There are plenty of reasons why a Cesarean Section might be the best way for you to meet your baby. Some are needed after labouring & pushing. Sometimes they are needed due to a medical complication that would make a vaginal birth not possible. Some are planned as a personal preference. Regardless of why, there is plenty that you can do to plan for the best birth experience in any scenario.
What to Expect During the C-Section
Take a Childbirth Preparation Course that prepares you for a cesarean birth. Even if you are preparing with a vaginal delivery in mind, it’s important to know what the process will be if your labour takes a detour.
Knowing the reasons when a c-section is best helps to empower a birthing person. The idea that a c-section is a failure or is easier than a vaginal birth is total BS! On top of this, we know that knowledge is power. Understanding what happens before, during and after a c-section reduces misconceptions. Which in turn reduces fear.
Write Down Your Birth Preferences
This is like a birth plan, but without the rigid expectations. Think more about writing out your wish list when the circumstances make sense. Many people automatically think about this for a planned vaginal birth, but why not have one for an unexpected or planned cesarean?
Many birthing people think that with an operative birth, that their needs take a back seat. Which is simply not true. There are lots of customization you can ask for! Here is just a few to get you started:
- Choosing between an epidural, spinal block or general anesthesia
- Asking for a non-drowsy anti-nausea alternative
- Variety of options to stay comfortable at the end of the operation
- Play your own music! Either through the Operating Room’s speakers or turning inwards with headphones
- Reduced chatter from your health care providers. Switching from water cooler talk, to birth-day party talk!
Capturing the Moment
- Photo, video & voice clips of your baby’s first moments
- Lowering the draping when baby is being born, or asking for a transparent drape if available at your birth place
- Skin-to-skin contact on the birthing parent or support person
- One hand free to welcome your baby. Asking for the blood pressure cuff, IV, and pulse oximeter all on one arm
- Ask for a warm blanket – always helps to calm nerves at each stage
- Visual Anchor – bring in an image to help ground you. Picture of baby’s ultrasound is a common one
Practice Comfort Measures With Your Doula
This is one of the biggest disappointments that some preparation classes fall short on. Learning hands on tools to reduce anxious feelings and physically be comfortable can make a world of difference.
Practice these strategies with your doula, birth partner and on your own. Breathing exercises & a mental wellness plan, play a big part of staying relaxed during a very exciting time.
Optimize Your Infant Feeding Plan
If you are planning on feeding your baby through body-feeding, having a c-section can potentially adjust on when your milk comes in. The hormones released during contractions, and the release of the placenta from the uterus tells the body to start making milk. When your body doesn’t experience many contractions, the transition to this can take an extra few days.
So what to do? Learn how to do Antenatal Hand Expression. Manual stimulation in pregnancy can help increase milk production prior to your c-section. Added bonus is the colostrum collected can be used to top up each feed once your baby is here!
If you are planning on formula feeding, everyone that will be caring for your baby should be taking an infant feeding class. Knowing how to prepare formula, sanitize equipment, and how to slow-pace feed your infant is important. Sharing the load of newborn care helps to increase your own rest & recovery.