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Create a Positive Cesarean Birthing Experience

Dianna Graveman |29, August 2012


A positive birth experience is the hope of every expectant mother. Whether you have scheduled a cesarean on the advice of your physician or intend to deliver vaginally, plans can be put into place in advance to ensure the most positive experience possible.

It is important, regardless of how you intend to give birth, that you have a birth plan. Even if you have no reason to expect a cesarean birth, it is best that you plan for one, just in case. Develop your birth plan with your partner, and make sure your health care provider is aware of the plan.

One of the first things you'll want to consider is type of anesthesia. If the cesarean is scheduled -- and most of the time, even if it is not -- you will be given a spinal or epidural. You may have chosen in advance of a vaginal birth to have an epidural, or you may have opted to receive an epidural while in labor. With an epidural, a catheter remains in place in your back, and anesthesia is periodically administered, allowing you to receive pain relief over a long period of time.

A spinal is a single injection. It works faster than an epidural, and it may provide more consistent and even pain control. However, since it is a single dose, it will wear off in time.

Discuss the advantages of each type of pain relief with your medical specialist before deciding on a plan. He or she may suggest a combined spinal/epidural (CSE), which includes benefits of both.

Another option to consider when planning your birth is acquiring a doula. The doula will stay with you during the surgery and after your baby is born. She may also be with you during recovery and help you ask questions or assist with getting started breastfeeding.

Make sure your doctor or midwife understands it is important for you -- if possible -- to hold your baby soon after birth to begin bonding. Some anesthesia can make you groggy or cause "heaviness" in your arms, making it more difficult for you to hold your baby soon after birth. Discuss options with your provider in advance. You may want to request that your arms not be strapped down or that they be released immediately after the procedure so you can hold your baby. It is possible that an emergency birth or other health-related reasons will not allow this to happen, but in most cases, your request to physically bond soon after birth can be honored.

If you'd like to see your baby delivered, request in advance that your vision not be obscured by a screen. Just as with a vaginal birth, you might wish to request that your partner or spouse cut the umbilical cord.
Consider your environment -- the surgical team can arrange for music to be played. Don't forget to remind your partner or spouse to take plenty of photographs.

Some mothers have reported receiving medication soon after a cesarean delivery that made them very sleepy and groggy, and they regret having missed the bonding experience in the first few hours after birth. If you are concerned about this, include a request in your birth plan that states you do not want to receive any medication without your consent or your spouse's or partner's consent (if you're not able to give it for any reason).

Many times, babies are moved to a nursery after a cesarean birth as a matter of routine. If you have had no complications to prevent it, make sure you include a request that your baby stay with you in recovery. If you intend to breast feed , you can do so soon after a cesarean birth, just as you can after a vaginal birth. The baby can be placed on your chest and you can begin to nurse, if both you and the baby are doing well.
If your cesarean was an emergency and your doctor or midwife feels it is best that you not have the baby with you in recovery, you may want to request that your spouse or partner stay with the baby and begin a bonding process while you are sleeping.

Vaginal birth or cesarean -- scheduled or anticipated -- the most important element of your birth experience is the outcome. Focus on planning for a positive experience regardless of your method of delivery, and enjoy your baby's birth day!

Related Articles

6 Better Birthing Positions

Guide to Cesarean Sections

Safety of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

Vaginal Delivery After Cesarean (VBAC)

So Breech Babies Have To Be Delivered By Cesarean?


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