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Making Surgical Birth Pleasant

By Danielle |

cesarean, surgical birth

© moodboard/Corbis

With the cesarean section rate rising faster than it ever has in the history of childbirth, there is an increasing need for women to learn how to make their experience more pleasant. For someone like myself who is facing a medically necessary surgical birth, finding ways to make the experience better or less traumatic as some women have described their experiences.

There is a great organization world wide focused on supporting mothers through their experiences, and lowering the cesarean section rate. It is called The International Cesarean Awareness Network, or also known as ICAN. I personally was a chapter leader for two years, and work with all the chapters in the Northeast portion of the United States currently.

One of my favorite pieces of information that ICAN has put out through their educational white papers, is an article on having a family centered cesarean. It offers a lot of great advice for women who want to make the experience more pleasant in the case that it does become medically necessary. In the past week facing the decisions I have to about delivering this baby, I started to read up for my own reference to see what kind of steps I can take to make a repeat cesarean more pleasant than my past two surgical birth experiences if that becomes the case.

Become Familiar with the Procedure

Learn more about a cesarean section, what they will be doing, the reason you need to have a surgical delivery, and this also gives you the time to get a second opinion if it is not something you may agree with. The more knowledge you have, and the more research you do, helps to make you a more educated consumer. Which is exactly what we are!

Write a Birth Plan

Contrary to popular belief, you can still have a birth plan when having a surgical delivery, even if it may not be planned. Always talk to your provider before labor to know if they will support your ideas and what you would like for your delivery, cesarean or not. If they do not support, or accept the ideas you have for your care, and birth experience, look for a new provider. Having  an unsupportive provider can make for a horrible experience in some cases.

Discuss the type of anesthesia you would like to use and weigh out risks and benefits of an epidural vs. a spinal block, and the type of pain management after the delivery that would work best for you. For someone like myself, who has a nasty reaction to anesthesia and pain medication this could help a ton and prevent possible vomiting with a fresh stomach wound which is not fun!

Talk about your options for holding your baby while they repair your uterus and during the closure.  Typically hospitals do not offer this, but many will allow it if the mother requests it before hand. This can help mothers to feel more connected to their newborn in the case that mother and baby are healthy enough to partake in the activity.

Get Help Post Cesarean

A big help to women who have had a cesarean, whether it is their first or third is having help around the house when they go home. From laundry, to helping with older children or even the new baby, you will need all the help you can get. One mistake mothers often try to make in their first days home is doing it all instead of asking for help. In the first 2 weeks, your recovery is incredibly important, and you should take time for yourself, and focus on your recovery, and your little one.

This help can come in the form of family members, friends, or even a postpartum doula.

While cesarean sections are not the ideal birth experience for many of us, there sometimes will be the need for them. Making the situation, and experience more pleasant can help in the long run to prevent negative feelings, or trauma.


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About Danielle



Danielle Elwood is a straight-shooting Florida based mom of three and emerging indie author. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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5 thoughts on “Making Surgical Birth Pleasant

  1. ceridwen says:

    Danielle– Great advice!
    I think you’re absolutely right about getting to know the procedure. A lot of people tell me they were overwhelmed with what happened and felt they didn’t get enough explanation or preparation. KNowing that the OR is very cold, and that your arms are strapped and that the baby is out in five minutes (but the stitching takes a lot longer) can be a huge help in reducing fear and that sense of being totally alienated from the proceedings.

  2. lindsey says:

    I had an unplanned c-section and it was the worst experience I’ve ever had. I wish I’d read this and been more prepared beforehand.

  3. Melissa says:

    My 1st C-Section was under general anesthetic and resulted in bonding issues and post traumatic stress. My 2nd C-Section a month ago, I was more aware of my options and felt able to speak up resulting in the experience being 100% better. All of this was possible by choosing a supportive Obstetrician, who understood my past experience and was willing to do whatever possible to help achieve a better outcome for me. Knowledge and the right caregiver is the key.

  4. Mary says:

    I haven’t had a c-section (thank God), but I have helped my cousin after her 3. Both my deliveries were “natural” (so not) and I’m glad I didn’t have to have major surgery along with delivering my kids.

    A lot of women are having c-sections because they want to pick when the baby is born, but I think that is wrong unless you need it medically. A c-section is MAJOR abdominal surgery and you can have complications so make sure you have someone with you in the hospital and at home afterward. My cousin almost died from complications 4 days AFTER she got home because her kidneys shut down. So please, even if you have to bite your tongue and call the in laws have someone there with you if you can.

  5. Kellie says:

    I’ve had 2 and am looking at my 3rd. I’m still afraid even though I’m more informed but being informed has helped. Its just the fact that it is a major surgery and the past experiences make me nervous.

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