TMM Expert Doula and Birthing Coach Laura Berkeley shares her advice on how to prepare for a C-Section.
Whether planned or unplanned, there are many things you can do before your baby’s arrival. You may have heard of all of the ‘practical’ ways to prepare for your ‘operation’ but in fact there may be emotions to explore as well which is really important.
Here are my top suggestions:
• Read – evidence based information, look at articles based on evidence, know your rights, research your options & read positive birth stories
• Look at your preferences – what elements of physiological birth can you transfer to an abdominal birth? What can you & your care providers facilitate? What are your negotiables & non-negotiables
• Prepare your mind – hypnobirthing, work on your mindset, seek antenatal or perinatal support
• Prepare your body – physically, eat well, look at specific nutrition, exercise, movement. Breathing techniques, deep relaxation tools, homeopathy, osteopathy, massage
• Seek care providers that support your wishes. If your current trust doesn’t you might wish to change care providers
• Doula support – having continuity of loving non bias support from a doula is invaluable. To help you prepare, someone to listen, advocate for you, be there for you for all types of birth. To be there before surgery begins, to be there waiting in recovery to support you & your family
• Postnatal doula – support in those early weeks, A c section is major abdominal surgery & recovery can be challenging with a newborn. Some support with feeding, chores, meals, help with your baby, other children, a listening ear?
• Journal – take some time to write down all of your thoughts, feelings, worries & the things your are also looking forward to. This can help separate anything you are feeling, look at where you might need support & if you might like to research a particular topic, ask questions etc
Prepare for all scenarios, think about what’s important to you & how you might navigate abdominal birth. What elements of physiological birth could you replicate? What are your non negotiables?
Recovery. Think about the postnatal period. What might support your recovery? Who could help you, family, a postnatal doula? How might you need physical or emotional support? Are there local breastfeeding professionals in your area that could come to your home if you cannot drive?
Eat. Regardless of how birth unfolds it’s great to have some pre prepared meals in the freezer in advance. Some batch cooking, slow cooker meals? Hot nutritious food at the ready
Pack your hospital bag if planned & your ‘just in case’ bag in the event of an unplanned abdominal birth
Adaptation. How could you adapt your home, set up & daily tasks to support your postnatal recovery? Perhaps grab yourself a little caddy with all your essentials that you could keep with you rather than having to get up & down
Read & research as much as you can. Knowledge is power
Appointments. If you are attending prenatal appointments could someone go with you? After your baby is born is there someone that can drive you within that first 6 weeks?
Trust your instincts, your intuition, what you feel is right for you & your baby
Invest. In your birth and in you. Could you benefit from a doula? Some postnatal support? Or perhaps some physical support post birth. Make sure you look after you and invest in yourself.
Oxytocin. The happy hormone you need plenty of. How could your birth & postnatal recovery space be oxytocin rich? What things make you feel loved, happy & safe?
Non-negotiables. What are you not willing to negotiate? Skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, or maybe how your baby is fed?
How to prepare for your hospital stay
There are several things you can do/organise in advance for your hospital stay & how long that will be will depend on your personal circumstances. Some parents only stay in for around 24 hours/1 night depending on when your baby is born. If there have been complications or for your/baby’s health some support is needed, you may need to stay a few days or more
If you already have children you will need to arrange childcare & perhaps have conversations with your children about where you will be and what is happening.
Preparing your mind
- The average person has about 70,000 thoughts per day
- 1000’s of these thoughts are said to be not only negative, but are repeated again and again throughout the day, easily creating a negative frame of mind
- The person who is constantly thinking negative thoughts is consistently flooding their body with the stress hormones cortisol & adrenaline
- Affirmations allow us to consciously & subconsciously change our expectation of our journey or any area of our life
- We consistently create positive imagery & feelings to accompany our words. This repetition allows us to literally re-wire our brain & our expectations
How to write affirmations
- Must be completely positive
- Written in the first person
- Always in the present tense
- Not too far from your reality
Have a go at writing your own affirmations
- What is your worry or concern?
- What is your concern or worry?
- What is your concern or worry?
For more positive affirmations discover our Positive Affirmations guide here.
How to ensure you're relaxed
Establishing a routine for your breathing & relaxation practice
- Establishing a routine for practice is a must!
- If your mind & body are conditioned to relax, your surgery & postnatal recovery are more likely to be more positive
- When the body is relaxed it functions as it should – bleeding reduced, recovery optimized
- Select a time to practice/listen when you wont be disturbed, turn your phone off, shut out distractions
- You could use dim lights, candles, fairy lights to ensure you are relaxed & comfortable. Set aside time each for you and your baby
- Choose a comfortable place to relax – somewhere you can practice easily & regularly
- Pop to the loo first – full bladder = tension
- Make sure you are warm – essential for relieving any tension & releasing oxytocin
- Perhaps introduce an essential oil or particular smell to anchor your practice so your mind associates that smell with relaxation – you could use this prior & even in your surgery
Positions for relaxation
- If lying on your back, always place pillows behind your shoulders & neck to elevate upper body
- Eliminate tension & support your body by using pillows under bent knees and elbows
- Place pillows between knees & ankles if you lay on your side
- Pillows placed under arms create a “nest” aiding relaxation
- Tension in the jaws results in tension elsewhere in the body
- Achieving deep facial relaxation sets the tone for the rest of your body
- When you master facial relaxation, your jaw will be totally relaxed, which brings you into natural relaxation easily