By SP Turgon
Planning a birth rarely includes planning for an unexpected cesarean section. But it should! It can even be part of your birth plan. Should something change for you or baby during labor, you still have choices if you need an unexpected C-section.
Knowing what those choices are and writing them into the final birth plan means your birth team will know what your birth preferences are for this change in plans. Don’t forget to include that birth plan on your hospital bag checklist!
Unexpected C-sections are necessary if you or baby are not doing well during labor. Sometimes it’s because of your health, and sometimes baby’s heart rate indicates she’s struggling with the contractions.
You have time to make your decision
Most hospitals want you to have the birth you planned for. And they will do as much as they can to support you. Also, the nursing staff will usually tell you well in advance that you may have to consider a cesarean birth.
Of course, this conversation will likely happen while you’re knee-deep in full-blown contractions. Getting the news that you have to make a big decision while you’re resting between intense sensations can be overwhelming.
If you want to discuss it with your partner but feel pressured with the nurses waiting to hear your decision, ask them to give you some time. Unless there’s a significant risk, many times you can afford to go through a few more contractions before making the choice.
Maybe making some changes will help
Sometimes, a shift in position or rest or eating can make the difference. Changing positions could help baby’s heart rate. Eating could increase your blood sugar and give you energy. Having more energy can make it easier to relax.
Would it help to:
- Stand up, walk or lay on your other side?
- Eat easily digested foods like popsicles, fruit, or juice?
- Squat with the contractions?
- Get pain medication so you can relax more?
Your nurse, doula, or partner may have other suggestions you could use to solve the issue that’s making the cesarean seem necessary. Pass those ideas by the nurses before you absolutely must make your C-section decision.
One C-section does not the future make
Just because you have a C-section with this baby doesn’t mean you’ll need one with future births.
This is where good communication with your care provider can make a difference, and why including your desires in your birth plan helps your entire birth team.
So during prenatal visits, ask your care provider about their standard procedures if you need to change from vaginal birth to cesarean.
This important conversation will often tell you if you and your care provider are on the same page. Sometimes, you realize it may be good to talk to a second care provider if you need to find someone whose ideas are similar to yours.
For instance, in the event of a cesarean, your birth plan can say that you want to have a low transverse incision. Transverse incisions are best for future VBACs, and many doctors are comfortable letting women with transverse cesarean scars give birth vaginally.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, going through labor and giving birth vaginally has many benefits.
Compared with a planned cesarean delivery, a successful TOLAC [trial of labor after cesarean] is associated with the following benefits:
- No abdominal surgery
- Shorter recovery period
- Lower risk of infection
- Less blood loss
If you want to have more children, a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) may help you avoid problems linked to multiple cesarean deliveries. These problems can include hysterectomy, bowel or bladder injury, and certain problems with the placenta.
Many hospitals are changing to family-centered C-section methods
We know now how important the first minutes of baby’s new life are for bonding between mother and baby, and to starting baby off in the healthiest way. Many hospitals are changing their routines to include a more family-centered approach.
Today, even with a C-section you may have the choice of watching your baby be born. You or your partner could have immediate skin-to-skin (STS) contact with your baby. You may be able to breastfeed immediately.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is leading the way in what they call “gentle cesarean” to make it more natural and to incorporate family-centered values. Research is being done to find more and more ways to decrease technological barriers and make C-sections as family-friendly as possible.
Ultimately, everyone is working for the healthiest and safest birth for you and your baby. Any birth plan is worth changing when it means holding your baby happily in your arms, no matter how they were born.
To learn more about your birth choices, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: December 22, 2016 | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: December, 2016