How to have a positive caesarean experience

Planning a positive experience
Planning a positive experience 

Caesareans have been the subject of controversy for quite some time. The purpose of this article is not to debate the relative merits of a caesarean or a vaginal birth because for some women, a caesarean is the safest way to have a baby, for others it is the only way, and for some it is their chosen method of birth. 

Regardless of the reason, for many, it's a scary experience and negativity in the media does not help those who are facing a caesar for myriad reasons.

So I wanted to put together some ideas you might want to think about, to help you individualise your experience, and to make the experience a more positive one.

You have a lot of choices around your caesarean, although some procedures will need to be done to ensure safety, such as having a drip, a catheter in your bladder, wearing a hospital gown, and wearing some form of tight stockings on your legs.  

I'd like to share with you a list of things you might want to consider for your caesarean. Some of these ideas will need to be negotiated with theatre staff, the hospital or your doctor. And of course, there could be many reasons why your plan cannot be followed. There may be other things that are important to you, that you can add to this list. 

Some things you might want to consider putting in your caesarean birth plan are:

  • I want to have music playing in the theatre when my baby is born. (This can also be calming for you).
  • Please shield our baby's eyes from bright lights when s/he is delivered. 
  • I would like my baby to be received into a special blanket that we will provide.
  • I want my baby to be born slowly and gently, and then placed straight on my chest.
  • I want my partner to cut the baby's cord. 
  • Do not clamp my baby's cord immediately. I'd like to wait for the cord to stop pulsating before it is cut.
  • I want to be kept informed about what is happening to me during the caesarean OR Please distract me with conversation during the operation. 
  • I want to find out the sex of the baby myself; please do not announce it. 
  • Please drop the screen when my baby is being born so I can see. 
  • I would like the staff to be quiet and respectful when my baby is born. 
  • I would like to have skin to skin contact with my baby.
  • I would like the birth to be videotaped / photographed. 
  • I want my baby's health checks to be conducted within my full view. 
  • I want to see my placenta. 
  • I would like to breastfeed my baby in theatre.
  • I would like my baby to come with me to recovery. I do not wish to be separated from my baby.

As with any procedure, it is important to get complete and impartial information about what to expect during and after the caesarean, and about the risks of the procedure, both now and in the future.  Although caesareans are the safest they have ever been, they are not without risks.  Please discuss your individual situation with your care provider.

Author Melissa Maimann is an Essential Baby member and a privately practising midwife.

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