One in three Australian women birth their baby via caesarean birth. I believe it’s crucial to include preferences for an unplanned caesarean scenario as part of your birth map because if this does eventuate, it will help you and your birth support team feel calmer and more confident. Please know, there is no right or wrong way to birth your baby. This guide gives you information and offerings to make informed choices and have an epic and positive birth that is connected, incredible and aligns with your birthing values.
It’s your body, your birth and your choice. Take from this what resonates with you and leave what doesn’t.
Preparing for an unplanned caesarean birth scenario
Including preferences for an unplanned caesarean birth as part of your birth map will allow you to mentally and emotionally explore every birth eventuality. It will help you create a calmer, more positive experience if your baby needs to be born this way.
Unsure how to create a birth map for your birth? You can book a one-on-one birth preparation chat with me or my team where we can help you plan and mentally ready yourself for an epic birth that aligns with your values.
Choose a care provider you know and trust
Choose a care provider and birth support team that aligns with your values. Whether you have a midwife, private midwife, OB, doula and/or student midwife you should feel comfortable communicating your birth map with them. Providing them with a clear birth map prior to the day that includes your preferences in an unplanned caesarean birth will help you feel confident and prepared.
Make sure your birthing partner is across their role in an unplanned setting
Sometimes, in an unplanned caesarean birth, you may need to rely significantly on your birth partner to confidently communicate your birth preferences. Making sure they understand your birth map and your wishes in an unplanned caesarean will help you to have a birth that feels right for you.
Express colostrum antenatally
Bring expressed colostrum to your birth and let your support team know where it is during birth. If there is a need for you and your baby to be separated your birth support team can give your baby colostrum from you. These antenatal colostrum expressing kits will help you collect your liquid gold prior to your baby’s arrival.
Organise a birth photographer
Birth photography is powerful. Having your birth documented by a professional birth photographer or someone in your birth support team gives you a beautiful selection of images to look back on. Let your care provider know if you will have a birth photographer with you on the day and request them to document your birth, including an unplanned caesarean, where medically possible.
Create an epic birth playlist
Create a birthing playlist that vibes with you. Check with your care provider whether you can bring a speaker, or whether earbuds will be best. Listening to music that resonates with you can help you feel calm if your birth goes in a direction that wasn’t your original intention (but is part of your birth map!).
Audio affirmations and something important to you
Have audio affirmations to listen to or read affirmations during birth. This can help you feel calmer in an unplanned caesarean birth and stay in tune with your birthing body. Having an item of significance with you can help you feel connected. Have a look at these beautiful affirmation cards to have with you during your birth.
Allow your thoughts and feelings around your birth to just be
There is no right or wrong way to feel or think during birth. Let your feelings and emotions sit with you. Allow yourself to feel them. Whatever you feel is okay.
Diaphragmatic breathing and affirmations
Diaphragmatic breathing (you can learn a little about it in my free antenatal classes) and affirmations such as “I am safe, my body has done wonderful things” helps you stay in a parasympathetic state that helps oxytocin to flow when baby is skin-on-skin and helps with breastfeeding. Focusing on this breath, where possible, in an unplanned setting will help you to calm your body and your mind.
Honour your body and your womb
There is no right or wrong way to birth. If your baby needs to be born via caesarean, please honour all that your body and womb have done and all it is about to do. You are epic. You are birthing your baby. You can involve your care providers in this if it feels right for you, asking them to pause for a minute or say something prior to entering your body.
Ask people to explain everything they are doing to you and around you
This is your birth. And you are allowed to know exactly what is happening before, during and after your birth. Knowing what is happening in an unplanned setting will help you feel more confident and calm. For others, it won't. As always, do you!
Have your support person present for the spinal
A lot of hospitals don’t “allow” this. And it may be difficult to challenge in an unplanned setting. But always ask the question. Having your support person with you where possible can help you stay calm and focused.
Electrodes on your back to help with skin-on-skin
Plan with your birth team to have the electrodes placed on your back. This will make skin-on-skin easier when your baby is born.
Drape down and gloved up to catch your baby
Ask for the drape down so you can see your birth if possible. It will be harder to glove up and catch your baby in an unplanned setting, but if you feel like you can, always ask or perhaps your birth partner can instead. Ask for your baby to be gently birthed through your uterus where medically possible.
Announce the gender yourself
Make sure your care provider knows that you would like to announce the gender of your baby. If you are unable to, ask your birthing partner to tell you the gender instead of your OB if this feels right for you.
Delayed cord clamping and placenta tour
Where medically possible, ask for delayed cord clamping after birth. In an unplanned setting, you can still ask to see your placenta and have a tour. It’s epic! You can also keep your placenta if you wish.
Cut the cord yourself
You or your partner can still cut the cord yourself in a caesarean birth if medically possible.
Wait for the cord to be cut before routine intravenous antibiotics
Routine IV antibiotics are given to prevent infection. In an unplanned setting, this may be a request your birth partner needs to make on your behalf. Talk this through with your birth partner so they can ask your care provider for this where medically possible. That way they’re not unnecessarily given to your baby. Consider probiotics such as Qiara to restore your gut health.
Wait until after skin-on-skin for measurements
Where possible, have skin-on-skin immediately with your baby. If you can’t, have your birth partner do skin-on-skin. It’s okay if your baby can’t have this at first. You’ll be able to when medically possible.
Take your own beanie and blanket for your baby. Ask your team to wait until after skin-on-skin to take your baby’s weight and measurements where possible.
Eye contact and chat with your baby
During skin-on-skin, or even if you aren’t able to have your baby on you straight away (you can ask for them to be put as close to you as possible) – talk to them and look them in the eye whilst you reassure them and comfort them. They’re new to the light of the world. They will find comfort in your voice and your face. If your baby get's taken to the resus cot, ensure your partner or support person goes with them and talks with and touches them.
Ask that babe is not separated from you unless medically necessary
Ask for your baby to stay with you in recovery and doesn’t go to the ward without you. If your baby does need to be separated, organise for your birth support person to go with them. They can potentially facetime with you so you can see your baby and your baby can hear your voice.
Want to know more?
Check out our 3 part series on Caesarean Birth on our podcast The Great Birth Rebellion... Listen here.
No birth goes exactly to plan. It is the nature of birth and how it happens. If you are struggling with how your birth unfolded, or even if your birth went as close to your original intentions, your birth story still deserves to be told and heard.
A birth debrief is an opportunity for you to tell and honour your birth story. To unpack how it happened and why certain decisions were made. It helps you talk through your feelings, both positive and negative, around your birth and the early postpartum period.
You can learn more about birth debriefing and how to book a debrief with B here.
And if we don't connect, I'd like to wish you the most epic birth and postpartum ahead xx B
Incredible images by @jesstookthat of one of our epic restorer's births!