I ranted earlier today about how bad some c-section mothers feel about their experience and that hearing women brag about their amazing births can be pretty upsetting. Well, I am here to tell you that a c-section does not always have to be a bad thing. Both of my c-sections were planned so I have a lot of advice for anyone who may be facing one. Let me be clear- I am only discussing planned c-sections here because that is what I have experience with personally. I know an emergency c-section is an entirely different story and can be incredibly traumatic for obvious reasons. That said, here are some thoughts on how to make your planned c-section a positive experience.
1. Ask Questions
Finding out ahead of time that you will need a c-section can be upsetting if you were not expecting it. Ask your doctor and the nurses any questions you can possibly think of. I know for me, hearing exactly what to expect, down to the kinds of terminology I might hear them throwing around during the surgery, was helpful in easing my anxiety.
2. Get A Second Opinion
If you are not entirely comfortable with your doctor's assessment, feel free to seek a second opinion. Even if you still end up in a c-section you may feel better about it knowing there was a consensus between two professionals.
3. Do Some Reading
Head to a message board and seek out mothers who have been through it to hear about their experiences. You can also Google the process of a c-section to read about what to expect in the operating room or to learn about recovery time. Again, knowledge may help to calm your fears and make you feel empowered in a situation where many mothers say they feel powerless.
4. Talk To Moms Who Have Been There
I am not one to blather to a pregnant woman about my c-section births unprompted but when approached, I am more than happy to talk about how it goes down and to be a shoulder to lean on.
5. Ask About Music/Cameras Ahead Of Time
My doctor was not ok with music in the operating room but he did allow a camera. Some doctors might not mind music or maybe, you would rather not hear the "surgery sounds" and wearing headphones and listening to Pandora until the big moment of arrival sounds great to you. Find out in advance what is permitted so there are no surprises on delivery day.
6. Tell The Hospital Nurses What You Want
My first planned c-section was a surgery in two parts and I was put to sleep for the second half. I did not have the option of seeing my daughter right away or attempting to nurse until many hours later. However, I was able to with my son and I made very clear to the nurses that I wanted him with me as soon as possible. I was nursing him in recovery while still numb from the waist down less than an hour after being sewn up, so they did abide by my wishes. In a situation like this, you may feel a loss of control so taking the reins in matters where you have options can be a very positive thing.
7. Make Your Wants Clear To Your Family
If you want All The Visitors right after you get settled into your maternity room, make that known. If you want to be left alone for a set number of hours, make that clear too. Personally, I was all about having company afterward and took great comfort in my family being near but some mothers feel opposite. Again, this will be an emotional day and surprises of this nature could tarnish things for you. Make sure everyone knows your preferences upfront.
8. Show Up On Time
A surgery schedule at a busy hospital is often packed. I was fortunate to not be delayed for either of my c-sections but I know that I could not have expected that to be the case had I not shown up on time. The hospital will likely tell you to be there at least two hours in advance of your surgery time and it is crucial that you listen. They will need to do your vitals, set up your IV and have the anesthesiologist speak with you along with a visit from your own obstetrician. Showing up on time is one way of trying to keep the day on track.
9. Understand That This Is Not Your Fault
I still struggle with this a bit even though my first c-section was for reasons entirely out of my control (as all of them are, really). Please know that if your doctor(s) have decided you need a c-section, there is absolutely NOTHING you could have done to change that. Don't feel guilty or beat yourself up. It is ok to be sad that you are not going to experience a vaginal birth but understand that you did nothing wrong to make this happen.
10. Be Excited For Your Baby
In the hubbub and anxiety of finding out that you need a c-section, it can be easy to forget the very exciting outcome of this particular medical procedure. Surgery is not fun, I won't lie, but when the end result is your beautiful child try your best to keep that thought firmly in the forefront of your mind. At the end of the day, you will have a baby. Congratulations!
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