Having The Best Possible Cesarean Birth


I believe it is important to know what to expect in any birth process. Many people don’t even consider a cesarean as a possibility, but it can make a big difference to prepare mind and body for this possible experience.

Preparation for birth:

  • If your cesarean is planned, you might need to arrive very early. It is also possible that you might get “bumped” if there is another emergency or if anesthesia is busy. Prepare for the possibility of sitting and waiting. Bring music, books, inspirational photos etc to help you feel calm as you wait. You might even say a few words to baby as you prepare to meet him.
  • If your cesarean is not planned or perhaps it was your greatest fear or worry, ask for a couple of minutes to adjust to this new reality before the birth. Get hugs from your partner and reassurance that he/she will be with you each step of the way as you prepare to welcome your baby.
  • Once you are called in, your partner will remain outside the OR to wait for you while you receive your spinal medication, get hooked up to the heart monitors, belly cleaned etc. He will be called in just before the surgery.


During the birth:

  • Physical:
    • Shaky – Take long slow exhalations and release all muscles into the bed. This helps calm the shakiness.
    • Nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, or feel like passing out. This is common and the anesthesiologist will be at your head to ensure that your vitals are just fine. Take deep breaths IN if you feel like passing out
    • Tugging and pushing on your belly, but not pain
    • Sounds like suctioning, doctor chatting etc.
  • Emotional:
    • Sad, happy, anxious, disconnected, disappointed, as if the birth is “happening” without you.


Right after the birth:

  • Elation and relief, especially if it was an emergency cesarean
  • Extremely tired, weak and a little “out of it”. This surprises some women, who think they will want to hold baby right away, and that they will feel alert. This is a normal reaction to birth, surgery and medications. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Nauseas – many women vomit due to the medication
  • Disappointment or sadness – a sense that you were not able to birth your baby.


Cesarean Birth : Some options to discuss with your care providers:


    • Review Post-operative medications. It helps to know what to expect in the first few hours after the birth. You might also receive gravol to help with nausea.
    • Request Dropping/lifting sheet so can see the baby emerge
    • Ask for skin to skin contact in the OR or at least to have baby brought to your face for snuggles. Watch this amazing video of a baby bonding with his mommy after his cesarean birth http://life.viralnova.com/newborn-baby-clings-to-mom/
    • Inform them if you want to start Breast-feeding immediately and ensure that your partner asks them to help you latch baby
    • Delayed cathedar (after epidural). This is usually standard practice, but occasionally, it isn’t
    • Verbal description of birth as it occurs
    • Ask that baby be in sight so you can look over to the warmer after she/he is born
    • Do not want arms strapped down (you can also request that only one arm be strapped so you can hold your baby with the other arm
    • Skin to skin contact with mom or dad immediately after
    • Delayed cord clamping (some doctors do this routinely, while others do not)
    • Ask to have a support person in recovery, if you wish, who is supportive and knowledgeable about breastfeeding (if applicable)

Important tips for partners

  • Remember the many support techniques (i.e. massage, breathing, words of encouragement etc) you learned in prenatal classes? Use them here! Sometimes the change of plan or scenery can leave partners feeling like they can’t help the birthing mother. She still needs to feel you close to her and she needs help with the birthing process.
  • Take pictures of baby and give her a verbal description of baby while she or he is on the warming table. This helps her feel like she is still connected to baby and being included in the process. Eg. “She has your nose”, “She is so beautiful”
  • After the birth, she will likely be “out of it”. She will be alert for a bit, but then quite tired. Let her rest with baby on her chest. She will be more alert and ready to talk about the experience in 1-4 hours.
  • When baby is ready to feed, ask the nurses, doula etc to help baby latch and add pillows or rolled up towels so that she doesn’t have to exert too much energy to hold baby.
  • Take pictures in the OR and celebrate the birth of your baby
  • Give your partner lots of love, admiration and reassurance that you did the right thing to help bring your baby into the world
  • Offer to set up a time with someone who can help her process any lingering sadness, guilt or anxiety about the birth and how it went. A postpartum birth healing session can help her see her experience in an entirely new light.

Tools for Coping with Love and Awareness

    • Music-one ear bud in so you can relax and listen to music, but still hear what is happening
    • Breathing techniques: long, slow exhalations while releasing all muscles onto the bed
    • visualization/affirmations such as breathing out your baby or connecting with your baby with your heart and thoughts



Have you considered a doula for your cesarean birth?


Another amazing support is a doula. As a doula, I have supported many families with planned and surprise cesarean births . Many women don’t realize how beneficial it can be to have doula support before and immediately after a birth. A doula can help you understand what to expect, how to have a cesarean with awareness and love, and cope with the adjustment afterwards.


How can a doula help?

-I can show you specific breathing, meditation and relaxation tools that can help you remain more calm and present during the birth of your baby

-I  can help you know how to care for your body. Little tricks such as how to get up , how to cough and sneeze etc

-I can help you learn to latch your baby while being careful of your incision. Different positions work well for breastfeeding after a cesarean

– I can assist with the emotions before, during and after a cesarean. Some of the feelings of disappointment, loss etc. Because a vaginal labour and birth can assist with the increase in oxytocin,  it can help to learn ways to increase bonding  can help you feel more connected to yourself and your baby.

-Care for your baby for the first hours after the birth, when you might feel very ill. I can also ensure that your partner gets a needed break or knows questions to ask care providers to help you get the best care possible

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