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How to Prepare for a Scheduled Cesarean Birth?

What to Expect During a Cesarean Birth? Info featured by top OC doulas, Labor of Love Birth Services

While most of the families that seek out our support are actually trying to avoid a cesarean; and, for many of these families a cesarean is one of their greatest fears, it's still important to talk about this type of birth. We discuss such fears in Connected Childbirth, because one thing I have learned being a doula for 9 years is that one never knows how birth will unfold.

In our childbirth classes, we like to disarm the idea of a cesarean as cesarean births are amazing. I am go very grateful for them and the doctors that preform them. Thank goodness we have this option. While most families come to us wanting a specific outcome, our goal at Labor of Love is to actually help with the uncertainty of birth and work at creating confidence and safety even if we do not know how their birth will unfold.

For our clients that find themselves walking into a cesarean our goal is to help them prepare as much as possible. At Labor of Love we believe that cesareans are a miracle and we are so very grateful that this option is available for families that need it. For the most part, cesarean delivery is relatively safe if you find yourself here. Doctors preform them so routinely that they are really good at them.

To help our families prepare we wanted to offer up these tips. Being prepared for a cesarean can help manage your expectations, create a better experience for yourself and help with recovering physically, mentally and emotionally.

How to Prepare for a Cesarean Birth Emotionally:

There is a misconception that a cesarean is less stressful; in reality, there can be a lot of stress and fear heading into this moment. It can actually be a tremulously stressful time with a whole mix of emotions. There can be a lot of relief knowing when your baby will come, the exact date you will meet then and bring them home. Often mothers can feel relieved that they don’t have to worry about laboring, the effort, pain, etc AND still birthing people can have feelings about missing out on laboring and birthing vaginally. All of which are valid. Give yourself the space to process this moment as much as you can, even if that is only 5 minutes, as some cesareans are emergent.

Having a cesarean to birth your baby is one of the bravest things I have seen women do for their babies. It's an act of love. For going your body, your expected experience and allowing the ultimate surrender of yourself for your dearest love IS the greatest act of love. All cesareans births need to be seen as such; The Greatest Act of Love. Cesarean moms are so incredibly courageous.

To Emotionally Prepare Here are Ways to Process Your Feelings:
  • Journal - Let everything out.

  • Talk to a friend that walked in your shoes.

  • Share your feelings and concerns with your care provide and partner.

  • Consult with your doula about this moment.

  • Ask all the questions you need to feel safe in this moment.

  • Talk positively to yourself about this moment.

  • Focus all your attention on who you are going to meet.

  • Invest in your abundance not lack.

How to Prepare for a Cesarean Birth Physically:

Depending on your circumstances you may have weeks to several days to prepare for your cesarean. In urgent circumstances you could only have minutes. Once such a call is made your job is to trust your journey and meet your baby. The amazing thing about cesareans is that they are so fast. The prep is the longest part, by the time you are in the OR, baby is usually born in about 15 minutes!! So that means you will be seeing your baby so soon. Again, this is where your attention should be, on who you are going to meet.

What to Expect During a Cesarean Birth? Info featured by top OC doulas, Labor of Love Birth Services

If this is a scheduled cesarean, typically your doctor takes cares of the details; scheduling the date, time and arranging everything with the hospital. All you will need to do is ensure you are registered with the hospital.

Create a birth plan:

Many people feel like a birth plan isn’t necessary when planning a scheduled cesarean; however, believe it or not, a cesarean birth plan is very important.

As a doula, I know that writing a birth plan for this day can help you feel more in control about your experience. Your birth plan not only speaks to the care you desire but also the care you desire for your baby. You will want to list any medical details that are important; allergies, medications you are on, etc. Listing your desires in that moment is also important for your experience; listening to music, having your team speak in quiet voices and focus on the task at hand (no chitchat in the OR), having your partner by your side, skin to skin after delivery, seeing baby when they are born, having the doctor hold baby up, taking pictures, etc. Lastly, you will want to add baby care; breastfeeding or formula feeding, vaccinations, etc. This is your day ask for what you want in this moment and writing a plan will help with the uncertainly and bring you some peace of mind in the moment.

