Cesarean Awareness Month raises alarm on rising cesarean rates and maternal mortality

Press Release


April 1, 2023           

Contact: Kate O’Phalen

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Cesarean Awareness Month raises alarm on rising cesarean rates and maternal mortality 

April marks Cesarean Awareness Month (CAM), an initiative of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN), to raise awareness of the alarming rate of cesarean sections across the globe. 


The 2023 CAM theme “You Have Options”, highlights the rights of birthing people to make informed decisions during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. This includes transferring care to providers that practice informed consent and exercising informed refusal for unwanted or unnecessary medical interventions.

“The COVID pandemic continues to have far-reaching effects on healthcare, including reducing access to evidence-based maternal healthcare such as access to the midwifery model of care and birth doulas that has been shown to reduce cesarean rates and improve outcomes,” said Briana Smith, President of ICAN. “The Cesarean Awareness Month theme reminds birthing people they have the power to change providers, give birth in their setting of choice, and challenge healthcare systems that are not providing quality care.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the cesarean delivery rate in 2021 increased to 32.1% in the United States. This is the second increase in a row after the rate had declined in 2018 and 2019. The cesarean delivery rate peaked in 2009 at 32.9%, after increasing every year since 1996.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Worldwide cesarean section rates have risen from around 7% in 1990 to 21% today; and are projected to continue increasing over the current decade.”


“At population level, caesarean section rates higher than 10% are not associated with reductions in maternal and newborn mortality rates,” ​​as reported by the WHO.

Recently released CDC data shows maternal mortality in the United States rose by 40% in 2021. This is 10x higher than other high income countries like Australia. Countries with lower maternal mortality tend to have more midwives, lower c-section rates, and universal health care.

ICAN joins reproductive justice organizations in raising the alarm on racial disparities in maternal mortality and amplifies the theme of “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy”, led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance during Black Maternal Health Week April 11-17, which coincides with CAM.


According to the CDC, “Non-Hispanic Black women continued to have the highest cesarean delivery rate (36.8%) in 2021.”


Since 1982, the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) has provided peer-support, advocacy, and education with the goal to prevent cesareans, support cesarean recovery, and improve access to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). To learn more about ICAN and Cesarean Awareness Month visit www.ican-online.org

Our 2023 Theme: Show up for each other!

Show up for each other 2023

This year, we have a challenge for you.

As a support-based organization, one of the best things we can do for ourselves (and for others) is to show up! Each month in 2023, we'll highlight a different theme for the month.

For March, our theme is "Attend a meeting."

Read more: Our 2023 Theme: Show up for each other!

Special Webinar on Breech Birth

The ICAN chapters in Iowa are offering this free webinar on Monday, May 17, 2021 at 2 PM EDT.


ICAN National Breech Birth Webinar

February Guest Speaker at ICAN of NOVA

We are excited to announce that Lydia Anderson from Postpartum Support Virginia will join us at out February meeting to talk about maternal health!  The meeting will be on 2/15/2020 at the Richard Byrd library in Springfield, Virginia from 10am-12noon.

Read more: February Guest Speaker at ICAN of NOVA

National Accreta Foundation and Hope for Accreta Foundation

The two foundations that help and advocate for women with Accreta, Hope for Accreta and National Accreta Foundation, have decided to merge their resources into one foundation- the National Accreta Foundation.

More details on the transition can be found in their press release.

About ICAN

The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit 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). Learn More About ICAN