The medicalization of childbirth as an outcome of social medicalization has been described as a complex sociocultural process that transforms the experiences, suffering and pain - which were formerly managed in the family or community settings - into medical needs. The scope of this paper is to reflect upon the excessive number of cesarean sections in Brazil from a critical and objective standpoint. Data on caesarean section statistics and studies on women's preference on the manner of delivery are discussed in order to contribute to the discussion on the empowerment of the health system consumers. Medicalization is a cultural change that influences the empowerment to cope with the experience of giving birth, as it involves excessive dependency on and abuse of cesarean sections. Furthermore, social networks and movements are discussed as possible facilitators of women's empowerment, as they enable mutual support, sharing of experiences and a contribution to the construction of more balanced relations between women and health professionals. Participation of these networks fosters the collective mobilization of women to insist on their rights from society as a whole.