Here are 10 tips for the best cesarean birth possible. Creating a very special and satisfying birth experience for you, your partner, and your baby.
You may have learned that you must have a cesarean birth or a planned cesarean for your safety or the baby’s. But, aside from clear medical indications for cesarean section, some mothers choose a cesarean delivery. A number of other women are extremely disappointed that they needed a cesarean, feeling that they have failed to deliver a baby the way they intended. So today, I’m here to share 10 tips for the best cesarean birth possible.
Creating a very special and satisfying birth experience for you, your partner, and your baby.
We are celebrating Cesarean Awareness Month here at The Family Nest because one, I’m a birth geek. And two, my goal for every family is to have a meaningful birth, no matter how it unfolds. So I wouldn’t be doing my job without educating my peeps on cesarean sections and giving tips along the way.
10 Tips for the best cesarean birth possible:
- Learn about the procedure, anesthesia choices and how each is administered, the layout of the OR and where the baby will be taken for initial care. Discussing this beforehand with your caregiver or doula will help you feel more prepared for what you can expect.
- Advocate for the possibility of waiting until you spontaneously go into labor and then head to the hospital to have the cesarean. The advantage of waiting is that the timing for birth may be more optimal for the baby and their development. If you do decide to make an appointment, try to get the first appointment of the day. You won’t have to wait all day and you may not be as hungry earlier in the morning after fasting the night before.
- Inside the operating room and during surgery, the smells might be quite intense so have your partner put on some soothing scents on his wrists or your cheeks (lavender is common) that can counteract the smells and offer relaxation. Speaking of getting more relaxed, ask if you may have one or both arms left unrestrained. I know when mine are restrained, they tend to fall asleep and it’s uncomfortable for me.
- A spinal block or epidural anesthesia is used for a cesarean birth to numb or block your sensation of the incision. Just be aware, you might feel some tugging or pulling sensations during a surgery. Sometimes you may have a period where you feel kind of breathless and that can be pretty scary. The anesthesia may numb the nerves that let you “feel” yourself breathing, the muscles and nerves are not blocked and you’re still breathing normally, but you just cannot feel yourself breathing as well. If this happens, tell your anesthesiologist and they can help reassure you or take measures to assist you with breathing better.. Your partner can also help coach you, by “breathing deeply in” and “out” along with you. “Yes, that’s the way sweetheart, just like that.”
- Some hospitals have a clear screen so that you can see your baby being born. Or, you can ask them to lower the screen when the baby is lifted from your body so that you can see them being born.
- Your baby has become familiar with your voice and dads’/partners’ voice since 19 weeks after conception. Your voices tend to settle and soothe your baby, letting them know everything is ok and you’re there for them. Once your baby is born, have your partner go to the baby and talk or sing to them. Plus, it’s always nice to hear an update about how the baby is doing, from your partner. Your partner can also bring the baby back to you for that first skin to skin, nuzzle, and kiss.
- Hold your baby skin to skin as soon as possible after birth. If you are unable to, dad/partner can hold baby skin to skin. When babies are held skin to skin they calm down and cry less. Hormones are released that relieve stress and stabilize the baby’s temperature. If your baby is cold, your temperature will rise to warm them. If your baby is hot, your temperature will decline to cool them. Pretty amazing, right? Skin to skin also helps regulate their breathing rate, heart rate, and blood sugar. They are also better able to absorb and digest nutrients. For mom, hormones are released that lower stress and promote healing. “Skin to skin is a win win!”
- During the repair and also in the recovery room you may feel nauseated and shaky for an hour or two. These are normal reactions due to the fact that you just had abdominal surgery and your body is in process and recovery mode. The medications you were given during surgery along with a flood of hormones are surging through your system to help fight for and protect your body. These sensations range from trembling to shaking and teeth chattering. Tell your nurses what you are feeling because they can get you extra warm blankets or medications for the nausea. It will pass, but can feel uncontrollable at the time. A good distraction is paying close attention to that sweet baby you just gave birth to, this will flood the body with oxytocin (the feel good, love hormone) and help you relax.
- Nurse your baby in the first hour of birth and hold patient as you both learn this delicate dance together. If your baby doesn’t latch well at first or you have other breastfeeding problems, ask hospital staff to help you express colostrum and feed it with a small spoon or eye dropper. To avoid aggravating breastfeeding problems, tell staff not to feed your baby formula or use bottles or pacifiers. Remember, your colostrum is liquid gold, a little bit- I’m talking drops- goes a long way! Practice breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, you are learning together and will become more efficient with each feeding.
- One last important note, you will be given post-operative pain medication to help alleviate and minimize pain in the first few days. I encourage staying on your care providers recommended schedule for taking them every few hours for the first couple days. It is essential to stay ahead of the pain. You don’t want to get behind and have to play catch up. It sucks and takes longer to find comfort! And don’t be afraid of moving, just go slow. Gentle movement the day of surgery and every day after really helps the recovery process.
I hope these suggestions help you have the best cesarean birth possible. Make a plan, talk about your wishes and involve the support of your caregivers, nurses, partner and doula. Personal self-care measures can help improve your satisfaction and self-confidence by helping you feel more in control of your birth experience.