How to have a gentle c-section (yes, really)

Caesareans can make women feel like they've lost control of their birthing choices, but it doesn't have to be the case. It can also be a softer and more gentle process than you may think. In this blog post TMM Expert Birthing Coach and Doula Laura Berkely explores what your rights and your options are, as well as some things you may want to consider. 
  • Know your rights & choices! – knowledge is power right?
  • Ask for your cannula to be placed in your non-dominant hand so that you are free to use your dominant hand to cuddle your baby
  • You could ask for your midwife to give you a running commentary so you know what’s happening & when
  • Ask for quiet & calm in theatre. Quiet voices, positive language, keeping your space peaceful. When you are calm you will release higher amounts of oxytocin – which means you are likely to lose less blood plus have a better recovery
  • Although lights are needed for the operation, you can request that lights are dimmed around you for the moment of birth
  • You might also like to consider asking for your audio tracks or relaxation music to be played out loud. Alternatively use your headphones
  • Organise in advance for someone to take photos, either your partner or your midwife & specify what photos. Baby being born, finding out the sex, that first cuddle, the placenta etc
  • Ask for someone to take a video of the birth as well as photos
  • Ask in advance & discuss the baby being born gently & slowly – mimicking a vaginal birth, which will help expel the fluid in the baby’s lungs just like moving through the birth path
  • Some people like to watch their baby be born with the screen lowered, a transparent screen or for someone to hold a mirror. Let your midwife & care team know in advance & pop it in your preferences. It might also be possible to have the bed raised slightly so you can see better
  • When your baby is born would you like to find out the sex, do you know already, would you like to lift baby up onto your chest?
  • Delayed cord clamping can often still be respected & carried out, unless there is a true emergency. When we say ‘delayed’ – the ideal is ‘wait for white’. The blood in the cord belongs to your baby & makes up around 30% of their body’s blood. The cord also continues to provide your baby with oxygen until their breathing has regulated earth side
  • Have skin to skin. If you are unable to for any reason, ask that baby’s dad/mother/parent has skin to skin until you are able to. It helps regulate your baby’s breathing, metabolic rate, blood sugars & temperature. It promotes bonding, oxytocin production & supports breastfeeding
  • You can request in advance that the electrodes (monitors) usually placed on your chest are placed higher up or on your back so that your chest is clear, ready for skin to skin & immediate contact
  • There is the odd time when a baby needs support, just a little help with oxygen or to clear their airways. Why not ask that the resuscitation unit, scales etc are in your sight so you can see baby at all times
  • It’s also your choice to decide when baby is weighed, if they are rubbed, washed etc. You can request these things are delayed. You can request care providers leave vernix & natural bacteria on your baby’s skin as much as possible as there are so many benefits
  • How you feed your baby is your choice. It’s important to discuss this with the team caring for & add to your preferences. This is to ensure that your baby is fed how you choose. If you are planning to bottle feed using formula, do you want to give that first bottle or are you happy for your partner or someone else to? If you are going to breastfeed you could consider collecting colostrum in advance towards the end of pregnancy, in case of a delay in your milk coming in which can occasionally happen with a c-section or if you might be in recovery after having a general anaesthetic & someone else might need to feed your baby until you are ready
  • Leaving vernix & natural good bacteria on baby’s skin for as long as possible for gut & immune health
  • Vaginal seeding – using a cotton gauze or swab with vaginal fluids on to transfer the vaginal flora to the mouth, nose & skin of your newborn baby, that would normally be collected during a vaginal birth. This theory behind vaginal seeding is to transfer maternal vaginal bacteria to your baby to protect their immune system & help to colonize their gut to help reduce the chances of conditions such as asthma. This might not be supported by your hospital trust so might be something you have to do should you wish to carry out the procedure
  • Why not create yourself a post birth box in advance to keep with you wherever you sit/go, in the hospital & at home. Pack it with everything you might need so you don’t have to keep getting up & down. Perhaps things like a water bottle, breast pads, snacks, tv remote, lip balm, hand cream, phone charger, muslin etc

For more information on how to prepare for a c-section, discover the blog here.

p.s don't forget you got this mama!

Love Sophia x