Planning a Positive Cesarean birth?
Positive Caesarean Births exist and they’re coming to a hospital near you!
If you are planning a positive cesarean birth, thanks to social media you have most likely heard of gentle c-sections and mother assisted cesarean. In all of these cases, the birthing mother was offered her options and her preferences were supported and included where possible.Planned or unexpected you can have input on your cesarean birth. Planning the “what ifs” of birth is important, it may happen and if it does is good to know your preferences.
While this type of birth is more medicalised it doesn’t mean that you are not included.
C-sections and Birth Affirmations
There are procedures in place to protect the sterility of the theatre environment which means you wouldn’t be able to hang or display affirmations but you can certainly still use them. Get your birth support to hold the prints where you can see them or gently remind you of your favorites. Write single birth affirmation worlds on your arm like “breathe” “Calm” Soft” You may be permitted to bring your own pillow on the bed, however, you may not have it in theatre but immediately after on your bed.
Hello, who are you?
Ask your staff what their name is and introduce yourself. This helps to remind the staff that you have arrived and are an individual about to meet your baby. You may be able to see the anesthetist more than everyone else as they generally stand at the head of the bed. Chat with them if you want to if it settles your nerves, they can give you a running timeline of whats happening. Ask them to be quiet if you want to.
Ask if you can take photographs, the anesthetist or midwife may be available to do this for you. Like any birth, it’s amazing to recount the details afterward. You may be able to have your birth photographer access theater however it is generally arranged prior. You may not be able to take photographs so instead get ready for skin to skin after bub arrives and takes heaps of photos then. Most staff will accommodate you as best they can.
See your baby be born- Clear Drapes
In most cases, a drape (large rectangle of sterile fabric) will hand between you and your belly. This will mean you won’t be able to see whats going on. If you’re cool with that, awesome but you can ask to have the drape lowered to see your baby be born from your belly. You can also ask to have the drape replaced with a clear plastic sheet which will mean you can see as much as you want to. As you’ll be lying flat you will need to raise your head to see. So you still can control how much you want to see. Discuss this prior to your birth with your team, it may be a simple addition to the setup or they may refuse. It’s worth having the discussion if its important to you
Photographer Alyssa Leon via Cherry Blossom Doula Services
Immediately After Birth
If all is well, your original birth plan for immediately afterward can be implemented here. Skin to skin is incredibly important so ensure you are not separated unnecessarily. If you happen to be separated, skin to skin can take place with your chosen birth support.
If you don’t ask….
If you don’t ask, you don’t know. Don’t assume you’ll be offered all your options. If its important to you have the conversation with your birth team and tell them why its important to you. And if you dont get the answer you want, keep asking. Send an email to hospital maternity management to put your case forward. And don’t forget, Its never too late to change providers.
Can an unplanned C-section be positive?
Read what Emma has to say about her recent birth.
YES YES YES! Was soooo not the birth I had ever wanted or imagined for myself (I am an Ina May groupie) and yes it did take a while to process but I have found a peace with my experience and in doing so, can see all the wonder and the beauty that went with my birth.
After a kick ass labour, it became apparent that my little man’s head had got itself into a hectically crazy position (occiput transverse, deflexed, asynclitic – there’s a mouthful!). My labour stalled at 8cm. I was still contracting but no longer dilating. For seven hours we tried everything to get him to literally pull his head in with no luck.
The staff were incredible. They knew how much I had been aiming for a natural birth. They gave me time and space and when it eventually got to the point that the longer this continued both myself and my little bubba would be at risk, they explained everything so patiently and compassionately. When the decision to move to Caesar was made things did move quickly but I always felt listened to and I still felt involved.
We heard a cry first and then the drapes were lowered as our baby emerged, i first saw a little hand in the air; we got to see for ourselves whether we had gotten a boy or a girl; my placenta still managed to be saved for encapsulation.
I had the most beautiful skin to skin experience; because of the position needed in theatre (head low, arms outstretched), I couldn’t *see* Louis properly so my first experience of him was his beautiful breath
on my cheek; the sweet warmth of it, the sound of his little inhale and exhale, and then his attempts to latch on to my face (!) felt like he was showering me with the most exquisitely affectionate kisses. We had this heavenly experience in the middle of your average looking theatre filled with people going about their jobs.
I had always said when preparing for this birth that I knew things might not go to plan, but that if i still felt part of the experience rather than a passive witness and if I managed to stay centred and present, then I could cope with whatever birth I ended up having.
While in a true life threatening Category 1 emergency Caesar, there is little to do but just surrender control and be grateful that expert care is at hand, but for the lesser urgent Cat 2 and Cat 3 Caesars, and of course electives, there are ways to shape your experience and put your own imprint on your birth. No matter how you get there, the moment that little warm messy person is put on your chest, the world just falls away and it is just the two of you
In an emergency situation, the focus shifts from the birth process to the health of mother and baby. You may not be able to implement all your birth preferences in this case. You may feel frightened and nervous. Like any patient, you deserve to be supported emotionally at this time. Communication throughout this event is key, your birth support will play an integral part of the unwinding of the story afterwards. After your birth, if and when you feel ready, it is helpful to discuss your birth and the event that lead up to it with your health care providers. This is called a birth debrief and is often an integral part of absorbing the event.
If you have experienced a traumatic birth, please know that you are not alone. It is ok to feel sad and angry about your birth. A healthy baby is not all that matters. Birth Talk are an incredible resource that help families unpack and heal from traumatic birth experiences. Please visit their website for more information.
Here are 3 great articles explaining how to make the most of your c-section birth.
Gentle C-Sections are better for Mothers and Babies Heres a great explanatory article from Belly Belly -What is a gentle c-section in comparison to a regular section and how can it benefit me and my baby.
12 ways to have a Mother-Friendly Caesarean Practical ways you can have input into planning a positive cesarean birth such as dimmed lights, low voices and clear drapes that increase the likelihood of a positive experience from Belly Belly.
Hypnobirthing and C-Sections Planning a C-Section doesn’t mean you won’t be able to practice hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing Australia has trained c-section educators to bring calm and relaxation to birth. They’ll support you to make your preferences known to your birth team and assist you to create a positive cesarean birth experience.
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