September 11 is National Caesarean Awareness Day (NCAD). This is an important day on the CARES calendar and a chance for the community to come together and reflect on our Caesarean births in a mutually supportive space. In recent years, we have marked this occasion with things like the ‘Purple Heart Picnic’, and a ‘Mandalas for Your Birth Journey’ workshop. NCAD events are often held at Eastwood Community Centre, a central and well-appointed location.
To find out more about this year’s NCAD event, please email us.
The first NCAD was borne out of a desire to have a special day to celebrate and launch ‘CARES SA’ as an official organisation back in 2001. The founders of ‘CARES SA’, Jo Bainbridge and Carolyn Donaghey-Harris, registered ‘National Caesarean Awareness Day’ so that this day could be acknowledged Australia-wide. Because of her dedication to the birthing community, Jackie Mawson, the then convenor of ‘Birthrites — Healing After Caesarean’ in Western Australia, was asked to choose the date for NCAD. Jackie, who has birthed three children by Caesarean, chose 11 September: the ‘birth day’ of her first belly-born babe and, thus, also of her first Caesarean. The first NCAD was marked by two major one day conferences in SA and WA in 2001.
To acknowledge the mothers and babies of our Caesarean birth community, CARES displayed a ‘C-Scape’ on the 2002 NCAD; women were asked to decorate a purple heart in honour of their belly-born babe/s, and these were then displayed as a sea of hearts on garden stakes outside. However, as the number of hearts grew each year, the idea evolved and spurred a change in presentation, giving birth to the string of purple hearts which has become iconic for CARES. The time it takes to gently unfurl the masses of hearts every September is always a reminder both of the ever-growing nature of our community and of our own individual places within it. The emotional power of each heart is also unmistakable; each heart is testament to the unwavering love we all have in common for our belly-born children, even if our memories and emotions are diverse. What also cannot be questioned is the courage of the women behind each heart who, out of necessity or informed choice, have undergone surgery to birth their babes, and thus embarked upon a journey which - unlike mass media representations of Caesarean birth - is often not ‘easy’, straightforward or without complication, whether physical or emotional.
The focus of NCAD continues to be one which encourages greater understanding and awareness of the issues unique to Caesarean birth, and seeks to empower women to make informed birthing choices. NCAD is not ‘anti-Caesarean’; it is a time for us to draw strength from each other’s stories, to share information and offer one another support, both in moving forward from any birth trauma and in looking beyond towards future births. NCAD is a reminder of the importance of the shared nature of our birth experiences and the fact that we are not alone; in navigating current the health system and birth culture, there is no time like the present to stand together and be heard as one voice.