Did You Make a Birth Plan for Your C-Section? Why You Should

Photo adapted via Flickr/ Daquella manera
Photo adapted via Flickr/ Daquella manera

When I was pregnant with my first child — just over 8 years ago — I read a lot about what to expect during labor and birth, but had no real idea of what to expect. I was the first of my friends and siblings to have a child and as much as I read, I didn't realize how important some things would be during labor and birth.

I didn't have a birth plan for my first labor and birth. I trusted the doctors and thought that all things would just go as they were meant to go. I thought the idea of a birth plan was just some need for control and something that should only be done if you're opposed to any medical intervention — but I was wrong about that.

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A birth plan is a written guide of preferences regarding how you would like your labor and delivery would go. In it, you discuss any plans for pain medication; share your positions on interventions like an episiotomy, vacuum, or forceps delivery; specify your preference for who will cut the cord; state your allowable interventions for when your child is born, and so on. It's not meant to be an “end all”, but a documentation of your preferences so your care providers know where you stand. At the time, I felt like it was something the nurses and doctor would just roll their eyes at and it wasn't necessary.

After a very difficult labor and birth, I realized I was wrong. In that moment of labor and birth you're so focused on getting your baby into the world safely that it is easy to just do and trust everything the doctors say. While they do know what they're talking about, there are moments where you may want to do things differently, but if you're not able to voice it, that's where your birth plan comes in.

For my third child, I had a written birth plan for my vaginal birth. It wasn't like I was able to have all my preferences met, but I felt a lot more in control and the labor and birth were a lot easier in the moment and as far as recovery went. I was so happy that I had taken the time to make a birth plan, as every article I'd read had suggested, but that was only in the case of a vaginal birth.

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Almost a month ago, I gave birth to my fourth child, but it was different this time. I had a scheduled c-section, my first one, and I decided to make a birth plan for that as well — even though it's not something we hear often for a c-section. It was the best decision, because even though there are so many medical interventions necessary during surgery, there are preferences you can make known to the team in order to make the experience more family centered.

I was so happy I had made a birth plan and discussed it with my care team for my c-section because it took me away from this highly medical situation and helped me tailor it more to what I wanted. While there are a lot of things you can't control in a c-section, there are some things you can have your team consider.

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What did I include in my c-section birth plan?

  • I didn't want my arms strapped down during the procedure. My doctors were on board and okay with this as long as I promised not to move my hands over the surgical drape. 
  • I wanted to have a spinal and not an epidural.
  • I wanted to have my husband in the room and for him to be able to have our digital camera.
  • I wanted to have the baby placed skin-to-skin as soon as possible during the time they were finishing the closing.
  • I wanted to have staples used and kept in for a week, versus stitches or glue. 

Other people like to include other items including music during the surgery, pain medication after the fact, and additional preferences for the way the process is handled.  You can also find other tips for a family-centered birth plan here.

It may seem silly to write all these preferences down and you may feel that your care providers will just roll their eyes at you, but you shouldn't let that stop you. A birth plan can help you get the best out of your birth even when you're not able to avoid medical procedures. Feeling in control — even with just small steps — can made a big difference between a labor and birth that leaves you feeling upset and one that leaves you with a great memory. 

:: Did you make a birth plan for your labor and birth? ::

What do you think?

Did You Make a Birth Plan for Your C-Section? Why You Should

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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2 comments

  1. Cherie says:

    why did you want staples used?

  2. TaKeisha says:

    Nice article. It is a good thing to have a C-Section plan in place, because you never know when the doctor may have to do an emergency C-Section. At least he/she can follow the C-Section birth plan that you have.

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