Making the Most of a Cesarean

With the national cesarean rate of 29.1%, every pregnant woman has at least a 1 and 4 chance that she may give birth through a surgical procedure. Although most women do not plan a cesarean, it is always wise to be educated on your options if this procedure were to become necessary. Childbirth can be a time when a woman feels out of control with little input into her birth decisions. Educating yourself about all the options you may face in the childbirth process allows you to be a strong advocate for your ideal birth. The following are some things to consider and discuss, so you will be prepared if a cesarean birth becomes necessary.

Tips for Creating a Positive Birth Experience:

  • Create a flexible birth plan. Having a plan that you can discuss with your health care provider can give you information about their specific cesarean policies and procedures.
  • Find out what the policies and regulations are for the cesarean operating room at your birthing location
  • If possible, arrange to have at least one support person with your during the operation. Two support people with you is ideal, so that one can always be with you and the other with the baby, but this would have to be permitted by your birth setting and sometimes is more difficult to get approved.
  • Ask if music can be played—this can often help you relax.
  • Practice the deep breathing and relaxation methods you learned in childbirth class. Use these to help calm you before the surgery begins.
  • Find out as much as possible about the medication and anesthesia used during a cesarean. Ask about all options and possible side affects to you and the baby.
  • Ask to watch the birth with a mirror.
  • Ask to have a hand free to touch the baby immediately after the birth.
  • Arrange for your partner to cut the cord
  • Ask if you would be able to have the baby placed on your chest while the newborn exam is performed.
  • Have pictures and video taken if the birth setting allows.
  • If you are planning to breastfeed, find out when you could begin after the surgery.
  • Read books that educate women about cesarean birth and remember that no matter what type of birth you may have, the most important goal is to have a healthy baby and a healthy mom!
Last Updated: 09/2008

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Childbirth Connection,

American Pregnancy Association,

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