Our Inconsistent Earth Mother, Jackie Heffer-Cooke, whose two children were both born by caesarean, offers advice on caesarean birth, how to make the most of the experience and still feel good about birthing your baby.
Advice on caesarean birth – my personal experience
Teaching around 50 pregnant women a week YogaBumps pregnancy yoga and HypnoBirthing at the Orange Grove Clinic, I come across women for whom, for one reason or another, giving birth naturally is not an option. Sometimes they are quite excited about the baby exiting through the sun roof 🙂 but usually, and more often, they are disappointed as they feel any control or even ‘fun’ is taken out of the birth. I get this.
My first baby, born nearly 10 years ago now, was breach. I remember feeling sad that I felt, from the advice I was getting, a natural birth experience was now no longer an option. And although I was scared of giving birth (that was before I learnt anything about HypnoBirthing…) I wanted Meg’s birth to be an experience, a day to remember. Not a day about a certain operation and a hospital stay. Plus I felt saddened that I would be separated from my partner on our first night as a three.
Well, as I was considering if I had any options, such as a manual turn, or some moxibustion, Meg decided she didn’t want to wait for me to make up my mind, and she sprang into action at 36 weeks, deciding to surprise all of us and come early. (And she is still full of beans and happy to surprise!)
The birth was odd. Mostly because as soon as I entered the hospital I was being prepped for an operation, rather than full labour and birth. And this labour therefore felt like an ‘unlabour’. I had to wait in my operation gown, in unlabour labour, for four hours in a hospital room, and was then wheeled down into theatre whilst puffing and panting, feeling terrified of what was to come and a lonely night without my James to support, on this, one of the biggest nights of my life.
I was sad.
Next time around
Four years later, I went for the VBAC, vaginal birth after caesarean (sexy title) but this time I was fully prepared with HypnoBirthing, active birth moves, and a hospital bag full of preparation… just in case…
I had an amazing birth with Sam. I rode my birth good, I breathed into my belly, I made some amazing sounds, and loved every ounce of the empowering moment of it. Then, near the end, I started bleeding. So much so the obstetrician decided it was too big a gamble and whisked me off for another C-section. And that was that. However, this time around I didn’t care as I had 10 hours of an amazing birth experience, and, unlike the first time, I felt I had done brilliantly – I just needed some help to make us both safe at the end.
Also I was prepared!
My top tips!
So here are my own personal top tips to making your caesarean more doable. Whether or not it is planned or unplanned.
- Do some deep relaxation, self-hypnosis mind mapping preparation. When deeply relaxed, imagine yourself as you walk through leaving the house, the walk into the hospital, the feeling of getting prepped and ready for the birth, the look of the lights above your head, the chat of the surgeons around you, the moment you meet your baby! A short stay at the hospital on the ward, then focus on getting back home and carrying your special bundle safe and sound back into your house. If you imagine it, in detail, over and over, the mind will become satisfied with the process and you will be a lot less anxious on the day. I can help you with this at a HypnoBirthing session, so feel free to book a ‘HypnoBirthing for Caesarean’ session.
- Take some music to play in the theatre during the birth of your baby. This is your birth, your baby. Don’t feel like you are being awkward, or that the surgeons and theatre staff won’t like it – they will! It will make your birth special for you and even memorable in a day’s work for them! Tap into the Yogabumps facebook page and let us know what would be your ideal track to birth too!
- Tune into your breath. Do your HypnoBirthing or YogaBumps breathing as it will help you stay focused, calm, in control, and you will even enjoy this experience of birthing your baby – however it happens!
- Ask to have your baby given straight to you. You will be able to have Your Moment, regardless of whether your baby comes out normally or through the lid!
- In the recovery room, you can gaze at your lovely new baby for as long as you like, and have skin-to-skin when breast feeding. Just unwrap your baby, and wrap both of you up to keep warm!
- Be cheeky – if you don’t ask you don’t get. If you want a private room, ask for one, you never know, if they are not busy they may! At least ask if there is a bay in the ward with a window. If you don’t ask, you don’t get…
- Once on the ward, make your area your own. I asked my 4 year old to draw some pics which I blue-tacked up on the walls around me – big happy rainbows and sunshine! Plus take your own pillow!
- If you don’t want to talk to anyone – close your curtain. I am super sociable, but I didn’t want to talk to anyone except my baby and my husband whilst on the ward, just pretending this was my own space. Own it. It is yours for as long as you are there.
- Relax. The more relaxed you are with your baby, the more your will heal, the quicker you heal the quicker you will get home! Simples.
- You will get home! And then it is time to sink into your baby bubble just the same as everyone else, for just as long as you need. Bliss. Plus, you get to lie in bed for at least a week simply gazing at this amazing human that you have made!! Be proud, no matter how, you birthed your baby good. If you needed some help, it doesn’t matter, just as long as the two of you are safe. Just put some love into the prep, and you will have an experience to remember. Enjoy!
Jackie Heffer-Cooke teaches HypnoBirthing, YogaBumps Pregnancy Yoga, YogaBubs Baby Yoga and is a massage therapist with a special interest in pregnancy massage. To book an appointment with Jackie, please contact Reception on 01603 631 900, email [email protected] or go top our contact page.