Birth can be positive and empowering however and wherever it happens, yet some women can feel disappointed and that they’ve failed if they have a caesarean. This can lead to post-natal depression, difficulty with bonding and struggles with breastfeeding. There are many reasons for caesarean birth – very few are emergencies. Most are unplanned and happen as a result of labour not progressing (there can be a variety of different reasons for this). Some caesareans are planned during pregnancy and there is likely to be a medical need in these instances.
Considering how you would like a caesarean to happen while you are pregnant, can mean you feel like you are taking a more active role in your birth should this situation present itself. I tell my clients that it’s important to educate yourselves, understand your options and decide your preferences for varying scenarios. Once you have done this, focus on the birth you hope to achieve, practise and prepare. Going into birth feeling informed and armed with tools and techniques to help you stay calm and focused, regardless of how your journey unfolds, can have a profound and hugely positive impact on how you feel about your experience and those early weeks of parenthood.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I was anxious about giving birth and unaware of the importance of preparation. My son ended up being born via unplanned caesarean and I felt very much swept away by the whole process, asking very few questions. Following my first experience of birth, I soon realised how unprepared I was. When I fell pregnant with my daughter around 2 and a half years later, I wanted to go into labour feeling more positive and more prepared and it is through hypnobirthing that I learnt about the ‘gentle caesarean’.
A gentle caesarean (sometimes to referred to as a ‘natural’ caesarean) is, essentially, a caesarean birth which maintains as many aspects of a vaginal birth as possible.
- There are many benefits to both mum and baby when birth happens vaginally, and these include the seeding of the microbiome. When a baby is born vaginally it picks up on all of mum’s ‘friendly’ bacteria as it passes down through the birth canal and out into the world. The bacteria help to colonise the gut and develop baby’s immune system. Immediate skin-to-skin after birth, can support the development of the baby’s own microbiome and can also encourage the natural bonding process. You may wish to ask for your gown to be on backwards and for any electrodes to be on your shoulders or back so that skin-to-skin time can happen straight away, even as you are being stitched up.
- Another benefit of a vaginal birth is that as baby descends through the birth canal, its lungs are massaged which helps to remove any mucous in his or her chest. You can ask for baby to be born slowly to help this massage to take place during a caesarean birth too. Incredibly, if you are having an unplanned caesarean following a spontaneous labour, your uterine surges can actually help to push baby out through the incision which results in this gentle massaging and a calmer entrance into the world.
Other things you may like to consider asking for include:
- Listening to a relaxation script before theatre.
- Low lighting, where possible, and listening to an audio playing while baby is being born can help to create a calm and relaxed environment.
- Curtain lowered or no curtain so you can watch baby being born
- Optimal cord clamping to allow baby to receive all of the blood still in the cord and placenta upon birth.
- Birth partner to cut cord and announce baby’s sex (if you do not already know it).
Discuss your birth preferences with your medical caregivers and write them down. Ensure you have also talked them through with your birth partner(s) as they will be your biggest advocate during labour and birth and a huge support. Nobody can predict the journey your birth will take. Go into labour feeling educated, informed and prepared so you can make the decisions that are right for you and your baby on the day.
Many people believe hypnobirthing is just for natural, vaginal births but hypnobirthing can help you prepare for induced births and caesarean births too. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.