Are you giving birth by c-section? Maybe you have known since before you got pregnant that that was going to be the best option for you. Or maybe something unexpected has come up in pregnancy, and you and your doctor have decided that cesarean is the safest route of delivery. Regardless of how and why you got here, you almost certainly have a lot of questions!
As your doulas, we are there every step of the way to help you get answers to those questions, and to help you come up with a great plan to prepare both mentally and emotionally for your birth. After all, cesarean birth is still birth!
Here are five things we might recommend to you as you begin to prepare for your birth:
Write a birth plan.
You might be thinking, “A birth plan? For a planned c-section?” You may be surprised to learn that there are almost always options for you as you deliver your baby by cesarean. A birth plan is a great tool to use to learn about your options during delivery, and there almost always options! Your doulas can help you organize your thoughts and ideas for having the best experience possible meeting your new baby, whether that is immediate skin-to-skin, a clear drape to see the birth, or even the possibility for delayed cord clamping. If you are in the Cincinnati or Dayton area, we are familiar with what options may be available at your chosen hospital!
Write a postpartum plan.
Recovery from cesarean can be tough, and it takes a bit longer than recovery from a typical vaginal delivery. A postpartum plan is a great way to think ahead of time about what needs you and your family might have in the first days and weeks after the birth, and what resources you have available to help meet those needs. You might consider things like: who is going to make meals, who is going to run errands, who will take older siblings to school, who will be in charge of 2am diaper changes, etc. And of course, your doula can help you think about what to include in your individual circumstance.
Create a support system for yourself and your family.
This goes hand-in-hand with writing a birth plan and postpartum plan. Who is on your team for this pregnancy, for the birth, and afterward, and what role will each person play? This system includes your friends and family who can and will help you with specific needs before, during, and after you give birth. Your doctor is a part of this support system, keeping you healthy and safe, and your labor doula and postpartum doulas are another invaluable addition, looking after your emotional well-being, and helping to fill in the cracks. Other professionals you might consider adding to your team are: a great IBCLC for lactation and feeding questions afterward, a professional counselor if you are having some difficult emotions surrounding your pregnancy or birth, and even a women’s health physical therapist to help you have a strong and healthy pregnancy, and a strong and healthy recovery afterward.
Take care of yourself.
This may seem simple, but many women and new mothers struggle to find the time and energy to put themselves first as they selflessly consider the needs of their baby and family. Remember that your body is growing and sustaining a new life, and that you deserve to be supported in that process by staying hydrated, eating well, staying active (as long as it is ok with your doctor), and taking the time for some relaxation and self-care, whatever that means to you.
Connect with your baby.
Be sure that in the midst of all of this preparation, you take the time to bond with your baby if you can! This can look like: simply spending a few minutes each day with a hand on your belly thinking about your baby, reading a book or singing a song to him or her, or even having maternity photos taken.
Have you prepared for a cesarean birth? What did you do to prepare, and what did you find most helpful? Share a comment below!