How to Have a Cesarean

We're planning to share some awesome insider tips for all expecting women or families who are planning pregnancies in the future!  We're asking friends, past clients, current clients, doulas, midwives, community members, and women on social media about tips for specific types of births.  First up is How to Have a Cesarean!  Keep an eye out for How to Have an Induction, Epidural Birth, and Natural Birth :-)  

This blog is for all of the women who are planning births in the future!  You may be planning a cesarean and excitedly looking forward to it!  You may be planning one and a little hesitant or nervous.  You may be planning a vaginal birth, but this information can be helpful to you too!  Whether it's planned, it's an emergency, it's elective, or it's not even something you wanted...  the truth is, no one is immune to cesarean birth.  The most well educated and prepared parents planning a natural birth may have major surgery in the very backs of their minds.  And while birth is normal and healthy most of the time, there are times when a cesarean is the healthiest and safest way to deliver a baby.  Being prepared beforehand can make the process easier, more comfortable, and less scary. 


1. Get Educated!  

When I asked my past and current clients, friends, and family who had positive experiences with their c-sections, I most often heard that their experience was positive because they knew what to expect.  Of course, any time we experience a situation that is completely unknown, fear is more likely.  Do some reading.  Read birth stories of empowering cesarean sections... even if you're not planning one.  That way you know how the process works so that if you find yourself in a place where a c-section IS necessary, you've got knowledge on your side.  This article is great for preparing for a cesarean.

Cesarean birth can come with things that are unpleasant (not unlike vaginal birth--just different things!).  Learn what medication you'll likely be given, learn about the side effects, and learn how to stay as healthy as possible through it all.  Read about the hormonal changes (and how they may differ from a vaginal birth), the incision healing, and what to expect through the surgery itself.  

Don't forget to include your partner in this education!  When you receive your anesthesia for the procedure, whether it's an emergency or not, your partner usually has to wait outside.  It can be very frightening not to know what's going on or why certain things are happening.  If he or she is well prepared, the anxiety level can come down (at least a little bit!).  It might help for both of you to speak with others who have gone through a cesarean birth before or read birth stories online to understand what it may actually feel like.

2. Choose the BEST care provider.

Choose a care provider that you trust.  When your birthing time comes around, you'll be so thankful that you're experiencing this life-changing day with someone who you chose responsibly.  100% of the people who shared their positive experiences with me had positive things to say about their OBs, midwives, anesthesiologists, and nurses.  The anesthesiologist plays an important role in the whole process and as one person shared,

"Aside from your surgeon/baby doctor, the anesthesiologist is your best friend. They can help you with any of your needs during surgery...nausea, etc. Both of my anesthesiologists have been great, and have talked me through the surgery as it was happening in "real time". With the birth of my second daughter, I had a lot of sickness and he was able to calm me down and help me feel better medically during the surgery. You just have to voice your needs!"

If a cesarean is not on your birth plan, still be sure to choose a care provider who you trust.  So that, if a cesarean is recommended, you'll feel reassured to know that it was in fact a necessary medical intervention for you or your baby's safety.

3. Prepare for your birth.

If it's a planned C section, take a deep breath before entering the room. It's a little strange to walk into the OR on your own, seeing it so sterile and serious. It literally looks just like the movies . Focus on your partner, the head nurse, and/or your doula if that type of environment bothers you. If you think it's cool, look's actually neat to check it all out!  If you are nervous, turn to your nurses!  They do most of the prep, instruction giving, etc. Follow their lead, ask them questions, tell them if you are nervous...nurses can be so friendly and calming.

Ask if it's possible to to listen to music in the OR!  Sometimes they give the option to play a Pandora station of your choice or a playlist from your phone.  This could really calm your nerves and give you a chance to focus on the music while you're being prepped.  And your baby can be born to your favorite music!

4. Prepare for your postpartum.

EVERYONE told me this.  Know what to expect with your body and your baby and do what you can to make the best of your postpartum experience.  Whether it's purchasing a belly brace, hiring a postpartum doula to support you after birth (we can help you with that!), accepting those meals and assistance around the house, preparing freezer meals in pregnancy, or getting your placenta encapsulated, make a plan.

Co-sleepers can be your best friend, especially if you'll be nursing.  Baby stays close to you at night for night feedings so that you don't need to bend over too far, or walk across the house to nurse. And please, please, please rest.  Rest as much as you can (other than the occasional bathroom or shower break, which are actually recommended!).  

Gather your supplies: a nice salve for your incision, high-waisted undies, and stretchy pants.  Keep all of your essentials on your end table in the hospital and at home so you don't need to go walking around the house or up and down the stairs too frequently: healthy snacks, lots of water, your meds, pacifiers, nipple cream, incision salve, mints, and your book, kindle, or TV remote!

Shared by a local 3 time cesarean mama: " Most importantly, love your C section birth. You don't have to have a vaginal birth to feel like a real mom...don't let anyone make you feel less due to having the C section. Giving birth is hard and beautiful no matter how it happens!"

**If you've had an amazing cesarean, what else would you add to this list?**