Friday, September 25, 2009

Why a Birth Plan is Important if You Have a C-Section

Why bother with a birth plan if you're having a c-section because you don't really have any say in what happens, right?

Wrong. Even when you are expecting a c-section, there are still choices that you can make during and/or after the birth. Knowing what your options are can help you feel more a part of the birth experience rather than just an observer.

While researching your choices, you will become better informed on what your doctor and hospital's expectations are and what you can/cannot do in a hospital setting.

Another reason why you should create a birth plan is that many
hospitals will ask for one during your pre-admission visit. You might as well give it some thought ahead of time so you're prepared!

Even if you are not planning on a c-section birth, I highly suggest you find out how your doctor and hospital handle cesarean births. Even with the most natural of births planned, a c-section may still be medically necessary for mother and/or baby.

Here are some examples of procedures that are standard for some doctors or hospitals that you may have a say in doing differently. Please keep in mind that hospitals do change their policies, so check with yours (even if you've delivered there before) to find out for sure:

*Single sutures rather than having the uterus reinforced. This makes it more dangerous for a future VBAC and rupture.

*Baby taken to nursery when mom is wheeled to recovery, OR Baby taken to nursery during shift change

*Baby bathed shortly after birth rather than waiting until later in the day

*Nurse standing over mother's shoulder and critiquing during first attempt at breastfeeding, even if it makes the mother more uncomfortable

*Pressure to have Baby taken to nursery rather than allowing Baby to rest with mom

*Circumcision scheduled without parents being asked if they're ready

*Reluctance from nurses to get a lactation consultant to help you. Conflicting breastfeeding advice from nurses. It's very frustrating when one nurse tells you one thing, and then the next one is saying the opposite. When in doubt, request a lactation consultant.
If your nurse tells you that you can wait another day before meeting with a lactation consultant, yet you know you need help so that Baby doesn't end up on formula, keep asking! Getting a good start on breastfeeding is more important then worrying that you are annoying your nurse.

If you're expecting a baby and plan to deliver at a hospital:
  • Find out what your hospital and doctor's standard routines are for c-sections.
  • Become knowledgeable about your options for various circumstances in birth
  • Discuss your options with your husband or birth partner and your doctor/midwife,
  • Then stand up for yourself and Baby should the need arise!
Discussing your birth plan with your doctor and hospital can help you:
  • Find out what is automatically a no-go in your plan
  • What you need to be more relaxed about
  • What expectations can stay. All this, plus flexibility, can help you be less disappointed when the Birth Day comes.
When setting up hopes for how things will go for your birth experience, please do remember that quite often things don't go as planned. It is important to educate yourself with what your options are in different situations, including a completely normal and healthy birth. Remember to be flexible, though, because ultimately life, death, and everything in-between rest within God's hands and not our own.

More C-Section and Birth Plan Posts:
*10 Tips for Writing a Birth Plan (from a L&D Nurse)
*Dealing with the Emotions After a C-Section: "My Deepest Secret"
*What Happens During the 2 Hours Leading Up to a C-Section
*Video of a C-Section Birth


  1. Oh Morgan, why couldn't I have known you almost 5 years ago?? I'm sure that if I had known then what I know now, my c-section experiences might have been better. I'm glad you mentioned the nurses and their conflicting information about breastfeeding. That was so frustrating for me. And then I had to complain to the head nurse to let me have a hospital-grade breast pump in my room after being told by a couple nurses that I should wait a few days before trying to pump.

    I'm so glad you have this blog and that you're sharing such helpful information with others who have yet to go through this experience.

  2. I mentioned double-sutures on my birth plan and that baby remains with the father at all times (no nursery) in the event we have a c-section. I plan to reiterate anything when I go to L&D, if I'm able. I'll also talk to my husband about it but I doubt he'll listen. He's the type of guy who never wants to prepare for the worse, but instead to prepare for the best.

  3. I totally agree! And don't ask, "Can I nurse my baby", TELL THEm, I'm going to breastfeed now. I have had two babies, but most of my experience is from the field of infant adoptions and the medical professionals wait for someone to be in charge, if no one steps up, THEY DO and make parental decisions, and treat you like you have no say.

