Every few months, Natural Living Des Moines turns its spotlight on a local group. This month, our spotlight shines on the local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). Kelly Sorensen and Lisa Houtchins, both chapter leaders, share their thoughts.
Could you tell me a little about the history of ICAN?
The National group started in 1982 (when the c-section rate was about 20%) by Esther Both Zorn and Liz Belden Handler in effort to decrease the c-section rate primarily by fighting the “once a cesarean, always a cesarean” mentality. The basics of the war waged by Zorn was to put decision making about birth and birth choices back in the hands of birthing mothers rather than with their care providers. Now, more than 20 years later and with chapters throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, ICAN strives to assure women that they can birth safely and as they choose. ICAN is credited for sparking renewed interest in VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
Our local group was started in March of 2004 by five women brought together through a common interest in wanting to VBAC locally with a midwife — a choice that still remains extremely limited for the vast majority of women in the Central Iowa area.
How would you characterize the local group?
Women brought together by a common interest in birth choices — whether it be VBACing, natural birth, home birth, midwife births and/or the freedom to choose the births they want. We strongly recognize the fact that it is OK to feel disappointed with your birthing experience, no matter the circumstances or the outcome.
Most members of our group also have interests in other natural living choices — cloth diapering, baby wearing, attachment parenting, etc.
Who would be interested in ICAN? What types of people typically attend ICAN events?
Primarily anyone who is interested in safe, natural birth choices, but also all women (and/or couples) who have interests in natural living choices that are oftentimes overlooked here in Des Moines.
All kinds of people attend ICAN meetings: those who have had cesarean sections and those who just want to avoid having one; those who are interested in hospital births, home births, or birth center births; those who have had VBACs and those who haven’t. Basically anyone who is interested in making educated choices about birth.
What is a typical meeting like?
We usually have an educational component, a business meeting, discussion time for various ideas we have, sharing time for birth stories or other birth-related topics/questions. We also have a support group meeting (usually after the business meeting) for women who have had c-sections and are looking for guidance or help with that or subsequent births.
What other activities is ICAN involved in?
We constantly strive to work with local care providers/hospitals to assure women are given birth choices.
We also founded the Natural Living Expo in 2006.
How much is a membership? Do you have to be a member to attend meetings?
Basic Personal $30/yr, Basic Professional $100/yr. You do not have to be a member to participate in activities.
What is the purpose/goals of ICAN?
ICAN’s mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).
What else do you want to share about ICAN?
We welcome anyone and and provide referrals as well. Please see our nat’l websiteor local website for more information.
Thanks to Kelly and Lisa for sharing their time in this interview!
ICAN meets the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 at the Urbandale Library.
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