Welcome to the Birth Wishes series where we are working together to write our birth plans. In this step I'll be mentioning some things you may want to consider in the event of an emergency.
BEWARE: The following information is more intense than other information presented on this forum. Read at your own discretion. And please know that a vaginal birth is the norm, not the exception. By providing this information to you and having a space for it on your birth plan in the event you do need a cesarean you will be well prepared.
*The cesarean, or c-section, is a surgical procedure in which incisions are made through a woman's abdomen and uterus to deliver her baby. (*Medical Dictionary quote)
In the event something is wrong, such as fetal or maternal heart rates plummet, seizure, very stuck baby that just cannot get out, cord prolapse, etc. you will need a cesarean. It is important to know the risks of a cesarean as well as how it works. My favorite website for information regarding cesarean sections is Morgan's blog at Adventures in Diapering and Beyond:
Morgan has a link at the top that says "C-Section Info" and it provides real life experiences and tips for a cesarean section in the event you find yourself in the operating room. Do yourself a favor and read through her links. You may not end up in the O.R. but it never hurts to know what to expect so the experience can be less frightening.
If you read one link read the one about cesareans and birth plans:
Some cesareans are not as chaotic and rushed as you may think. You may have time to get an epidural, rather than general anesthetic which knocks you unconscious and is used in severe emergencies when getting the baby out immediately may save both baby and mother.
If you get general anesthetic:
-you will not be awake for the delivery
-your husband/partner/family/friends most likely will NOT be allowed in the room
-you will wake up hours later in a recovery room and be on painkillers
-your baby may be in NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) OR if they checked out alright they may be waiting in your room for you with your husband/partner!
-you may be too groggy and out-of-it with the painkillers to remember this time
-your hospital stay may be around 5 days
If you get an epidural:
-you will be awake for the cesarean delivery
-your husband/partner will be allowed in the room
-they'll be sitting by your head
-a curtain/screen will be hiding your abdomen
-you may feel a lot of tugging and pulling but should not feel pain
-the epidural will make you shaky and make your teeth chatter
-the doctor (midwives cannot perform cesareans) will show you baby over the curtain once they are delivered so long as they don't need immediate assistance
-you won't get to hold baby right away but Daddy will be able to go over and take pictures as the nurses check baby over (provided cameras are allowed in your hospital) and gets them cleaned up, diapered and swaddled
-Daddy will get to hold baby right away if baby is well and hold them up to your face; you MAY even be able to hold them yourself!
While a cesarean is major abdominal surgery and you may not be planning on one it doesn't have to be the most traumatic experience. Including information on your birth plan regarding the possibility of a cesarean leaves you with options.
Some things to consider:
-who will be present (if allowed)
-are pictures/video allowed?
-epidural versus general, if there's time to make a choice
-double-layer sutures (this is usually a requirement for VBAC, vaginal birth after cesarean)
-for them to lower screen when baby is born so you can see
-that husband/partner wants to hold baby as soon as possible
Again I really encourage you to watch videos of cesarean birth and to read all the links that Morgan provides on her website. She has pictures and videos as well.
And remember that by avoiding unnecessary interventions, mentioned in previous Birth Wishes posts, you will drastically decrease the risk of needing a cesarean. Natural birth is the safest way to bring your baby into the world and is better for both of you. However I do want to say THANK YOU to modern technology and doctors who perform life-saving cesareans in true emergencies. If you end up on the table with a cesarean scar you're not a failure or any less of a woman. Getting a little help when things get hairy is okay!
One more post to go before we wrap things up and piece our birth plans together! Are you feeling more ready? I sure hope so! Be sure to ask any questions if you're confused or if there's any other information you want to add!