Cesareans: Improving Your Birth Experience

My friend is 35 weeks along. The last two babies were born by cesarean. Neither cesarean was planned, or wanted. Due to the type of c-section she received she has been told that she must schedule a repeat cesarean with this baby. Is it possible to have a non-traumatic cesarean?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

How fortunate she is to have you as a friend. Yes, I believe it is possible to have a "non-traumatic" cesarean birth.

I believe a woman's birth experience depends to a great extent upon the choice of provider. I would recommend interviewing care providers and asking these questions:

When would my baby be delivered -- how close to the due date?
Would I be able to go into labor on my own?
If scheduled, could I be admitted the same morning of the surgery?
Could I have my partner or partner and a doula in attendance at the birth?
Can my partner or doula accompany the baby for the after-birth checkup?
Could I have an epidural and not be put to sleep or sedated after the birth?
Can I have rooming in?
Can I breastfeed at the birth?

Your friend should let her care provider know that she would like contact with her baby as soon as possible.

Your friend might check with the head nurse at the hospital to see who performs the most family-friendly cesareans and has the fewest restrictions on mother-baby-family contact.

It is unusual for obstetricians to perform classical incisions (the type that would necessitate another cesarean). It might be a good idea to have another care provider review the surgical notes. Perhaps she is a candidate for VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

ICAN -- the International Cesarean Awareness Movement is a nonprofit support group for women who have had cesareans and hope to have a vaginal birth.

My last recommendation is to talk with local Certified Nurse also be able to follow you with the consultant obstetrician. Midwives try to preserve the normalcy of all pregnancies and births and you may find her a good advocate for your friend.

I would recommend purchasing a copy of Elizabeth Noble's book, Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year that will help her regain her abdominal tone. She can begin a routine of simple exercise immediately after the birth.

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