Birth Plan for a Planned Cesarean

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 birthcesarean delivery

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)

After Delivery

  • 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!

Image credit: Wilf/flickr

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