As doulas who have witnessed many beautiful and moving caesarean births. It saddens us that caesarean birth is not as celebrated as a “natural” or vaginal birth is, and that mothers are made to feel ashamed or that they have somehow failed for having this type of birth.  Carol Anne and I are always saying, “it takes two to birth and it’s the little one inside that calls the shots!”. How can we control how a baby fairs in pregnancy or birth? There are no guarantees that the family will have the birth experience that they expect or hope for. Even when we are equipped with different techniques, birthing positions, follow certain “plans”, or make medical decisions that statistically lower the chances of having a caesarean section

Instead of feeling disappointed, depressed, ashamed or in doubt of themselves or their body’s abilities, our wish for our clients is that they embrace the beauty of a baby arriving into the world with a caesarean birth.

If you are expecting to welcome your little one with a planned caesearan, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have “Birth Plans/Preferences” in place (see our video). There are many things you can do to make your Caesarean Birth special and baby friendly. This movement and new family-focused approached to welcoming your little one into the world is called a “Gentle Cesarean” or “Mother-Centred Cesarean”.

Wondering how to make a scheduled or unplanned caesarean birth more family-centred?

Here are a few suggestions. Of course, if there is an emergency some of these may not be able to happen:

  • Be sure you ask questions –  even in an emergency there is time to ask questions
  • Get a manicure and/or pedicure done before hand – all mamas deserve to feel beautiful while birthing
  • Bring your own music to play in the OR
  • Ask to have your doula by your side – she can explain what is happening, or even be your birth photographer.
  • Your partner can hold your hand and stay connected with you. They can enjoy the experience of welcoming your little one into the world too.
  • If you had already hoped for delayed cord clamping, ask if it can still be done. If your partner is hoping to cut the cord as if they can still do so.
  • Ask for a mirror to see the birth of your child or that the drape be lowered at the moment baby is born.  Don’t worry, your belly will hide the incision.
  • Sing “Happy Birthday” when your Little One is born.
  • If your baby is well, ask to hold them skin to skin. Your partner, doula or nurse can help you.
  • Remind your partner to hold baby skin to skin while you are recovering.  

Some additional ways to prepare for a planned caesarean

  • Talk to the anesthesiologist beforehand about medication options, doses, and side effects. This may help you feel better prepared and help you understand what is happening to your body.
  • Plan on breastfeeding?  Have a your doula or a lactation consultant teach you breastfeeding positions that are easier on your body post surgery​.
  • Organize postpartum care. Enlist your friends, family, and your postpartum doula! They can prepare or drop off food, do the dishes, or tidy up. This allows you to take a shower or have a nap and focus on feeding your baby and recovering from from surgery.

Get creative and celebrate!

This is the day that your child is being born into the world and it should be celebrated! Remember, caesarean birth IS  birth! While it is not everyone’s first choice, embrace the possibility that it CAN be beautiful.

Sarah Baker is a the co-owner of Lifetime of Love Doula Services. She has been supporting families for almost a decade as a birth doula, postpartum & infant care doula and childbirth educator.  She is mom to three boys, twins and a singleton.