Birth can be a roller coaster, caesarean even more so – for a woman who has set her heart on a vaginal birth, then the news that this baby is to be born via caesarean can be a real blow.
For a women who is choosing for any reason a caesarean birth it can give peace and empowerment – birth is birth.
So how can we set about ensuring that this is a positive experience.
This video of a mother birthing her own baby by caesarean shows that anything is possible in the theatre as long as staff are open minded to a different way of birth.
This video shows a father assisted birth – in some hospitals birth is being treated as the parent centred, spiritual, magical event it is.
In all situations, use your TBRAIN – ensure you are fully informed, that you understand the reasons behind the caesarean and what all your options are, ask if you can have some TIME, what are the BENEFITS, the RISKS, the ALTERNATIVES, what does your INTUITION say, what happens if you do NOTHING. Be reassured this is still your birth, you can still own it, be empowered by it and enjoy it.
Liaise with your Health Care Professionals, the midwife and consultant, on the day ask to speak with theatre staff, the midwife, the consultant, the anaesthetist (who really holds the key to theatre), write a good birth intentions. No-one is a mind reader, no-one can know what you want until you tell them.
Mother centred caesareans should be the norm – and in parts of the UK they already are.
Consider ways you can personalise your birth. A few suggestions that can be considered are
- aromatherapy oils on tissues or cloth
- a Birth and or Post Natal Doula
- hypno birthing techniques before and during the birth
- your own music
- gown back to front to facilitate skin to skin
- ensuring no-one announces sex of the baby
- protected golden hour
- delayed cord clamping and milking of it
- placenta encapsulation
- lowered lights and voices in the room (just not over the operating table)
- staff being mindful this is a birth and focusing on bringing life into the world
- asking a member of staff to take photographs on your camera or phone
- a lotus caesarean birth (where the placenta is kept with the baby until you are ready for them to be apart)
- walk to your birth.
Walking to your birth, rather than being pushed there on a trolley is a much more empowered way – it means you are walking into theatre and have a chance to ask questions and make your wishes known, to read out your intentions and ensure that all staff are aware of them so there can be no mistaking them.
This ensures you are seen as a birthing woman rather than being taken in as a compliant patient.
Your birth partner or Doula can remind staff of your wishes at any point in the birth process.
Research and consider seeding the biome. To quote my fellow Doula, Lisa from Birth Roots “If you have c-birth, consider vaginal seeding/swabbing to increase these microbiome. A wise move to embed it into your birth preferences in your ‘what ifs’.” This is where a sterile guaze is places into the vagina and wiped over the baby to transfer some of the natural healthy bacteria the baby would have received onto their skin during a vaginal birth. More information can be found, here, “Seeding” The Newborn’s Microbiome – Can We Do It? Should We Be Doing It”. which discusses the importance of a healthy vaginal microbiome, taking into account GBS and vaginal pH.
A handy tip from Lisa of Women Are Amazing is that “if caesarean birth is necessary then skin-to-skin and breastfeeding are still important ways to promote a healthy microbiome.
It’s worth also asking about the timing of any iv antibiotics at a caesarean because if they can be given after baby is born they won’t affect a baby’s gut flora (although they maybe passed on through breastfeeding, the benefits of this far outweigh any negatives).”
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A new(ish) idea is an in labour caesarean – which is where you wait for the body to begin the birth process and then go to hospital for a planned caesarean. This has the benefits of allowing the baby to come at the right time for him or her – starting the birth process also has benefits for the baby’s lungs.
If you are birthing under a general anaesthetic then you still have choices, your own music, photography, asking staff to skin to skin the baby and take a photo so you know your baby has been on you.
A lovely idea is to record yourself telling the baby a story and to have that played in theatre so the baby is born to the sound of your voice. You can have a nappy put straight on the baby so that no-one knows the gender until you awake and ready.
In all births there are choices that can make for a positive experience.
The impact of a positive caesarean birth cannot be underestimated, it can leave women feeling ecstatic, to quote Charlotte Bessent about the birth of her second child, Sophie, “On the back of a previous traumatic birth I was overwhelmed with anxiety in the run up to this birth, but with the help of a fantastic team of understanding midwives who listened to my wants and needs and understood them and with the support of everyone involved with the South Wales Birth Circle (formerly Cardiff and Caerphilly Positive Birth Movement), I had a positive and healing birth, although not the birth I expected it was completely centred around us and our new bundle”.
Ensure you have uninterrupted skin to skin for the first hour, weighing can wait, babies do not need to be wiped over or dressed, your baby can and should be passed straight to you unless there is a medical issue that means otherwise. If a baby cannot skin to skin with the mother then skin to skin with the birth partner can take place.
This first hour is a crucial time. Many medical checks can also be carried out with the baby on your chest. More information on the Golden Hour can be read here “The Golden Hour, Giving Your Newborn The Best Start”.
My clients practice responsive parenting from the first post birth moments. They are the ones on wards with naked babies, tucked into their tops, or topless in recovery with a naked baby on them (not even a nappy at times), some of my clients do not dress their babies until they are actually leaving the hospital, regardless of length of stay – this supports the bonding process and their breast feeding journey.
Rachels positive caesaerean birth story can be found HERE.
Watch the following video, which is a video on family centred caesareans made by senior consultants – you can always play it to your care providers if they seem reluctant to take your views on board. Family Centred Caesarean Video. I can help to support you get the birth you want and deserve, however that happens.
Positive Caesarean birth, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.
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