Preparing for a c-section

Deciding to get pregnant again was not something that came easily to me because I was afraid of a repeat of what happened before – pre-eclampsia, a traumatic c-section birth experience and a challenge to bring my blood pressure down after the birth of my daughter. It’s been a long journey of healing, understanding what happened, learning how I could have prepared and supported myself better through the process as well as accepting that the birth I experienced was also the birth that my daughter chose – I was simply a vessel providing her entry into the world.

I knew that I had to be prepared to go through it all again in order to receive the incredible gift at the end – a healthy happy daughter that brings me so much joy. I thankfully got to that place of embracing the little soul that I knew was waiting for me to get ready for it’s arrival and now at 9 months pregnant I’m excited to meet this little person in the flesh!

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With the benefit of hindsight, I realised that in order to feel prepared for this next birth I needed to fully confront c-sections and empower myself with knowledge before going into delivery, something I didn’t do in my first pregnancy. I have taken a much more involved process – empowering myself with birthing knowledge through books, internet research and listening to other women’s stories. I started an antenatal support group in Providenciales in June this year and each session so far has been so rich in both stories and invaluable advice.  I am so deeply grateful for the female community I have connected with and feel incredibly supported, something I didn’t actively do or appreciate the value of first time around.  So if you’re pregnant and haven’t connected with other mothers, I encourage you to do so.

In getting to grips with what’s involved in a c-section, I’ve learnt how I can support myself before, during and after if there is a need for another one.

Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best

This blog post shares a check list of the gems that I have discovered and my hope is that it helps other women out there prepare and perhaps even find some healing from past c-section experiences that didn’t go as smoothly as they had hoped.

Preparations to make while pregnant:

  • Healthy eating, exercise and staying fit are really important to maintain while pregnant.  There is more of a chance of the operation going well and a quicker recovery.  The ideal is to get fit prior to getting pregnant.
  • Prepare lots of meals that can be frozen and used up in the weeks after delivery.  If the community around you wants to do a food delivery rota for you even better!
  • Pack your hospital bag well in advance – if you’re delivering in Turks & Caicos you might find this post on preparing your hospital bag useful.
  • Build up your immune system before delivery to avoid colds.  This helps with a quick recovery and also you don’t want to be coughing or sneezing after a c-section as this can be uncomfortable and painful.
  • From as early as 20 weeks pregnant listen to some form of self-hypnosis recording to help the body and mind prepare for deep relaxation and going to a safe place.  Recommended programs include The Gentle Birth Method by Dr. Gowri Motha and Hypnobirthing the Mongan Method.  Just as you exercise your body, it’s equally important to exercise the mind and learn to consciously take the body into deep relaxation.  Being able to initiate this during delivery can help keep you calm and relaxed.  Having your birth companion on board with this is also extremely helpful.
  • Cover your walls with positive mantras that resonate with you.  Repeat them daily and ingrain them in your mind.  Also make sure that your birth companion knows them so that they can help remind you during delivery.
  • Create a vision board of empowering images, people or words that remind you of your strength and the incredible capability of the female body.  Take this vision board with you into your delivery so that you can call on it’s power to support you.  To add to it’s effectiveness even more, photograph it and use the image as your phone and/or computer home screen/screen saver.
  • Decide what you would like to do with your placenta after delivery.  I was handed mine in a plastic bag while still on the operating table and thought the midwife who was giving it to me was crazy.  It was only afterwards that I realised what an incredible gift she was handing me. If you’re interested in finding out more look into ‘placenta encapsulation’ to find out the many health benefits that can be gained from ingesting the placenta as well as how this can significantly reduce the likelihood of postnatal depression. Placenta the forgotten chakra by Robin Lim is a fantastic resource.

Emergency or Elective and then there’s a natural c-section:

  • If you have the choice, allowing yourself time to go into labour naturally (without any induction drugs) prior to a c-section can help ease the recovery period.  I’m not quite sure what the explanation for this is, however from the stories I have heard it’s something to do with the natural hormones that the body is able to produce during labour (instead of having them artificially introduced) which aids in the recovery.
  • In an emergency c-section there is less physical transition time from pregnancy to delivery and this can be challenging for both mother and baby.  If you’ve chosen an elective c-section then if possible light a candle the night before delivery, talk to the baby (it really does listen to you and wants to work with you) and tell it what’s going to happen.
  • “Natural” or “gentle” c-sections are new to the medical world since I delivered five years ago and allow for more inclusion of the first family moments together. In essence, a gentle c-section allows parents to incorporate some of the more natural aspects of childbirth that are important to them, such as being able to witness the delivery (dropping the drape after the incision), holding the baby right away (the pediatric team can do the resuscitation of the baby on the mother’s chest), immediate breastfeeding, and keeping the mother and baby together as much as possible.  Here’s a video of an incredible natural c-section where the baby wriggles out of the womb itself.  Check with your medical support team if they would be prepared to help you achieve this provided it is safe for both you and the baby.

