The introduction of cesarean sections has without a doubt been a life-saving intervention. In rare cases such as with cord prolapse or eclampsia, there used to be little that could be done to save the baby and the mother. Today, we can save both. Even though it is agreed upon by the World Health Organization, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and many experienced physicians, that the rate of c-sections is too high in the United States, Brazil, and many other countries, the procedure itself is here to stay. While a cesarean section is major abdominal surgery and too often an upsetting end to a pregnancy, it doesn’t have to be scary or traumatic. In fact, family-centered cesareans are a growing trend in birth that takes the focus from the surgical procedure, widens the lens, and focuses on the family that is being created by the procedure. Parents who experience a family-centered cesarean have described their births a positive, amazing, and even “perfect”.
What is a Family-Centered Cesarean?
A family-centered cesarean is an approach to surgical births that incorporates elements into the birth in a way that includes the family in the process. One aspect of a family-centered approach is bringing the partner (and sometimes even the doula) into the operating room. To think there was a time when fathers weren’t even allowed in the delivery room and now they are being welcomed into the OR! Other elements may be things that encourage bonding and promote breastfeeding.
Planning for a Cesarean Birth
Even if you aren’t planning a cesarean birth, you should still prepare for a cesarean birth. Just like you never want to assume that your provider is going to be on board with any of your other preferences, you should never assume that a gentle or family-centered approach will be catered to in the event of a cesarean. In order to make sure your birth preferences are considered and respected in the event of a cesarean, you need to consider what those preferences are and review them with your care provider before the birth.
You can still have a birth plan if you are planning a cesarean birth, because you still have options!
If you are planning a vaginal birth, you should still make a cesarean birth plan or add a section to your birth plan outlining what your preferences are in the event of a cesarean.
Here are some things you may want to consider for your cesarean birth plan:
- Arms free to move around (as opposed to being strapped down)
- Gentle Cesarean
- Delayed Cord Clamping
- Immediate skin-to-skin
- Breastfeeding in the OR
- Vaginal Seeding
- Support persons to join you in the OR (partner & doula)
- Music to be played
- Clear drape or drape dropped to view the birth
- Delayed Bath
- Delayed Medications & Injections
- Photographs of the birth