A Positive Caesarean.
Not all women can achieve a vaginal birth, for their own specific
reasons. So, although Birthrites' considers a VBAC to be the best
option for both Mother and Baby, where possible, we realise that it
may not always be a viable option when each pregnancy/birth is considered
We have, therefore, produced this page in the hope of your caesarean
being a "better" experience than it may have been last time. We hope
you will remind your Obstetrician that Birth is a sacred event, even
when it is surgical, and you would appreciate it being treated as
such. This is the birth of your child, a completely different surgical
experience than any other, an experience to be treated as similarly
to a vaginal birth experience as is humanly possible.
*These are just some suggestions to make your
caesarean more acceptable to both yourself and your baby. Suggestions
have been sent to me by email, and I update the page to include them
as they arrive... Thankyou for all your wonderful ideas - don't hesitate
to send more to Webmaster@birthrites.org
- If you do need a caesarean, then it would be better for you to
receive a spinal/epidural anaesthetic and remain conscious during
the operation, participating in the birth of your child.
- If an emergency caesarean is necessary, under general anaesthetic,
then be sure your baby is given to your partner as soon as possible
after birth and held by him (hopefully next to his naked chest -
skin to skin contact) until you are awake and can be told of the
baby's sex and well-being (by your partner).
- If an elective caesarean is necessary, then you should request
that you be able to begin labour naturally before the caesarean
is done. That is, you do not want a date and time preset, you wish
for your baby to decide the day on which it is ready to be born
to avoid any problems with prematurity and for both of you to reap
the benefits of your hormones.
- If you are convinced that a scheduled caesarean must be performed,
then you should request preoperative blood work and tests to be
done on an out-patient basis, and hospital admission on the day
of the birth (not the night before).
- Your baby should remain with you at all times, no disappearing
off to the nursery with your partner. No matter how "nice" this
is, it may seriously affect your bonding with your child. If your
baby must go to the nursery, then DO send your partner and encourage
the "skin-to-skin" contact mentioned before. Your baby will really
be craving this beautiful contact, and should recognise your partner's
- Would you, and your partner, like to view the actual birth? Then
make sure your Ob. realises this... Tell him you (both?) would like
the option of viewing the birth, either by lowering the screen or
by positioning a mirror. Maybe your previous caesarean is still
a bit unreal, as you never have actually seen a baby leave your
body - they tend to just appear from behind the green screen and
be held up for a quick look before they disappear to be wrapped
up and tested.
- Make sure theatre staff realise that you would appreciate a verbal
description of the birth as it occurs. You may have previously felt
left out of your past caesarean(s) as your body and labour might
have been discussed as though you weren't there.
- How about asking the surgeon to leave the
umbilical cord long and allow the father or mother the chance to
cut it. That way the parents do not miss out on the sensation
or their own right to tell their story of 'cutting a cord.
- I bet you would love to meet your new baby in his/her unclothed,
naked newborn state - a wet, slippery baby? Then request that the
baby please be placed on your chest with a warm blanket over you
both. It would do a lot to make this surgical delivery a bit more
natural for mother, father and baby. And it may even resolve a few
inner conflicts that are faced after the birth.
- How about breastfeeding your baby straight away, rather than hours
later? Let them know that you would like to feed your baby while
you are being sutured, if you feel up to it, and you would like
your baby to stay with you throughout the surgery and even during
the recovery. Or you could arrange for the lactation consultant
of the hospital (or your own privte one) to be present at the ceasarean
birth and bring the baby to you in recovery, to breastfeed within
that first hour of birth.
- Let them know that your partner would be delighted to hold his/her
child within your view throughout these procedures, if you feel
unable to participate in the bonding (at least you would be able
to witness it this time).
- You may also be able to organise with your doctor to allow a quiet
relaxation CD to be played throughout the birth. Chosen by
the parents of course. They may find the music so enjoyable, that
they may make it a regular part of caesarean births. Don't let it
intrude on the birth, though, just gently enhance the experience.
- And lastly, what about that placenta? Most women who birth vaginally
get to see it, at least, and maybe you would like to to. Make sure
theatre staff know you want to view the placenta. Make sure they
realise the importance of this and let them know not to just discard
a part of you that you have carried for nine months as insignificant.
You may like to take the placenta home, to plant under a tree, or
even to eat (see the placentophagy article)
so please tell them to be sure to make suitable arrangements with
you to see that this happens.
- Make a birth plan! Have several copies with you and give it to
everyone invovled in you caesarean!!! They won't know what is important
to you unless you let them know. Have a look at the birthplan
on this website, but adjust it or produce your own.
*Some comments Birthrites was sent by email:
Hello, I was reading
with interest your article on Positive Caesarean Experience and I
wanted to add a few more things (based on my own experience) that
might be useful to others: -
- Write to the head of the birthing suite and operating theatre
in the hospital about your birth plan. That way they have plenty
of time to fully understand what you want, as well as give them
the opportunity to raise with you any concerns they may have. Once
you have both reached an agreement about your c/s then get that
agreement in writing and take it with you to the hospital so staff
do not have to run around and "get approval" from the "appropriate
- Get the hospital to take you through every step of a c/s procedure.
Make sure they explain to you every light and every sound. Much
of the anxiety happens when you can see flashing lights and disturbing
noises and you don't know what it means (and the staff seem too
busy or intent on doing other things.) If they don't know how to
take you through the c/s procedure, then get your hospital to contact
The Calvary Ante-Natal Clinic in Canberra. They have written an
excellent course on c/s procedure (which anyone can attend - prior
or after the birth).
- Make sure that there is someone to take digital photos of
the birth and the bub (in case you are having a GA). Then if the
bub has to be taken away to Special Care Nursery (SCN), you can
see pics of the bub as soon as you wake from the procedure and while
you are being wheeled into SCN.
- After being wheeled into the recovery room, ask that they
dim the lights for you and bub. (Note this might not be possible
- especially if you have a few other patients in the recovery ward
and checks requiring observations are being done all the time).
- You might want a special blanket to wrap bub in while waiting
with you at recovery. Note that if bub is with you at recovery,
most hospitals will require a midwife to be in attendance. This
is why its a good idea to get the head of maternity and operating
theatre involved very early - to assist with staffing requirements.
- I didn't end up having a caesarean but a VBAC for my second
child, but I did have a birth plan in the event of another emergency
c/s. Still I found that doing/planning for the above very empowering.
I hope that your caesarean is everything
that you need to make it acceptable to you. That you and your baby
reap the rewards of foreplanning a better birth experience, both
physically and emotionally.
*Another wonderful website/resource to visit,
for further information in regard to planning a positive caesarean,
is located at:
If you have something to contribute to this
page, please email it to
is also an online support group for you called novbac. To subscribe,
go to http://www.onelist.com
and select the "Find List" option from the section on the left.
Then type "novbac" into the search field and select search.