What to pack in your hospital bag

In addition to the items listed on what to pack in your hospital bag for delivery in Turks & Caicos some of the popular c-section suggestions include:

  • Big granny pants – you may be given the advice of packing disposable pants, but they’re really uncomfortable.  Instead get yourself some nice big granny pants that you’re not too precious about soiling.  Your lady parts will thank you for it as well as your scar 😉
  • Massive pads – when I had my c-section I assumed that because I didn’t have a vaginal birth I wouldn’t bleed that much.  This is definitely not the case! A good stash of massive pads will do the trick.
  • Extra pillows – there is never enough in the hospital
  • A playlist that can be put on for the delivery – what sounds do you want to welcome your baby into the world with?

During the surgery:

  • Put all of that daily practice that you have made with self-hynosis and going to your safe place to work.
  • Use your mantras – mantras engage the breath, calm the mind by reducing stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and allow for more oxygen to flow through the body.  “I can do this” is an example of a mantra.
  • Put your trust in the the surgeons to look after your health and the baby’s health.  Visualise white light covering everyone, protecting you all.

What to do immediately after delivery:

  • Delay the cord cutting for as long as possible.  You might want to look into half lotus or full lotus births.  There are many benefits for the baby to delay the cord cutting for as long as possible.
  • Walk as soon as possible – circulation helps with healing
  • Have skin to skin as soon as possible and for as long as you’re able with you baby. Lay them naked on your naked chest and snuggle them to help stimulate the love hormones to explode in your body. This helps with bonding, stimulating the milk let down and helping the uterus contract.
  • Eat lots of fibre, prunes and dark greens to counteract iron supplements after the blood loss. This can help you avoid becoming constipated. Don’t just stick to the hospital food and get someone to bring you in nutritious fresh juices or smoothies packed with goodness.
  • Pain control is important since pain interferes with the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps your milk flow. Make sure that your medical support team are helping you keep on top of the pain.
  • Keep everything you or baby will need within reach to avoid any unnecessary movement.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – drinking water and other fluids can help replace the fluid lost during delivery and breast-feeding, as well as prevent constipation.
  • Walk the halls of the hospital for a quicker recovery. From the research I have gathered from mothers who have been through a c-section, those that got moving quicker were able to have a much quicker and gentler recovery.
  • Your milk may take it’s time to come in so give it time. Breast massage can help to stimulate the let down.

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Hospital care:

  • Have someone massage your feet or give your shoulders a rub.  Even better, get someone to come in and give you Reiki, reflexology or even acupuncture especially if you feel as if your body is holding any tension or trauma from the surgery.  I stored tons in my body and didn’t arrange anything to help for a very long time – don’t make this mistake.
  • Depending where you deliver, you may be sharing a room with other women and babies during your hospital stay.  I don’t think there is really any way to prepare for this. The temptation to use earplugs is high, however not possible with a little baby to look after.  Enquiring about the possibility of a private room may help or simply having an awareness that this may be one obstacle to navigate so arrive with a prepared mindset.

Caring for yourself in the days and weeks after surgery:

  • Experiment with different breastfeeding positions to find one that supports your body and most importantly your scar.  Use lots of pillows or try nursing on your side.  Sitting completely upright supported with lots of pillows is a recommended position.
  • Once your scar begins to heal massaging it with vitamin E oil daily will help to break down any scar tissue as well as reducing the level of scaring.
  • Arrange for a therapist to come to your home and give you a massage or any other treatment that tickles your fancy.  Even better, take yourself for a pedicure or get your hair washed and blow dried in a salon, anything that makes you feel feminine and loved.
  • Get as much rest as you possibly can and try to stay in bed for at least 2 weeks of babymooning time, with the occasional walks as well to help with the healing. Take this opportunity to connect with your baby and don’t worry about any house work.  It can wait.  Even better, invite the many visitors to help out with tasks like cleaning the bathroom, doing a load of laundry, cooking a meal.  Now is the time to embrace the feminine quality of receiving with grace.
  • If you already have a child arrange a play date schedule for them to allow you time alone to bond with your baby.  Getting help with the morning school drop off will give you time to gently start your day.  Also make sure to have alone time with them while the baby is being cared for by someone else.

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Regardless of how the baby is delivered, the very fact that they arrive with you both safe and sound is a miracle in itself.  Embrace the incredible ability and power of your body to grow this beautiful soul and know that you are incredible!  Also remember that the hands of the ancestors are clutching your baby and escorting it earth side with love.

If you have any more suggestions of how to prepare for a c-section please share them in the comments section below.  I would love to hear them and have an opportunity to implement them myself if the need arises.

 

 

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