Many pregnant mothers are facing a planned (also called “scheduled”) cesarean section, but don’t know that they can and should develop a birth plan just the same as women anticipating a vaginal delivery!
Each hospital, each surgeon, and each anesthesiology team will have a different status quo, a different “standard” way they do a cesarean. This might not match with a mother’s expectations and wishes for her birth.
From attending and leading my local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN), I learned that there are many options for a beautiful cesarean delivery. Lots of times, hospital staff just do certain things because that’s how they always do it–there might not be an official policy surrounding certain aspects of a cesarean. A mother can discuss these options with her surgeon prior to delivery to build a plan that meets everyones needs for a beautiful birthing experience.
Here are some options moms have discussed with their surgical team at prenatal visits:
Prior to Delivery
- birth partner remain with mom for support while spinal is placed
- surgical drape placed low on the chest to leave space for skin-to-skin contact if baby is healthy
- blood pressure cuff placed on mom’s wrist (versus upper arm) for more arm mobility
- unrestrained arms during the procedure with the option of a strap to squeeze if mom needs to stabilize due to shaking
- oxygen for mom via nasal cannula versus a face mask
- surgical drape lowered while baby is delivered so family can witness baby’s birth
- surgeon holds baby up for parents to see and identify the sex
- doula or support person in the room to take pictures so birth partner can support mom and baby
- music of mother’s choice playing in the operating room (or over headphones for mom)
- removal of nasal cannula once baby is delivered
- delayed cord clamping as long as is safe for mom and baby
- everyone sings “happy birthday” to baby!
- surgeon leaves a long umbilical cord for birth partner to trim (just like a partner might snip the cord after a vaginal delivery)
- OR team only minimally wipes baby and places him on mom’s chest
- delay non-essential examinations or newborn procedures (like weighing, measuring, bathing, etc.) until mom is in the recovery room
- as soon as baby is stable, bring baby to mom and partner to hold and bond
- if skin-to-skin is not an option for mom, allow birth partner to snuggle baby skin to skin by mom’s head
An ICAN chapter meeting can be a great place to brainstorm a cesarean birth plan with other mothers who have planned similar births in your area hospital. You and your provider can work together to plan a safe birthing that honors this major life event for your family.
Did you have a planned cesarean section? Leave us a comment to share some aspects of your birth plan!