A C-section is a form of surgery during which a doctor cuts through your belly and uterus to enable your baby to be born. Nowadays, you can choose to have a C-section over a natural birth at some hospitals.
But, in special cases, a doctor might advise you to have what is called an elective or scheduled C-section. This could be because you have previously had a difficult birth or you are experiencing complications with a current pregnancy.
In most cases, a scheduled C-section will be done under a local anaesthetic, so you will be awake during the operation. An epidural is administered in the spine to numb any feeling.
Should you be worried about a scheduled C-section?
Doctors will only advise a Caesarean section as a way to minimise the risks to you or your baby, which could arise from a natural birth.
A C-section is usually a more quick and controlled way of your baby being born. It is considered a routine surgery for an obstetrician, who may perform up to 3 of these operations per day!
However, as with all major surgeries, it does carry some risks. You are more prone to bleeding and you can experience the side effects of an epidural, which your doctor will discuss with you.
If you are advised to have a scheduled C-section, it is likely because your doctor sees it as the safest way for your little one to be born.
Now, maybe you’re one of those mums who already has the date of your scheduled C-section in your diary. The next step, then, is to prepare for it.
To help you get started, here are some tips and advice on planning for a C-section.
To use or not to use a birth plan
If you have already made a birth plan before the decision to have a C-section was made, then it is still a good idea to take it with you to the hospital.
Spend some time adapting it, or create one if you haven’t already, as it will give you the chance to go through the whole process together with your partner. You can then discuss any issues or worries you may have with your doctor.
Surgery can be a very scary thing but knowledge is power. If you know what is going to happen, you’ll feel much more confident about it.
Some things to consider are:
- Are you going to have an epidural or would you prefer to be put to sleep for the duration of the operation?
- Who do you want in the theatre with you? Usually, you are only allowed 1 relative. Will it be your partner, your mother or a friend?
- Check with your hospital about whether you can hold your baby straight away or whether you will have to wait until you are out of surgery. If so, who do you want to hold your baby after birth?
- It is also a good idea to find out what postnatal pain relief is available to you.
- Think about when you get home. Do you have enough help? You will still be off your feet for at least 3-5 days when you get back from the hospital, and after that you need to take it very easy as it can take 6 weeks to recover from a C-section.
What to do before you go to the hospital for your scheduled C-section
- Shave it
It’s a good idea to shave the area where the incision will be made before you go to the hospital.
- Plain Jane
You are going into surgery so that means no make up, painted nails or jewellery!
- Worry-free hospital ‘fashion’
Don’t worry about what to wear – you’ll be given a medical gown to wear during the operation.
- Nil by mouth
You won’t be able to eat for at least 6 hours before you go for your scheduled C-section. If you are scheduled for surgery in the morning, doctors will normally ask that you do not eat past midnight. This is because of the anaesthetic you will receive.
What to pack for a scheduled C-section
Take note that you’ll be staying in the hospital a little longer after a scheduled C-section — most likely 2-3 days — and baby will be staying with you.
You’ll want to bring comfortable clothing and slippers. Go for items that are easy to manoeuvre if you are breastfeeding.
Also, remember that you won’t be able to get out of bed for the first 8-12 hours after surgery, while the epidural wears off. So make sure that the clothes you’ll bring are easy to put on and take off, for easier changing when needed.
Don’t worry too much about what to bring though, as you can always ask your partner or family members to bring anything you forget!
Don’t stress yourself out over your scheduled C-section
When I had my little boy — almost 2 years ago to the day — back in June 2012, I wasn’t expecting his birth to be quite so organised.
I had always imagined getting that “surprise” moment while I was out shopping or something. Sort of like what you see in the movies – the moment when you finally know… today is the day I’m going to give birth!
That wasn’t to be though, as my little boy was breech — meaning he was facing head up and wouldn’t budge! So, he was born happy and healthy, without any complications, at 39 weeks by scheduled C-section.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.
So if you’re due to give birth to your little one by a scheduled C-section, don’t panic. Relax and think positive thoughts — you and your baby can do it!
Have you ever had a scheduled C-section? Or are you scheduled for one soon? We’d love to know about your experience – just leave a comment below!