Sometimes having a caesarean birth is the safest and best option for you or your baby. Having a caesarean birth does not have to be scary or traumatic. With a little preparation and planning you can have an amazing birth experience.
1. Have a gentle or mother centered caesarean birth
A mother/family centered caesarean is one that is focused on making the experience more gentle. Things that are usually requested for a family centered caesarean include:
- lowering the drapes so that you can see your baby's birth
- asking the medical team to keep conversation focused on your baby’s birth (i.e no talking about golf or politics!) or even narrate what is happening so that you feel connected to your baby's birth
- having music of your choice played
- delayed cord clamping
- if you have not found out your baby’s sex, ask that you or your partner are the ones to announce the sex
- have your baby placed on your chest as soon as possible for skin to skin contact
2. Ask for your baby to be allowed to come to recovery with you
We know from research that early and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby helps with bonding and breastfeeding. It is common practice in Australia for the baby to be taken to the nursery while you go to the recovery ward after the caesarean.
In some circumstances your baby will need to go the NICU for medical reasons, but if your baby is born at full term and is breathing well then you can ask for them to stay on your chest while you are in recovery.
If this is something you would like to do, it is a good idea to ask during your pregnancy if this is available because not all hospital recovery units are set up to have a baby in there.
3. Hire a doula!
As your doula I can help you plan and prepare for your baby’s birth during your pregnancy so that you feel calm and ready. On the big day I will accompany you and your partner when you are admitted and stay until after your baby is born.
Sometimes a caesarean that is scheduled for the morning can get bumped to the afternoon, if this happens I will stay with you the whole time to keep you company and help settle any nerves.
If allowed, I can come into theatre with you and your partner and provide reassurance and support. Your baby may need to be taken to the NICU after they are born, if so I can stay with you while your partner stays with your baby. If your baby is allowed to stay with you in recovery, I can assist you with holding the baby and initiating breastfeeding.
4. Be aware and prepared about what a caesarean feels like
Do some research ahead of time about the procedure and what to expect. Read blogs, ask other mums who had caesarean births, ask your care provider any questions about the process.
It is important to know that during your baby’s birth you will likely feel some movement and tugging, this is normal. You should not experience any pain during a caesarean.
You may feel shaky or nauseous, from either the drugs, hormones or nerves. The anesthetist will usually be sitting near your head and if you are feeling cold, shaky or nauseous let them know and they can often give you medications to combat this.
A warm blanket can sometimes be used on your chest if you are feeling cold. If you are worried about anything specifically to do with the surgery talk to your care provider ahead of time to ask any questions.
The more prepared you feel the more likely it is that your experience will be positive because there will less surprises that may distress you.
5. Be proud of your baby's birth!
Your body is amazing. Be proud of it! A caesarean birth is absolutely a birth.
Your body grew an entirely new human and that alone is an amazing accomplishment!
If your caesarean was unplanned you may feel disappointed or upset about what happened and its important to acknowledge those feelings.
But if you feel good about your decision to have a caesarean then don't let anyone tell you there was anything 'less' about your baby's birth. It takes courage to have a baby, regardless of how your baby enters the world, you were a brave rock star!