Cesarean births can be as sacred and powerful as a vaginal birth. It is a rite of passage for your baby and there is so much you can do to create a supportive and mindful environment.
Make sure to ask your caregivers for the reason you are having a cesarean birth. This will help you feel more empowered, after all knowledge is power and will bring you confidence. Scheduled cesarean births can occur for several reasons including but not limited to the following:
positioning of baby (e.g. breech or transverse babies that have not turned) - please note that often there is a good reason for this, for example the position of the cord or placenta may be preventing baby from moving into an optimal birthing position;
low levels of amniotic fluid (baby may not have enough fluid to get into an optimal position);
multiple babies i.e. twins / triplets;
issues with Mum’s health mean that cesarean births may be safer e.g placenta previa, high blood pressure, prenatal diabetes.
If you are in active labour, and labour slows down or you or your baby is in distress, your caregivers may recommend a cesarean birth to help speed up the birth and help your baby out. Remember there are things that you can do to encourage your baby to move downwards e.g. squats, spirals, victorious breath.
Here are some ways of promoting a mindful cesarean birth:
If your birth is scheduled, remember to really enjoy the few days beforehand! Do something lovely with your partner, cook a nice meal, have a massage or a lovely scented bath. Relax and rejuvenate and take some time for yourself.
You may have to wait a couple of hours in the hospital before you are taken into theatre. Bring along a nice book, or some visualisations or meditations to listen to and relax.
Remember that your midwife is your advocate in the hospital! You can ask for their help to keep at least one of your arms free and have your gown positioned so you can have skin-to-skin right away, or as soon as possible. It’s likely your baby will need to have their lungs cleared (with a vaginal birth the lungs clear themselves as your baby comes down the birth canal), but after this your midwife can help you to have some lovely skin-to-skin time.
Your partner also plays an important role. When you are lying down, they can hold your hand, stroke your face, and remind you that you are birthing your baby now, this is a special moment for the three of you.
The hospital theatre will be brightly lit and cool, this is for the safety of the mother. If you are surprised by the environment, remind yourself that the equipment, lights, and hospital staff are there to ensure a safe birth for you and your baby. You can warm the atmosphere with some special music that helps you relax or stay emotionally connected. If you experience nausea it might be nice for your partner to bring some peppermint oil, or lavender oil can be soothing and calming. All they need to do is dab a few drops on a tissue or into their hands and you can breathe in the scent. Some women also use a diffuser.
All of your breathing techniques will help keep you calm in the theatre. Connect with your inhale through the nose, and exhale through softly parted lips. Close your eyes and bring your attention inward. This will help when the epidural is being administered as you will need to keep still. Counting breath i.e in for 4, out for 4, will give your mind something to focus on and provide calm.
Choose one or two affirmations that resonate with you and repeat them to yourself as you breathe in and out e.g. “I breathe in calm, I breathe out fear” or you could repeat “I am birthing my baby”.
Know that it is normal to feel sensation, you will not feel pain but you will feel some pressure - remind yourself that this is you birthing your baby.
Remember that your baby knows your voice, and it will be calming to them. You can even explain to them what is happening, and why, and let them know how excited you are to meet them. The big moment is getting so close!
Make sure to bring your phone or camera in with you so you can take some lovely pictures and videos of you and baby :)