What to Expect During a Cesarean Birth? Info featured by top OC doulas, Labor of Love Birth Services
Plan for Other Children & Fur Babies:

Ensure you have a plan for life at home. This means putting a plan in place for your other children and any fur babies. This can be one of the benefits of a cesarean; planning. Delivering through a cesarean means that you will be in the hospital for about 3 days. You will want to prepare for this time and your household needs. Anything or anyone that needs care while you and your partner are in the hospital will help you feel in control and ready.

What to Expect During a Cesarean Birth? Info featured by top OC doulas, Labor of Love Birth Services
Pack your Hospital bags:

Since you will be in the hospital a bit longer back your bags with this in mind. You won’t need much while there, so pack light. Most people take too many things when arriving at the hospital. You really only need toiletries, change of comfy clothes, snacks, phone, charger, etc. Keep it simple. You will have your hands full and a lot people to take care of you.

What to Expect During a Cesarean Birth? Info featured by top OC doulas, Labor of Love Birth Services

The Night before your Cesarean Birth:

  1. Your doctor will give you instructions about bathing the night before and not using lotions, etc.

  2. You will not be able to eat or drink before your cesarean (8+ hours) so we always suggest going out for a nice filling dinner as a couple. Make it a good one, as post-op you will not be able to have anything solid for an additional 12 hours.

  3. Ensure that you SLEEP! Sleep is essential for your recovery and day of care. We always encourage our clients to invest in their rest as much as possible. I know that it can be hard to fall asleep the night before you will meet the love of your life BUT you need to try as much as you can. Sleep is so important for physical and mental wellness.

  4. Place your bag/s in the car the night before too. Have everything ready to just walk out the door when you wake up.

What to Expect During a Cesarean Birth? Info featured by top OC doulas, Labor of Love Birth Services

The Day of your Cesarean Borth:

  • When you arrive for your cesarean keep all your bags in the car because you will be moving to multiple rooms. Triage is first where you will be prepared for the OR. Next you will be in the OR for your birth. Following you will be in a recovery room as a nurse takes great care of you initially after brith. Finally, you will be taken to your postpartum room as you recover for the next few days. Once you are in your postpartum room, your partner can retrieve the bag/s. All you need initially is your birth plan and ID.

  • Your first stop is usually triage where you will be prepared for your delivery. While here you will be meeting much of your medical staff that will take care of you. Your nurses, your anesthesiologist, and your doctor will be coming in to talk about the process. If you have any questions this is the time to ask them.

  • Focus all you energy on who you are going to meet and taking slow deep breaths. When you become overwhelmed or nervous all you need to do is breath and be in the moment. Gaze upon your belly and take in the last few moments with your baby inside you as soon they will be in your arms. Be right with these thoughts; all joy, all love.

  • Feel free to ask any medical staff to give you a moment and take is slow. It's okay to say, I am not ready yet. Or, can I have a moment to pray/meditate/focus my thoughts. This is how you empower yourself, by asking for what you need in the moment.

  • Take photos and enjoy these last few moments before you meet your baby. This is the time to rejoice and be excited about meeting your baby! Take last photos together as a family, capture the moments before it all changed! Also, ensure that your partner has the phone/camera when they go into the OR.

  • Know that once everything is ready and you are about to go into the OR it's often without your partner. This is because they need to prep you first and ensure a clean environment, once that is done they will bring in your partner. So be prepared that your partner will usually stay behind to put scrubs on and enter when you are all set for the procedure. They will ALWAYS be there for the birth - just know that initially you may be wheeled into the OR alone.

  • The anesthesiologist will be right by your side to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. Often times they are talking to you the entire time ensuring that you feel emotionally okay too. They can bring much comfort at this time explaining what is happening or by simply distracting you.

  • Everyone in the room is there to take care of you. If you need anything speak up. If you are nervous, say so! They will walk you through everything and ensure you feel safe!

  • You will feel tugging and pulling as your baby is being born BUT you should’t feel any pain. If you do experience pain SAY SOMETHING!! That is why the anesthesiologist is right by your side. The can administer more pain meds if needed.

  • Request skin to skin as soon as possible. Depending on how baby is doing nurses may need to access your baby to evaluate them before you can see them. If there is enough staff available you should be able to request skin to skin in the OR. If not, know that within 15/20 minutes you will be in the recovery room with all the skin to skin you desire.

While it's impossible to prepare for everything, some things we need to live through, we hope that this information is useful to you as you walk into parenting. Stay tuned for part 2, Cesarean recovery.


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