Birth Plans

Cesarean Planning

Some women know before labor begins that they will be having a cesarean surgery. When the cesarean is planned, there are many options about how to handle that day. Other women decide to have a cesarean because of a problem or variation of labor. During labor, even if your doctor feels a cesarean is necessary to save your life, it will remain your right to have or refuse a cesarean, and you will still have a few decisions to make.

When to start the surgery

You may have the option to choose between several days for your surgery, allowing you to plan schedules for child care and support persons to be with you. You may also have the option to wait for labor to begin before doing the surgery. This will give you the reassurance that your baby has had all the time he needs to be ready to be born, and has had every opportunity to adjust a position if that were the reason for a cesarean.

Some women enjoy keeping the day of their cesarean a secret. In that way, they are able to surprise friends and relatives with the "baby's here" call even though the cesarean was scheduled.

When to have family join you

Most hospitals will allow you to have a support person with you during a cesarean. Other individuals you would like to play a part in your baby's birth day may be able to wait in a lobby or waiting area. Your medical team should be able to help you determine when you would be feeling ready for visitors. In some hospitals a special visitor may be able to see you in the recovery area.

Medication Used

A cesarean can be performed with an epidural, spinal or general anesthesia. In general, you will probably not be given a choice between certain drugs or ways to administer the drug. It is important that you inform your health care providers of any adverse reactions you have had to medications.

Support Person

You may be given the option to have one support person with you during your surgery. You may want to determine who this person will be before labor to prevent confusion and disappointment in the event you decide to have a cesarean.

Photo or Video Documentation

You may have the ability to have a support person bring in a camera to capture the moment you meet your baby.

Describe Events

Some mothers find that having the doctor or a nurse describe what is happening gives them a sense of being a part of the process.

Immediate Breastfeeding

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your cesarean, you may have the ability to breastfeed you baby before you leave the surgical suite. You will need assistance to hold your baby, however in some hospitals immediate breastfeeding can still be done. If it is not possible or practical, you may decide to breastfeed your baby while still in the recovery area.

Someone with baby

Because you will need to spend time being stitched up and then in a recovery area, you may want to designate another person to stay with your baby in the nursery. Hospitals have different policies about who is able to accompany a baby or be with the mother before she returns to her room, so it is important to find out what options you have before labor begins. Some women prefer to have the father stay with the baby while another family member or friend stays with the mother in recovery. Some hospitals have policies that permit the baby to stay with the mother during recovery.