C is for Cesarean Planning
Whatever your reasons for selecting a Cesarean birth, you might not be aware of all of the options available to you during and immediately after the birth of your baby! From emotional, mental, to physical effects, the impact of a birth experience on the mother and family as a whole is long lasting.
Studies have shown that a negative birth experience can:
Increase risk of Postpartum Depression
Mothers report trouble bonding with their newborns
Decrease breastfeeding success rates
May increase a negative perception of future birth experiences
Decrease the family's overall sense of well-being
What options are available?
It's important to become an advocate for yourself and look through all the options available. I've created a comprehensive and simple guide for navigating hospital birth with ease and confidence. I've included a free downloadable Family Centered Cesarean Birth Plan PDF at the bottom of this post, and be sure to look through the tips for links!
We are creating a gentle experience, just like with a natural or home birth. In those situations, you want to move freely, feel your voice is heard, and your wishes to be regarded with respect. To ensure positive memories and experiences of the birth, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Immediate "Kangaroo Care" or Skin to Skin is a wonderful practice that you might not be aware is available for Cesarean birth.
You may feel anxious, sick, or uncomfortable during the birth. Having your partner and doula available as a rock of support is invaluable in those moments.
You might request that music be played of your choice, and also that medical personnel give you some quiet and not bring outside conversations into the birthing room.
Some mothers choose to request a clear or lowered surgical divider to be able to view the baby's birth. You can also choose to look into a mirror.
Pro doula tip : If you do not wish to watch the birth, you can choose to focus on your partner or a focus object, but don't look up into the lights as you may see a reflection of the birth process.
Even if you don't wish to watch the process, you may choose to have your second support person take photos or videos to save for future viewing.
Some things have become routine procedure that simply don't have to be. As you plan this birth experience, make sure to discuss these your decisions with your care provider and make sure they support the birth you envision. If they don't, you can always seek a new provider or practice who will. I have also supported mothers who were persistent advocates for themselves and breastfed their babies on the surgical table immediately postpartum in a reluctant hospital. Don't make any decisions you aren't comfortable with!
To ensure immediate skin to skin and breastfeeding, request that your arms be free and EKG pads to not be placed on your chest. All observations of your baby can be made with this position except weight, which can be delayed for a few hours after birth.
Delayed Cord Clamping ensures that your newborn gets all the blood cells they have stored in the cord and has benefits such as increasing neurodevelopment in life, higher APGAR scores, decreased risk of anemia, increase clotting factors (important if you don't want the Vitamin K newborn shot), and increase positive preemie outcomes. Your baby can receive up to 100 ml of blood, or 50 mg of initial weight during the first 3 minutes of life if the cord is left intact.
Placenta Encapsulation is also an option for Cesarean births. The placenta should not be treated with preservative chemicals or sent to the lab for processing. A small piece may be taken for examination, but then the placenta should be stored in a sealed bag on ice in a freezer or refrigerator until it can be encapsulated. Placenta smoothies are a great option to get the full benefits of decreased postpartum bleeding and pain reduction immediately postpartum.
You have some important decisions to make if you're planning a gentle Cesarean birth. A Birth Doula can provide prenatal education and planning, be a source of emotional support and mental strength through the process, and assist you to find the best options for you and your family. For more information on Doula Services in Delmarva, read about my services here.