How to Prepare for a Planned C-Section
A midwife or doula’s goal is to see every woman birth in safe, empowering, and beautiful ways. Sometimes, for various reasons, that looks like a Cesarean section, and sometimes that includes planned C-sections. There is no reason to expect less of your birth experience in the case of a planned C-section.
You are actually in a good position to prepare for a restful healing and recovery process with a planned Cesarean, which isn’t always the case when surgery comes as an unexpected last resort. So as you’re putting those nesting instincts to good use, check through our suggested ways to prepare for a planned C-section.
Discover Your Planned C-Section Options
When a C-section is the planned birth process, you have some more freedom to work with your doctor than in the case of an emergency. You can usually have a playlist prepared and played during the C-section, and you might be able to bring a photographer into the room. Even though it’s still a major surgery, there are some things you can discuss to ensure the gentlest welcome to the world possible for your baby.
- An emerging trend in Cesarean sections is to conduct the surgery as gently as possible. The curtain might be lowered, and the baby might be placed directly onto your chest. Look into the stories and process from mothers before you, talk to other moms and doulas in the area to know what processes are possible in your area, and have an open discussion with your doctor about what they might be open to.
- Establishing skin-to-skin contact as quickly as possible after birth is an important step for bonding and care of any baby, but especially in the case of a planned c-section. You should be able to talk with your doctor about the importance of skin-to-skin for establishing a nursing connection and make plans so that both skin contact and nursing attempts can happen as quickly as possible.
When a planned C-section is happening in the case of a health condition for mother and baby, some of that flexibility may change. Focus on preparing for recovery and settling into the new normal for you and baby.
Prepare Your C-Section Birth Team
Don’t make the mistake of thinking doulas are just for medication-free births. A doula’s work is to support the birthing mother through whatever she might need. Having supportive people around you can help you to focus on your process and your new baby rather than the details. Just some of things that a doula or supportive friend or family member might be able to do:
- Take photos
- Ensure that your plans are made known (playlist, etc.)
- Support you through skin-to-skin or nursing when you can’t hold baby without help or supervision
- Keep you updated and cared for if baby is moved to another room
- Act as your emotional and physical support and advocate
Find out how many people can be with you in the room for the operation (usually not more than one or two), prioritize the help you might need, and then gather whoever you might need to help you out.
Note: A professional doula or birth support is usually worth the cost because they have experience with your hospital, common procedures, jargon, and everything else that comes with C-sections.
Set up Postpartum Recovery Support
Postpartum doulas, friends and family members, and anyone who can help you make it through the first days and weeks postpartum are a mama’s best friends after any sort of birth. But a C-section birth requires much more extensive recovery, and you’ll want to line up recovery support when you prepare for your planned C-section.
- Set up a meal-train so that your friends and family members can bring you food
- Consider adding in other needs to your meal train - childcare for older siblings, laundry, housekeeping tasks that you won’t feel up to
- Make freezer meals to supplement meal train days
- Meet with lactation support or La Leche League Leaders, since breastfeeding can be more precarious after a C-section
- Set up a space in your home with snacks, water, nursing gear, and quiet games for older children, so that you can settle in without needing to get up and down much with the baby
The postpartum phase is a humbling time that can teach us how to accept help, set boundaries, and ask for what we need. Because C-section recovery can be painful and challenging, the biggest part of preparing for it is preparing for recovery.
Prepare Planned C-Section Recovery Supplies
The right supplies can be almost as important as good help. Talk to mama friends about what helped them the most in their planned C-section recovery, decide what you need, and then add them to your baby shower wish list and prioritize them as part of nesting preparations. Some things that might be vital include:
- A good nursing pillow
- C-section recovery spray
- Nipple Salve
- A good sling
- Water bottles for every spot you will sit to nurse
- Snacks/bags to bag them up
- Nurtured Mother balancing tincture
- Nursing Nectar tea
Preparing for birth is almost a spiritual practice, tending to your self and your space to be ready to welcome your baby. Adding the necessary preparations for a planned C-section will help make your transition and recovery smoother, safer, and more enjoyable.