If you and your provider have discussed scheduling a cesarean birth for your baby, now is the time to consider your options. While most cesarean births occur to resolve issues that develop during labor, a minority are scheduled in advance. Common indications include placenta previa, transverse presentation, breech presentation when no provider skilled in vaginal breech is available (see my post for ways to encourage your baby to turn), and certain health conditions in the mother or the baby.
- Get a second opinion. A cesarean birth is major abdominal surgery, so seek out a provider in a different practice to see if s/he also agrees that one is necessary for you and your baby. With the cesarean rate in the United States currently at two to three times the maximum rate recommended by the World Health Organization, it is always possible that there are safer options to a cesarean birth.
- Get ready with Prepare for Cesarean Birth, Heal Faster. I can provide you and your partner with a one hour phone session, book, and cd. This program enables women to experience less insomnia and anxiety prenatally, be more relaxed during the cesarean, and heal faster with less use of pain medications.
- Research gentle cesareans. Not all providers perform cesareans in the same way. It is now sometimes possible for cesarean births to include doulas, delayed (appropriate) cord clamping, clear drapes for those who want to watch their baby’s birth, and immediate skin to skin, with breastfeeding during the procedure, when desired.
- Hire a doula. Doulas aren’t just for vaginal births. A doula can provide physical and emotional support prior to, during, and after a cesarean birth, and can assist with immediate breastfeeding, when possible. She can also provide you with much needed assistance when you come home with your new baby. Cesarean moms need extra support postpartum while they heal and adjust to caring for their new babies.
- Meet your anesthesiologist. Scheduling a time to meet your anesthesiologist ahead of your baby’s birth day can help to reduce your anxiety. You will need your anesthesiologist to agree to your doula being present during your cesarean birth.
- Contact ICAN. The International Cesarean Awareness Network provides free peer support during and after a cesarean birth.
Julie Brill, CCCE, CLD, CAPPA Faculty owns and runs www.WellPregnancy.com from her home in Bedford, Massachusetts. She trains childbirth educators and labor doulas, teaches natural and VBAC childbirth classes, and offers Prepare for Cesarean Birth, Heal Faster classes over the phone. She is the mother of two teenage daughters.