Women giving birth in Washtenaw County have many options: in a hospital, at home, with a midwife, with an OB-GYN, unassisted, vaginally and, for many women, via cesarean section (C-section). Cesarean sections occur for many reasons, but no matter the reason, the local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) is a welcome resource for women who have had a cesarean birth and wish to find recovery support as well as encouragement to seek a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
ICAN of Greater Ann Arbor
The facilitator of the ICAN of Greater Ann Arbor chapter is Kristen Paquin, who has had a cesarean birth herself and is also a certified doula and co-owner of Ann Arbor Family Doulas. She described the monthly ICAN group meetings as unique and defined by the group that attends. Paquin says, “The most valuable part of facilitating ICAN of Greater Ann Arbor is being able to provide a space that is a safe, nonjudgmental zone to provide the support that parents affected by cesarean birth often need. Being able to listen, provide validation and empathy, help reduce fear through education, and help connect parents with local resources is incredibly fulfilling.”
A welcoming environment
All parents or future parents, along with their little ones, are welcome to attend the meetings: those who are healing from a cesarean birth, preparing for a VBAC, preparing for a repeat cesarean, deciding whether to pursue a VBAC or not, or interested in learning about how to prevent a cesarean birth. “Typically, there is open discussion about past birth experiences, hopes and fears regarding upcoming births, local resources, hospital and homebirth policies, and anything else those present want to discuss,” Paquin says.
Reducing the number of unnecessary cesarean births
One of the main missions of ICAN is to reduce the number of unnecessary cesarean births in the world and to encourage access to VBAC. Many areas in the United States provide women with limited VBAC options due to VBAC bans at local hospitals. The national VBAC rate is less than 10 percent even though research shows that 60 to 80 percent of those who attempt a VBAC will have one. With the national cesarean rate at over one-third, this means that many more women could have a VBAC with subsequent pregnancies than are given the option.
“I feel incredibly lucky to live in Washtenaw County and have access to both the University of Michigan and St. Joseph Mercy hospitals and affiliated providers,” Paquin says. “While the last statistics I saw showed both hospitals have cesarean rates close to the national average, VBAC is an option that is encouraged at both hospitals. Locally, as a doula, I have had the pleasure of attending VBACs with obstetricians, family practice doctors, nurse-midwives, and homebirth midwives.”
The ICAN of Greater Ann Arbor chapter meets on the first Friday of each month from 10-11:30am at the Kerrytown Wellness Center, 220 N. Fifth Ave. To learn more, please visit icanofgreaterannarbor.com and join the Facebook group “ICAN
of Greater Ann Arbor.”