Preparing for the Possibility of a C-Section
Most first time moms don't consider the possibility of having a C-section, but with almost 1 in 3 babies born via Cesarean section, preparing for the possibility could help you avoid the emotional stress and fear often associated with the initial shock of having a surgical birth.
For many women, C-sections are a planned event, but many of them are not. Some women giving birth aren’t aware they will need a C-section until well into several hours of hard labor.
Before preparing for a C-section, let’s first examine reasons why a planned C-section might occur as well as the reasons for an unplanned C-section:
Planned Cesareans may typically occur if:
- the mother has had a previous c-section with a vertical incision
- the baby is in a transverse position or the baby is sideways with shoulders or back over the cervix
- the baby is in a breech position
- the mother is carrying multiples
- the mother has complete Placenta Previa or a placenta that is blocking the cervix
- the mother has active genital herpes that is present near the due date
- there are health issues that may be life threatening to mother or baby
Unplanned C-sections might occur if:
- Labor has been induced. This doubles the odds of having a c-section
- There are signs of fetal distress during labor
- Labor is slow or stops completely
- A problem occurs with the placenta or umbilical cord putting the baby at risk
- Signs of infection are present
Regardless of why a C-Section occurs, it’s important to understand that the possibility always exists. The labor process is never the same for every woman and complications can occur at any time.
For these reasons, it’s generally a good idea to be aware of the possibility of having a c-section and be prepared should the need arise.
How to Prepare for a Planned C-Section
If you know you’ll be having a c-section, there are a number of things you can do to prepare.
Discuss anesthesia options with an anesthesiologist in advance. There are a few choices you have so be sure you understand them and decide on what you feel is best for you.
Familiarize yourself with the c-section procedure and what happens in recovery. You may even be able to make special requests of your doctor or hospital. For instance, once your baby is born, hospitals typically have specific recovery procedures for breastfeeding and holding your baby immediately after surgery, however some hospitals are flexible and personal requests may be accepted.
Prepare your home prior to going to the hospital for easy access to baby supplies, medications, personal effects etc. If your home has stairs it’s a good idea to move things downstairs as climbing stairs isn’t recommended after surgery.
Pre-plan meals and ensure the care of older children if necessary. Recruit neighbors and friends that are willing to help. The less you have to worry about when it comes to your immediate family, the easier your recovery will be.
Breastfeeding can be more challenging for c-section moms, so get acquainted with what the specific problems could be and how you might be able to work around them.
Understand what your recovery at home will entail and prepare for how you can make your recovery as speedy and as easy as possible.
Preparing for the Unplanned C-Section
Even if you don’t expect to have a C-section, prepare yourself for the possibility. Doing so can mean less physical and emotional stress and a much quicker recovery.
In addition to the above items, also discuss with your doctor before your due date your risk factors for having a c-section and be sure to mention any concerns or worries you may have.
Educate yourself on the potential problems or risks that C-sections present and be ready for how you will respond to them.
Having a C-section does require longer hospital stays and a longer recovery, however proper planning and a healthy mental outlook can mean the difference between a miserable birth experience and a positive, memorable one.
Elizabeth is the author and creator of 'Worry Free C-Section', a popular c-section recovery , planning and healing guide.