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Planning the Unexpected What if I need a Caesarean?

No matter how a baby is born, it is an important event for that family.

When a baby arrives by caesarean section, there are different things hospital staff can do to make the experience a positive one and to make baby’s first hours easier. Having the things that are most important to you in your “what if” birth plan can help make the whole process less stressful for everyone.

Your plan should mention all the things that are important to you in the case of a caesarean birth, like:
• The type of anaesthesia you would like (most caesareans are done under regional anaesthetic, meaning you are awake, but some women may prefer general anaesthesia, or being asleep)
• Who you will be able to have with you for support in the operating theatre,
• Placing the warmer and scale in your field of view so you can watch baby being weighed and examined
• Putting heart monitors and IVs on your body so that you can have skin to skin contact with your baby in the operating theatre (you might ask if they have a bonding top you can wear to help hold the baby in place)
• Keeping at least one of your arms free to move (e.g. not fixed to the operating table), so you can hug your baby in the operating theatre
• Having a midwife or nurse by your side who can describe what is going on to you as it happens
• Dimming the lights just before baby is born, or to be as quiet as possible for the few minutes before and after baby’s birth, and while you spend your first few minutes together
• Lowering the curtain between your head and the sterile field so you can watch baby being born
• Whether the doctor will announce your baby’s sex and/or name
• What you want to say to the baby when it’s born (like asking everyone to sing “Happy birthday”)
• Waiting at least 90 seconds before clamping the umbilical cord
• Deciding who will have skin to skin contact with baby if you are not able to immediately after baby’s birth
• Having some photos taken by a midwife or nurse
• Having assistance in the recovery room to hold and breastfeed your baby

• Any environment can be modified to support and improve your hormonal orchestra
• Research the type of birth you want and prepare a birth plan
• Make informed choices on the types of coping mechanisms you want to use - try other methods before you reach for medication
• Make sure you know exactly why you are being offered an induction or intervention and get all the information you need before saying yes
• You can always say no – to induction, intervention and caesarean section
• If you are having a home birth, plan for it but have a contingency plan in case of a hospital transfer
• Plan for a vaginal birth but include contingency planning in case you need a caesarean
• Do research on newborn care but also on your own postpartum care
• Keep your birth plan short, simple and easy to read. Add pictures if you like

Try This
Diana Spalding from the Motherly Blog provides some helpful language you can use when you are advocating for your own care:
• It’s really important to me that…
• Is this evidence-based?
• We haven’t met you. Can you introduce yourself?
• Can you explain this before going forward?
• I need some time to think about this.
• I’d like to discuss this with my birth partner in private.
• Please ask my permission before doing something.
• You do not have permission to do that.

See also BRAIN