When planning a caesarean birth, ultimately all the same rules apply as to any other birth. After all, birth is birth. Over my years of midwifery practice, I have picked up some hints and tips along the way from my experience in caring for mothers who have had a caesarean birth. These easy and simple hacks will help you to have your home ready, bags packed and mind at ease before you welcome your baby into the world.
1. Pack and organise essential items
Make a note of where essential items are packed in your hospital bag so another person can get them for you. Alternatively, pack these items in the side pockets or in a smaller bag within the main bag. Ask your birth partner to place them within easy reach of you before they return home to prevent you from having to reach and twist.
2. Bring headphones for relaxation
Pop some headphones in your hospital bag. These will come in handy if you need something to distract you whilst you are waiting to go to theatre. These are also great during your postnatal recovery. Remember to research mindfulness apps beforehand and work out how to use them; you may turn to these if you need a little peaceful headspace whilst on the ward as these can be noisy and busy places.
3. Pack slip-on shoes
Pack some easy slip-on shoes; this will prevent you having to bend down post operatively. Make sure they stay on your feet securely to prevent any slips.
4. Pack comfy loungewear
When deciding what clothes to pack, opt for stretchy, soft and loose loungewear. Ensure that it is comfortable around your tummy, particularly along your bikini line. This includes your knickers, the higher the waist the better! Remember, if you are planning on breastfeeding, you will want to wear something that makes feeding convenient too.
5. Organise music for your c-section
Many hospitals have the facilities for you to play your own music during the caesarean itself. Discuss this with your midwife antenatally to clarify the best format for you to create your own playlist. Remember to choose songs that keep you calm, hold fond memories and make you feel happy.
6. Bring home comforts
Pack a pillow from home to help you get comfortable following the birth. If you have one that can double up as a feeding cushion, that will be even better. Remember to put a colourful or patterned pillowcase on it so it does not get mixed up with hospital property.
7. Boredom busters
Plan and prepare for potential times where you may be waiting around and in need of something to pass the time. A book or an e-reader is great, however, on this occasion you may wish to find an activity that involves your birth partner too, like playing cards.
8. Snap lots of photos
Take as many pictures as you can! Remember to use the time where you are waiting to go to theatre to take any last-minute bump pictures. If possible, hand your phone to a member of the theatre team and ask them to capture some of those first moments following your baby’s birth too. Discuss the possibility for this with your midwife during your birth preferences consultation.
9. Refuel and hydrate
Proper nutrition and hydration following a caesarean birth is a vital aspect to your recovery. It will help to prevent constipation, aid wound healing and support the production of breastmilk. Take a water bottle that has a sports cap; this will come in useful when you are still in bed and movement is restricted. Also, pack plenty of healthy snacks that will boost your energy levels. The chances are you will have had a period of being nil by mouth prior to the procedure and whilst you will be provided with the most delicious tea and toast you have ever had following the birth (if you know, you know), you may be grateful to have something to put your hand on when those middle of the night hunger cravings kick in.
10. Stock up
Prepare for your return home. Batch cook and freeze some meals to fill your tummies on those busier days and have plenty of snacks readily available in the cupboard. Peppermint tea is another great item to pop in the cupboard as in addition to its soothing flavour, it is also great for relieving painful trapped wind which is something women can experience post caesarean. Consider how you plan to manage any post-operative discomfort and stock up on the relevant medications like paracetamol, for example.
These top tips will help you to be the most prepared you can be for the arrival of your little one following your c-section. They will also ensure that when you return home with your baby, you are able to take care of yourselves as new parents as well as your new housemate. At the heart of these tips, my main message is one of being prepared. Take the time to consider what is important to you and your partner in designing your experience of this wonderful event. Remember to team your hopes and desires with an open-minded and informative chat with your own midwife. Discuss the options available to you in your own hospital so that you can create a detailed and flexible plan of your birth preferences.
Should you need reminding… you’ve got this!