Finding out that your baby may have to be born by Cesarean section can be devastating. You may have been preparing for natural childbirth and planning to give birth at home, or you may have decided to have your baby at the hospital but had created a birth plan for natural childbirth; either way, learning that your baby will have to be delivered by Cesarean section may bring up sadness and disappointment. It may feel like a loss, and it is natural for you to need to grieve this loss.
In time, you may be able to embrace that for whatever reason, a Cesarean birth is part of your journey to become a mother, and part of your baby’s journey into the world.
During the weeks or days before the big day, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for your Cesarean birth:
– Let go of any feelings of guilt or thoughts about how it could have been different, whatever the reason for needing to have a Cesarean, it is not your fault. Talking about these feelings and thoughts with your partner or trusted friend can provide relief.
– Send loving energy to your baby and talk to your baby about the birth, tell him or her that they will be born soon and you will be there to greet and nurture them. Babies are aware and sensitive even in the womb, so your baby can hear your voice and will understand by your tone and your energy, and will be soothed and comforted by it.
– Nest. Enjoy making a beautiful, safe, cozy, nurturing home for your baby and preparing the baby clothes, bedding, diapers, etc.
– Nurture yourself. Take warm baths, get a massage, anything that relaxes and calms you.
– Receive loving support from your partner, family, and friends. Ask for what you need. Arrange for help with cooking and housework (and childcare if you have other children) for after your baby is born and you are recovering from the surgery.
– Talking about any worries or fears you may have about the surgery with your midwife or doctor will reassure you and help you feel more relaxed on the day. If you can meet the surgeon who will be delivering your baby, this too will help you feel more comfortable and at ease at the birth.
– Prepare your hospital bag and include things that will help you feel more at-home and relaxed, like your own nightie, bathrobe, and slippers, and essential oils for aromatherapy, massage oil for you and the baby, etc.
– On your own or with your partner, practice relaxation techniques to use during the birth like visualizations and meditation.
– Create a new birth plan. Cesarean birth does not need to be traumatic for you or your baby. Recent research and developments in obstetric practice have transformed Cesarean birth routines and practices to be gentler. The practices have not changed in every single hospital yet, so in your birth plan, ask for Gentle Cesarean practices to be used for your baby’s birth (see below)
A Gentle Cesarean may include:
– Calming music playing in the room (that you have chosen and brought to the hospital)
– Your husband/partner and other birth support people like a doula, your mother, your friend, etc. in the room with you
– Oximeter, intravenous catheter, and blood pressure cuff are placed on your non-dominant arm so that your dominant arm is free to hold your baby immediately after the birth skin-to-skin
– Cutting technique that is in harmony with your body’s anatomy and physiology (the Misgav Ladach cesarean technique)
– Use of clear plastic drapery so that you can watch your baby’s birth, or if clear plastic drapery is not available then dropping the drapery when the baby is being born. Table is raised so that your head is high up enough to see this without straining your neck.
– Imitating vaginal birth by delivering the baby’s head first, and then pausing before the delivery of rest of your baby’s body, so that the transition from the womb to the world is slower and gentler
– Delaying umbilical cord clamping until it stops pulsating
– Placing baby on your chest (near your breasts) immediately after delivery for skin-to-skin contact, bonding, and breastfeeding. Most tests and checks can be done while you hold your baby on your chest, and others can be done after your baby has had a chance to breastfeed first.
– Transferring from the delivery room to your recovery room with your baby in your arms.
– Rooming-in so that you are with your baby 24 hours a day.
All of these preparations will hopefully nurture you, empower you, and support you in having a satisfying and fulfilling birthing experience.