When you’re expecting a baby, whether it be your first, second, or fifth, it has to be acknowledged that the labour is “unknown territory”. Every baby is different and every baby writes their own birth story. Most pregnant women will skip over any chapters regarding the Caesarean birth, or will just brush off any preparation of that option from Midwives or Obstetricians. This isn’t because they are unwilling to learn, but because they have created in their mind the perfect birth plan, and in most cases that does not include the Caesarean. Caesareans are not always expected or wanted but are sometimes necessary. It is important to know about ALL birthing options to reduce the emotional anxiety of not being properly prepared for any given situation. So here are a few things you should know about the Caesarean, whether this is a planned avenue for you, or one that you stumble upon while in labour.
1. Sometimes surgical births are necessary and unavoidable, and sometimes its more of a judgement call. If you are unsure which category your birth is falling into and a Caesarean is being discussed, there is nothing wrong with asking the medical reasons as to why the OB wants to take that route. Asking for a few minutes to discuss this birth option privately is entirely reasonable as well. Doing this will help you wrap your mind around a different birth story that you were not originally expecting 2. There is a misconception that Caesarean births are accompanied by going under general anaesthetic. This is no longer the case. Today, most Caesarean births are done with an epidural anaesthetic. This means you can be awake and see your baby as soon as he or she is born. You do not need to feel anxious about feeling any pain, you will not feel pain. However, you should be prepared to feel pressure and know that you can sometimes feel nauseated as the doctors pull baby out.
3. Your significant other will join you in the OR but will be asked to stay out of the room while the epidural is given and they get you ready for surgery. Some women don’t expect this when they are wheeled into the OR and begin to panic. Understanding that this is normal practice can help ease the stress of the situation.
4. Before the procedure starts you will have a curtain or drape right across your chest area so you will not be able to see the surgery. Your partner will be sitting beside you by your head. Your partner MAY be able to stand when baby is being born. Please talk to your care provider about this potential option since all situations vary. The doctor will generally lift the baby up for you to get a good look once he or she is born!
5. The birth of your baby is quite fast. What takes the most time is stitching you back up afterwards. This is hard for some moms who really want to be spending this time with their baby. If skin to skin was something very important to you, talk to your midwife or OB about the option of having baby placed on you in the OR. Some hospitals are moving towards doing this for mothers and for baby due to the benefits. If this isn’t possible for you, it may be acceptable to your obstetrician for your partner to do skin to skin once baby has been checked out until you’ve reached recovery.
6. If breastfeeding is something you want to do, having a Caesarean does not take that away from you. If you want to and your baby is healthy, you may be able to get someone to help you to breastfeed
right away while you’re still being stitched up! That can help get nursing off to a good start and can be very encouraging when you are feeling overwhelmed by everything you just went through. If not, you can do this once you head into recovery! Some moms who have had Caesareans have had difficulties with breastfeeding because of trying to find a comfortable position after surgery. Asking for help from your Midwife or nurses is encouraged to establish a great breastfeeding relationship right from the start.
7. Once your baby is born, you may find you are shaking as though you are cold. You most likely aren’t. This is a very common reaction caused by the epidural and other medication given to you. This usually passes after about an hour. Some women also experience a lot of itching, this is very normal as well.
8. In most cases you won’t feel like it, but getting up and walking around as soon as possible after surgery will help you heal. Do know that after surgery you will have a catheter in place for the first 24 hours following your Caesarean birth.
9. There can be some discomfort. A Caesarean birth is major abdominal surgery. Good pain relief will help you recover and make it easier to look after your baby, yourself, and maybe other kids at home. It is encouraged to keep up with your medication instead of waiting to take it when you start feeling pain since it can take some time to take effect. It is also important to remember that if you are not having pain, to continue to take it easy so you don’t hurt yourself without realizing it. Try to stay away from stairs as best as you can to avoid unnecessary strain on your new incision.
10. You will likely experience a lot of different emotions. Some women are happy that they had Caesareans. Others feel disappointed about not having the birth they envisioned, but acknowledge that the surgery was necessary. And still others feel very let down about not having the birth that they hoped for and may question if the Caesarean was really the best choice. If you find you are very sad about your birth experience, don’t hesitate to seek out counselling and support as you work through these emotions.
Roughly 85% of women who have Caesareans go on to have VBACS! (Vaginal birth after Caesarean) Conditions are different in every birth.