In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, Cleo Guide Taylor Davis shares how Cleo supports members through cesarean births plus her own experience as a mom of three.
April is Cesarean Awareness Month. As a Cleo Guide, birth doula, and childbirth educator, I’m passionate about cesarean birth education. As a mom of three kids, one of whom was born by cesarean, I’m passionate about teaching people how to advocate for themselves and how to have a satisfying and empowering cesarean birth. I want expecting families to know about the high cesarean rate in the US, the risks of cesarean birth, and the situations in which a cesarean birth is necessary. At Cleo, we support all birth outcomes, including cesareans, by offering evidence-based information and ongoing guidance.
Universally, Cleo aims to have a low-risk member cesarean birth rate below the U.S. national average of 26%. Cleo’s low-rate cesarean birth rate is 13.9%. This is because, while sometimes necessary, cesareans come with increased complication risks, higher costs, and longer recoveries. With that in mind, we also recognize the reality that many of our members will give birth by cesarean and we believe it to be a valid and necessary birth choice for some.
Carolynn was amazing, such a helpful [cesarean birth prep] session! I feel really good about everything. Had my appointment today and have a scheduled cesarean next Friday…we’ll get to meet [baby] soon!Lindsey, Cleo Baby Member
In some cultures and communities, cesarean birth can come with a negative stigma. People who have given birth by cesarean share that they are sometimes made to feel like their birth was a failure, like their birth wasn’t a “real” birth experience, and/or like they took the easy way out. Rather than treating cesarean birth like a lesser choice or a ‘failure,’ we help our members to have satisfying birth experiences, breastfeed or chestfeed their babies if they choose, and have smoother physical recoveries.
For employers, understanding the support expecting parents need through birth planning and after a cesarean section is essential. Cesarean births are costly. Beyond that, long physical recovery, mental health risks, and the additional stress of feeding can prevent birthing parents from returning to work on time (or at all) and being present and engaged when they do return. With Cleo, parents who give birth via cesarean receive critical support so they can ultimately be more confident, engaged, and productive at home and at work.
Here is how Cleo supports our members who birth by cesarean:
The [emotional wellness] session was great and really helpful for me and for my partner…I’m certain I’ll take advantage of the lactation and newborn care support as well—being able to talk with someone together has made a big difference.Cleo Baby Member
I’ve often thought about how different my birth and postpartum experience would have been eleven years ago if I’d had Cleo to help me prepare for a cesarean birth and a Cleo Guide to reach out to during my postpartum period. I would have had more of a voice in how my birth unfolded, and might have known I could advocate to not be separated from my baby for his first few hours of life. After the birth, I could have processed my complicated feelings with someone skilled in listening to and validating them. I could have received breastfeeding support and avoided weeks and weeks of struggling to figure out how to feed my baby. And I could have received guidance around how to care for myself for optimal recovery. Cleo would have helped normalize what I was feeling, built my confidence in my skills as a parent, and even improved my mental health so that I could return to work feeling less anxious and more prepared.