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Why You Should Create a Cesarean Birth Plan — Even If You’re Planning for a Vaginal Birth

Loss of control is a primary fear many women feel when considering the possibility of a cesarean birth. “I’ll have to give up my power to the surgeon. I’ll have no say over how the birth unfolds. I’ll feel like a piece of meat on an operating table.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can reclaim your right to empowerment throughout your baby’s birth by creating a cesarean birth plan — even if you’re planning for a vaginal birth.

Creating this plan doesn’t set the intention that you’ll have a cesarean birth, it sets the intention that you’ll be prepared, regardless of any unforeseen circumstances that may pop up in your birth journey.

Below are preferences you can use to create a simple one-page cesarean birth plan (that you’ll create in addition to your vaginal birth plan), which you will present to your care provider around the beginning of your third trimester. I recommend discussing each preference with your care provider to determine if they, or the facility you would be having the surgery in, would put up resistance to any of the preferences. If so, discuss why there would be resistance, and what can be done about it.

You do not need to include all of these preferences in your plan, if one does not seem important to you. And, of course, you should add any additional preferences that do feel significant to your unique needs.

Here are some ideas of things to request in your cesarean birth plan …

To have your arms free during operation.

Some facilities restrain mama’s arms during a cesarean birth. This restriction of movement may create a sensation of panic and prevent you from immediately holding your baby after birth. Some moms find comfort during a cesarean birth by hugging themselves, or holding their birth companion. The freedom of your upper body, while your lower body is numb, creates a greater sense of control and easier postpartum bonding.

To have a nose plug instead of a face mask for oxygen.

It can be disorienting to have your nose and mouth covered during this monumental experience. Request to have your oxygen delivered via a nose plug instead of a face mask, so you have an enhanced ability to talk and coo sweet somethings to your baby after birth.

For medical staff to refrain from personal conversations.

Nothing kills the sacred nature of your birth experience like having to listen to what the surgeon and nurse did over summer break, or what new trendy restaurant they discovered over the weekend. Request that the surgical team keep all conversation related to your body, baby, or emotional well-being. Telling you that you’re doing great, your baby is beautiful, or any other variety of positivity is welcome.

To have music or the recording of your choice playing during operation.

If you despise country music, but your surgeon loves it, your preference should win out. Decide what (if any) music or recording you would like playing during your child’s birth and find out the best way to play it (e.g., recording on your phone, CD, etc.). I would totally rock Men at Work’s “Down Under” if I ever have a cesarean birth.

To have the screen lowered the moment your baby is being born.

An emotional disconnect can happen when you’re not able to see your baby emerging from your body. Request that the screen separating the top half of your body from your lower half be partially lowered the moment before the surgeon rises your baby out of your uterus. This moment can be just as beautiful as emergence during a vaginal birth, and you deserve to experience it!

To have skin-to-skin contact directly after your baby is born.

If you and your baby are healthy, there is no reason why you can’t hold them for a few moments directly after birth. Ask for the opportunity to caress your baby on your bare chest, look into their eyes, and offer verbal reassurances before they’re taken to be cared for while your surgeon closes your incisions. Even though you may not get as much initial skin-to-skin contact as you would like, set the intent that these few minutes of immediate bonding will lay a solid foundation of connection between you and your baby.

Empowering yourself to kiss the (possible) cesarean birth of your baby with your unique desires will infuse the experience with more acceptance, harmony, and love, allowing you to look back on the birth with fondness versus regret.

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