April is Cesarean Awareness Month and the goal is to raise awareness and educate people about cesareans. I was fortunate that I had a positive experience with my own planned cesarean of a 9.9 pound breech baby but so many women struggle with the mental and psychical trauma of having major surgery, especially if it was an emergency cesarean.
Even more so, women are typically told that if they had a cesarean, they will have to have one next time. According to ICAN – recent studies have shown that there was an over 80% success rate for VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean)! My OBGYN said that it was entirely possible for me to have a VBAC next time if that is what I wanted but confessed that most of the smaller hospitals tend to pressure women into having a cesarean because of the perceived risk.
In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; the United States current rate is over 30%!
If you have to have a cesarean birth, here are a few tips for you.
- Own your birth. I had planned a vaginal birth from the very beginning. Having a c-section never crossed my mind. So many cesareans are unplanned which I feel leads to the risk of physical and mental trauma for the mother. Even if you are 100% confident that you will have a vaginal birth, take some time to research cesareans – read a couple of birth stories, look up some of the recovery information. That way if it turns out that you do need one, you may feel a bit more prepared for it instead of having everything thrown on you at once.
- Explore Gentle Cesarean Options. Many hospitals are moving towards gentle cesareans – an option that is more mom and family centered. Some of the things you can do is:
- Request skin-to-skin while in the operating room and have the attendant help you initiate breastfeeding right there. This is key. On top of this, see if your baby can stay with you while your incision is being closed up. I was separated from Caleb for about 10 minutes right at the end (when they had to move me) but my partner went with Caleb to the recovery room where my mom was waiting to see him. It can be traumatizing for so many women to have their baby just taken from them as soon as he is out of their body and I was blessed to have such a nurturing staff.
- See if pictures can be taken in the operating room – they may not allow an additional photographer in there but we were allowed to use a cell phone and one of the attendants even took our first family photo while they closed me up!
- Ask if the hospital would still practice delayed cord clamping and see if your partner could cut the cord again. Typically the doctor will cut it during a cesarean but did offer the opportunity for my partner to trim it afterward (I think he declined).
- Check to see if your doula can be in the operating room with you. Even though your partner will typically be in the operating room with you, chances are that he will be so overwhelmed that it will help to have someone to attend to your needs and keep you calm.
- Get moving! The next day after my cesarean, I started getting out of bed. Sure, I would only take about 5 steps but I was doing something (even better, I only needed help once getting to the bathroom)! As soon as you can, start moving your toes and your legs. Moving will help prevent blood clots, get your bowels moving, and help eliminate the gas buildup. Just don’t overdo it!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Moms deserve to taken care of during the postpartum period by family, friends, or by postpartum doulas. Don’t worry about sounding weak. If you are in need of something, make it known!
Over all – give yourself time to heal and enjoy your new baby.
Did you have to have a cesarean?