Whether your first cesarean section was emergency, or planned due to special reasons, you will most likely decide with your doctor early on whether you will be trying for a vaginal birth after cesarean (commonly referred to as “VBAC”) or will schedule a planned c-section this go around. Here are some tips on how to properly prepare yourself for a repeat c-section.
1. Stay Hydrated!
Many women complain of severe constipation following a cesarean section, simply because of all of the different pain medications given to you either intravenously, or in pill form during recovery. Properly hydrating yourself throughout your pregnancy, and especially in the weeks leading up to your c-section will help. You will still be required to “fast” prior to your surgery, so stock up the day before with that that in mind. Speaking of poop, adding in additional fiber throughout your pregnancy may prove useful for post-op, as well as possibly being proactive about taking stool-softeners (talk to your doctor first about any supplement or medication.)
2. Choose your “last meal” wisely:
Oftentimes, women experience severe nausea during the actual surgery. While you may not be able to avoid vomiting during the procedure, keep your “last meal” prior to your fast on the safe side. Ask yourself, “Would I want to see this meal again?” While your answer will probably always be “no,” you may wish to avoid certain meals and spices. Even though you may not have experienced vomiting during your last procedure, every single surgery is different. Better safe than sorry.
3. Pack your hospital bag accordingly:
Typically, women who have c-sections are required to remain in the hospital for a minimum of 2-5 days post-op. Keep your underwear selection in mind, and resort back to the preference of your first c-section whether it be high waisted to go above your scar, or low and loose fitting. Nursing pajamas and gowns are also a great choice, and will allow the nurse easy access to your incision.
4. Start early by strengthening your core muscles:
It seems as if less emphasis is placed on prenatal specific exercises when a known repeat c-section will be occurring. However, it’s been shown that women with toned abdominal muscles have the ability to recover quicker. Talk to your healthcare provider about their recommendations for a suitable exercise routine. The most popular throughout pregnancies are yoga, pilates, swimming and ballet-style dancing classes.
5. Discuss your birth plan with your doctor:
Maybe you didn’t know this information the first time around, but you can have a birth plan with a cesarean section. Some things you may wish to discuss with your doctor could be:
- Doing a spinal versus an epidural
- Cesarean section doula usage
- Operating room music options
- The birth and cord cutting
- Placenta Options (such as encapsulation, or taking it with you, versus discarding as medical waste.)
- Immediate skin to skin contact and breastfeeding options in the O.R.
- The after-birth baby plan
Just because your birth will be performed in an operating room, doesn’t mean you should have to settle for anything less than a perfect and serene birth experience. Don’t go into this delivery with the mindset that you have to “give up” certain luxuries because you’re in a sterile, surgical environment. Practitioners still want you to be comfortable, and are very open to talking about your concerns, as well as your wishes for your ideal birth. There may be “rules” that you have to adhere to, but you’ll never know until you ask.
6. Prepare yourself (and your partner!) mentally:
As you already know, even though you’re having a baby through a cesarean rather than vaginally, it doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Your first c-section may have been unplanned, leading to unwanted feelings of disappointment of your first delivery. You are now given the gift of having 9 months to get yourself in the proper mindset this time. You can be proactive with your doctor regarding your wishes, and plan accordingly for help during your recovery. You and your partner can discuss feelings, and it can be a peaceful situation, rather than a scary one.