12 Tips for a Positive Cesarean Birth

I am excited to share this excerpt written by me from the book The Gift of Giving Life.

I had a cesarean with my first. I am passionate about sharing all types of birth experiences and letting moms know that all types of birth can be positive

Here are the tips I share to create a positive cesarean

Before Birth

If this is a planned cesarean, here are some ideas.

Mentally preparing for cesarean is important. It takes as much mental preparation for a positive cesarean. As for a positive unmedicated birth, it requires a huge mind shift in focus.

Having a doula, a woman trained to help and advocate for women through childbirth can greatly improve a woman’s experience. However, moms need to research their hospital policies about doulas and cesarean sections. I’d like to add that some do allow doulas in the operating room, but often you’re only allowed one support person in the operating room.

When my clients have needed cesareans, I tend to wait in the recovery room for the mom.

Finding a good match in a care provider and hospital is important. For example, in some hospitals, the standard C-section has a three hour separation of mom and baby following the birth, and the baby is given glucose water and formula from a bottle.

Contrast this with a hospital where mom and baby are able to recover in the same room with skin to skin contact. Moms should not be afraid to change doctors or hospitals if their desires are not supported. This is very important, if you’re having a planned cesarean check with the hospitals and what their policies are.

This is even maybe good if you’re not planning a cesarean, but are having a hospital birth. What are their policies in case a cesarean is needed?

Having a mother blessing with loved ones can bolster a mom’s spirit and surround her with love and joy as she prepares for her baby’s birth, and I’ll link to a great resource for that below.

Allowing labor to start on its own sometimes is an option for planned cesareans.. This allows the baby to get the hormonal and squeezing benefits of labor.

Tips for all cesareans

Now some tips for any cesarean planned or unexpected. Remember that giving birth by cesarean is a selfless sacrifice. A mother having a cesarean is offering her body on behalf of another as she willingly undergoes surgery for her baby.

This will also help her prepare for many more sacrifices she will make for her children as the years go by.

During Birth

Here are some physical things to consider or research if planning a cesarean birth. Double suture of incision. This can help with healing and increased options for VBAC in the future Incision type, depending on the circumstances, a bikini line incision is preferable. No narcotics given to mom. This can help the mom to be more aware.

The mom will still have an epidural, but not given other pain relief that might affect her mentally or emotionally. You can also ask that your arms not be tied. You can request that the uterus remains in the body. In some hospitals, often in teaching hospitals, during the repair, they will flip the uterus out of the abdominal cavity to inspect it, massage it, or just to give the interns a tour around her body cavity.

This is typically unnecessary and can make a mom’s recovery much longer and more difficult. When discussing an imminent or likely C-section, a mother can state that she strongly desires for her uterus to remain in her abdominal cavity and for her organs to be handled or moved around as minimally as possible.

If bright lights are bothersome to a mom, bringing sunglasses into surgery may be helpful.

Spiritual and emotional things to take into account when planning or having a cesarean. In a recent ICAN meeting, which stands for International Cesarean Awareness Network, I was thrilled to hear from two trailblazing doctors who are offering gentle cesarean.

These are examples of some of the things discussed. Soft music and aromatherapy being allowed. Doulas is allowed in addition to a husband. Mom can be elevated a bit and the curtain lowered to see the baby come out. Baby can be given time to acclimate to the outside by being brought out gently and gradually allowing for a gentle squeeze, which also helps to clear the baby’s lungs.

Clamping and cutting the cord can be delayed. The baby, if vigorous and doing well, can be brought skin to skin on Mom with all assessments done there. Breastfeeding can be initiated right in the OR. No casual chit chat among the surgical team. All focus should be on the family. Communicating with the mom about what is happening during the surgery. Allowing photographs and videos to be taken. Utilizing relaxation or hypnosis techniques to stay calm.

Immediately After

Immediate skin to skin contact after birth is ideal as a doula, I’ve had a couple of clients who are able to hold their baby’s skin to skin in the operating room. One of the hospitals I go to has a standard procedure of putting baby skin to skin with the dad in the OR. Dad removes his shirt and puts on a hospital gown open in the front in order to receive the baby.

I still think going to the mom is best, but it would be good to offer the family a choice and perhaps to encourage the shirt off preparation for the partner in case the mother doesn’t feel up to having the baby while the surgery is still in progress. If skin to skin contact is not possible, a mom can request to see the baby as soon as possible and let the baby be within her sight while they do the assessments.

A mom may want to request a chance to kiss her baby, nuzzle her cheek to cheek and sniff the top of the baby’s head. This is a major hormone release spot and a newborn baby has a unique smell that fades if they bathe the baby. This smell can aid in the bonding process. All this is best done as soon as possible, even while mom is still in surgery.

If baby has to go to the nursery, dad can accompany the baby and stay with the baby for as long as the mother desires, making sure that the baby is in an incubator with hands in access or even allowed skin to skin time with dad if possible. If separation is necessary and dad goes with the baby, a doula or loving family member is a wonderful help so that mom doesn’t have to recover alone.

Postpartum Recovery

Post cesarean. I encourage family members to stay with mom on a rotation so that she can have the baby with her at all times and facilitate breastfeeding. One family negotiated with hospital staff to allow someone to be with her all night too, so that she could still have the baby rooming in.

Cesarean mothers also need more long term help and support in the first month of their baby’s life. Creating a schedule of postpartum helpers, childcare and meals can allow mom to focus on bonding, breastfeeding, and healing. If the Cesarean was a change of plans or happened under emergency circumstances, Having a completely nonjudgmental support network around the mother at this time can help turn a less than ideal situation into a more positive event.

Having someone to talk to about the event that can hold space for the mom is very important and very helpful, and this has to be done by someone who can be completely nonjudgmental and really, sometimes it’s better to get an outside person to do this for the mom. Keeping a mental record of and or writing down all of the events leading up to the cesarean can make understanding and coping with it afterwards so much easier.

Asking for input from others who were there and getting hospital records can also help a woman understand things better. A cesarean birth is not a failure. However, should a woman ever feel that way, she is not alone. There are many women who have been through what she has, including myself, and it will be of great benefit if she will seek someone supportive to talk to.

I hope that these tips have helped and that if you end up needing a cesarean or planning a cesarean, that you are able to have the best one possible.

If you need help healing from a cesarean

And I do have a free online class on healing from a traumatic birth. So if you are still struggling with a cesarean that you may have had, please visit this free online class.

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