteer of the Month! Tue, 09 Feb 2016 11:17:01 +0000 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 Sun, 07 Feb 2016 03:07:24 +0000 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.

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Birth Grief Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:42:43 +0000 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! Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:37:28 +0000 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 Thu, 17 Dec 2015 16:47:17 +0000 Continue reading →]]> By Cassandra Forcier (originally shared in the ICAN of Chicago Facebook group)

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.


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.


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.


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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ICAN Names Vivien Stembridge the December 2015 Volunteer of the Month Fri, 11 Dec 2015 00:25:26 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Vivien Stembridge December 2015 Volunteer of the Month

Vivien Stembridge
December 2015 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 Vivien Stembridge as the December 2015 Volunteer of the Month.

Vivien Stembridge, this month’s honoree, is our dedicated social media administrator for our main FB page and has been corresponding with mothers who contact us for almost a year and a half.


Get to know our December 2015 Volunteer of the Month:


How long have you been an ICAN member?

I became involved with ICAN when I was pregnant with my third child in 2013. The Orlando, FL chapter was invaluable during my search for a way to give birth vaginally after one cesarean. I wish we still lived close to a chapter.


How did you first find ICAN?

When I was researching VBACs, I stumbled upon the ICAN website and saw that there were local chapters that held regular meetings. I attended my first meeting soon after and just loved the whole experience.


What motivates you as a volunteer?

Being able to help women on their mothering journey is incredibly rewarding. My main motivation is remembering two births that left me feeling powerless and mistreated.


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

I am a documentary style photographer. I am also volunteer with La Leche League. In addition, I am a certified birth doula.


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

Thankfully, there are many proud moments. We receive a multitude of messages from mothers who thank us after they felt empowered and were able to experience a birth they feel positive about, be it a cesarean section or a VBAC.

Unfortunately, there are also often hard moments. The number of messages we receive from mothers whose birth experiences were bad or even traumatic is alarming.


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

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Cesarean Survival Essentials: postpartum binding Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:23:11 +0000 Continue reading →]]> “Cesarean Survival Essentials: postpartum binding” by Wendy Foster

This article is a reprint from the Winter 2015 edition of The Clarion, the official publication of ICAN. Become a member today to support ICAN and to subscribe!

As a former volunteer EMT, I was taught to ensure the scene was safe before entering; scanning the environment and weighing the risks before proceeding. We all do this as mothers, during labor and beyond. Most women don’t go into labor feeling like rock stars in amazing shape. We go into labor already tired from nine months of pregnancy, with separated abdominals and a body that’s out of alignment from carrying around a new little human.

One out of three women in the U.S. give birth by cesarean. Many experience infections at their incision, back problems, pubic symphysis, and pelvic floor issues. Hence, the postpartum scene is not safe to enter. But we have no choice. We must proceed and immediately call for backup.

There are so many articles, websites, and online forums with recommendations on the best ways to recover from a cesarean. Perhaps you’ve heard some of these words of wisdom: “Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby.” “Keep your incision clean and dry.” “Manage your pain.” “Eat healthy foods and get moving.” “Wait! Don’t do too much too soon.” While these are helpful hints, they fail to take into consideration that your body needs support, both emotionally and physically, to heal.

Fortunately, there are amazing resources like ICAN that provide emotional support during the recovery period. However, as far as physical recovery, I’d like to suggest that the most important support that you can provide for yourself is as simple as practicing abdominal binding.

mamalates belly binding

Binding around the globe

Postpartum binding is practiced in many cultures throughout the world. For centuries, women have found that binding provides support and stability for the back and core muscles, which are often weak and likely separated after pregnancy. U.S. women wore girdles or corsets, which acted as binders, through the 1970s. Many Asian cultures believe postpartum binding is a way of re-containing and providing extra warmth for healing the internal organs. Supporting the core muscles physically, through binding, is key in recovery from a cesarean.

Begin binding ASAP

Abdominal binding can be used throughout pregnancy to support the growing baby and uterus. After the birth of your baby, Dr. Lara Williams, Oregon-based OB/GYN and mom of two, recommends binding as soon as one to two days postpartum to help support the core and the cesarean scar.

Dr. Bucko, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, recommends binding immediately post-cesarean and for at least 3-6 weeks thereafter. Randomly selected patients who wore binders after a “tummy tuck” demonstrated an enhanced post-operative walking experience (faster recovery to ambulation) and reduction in stress and in pain. Dr. Bucko also notes that his patients experience a great sense of security and confidence while wearing their binders.

mamalates belly binding

Binding promotes stability and recovery

One of the mamalates goals of restorative birth recovery is stability. I have found that postpartum binding can help the new mother maintain pelvic stability and reduce swelling, while protecting the scar and low back. One common trait that most women who birth via cesarean share is the need to lift with their shoulders and back, instead of their core. The shoulders and ribs slide up and round forward and the pelvis is tucked to protect the incision. This happens during nursing, feeding, lifting, and even sitting and can cause back, pelvis, and neck pain. It’s very challenging to engage the core to lift and carry after major abdominal surgery!

