Helpful Hints from Women who have Birthed by Caesarean
Download the CARES ‘Caesarean Birth: Helpful Hints from Women who have Birthed by Caesarean’ brochure (black and white, suitable for printing) using the link below. Please email us if you would like colour copies emailed to you.
A sample Caesarean birth plan can be viewed on our Planning An Empowered Caesarean and downloads pages.
Before Your Caesarean Birth
- Join/attend a support group such as CARES (SA), Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean (WA), or Birthtalk.org (Qld).
- Discuss your feelings and/or seek counseling to clear any negative emotions or birth trauma and release fear.
- Hire a doula (a professional birth attendant) who can support you and your partner during your pregnancy and birth.
- Remember you are the client; you employ your birth team to support you.
- Get fit – physically and mentally.
- Seek information, know your options, get informed.
- Get your partner some support, such as books and birthing videos, or encourage them to attend birth workshops and other information nights.
- Plan to have the Caesarean once you go into labour if there are no medical contraindications — this will allow you to know your baby is ready to be born. Evidence shows that elective Caesareans before 39 weeks have far greater infant morbidity rate.
- Research and discuss with your care provider the option of delayed cord clamping or a lotus birth.
- Request to have your support team with you in theatre, such as your partner, a family member, doula and/or photographer.
- Write a Caesarean birth plan and send this to your hospital about 6-8 weeks before your due date (a sample birth plan can be downloaded from this page). You can even ask to meet with the unit manager to discuss any requests that may be very important to you.
- Pack big, full brief, Bridget Jones-style undies — bikini-cut knickers might aggravate your wound.
During Your Birth/Labour
- Carefully consider your birth support people — choose those who support you and your decision.
- Consider playing your own selection of music in theatre, or having a special blanket ready to wrap your baby in.
- Stay calm, relaxed, focused on your goal: an empowered birth resulting in a healthy mum and baby.
Options to consider:
- Have the surgical drapes lowered or use a mirror so you can watch your baby emerge.
- Discuss a maternal-assisted delivery (i.e. you help deliver the baby) with your obstetrician.
- Delay cord clamping.
- Lotus birth (placenta remains connected to baby).
- Request that your baby is placed straight on your bare chest and then covered with a warm towel (not taken away and swaddled in a blanket) for as long as possible to facilitate important skin-to-skin bonding.
- Delay baby checks (if there are no medical contraindications). These can be performed in your view.
- Request to breastfeed in theatre or recovery.
- Keep baby and support people with you in recovery.
- Your baby can be weighed and bathed later – in your room and in your view.
- Remember to be a ‘good parent’ before being a ‘good patient’.
Recovering from a Caesarean
Please see ‘Emotional Recovery’ for information about the emotional issues which may result from a Caesarean birth.
- Insist on adequate oral pain relief — major surgery hurts! Rectal indocid may help with the pain.
- If you take codeine, request medication for your bowels to avoid getting constipated.
- Use a hot pack for shoulder tip pain (this can be created by the free air in your tummy).
- A pad stuck to the inside of your undies can offer good abdominal wound protection.
- Hold a towel against your scar when coughing or sneezing for support.
- Go to physiotherapy classes to learn pelvic floor and abdominal exercises to expedite your recovery.
- Allow yourself time for sleep and healing — you may need to ask staff to take baby for an hour or two.
- Get moving slowly but early to reduce leg clot risk.
- Use super long pads — most women still bleed for up to 6 weeks after a Caesarean birth.
- Urinary tract infections are common after catheter use, so tell staff if you have any pain or problems urinating.
- Make sure staff check your wound before you are discharged. Ask what type of sutures you have and if or when they need removal.
- Tell family and visitors what they can do to support you. Ask them to bring over healthy snacks, precooked meals or arms ready for bringing in washing when they visit (instead of flowers!).
- Carry nothing heavier than your baby for the first 6 weeks. If you have a toddler, try to hold them while you are seated.
- Avoid driving until you have clearance from your doctor (it is difficult to ‘slam’ brakes in an emergency until your lower abdomen has healed).
- Remember that you have just birthed a baby and had major abdominal surgery. Do not expect yourself to physically ‘snap back’ or to be able maintain a normal pace of life before your body has finished healing.
- Use SRC shorts or Tubigrip to enhance core stability in the early weeks – ask your health professional about these products and others.
- Consider doing pilates under the instruction of a trained physiotherapist to assist in regaining abdominal strength.
- Know that, with the right support, many women can birth vaginally next birth after a Caesarean (VBAC).