What to Include in Your Birth Preferences – Part III

baby delivered via c-section

It took me over a year (having a baby and experiencing a global pandemic is a lot, y’all), but today I’m completing the “what to include in your birth preferences” series with a dedicated post on if you end up having a scheduled or unplanned cesarean birth. If you missed parts I and II, go back and see what I recommend putting on your birth preferences list, and then also check out what to include if you are considering or end up getting an epidural.

A Quick Word on C-Sections

First of all, they are just as much of a process as a vaginal birth. In some ways, I believe that having a c-section (especially unplanned) takes way more courage and bravery than a vaginal birth. It’s a major abdominal surgery and for some people, it might be the first surgery they’ve ever had. That coupled with the unknown of how it will go and then on top of all that, you’re preparing to meet the new love of your life! Talk about a doozy.

Secondly, not all c-sections are an emergency. I see lots of people say they had an emergency c-section after, for example, pushing for 2 hours and making no progress. Now, of course, emergency c-sections do indeed happen. In these cases, there is no time for discussions before the c-section takes place. If it’s an emergency, medical providers are rushing to get you into the operating room to quickly and safely deliver your baby via surgery. In some of these cases, the birthing person is put under general anesthesia instead of just having a spinal tap because there is no time to wait for the medicine to properly do its job and make the birthing person adequately numb before delivery. In the event of general anesthesia, not even the partner or support person is allowed to be in the operating room at the time of their baby’s birth. I make this point simply because words matter. And if you’re claiming you had an emergency c-section, when in reality you had an unplanned c-section, it might be triggering to those who indeed had an emergency c-section.

But I Digress…

This post is in the case of a scheduled or unplanned c-section as there likely won’t be time to talk about your preferences if it’s a true emergency.

If you are aiming for a vaginal birth, you might want to put it at the very bottom of your list and say something like “in the event of an unplanned c-section.” If you’re planning on one from the get-go, you don’t have to denote anything special as these are just your birth preferences for your birth! Answering the below questions will help craft your preferences:

What to Include Under Unplanned C-Section Addendum/If Having Scheduled C-Section

In the event you and your care providers have decided that the best course of action would be to have your baby via c-section, there might be some options you want to discuss. Here are things to consider putting on your birth preferences addendum:
– Would you like immediate skin-to-skin once baby is safely out? This is a possibility! If baby is breathing great and you are doing well, then baby can come up over the drape and directly on your skin. A nurse will have to assist with this
– Is a clear drape an option? Some folks want to be able to see the moment their baby emerges from their body. Others don’t, and that’s okay too! Some hospitals can offer a clear drape to be put up between your chest and the sterile field aka lower half of your body so you can see! Otherwise, they use a blue drape
– Would you like to listen to any particular music? Most anesthesiologists will put on your playlist/specific song if you’d like! They are the people sitting right up at the top of your head and will be able to walk you through the surgery if you’re interested
– Can baby stay on you the entire time or do they need to go to the nursery to be assessed? It’s common practice for baby and partner to leave the birthing person to go get checked out in the nursery while the birthing person’s OB is finishing their surgery. If you want your baby to stay with you the whole time (given that everyone is doing well), you can advocate for this! Just know it’s not common practice so you might get some pushback
– Can your doula come with you? If you have a doula, you can ask the anesthesiologist if they wouldn’t mind 2 support people in the OR. Doulas are trained to support – either in a labor room or the OR. Most hospitals only allow 1 support person, but I’ve had clients ask that I attend as well and have been able to be in the OR with them as well. It’s not common, but it is possible!
– Can someone take pictures? You can ask your nurse (or your doula if they are able to be there!) if they wouldn’t mind snapping pics of the birth process/your baby/your family. Especially once baby is out and on your chest – it’s wonderful to have a nurse take a picture of you holding your baby with your partner by your side

Whether you’re having an unmedicated vaginal birth, are planning on or end up getting an epidural, or your baby is delivered via c-section, you are now armed with the tools to compile your birth preferences. Happy birthing, friends!


About Katelyn Gonzalez

Hi, I’m Katelyn - a seasoned birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, placenta specialist, Ayurvedic postpartum care practitioner, and certified women’s health coach. My #1 priority is to empower women to see what they can do when they believe in themselves and their beautiful bodies. I live in the East Bay with my husband, daughter, and fur babies.

Leave a Comment