Binding is a very therapeutic solution for this. It provides support to a weak core, while reminding mom to retain her alignment, helping to stabilize the shoulder girdle and pelvis while providing manual support.

Binders come in many varieties

Although many insurance companies are now reimbursing for birth recovery items like abdominal binders, don’t feel that you need to go out and buy one that’s new and fancy! Remember, women have been binding for centuries using simple materials. Here are a few suggestions for items that you can use to bind or wrap for the first four weeks post-cesarean:

  • Moby wrap baby carrier
  • Jersey sheet/material
  • mamalates essential abdominal binder
  • Old yoga pants
  • Hospital binder

If you decide to purchase a new binder, save your receipt and submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement—especially if you’ve met your deductible from surgery this year.

Cesarean binding tips and tricks

If you have a binder available immediately postpartum, you can place a lightly wrapped soft ice pack between your scar and the binder to hold the ice in place. A light wrap is all you need post-cesarean if your abdominals are not separated. If you’ve determined that you have an abdominal separation of two or more fingertips wide, you’ll need a more therapeutic/structural binder that can help bring the muscles back together.

Whether you have a scheduled or unplanned cesarean you need to keep the postpartum scene safe, call in your back up, and remember:

  • Ask your healthcare provider for a binder before you leave the hospital—don’t assume they will offer one to you.
  • Also ask them what stretches you CAN do within the first 6 weeks to help facilitate recovery.
  • Have your insurance pay for the binder or reimburse you if you pay for one out of pocket.
  • Share this information with your friends and sisters so they are prepared.

mamalates header

mamalates wendy fosterWENDY FOSTER is the founder of the mamalates method and the master trainer for all mamalates workshops and licensing programs. An internationally certified Pilates instructor, pre/post fitness specialist, and birth recovery expert, Wendy has been teaching Pilates since 1999 and practicing yoga for nearly two decades. She has had a cesarean and a VBAC. She owns a studio in Southeast Portland, OR. Contact her at or visit Find a mamalates class near you!


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Letter from the President – December 2015 Clarion Thu, 03 Dec 2015 08:39:57 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Screenshot_2015-11-30-23-39-45-1 (1)

Become a member of ICAN to subscribe today!


To our supporters,

For many people, the holiday season is a time of joy and reflection; a time to reminisce with friends and family about memories past while creating new memories upon which to reflect in the coming years. For others, the holidays can be emotionally vexing, for a number of reasons both internal and external.

In this edition of The Clarion, we explore various ways of dealing with the complex emotions that can sometimes accompany the birthing experience.

On Page 5, Stephanie Larson, the founder of Dancing for Birth, shares with us her unique approach to utilizing movement and dance to help mothers both prepare for and recover from birth by modeling how to live in the present moment.

Dr. Alyssa Berlin, an ICAN advisory committee member and prenatal/postpartum clinical psychologist, discusses the importance of having a support network during pregnancy on Page 7. For women who find themselves with limited social support, Dr. Berlin describes a number of professionals, from acupuncturists to psychiatrists, who may be of assistance during the birthing year.

One way that mothers process their birth experiences is through art. On Page 10, Rebecca Honeycutt shares her personal story of how art helped her to gain an understanding of her feelings about her journey through the realm of birth.

We share the insights of Pam England, founder of Birthing from Within, on Page 17. In the article “Healing Your Birth Story,” England discusses how the process of telling and listening to birth stories can lead to a healing beyond the birth experience itself.

In each edition of The Clarion, we feature a local chapter who is working hard to make a difference within their sphere of influence. In this edition on Page 14, we feature one of our international chapters, ICAN of Jakarta Selatan, which is located in Indonesia. We also feature the profiles of some of our amazing volunteers who are making a difference on Pages 11-13.

Lastly, Monica Cruz shares the story of her unmedicated vaginal birth on Page 15.

In closing, we wish you and your family a safe and joyful holiday season and hope that you find new insights and/or support from our edition on emotional healing.

Thank you for supporting the mission of ICAN!


In Solidarity,


LaQuitha Glass

ICAN Board President




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Lucy’s Cesarean Birth After Cesarean Thu, 26 Nov 2015 04:05:43 +0000 Continue reading →]]> by Lucy O’Connor

This birth story is shared by Lucy O’Connor, and appeared originally on


I found out I was pregnant in July 2008.  I had a miscarriage only a matter of weeks earlier and hadn’t even got my period back!  A scan (in the absence of a LMP) set my due date as St Patrick’s Day 2009 – 17th March.  Having had a whirlwind cesarean with my first I wanted a normal delivery – to attempt a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).  My obstetrician was fully supportive.  I had my last antenatal appointment on 15th March and was set for another one on the 20th March before we would decide how to progress after that – induction was not recommended due to my previous section.

