Caesarean antenatal classes
It is good to be prepared
Whether you are planning a caesarean birth or not, the fact is that up to 1/3 of babies are now born via this surgical method.
Out of the sunroof, belly birth, c-section or caesarean birth. Whatever you choose to name the procedure, it is still your baby’s birth, something wonderful and sacred, and there are still a lot of positive choices that you can make. Taking charge of your situation is the best way to feel positive. And however you birth your baby that day will have a big impact on the start of your parenting journey. You deserve it to be the best experience it could possibly be!
Caesarean antenatal classes?
It is always a wise idea to prepare during pregnancy for the possibility of a caesarean birth. If you are planning a vaginal birth, then spend some time thinking about a caesarean birth so that you are prepared. But also spending time learning and understanding how to advocate for yourself to avoid one unnecessarily. Find an antenatal class that will help you understand that birth is a normal biological process. A process that works best in private, undisturbed surroundings and for most people (despite the stats!), with no interventions. Even if medical interventions are required, birth and recovery is easier in calm, low stress environments.
If you are planning a caesarean for medical or personal reasons, it is easy to think that antenatal classes aren’t necessary. But attending pregnancy or antenatal classes will be such a help in preparing your body and mind for any birth.
Practical tools to help
Find a pregnancy or antenatal class that will give you techniques that can be applied during pregnancy, birth, and recovery. Techniques to help calm fears and anxieties, to give you tools to cope with getting around after surgery, to help you remain calm during the procedure. Find an antenatal class that will talk you through your options – and let you know that you have options!
Hypnobirthing, breathing, and relaxation techniques are so valuable for all births. There is always a possibility of contractions starting before your scheduled birth date. Having techniques, like those we teach in Daisy Parent and Daisy Birthing can make a huge positive difference to your caesarean birth. And yoga-based movement that we teach in Daisy Birthing can have a positive impact on your comfort in pregnancy. Did you know that it can also make your caesarean operation, and recovery easier?
Why? Because a favourable position for birth makes a caesarean birth easier, less intrusive for you and therefore recovery time should in theory be reduced.
Creating birth plans is always so important no matter what birth journey you wish for. Learning about different scenarios. Working out your preferences and non-negotiables. Understanding your choices and going into birth as a key decision maker.
There is a difference between being open to situations changing due to medical need and being led down a path based on policies. Understanding that certain situations and policies can lead to unnecessary interventions. Not making a birth plan could mean that you aren’t clued up on different scenarios.
If you are planning a caesarean, then there are lots of choices you can make around the operation itself. Even if you find yourself in an “emergency” or “unplanned” caesarean situation then you may still be able to achieve a lot of this list if you would like it. By thinking about it and choosing in pregnancy then you can have that decision making power over the most important day of your life.
Choices you could make for a caesarean
- Which birth partner to be present
- Minimum or essential staff only present in theatre for birth
- Lower lighting
- Music of choice playing
- Cannular for antibiotics and fluids to be placed on non-dominant hand – this makes handling baby much easier
- Obstetrician lifting baby very slowly with head leading out of a small incision to replicate birth through the vaginal birth canal. Not suitable in situations where there is concern for baby.
- Drapes lowered at birth so parent and birth partner can see baby arriving
- Somebody taking photos or video of birth/first cuddles
- Immediate skin to skin (gown placed so easily removed during surgery for skin to skin. Chest area being left clear of monitoring equipment so as baby can be placed directly on to skin)
- Optimal cord clamping
- Undisturbed skin to skin for at least 1 hour (or longer if chosen). Started in theatre and continued in recovery and beyond
- Who announces sex of baby if not already known (find out for self, birth partner, midwife)
- Who cuts the cord (cord will most likely be cut but left long if somebody else wanted to cut)
- Feeding choice – start in theatre if possible?
- Cord tie or cord clamp?
- Whether you are happy for baby to have vitamin k
What to expect from early caesarean recovery in hospital?
You may be offered an enhanced recovery pathway, which means a quicker discharge. This will only be if you and baby are healthy before and after birth. If you are planning a caesarean delivery, it would be more common to be placed on this pathway, but still possible after an unplanned caesarean birth. It would mean a possibly discharge 24-36 hours after delivery rather than the longer 2-3 days, or longer if there are any concerns for you and/or baby.
You and baby have been moved to the postnatal ward, after checks in recovery after the birth. After around 6 hours the spinal block that was used for the operation will start to wear off. Once feeling has returned you will be encouraged to get up and move around – make sure this is done slowly and carefully with lots of physical support on hand! Once you are mobile, the catheter that had been inserted into your bladder for surgery will be removed.
When going for your first toilet visit after the catheter has been removed, you will be asked to put a container in the toilet so that the midwife can measure your urine. This helps to assess how your bladder is doing and ensure there is no injury or temporary loss of function.
It is unlikely that you will open your bowels for 3-4 days after birth, and it can cause some discomfort in the meantime. Lots of fluid, wholesome food and use of prescribed stool softeners can help move things along. Placing a clean maternity pad over your wound can help when going.
It is possible that you will be given details of any pain relief schedules and advised to take them yourself. This allows you to be in control and take them when needed. Use my tips in my blog “Planning to recover from a caesarean” and set alarms to keep on top of medication timings. Make sure to take pain medication regularly and don’t wait until you feel pain.
Baby after caesareans
During a vaginal delivery baby’s lungs are squeezed through the birth canal, and it helps to expel mucus and expand the lungs when baby breathes air. This doesn’t happen as effectively during caesarean births so baby may be extra mucusy in the first few days after birth. This likely means some coughing up and/or vomiting mucus. If you are ever concerned call a midwife for help, but they will likely warn you that it is incredibly common.
Once on the postnatal ward, if there are no other concerns for baby then will be visually checked when the midwife comes to check how you are doing. If there is any reason why baby might need closer monitoring, you will be fully informed, and the situation explained to you. They will also get a thorough infant examination within 72 hours after birth.
Baby may be invited for a hip scan during the first 6 weeks of life. It is a routine scan and nothing to be concerned about. Their hips will be checked at their new baby check anyway and if there are any concerns or family history then a scan may be offered. It is a simple procedure that doesn’t hurt or harm baby. You will be sent a letter with an appointment between 4 and 6 weeks of age.
Any birth is a huge physical feat and something that requires kindness to your body afterwards. Being gentle on yourself, asking for helping, taking pain relief when recommended and certainly when needed can help. Do not rush to get back doing things, make the most of these precious, slow early days with baby.