How to Prepare for a Planned Caesarean

30 May 2019

Having a caesarean can be a daunting prospect, especially if you're unprepared, and now that I have had two drastically different caesareans, I wanted to share a post with the kind of information I was looking for both after my emergency caesarean back in 2016, as well as my planned gentle caesarean in 2018.

A caesarean doesn't have to be this big scary procedure, in fact, it can be just as special as a vaginal birth. Make yourself as informed as possible, ask your midwife, consultant and any hospital staff you are dealing with in regards to your caesarean, as many questions as you need to; they will be more than happy to answer your questions and you do, of course, have a right to be as informed as possible.

When I was pregnant with Hadley I did a lot of research into how I could make my planned caesarean a calmer, happier experience than the unplanned caesarean I had with Willow in 2016. From asking questions, reading The Positive Birth Book and doing lots of online research into how others had made their planned caesareans a happy experience, I decided a woman-centred gentle caesarean was the way I wanted to do things and although, at first, I was sceptical about how willing my hospital would be, I was very pleasantly surprised to find they encouraged me to go for a gentle caesarean and to ask for whatever I wanted; if they could accommodate my wishes, they would. Which leads me onto my second point, writing a birth plan.

So many people I have spoken to think it is 'pointless' or 'wishful thinking' to write a birth plan for a planned caesarean, but why? The Positive Birth Book gave me the confidence to go ahead with writing one for my planned section and I followed the guidance in there to create a 'visual birth plan', which my hospital was actually pretty impressed with. I included things I never even imagined would be possible with a caesarean and only knew about because of The Positive Birth Book and the research I had done, whilst remaining realistic. Ultimately, the safe arrival of our baby was always the top priority and I would happily forget every point of my birth plan if it was in the best interests of my baby, or myself, that goes without saying.

But working towards a woman-centred gentle caesarean was a hugely positive step for me in preparing for my planned caesarean. It made me feel like I had not so much control, but a valid voice in how my caesarean would take place. It felt like I would have an active role in the birth of our daughter and it eased my anxiety, tremendously. It helped make Hadley's birth a healing experience, after the unplanned caesarean I had with Willow.

Packing my hospital bags (which I will belatedly be sharing in an upcoming post) helped me feel 'ready' for what was about to happen; major abdominal surgery, our family growing, all whilst taking care of a newborn 24/7. It took a lot of pressure off, finally having our bags packed and ready - with a third bag 'just in case' ready if need be that could be brought in if we needed it. It always feels all the more real when you pack your hospital bags.

It's tempting with a planned caesarean to leave your hospital bags until the last minute, but having a caesarean planned doesn't guarantee your body won't go into labour before your section date, not forgetting the possibility that your section date could be moved. Get those bags packed with at least a few weeks to spare!

Even if it's something little, like having your favourite pyjamas and slippers ready for you to get straight into or your favourite takeaway ready to be ordered to take the stress out of 'what's for dinner?'. I also made plans with immediate family for when they would meet Hadley before she was born, so I knew exactly when people would be coming and didn't have to stress about people badgering us to come over when we were in those first few weeks.

This was one of the best things I did preparation wise before I had Hadley; every single drawer was packed with homemade meals cooked in bulk and frozen ready to be taken out on the day we needed it. In total, I prepared 3 whole weeks worth of evening meals as well as a handful of lunches, too. As the only 'cook' in the house, it took a tremendous amount of stress off of me not having to worry about cooking dinner in those first few weeks. It also saved us a fortune in potential takeaways we'd have resorted to otherwise! The sort of meals I cooked includes bolognese, chilli con carne, rogan josh, korma, lasagne, meatballs, beef stews, cottage pies and a few other scrumptious options too.

No matter how you give birth, you've just given birth. Give yourself a break, forget about the household chores you might usually do, forget what anyone might (but definitely won't!) be thinking if they come over to meet the baby and see some dishes on the side or you wearing the same pyjamas for the 5th day in a row. Put baby, any other children you may have and yourself at the top of your priority list. So long as you are clean, fed, watered and clothed, that is really all that matters!

If you have had a planned caesarean and have any tips and tricks which helped you prepare, please do leave them in the comments below - they may just help a nervous expectant mama!