On 19th March my waters broke.  I was on my own with my then 2-year-old.  I called my mum and textedmy  husband to let them know and called the hospital. They advised to make my way in for a check.  I organised myself and eventually headed in to meet my husband after work.  I was assessed and advised that my waters had indeed gone but I was not in labour as yet.  The doctor on duty called my obstetrician who asked that I be admitted.  I was brought to my bed and my husband had to leave me.   I tossed and turned all night but nothing major happened.  At 7 am my obstetrician came to see me.  A fetal trace was done and an internal and barring a few minor contractions there was nothing happening and my cervix was tight shut! I was given the option of a repeat cesarean that morning or wait it out and see what progressed during the day.  Given my VBAC wish I decided to wait it out but mindful that my waters had gone 14 hours previously and I could not wait indefinitely.  I reckoned another 12-24 hours would be fine.

I was brought to a private room and checked over by a midwife.  She checked baby’s position and reckoned he was posterior and told me I had a lot of work to do and got me a birth ball.  I spent the next number of hours bouncing on the ball and walking the corridors and stairs of the hospital.  I had a number of contractions but every time they seemed to kick off they stopped just as quickly.

By 6 pm that evening my OBs came to check on me.  No progress.  He gave me the option of waiting another 12-24 hours but his view was that nothing would change and with the waters gone we needed to pick a point where we agree to throw in the towel.  I was tired and emotional and without wanting to risk anything went off to theatre that evening where my son was born by repeat cesarean.  The obstetrician commented that he was wedged in a very awkward position and I could have been days waiting on him to budge (and I can tell you that despite the spinal block the tugging and pressure I felt as he tried to pull him out was immense – my obstetrician was practically on top of me pulling him out!!).  I had sore ribs for weeks afterwards.

After it was all over I found it very hard to emotionally deal with the VBAC attempt.  I guess I felt like I threw in the towel too early – it wasn’t as if I was being forced into theatre – he was perfectly happy to wait it out with me another few hours.  It is my one regret about my son’s birth.  That said he is here, he is healthy and he is an amazing little boy – albeit at times wreaks the place!!


LucyThis story was shared by Lucy O’Connor, Founder of C-section Mums and owner and blogger at  She has three children, all born by cesarean and lives in North County Dublin, Ireland with her husband Niall. 


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The Birth of Baby B Tue, 24 Nov 2015 03:55:12 +0000 Continue reading →]]> By Melissa Debach

This birth story is a reprint from the Spring 2015 edition of The Clarion, the official publication of ICAN. Become a member today to support ICAN and to subscribe! Photos courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.


Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.

Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.

After the birth of my daughter ended in an unnecessary cesarean, I was determined that my second (and last) baby would be a vaginal birth. I began researching homebirth midwives and doulas years before I became pregnant with my son. He was cephalic throughout the entire pregnancy and it seemed my homebirth would actually happen.

At my 39 week midwife appointment, she said “something’s different,” and she sent me for an ultrasound. My stubborn little guy decided to go two feet down (double footling breech) at 39 weeks. I tried everything to get him to flip. Spinning babies. Chiropractic (Webster’s). Essential oils. Massage. Acupuncture. Moxibustion. Handstands. You name it, I tried it.


Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.

Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.

When it became clear he wasn’t going to move, I reached out to my local ICAN leader and friend (Angela Ziegler) for some support and education. She suggested I research incidence and prevalence of cord prolapse in a double footling breech. I dove in and read everything I could get my hands on and discussed the risks with my midwife. We both felt that a transfer of care was in order.

I immediately reached out to the hospital where I would be delivering via cesarean. The first email essentially said: “A surgical delivery is absolutely the last thing I wanted to have happen. Please help me make it suck less.”

Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.

Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.


I asked for: delayed cord clamping, skin to skin immediately, I wanted my photographer in the operating room and I wanted to keep my placenta for encapsulation. I was immediately put in touch with the COO/Chief Surgical Services Officer and the nurse manager for the L&D OR. At 5:44pm on the evening before my surgery, I received an email that said “I think you’ll be pleased with what we can accomplish from your wish list,” but there was no detail. On February 20, 2014 once I was checked in, scrubbed up and prepped for surgery, they came to tell me that they were able to give me everything I asked for. It was such a relief!


Once he was out, they gave him to me, where I had him skin to skin for about 45 minutes while they stitched me up. It was pure bliss and I am grateful for the gentle, family-centered cesarean I was able to have and the photo that illustrates all the feelings of the moment: elation, unconditional love and relief. I truly hope that family-centered cesareans become the standard of care.

Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.

Photo courtesy of Erin Monroe Photography.

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