    Im sure that not every experience is like that, but many were in my experience.

  4. Morgan, I hope that your boys are better!

    Post Partum has been good- I have had little to no anxiety which is monumentous! Although I did have a dream about my oldest being seriously hurt which was terrible, things are good! Can't wait to have a normal body!

  5. I think birth plans are important and helpful, but I also think it's important that we need to remember to be somewhat flexible and not get too upset if things don't go according to plan. My first birth was an emergency c-section at 35 weeks (fetal distress) under general anesthesia. My daughter was 3-4 hours old before I got to hold her and try nursing (and even though she was a preemie, nursing went just fine and we bonded just fine). I had planned a very natural, low-intervention birth with a doula and I can say that only thing that went as planned was that my husband was present. Because of details I won't go into, we had an elective C-section for my 2nd delivery as well. Everything went according to our birth plan for that delivery, but I think that was mainly because the staff wanted to be as accomodating as possible because we knew our baby boy would not survive outside my womb due to severe abnormalities. I wrote a plan for my 3rd c-section but then I was so nauseated from the anesthesia that I didn't feel like doing eveything I had planned. All this has taught me that while it's good to be prepared and to communicate what you want with the medical staff, in the long run it's not that big of deal if some things (or even most things) don't go according to plan. I've learned to be more flexible and to trust God's plans for me rather than my own. - Jessica Weatherford

  6. Hi Jessica-

    You're right- being flexible and trusting God's plans is very important. It is nice to know that there are options even in most routine cesarean birth settings, as well as a birth that is filled with tears.

    Your words are a good reminder. And your story of faith through everything that happened is amazing. Thank you.

  7. I learned through infertility and IVF that sometimes things just don't work out the way that we want them to. While plans are great, one must be flexible to roll with any changes that come our way, whether it be laboring, delivering, feeding, etc.

    Perhaps it's my age (I'm an older first-time and 2nd time mommy), but little things like c-sections, binkies in the nursery, and potty-training don't get me rattled.

    I look at pregnancy, delivery, and parenting like it's a GPS system. Sometimes the road map I'm taking just doesn't jive with what's really going on (road construction, unplanned c-section). :) I just need to make a detour and get past it!

    Interesting post as always!!!

  8. I am so glad that our hospital is VERY breastfeeding friendly and very patient wishes friendly. They're very good about asking how you'd like it to be handled before they follow through with something (unless of course it's an emergency).

    We've already created our birth plan, including a section if c-section happens. We've also given it to our OB already and have made extra copies to take with us to the hospital.

    It's something that is very important to me.

  9. Hi Just checking in from SITS. Very informative post. My kids are all teens and older but it looks like you'll be helping many. Happy SITS sharefest and have a great weekend!

  10. Found this via At Your Cervix. Great post! I remember reading about the possibility of a "gentle cesarean". Thought that might be of interest. Cesareans ARE sometimes necessary, there is no question, so why not make the absolute best of it?

    Again, great info. Adding you to my reader now!

  11. Wonderful blog. Those tips are a reality for us seeing that per our Dr. the mrs. is nearly guranteed another c-section. Its best to be prepared for sure!!!

  12. Definitely important to have a birth plan - mind you, last minute changes DO happen.

  13. I always encourage my clients to have birth plans even for planned c-sections. After planning for a natural birth and a scheduled c-section becomes necessary many moms say "well my birth plan goes out the window." I respectfully disagree with them because part of the essence of a birth plan is reminding busy care providers that you are not a chart, a computer, a room number, etc. You and your baby are people worty of being treated with respect and dignity. Your wishes ought to be followed. Obviously the things like dad cutting the cord, etc. can't feasibly apply in c-section but many other aspects of a well written birth plan can and do apply. It is still your birth, your experience. And a birth plan is a great way to show the staff you are interested in your care, which may actually make their job easier. Oh, and always, always bring treats for the nurses.


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