How To Prepare For A Planned C-Section

As many as 30% of babies in the United States are born via c-section each year. While some c-sections are unexpected or even emergent, others are scheduled ahead of time.

Planned c-sections are done for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s the mother’s preference to deliver via c-section instead of vaginal birth. But, in other cases, it’s recommended to have a c-section due to birth factors or risks. In the end, all that matters is the baby and mom are healthy post-birth.

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You may have only a few days or several weeks’ notice to prepare for your scheduled c-section, depending on the reason for it. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Below is everything you need to know about preparing for a planned c-section.

Create Your Birth Plan

It’s easy to assume you won’t need a birth plan for a scheduled c-section. The doctor makes an incision and the baby comes out, right? But there’s a lot more that goes into preparing for a c-section. And that’s why you shouldn’t forget to make a birth plan. Of course, there is no guarantee that things will go as planned. But this will help you have an idea of ​​what you want things to look like and can help you feel more in control.

  • When preparing your c-section birth plan, consider who you want in the room during the procedure and who will care for you when you go home. You may need to make arrangements if you have older kids or any pets at home.
  • addition, specify whether you want pictures or videos taken during the c-section (and who will be in charge). Make sure to note down if there are any post-birth instructions you want followed.
  • You’ll also want to plan for your aftercare. Who’s going to drive you home post-procedure? Who will help take care of the baby as you recover? Don’t forget to plan what you’re going to wear following the c-section. Comfy, loose clothes are key.

Know What To Pack

In the weeks leading up to your scheduled c-section, think about what you’ll want to pack in your hospital bag. This will look different for every mom depending on your needs and preferences. But there are a few key things all moms can benefit from.

Parents provides a full checklist of Items to bring in your c-section hospital bag, like a robe, shower shoes, toiletries, high-waisted underwear, a breastfeeding pillow, and more. It’s a smart idea to talk to other moms who’ve had scheduled c-sections to see what they’re glad they brought, what they wish they did, and what they didn’t end up using.

An important thing to keep in mind is the hospital stay following a c-section is often longer than a vaginal birth – 3 to 5 days compared to 1 to 2. So, be prepared to stay for several days post-procedure.

Clarify Your Feeding Plan

If you plan to breastfeed after your c-section, you need to take extra steps to ensure your milk supply comes in. Helping Hands Doula explains that if you have a scheduled c-section, you may not experience contractions as you would with a vaginal birth.

Hormones are released during contractions to stimulate the body to produce breast milk. So, if you miss out on contractions, it can take a few extra days for the body to begin producing milk post-c-section.

Luckily, there are things you can do to help promote your milk supply, like manual stimulation. You may even be advised to start hand expression prior to the c-section to get the milk flowing. There are some recipes you can try to help stimulate and increase breast milk as well.

Your doctor should explain what you can expect from breastfeeding after a scheduled c-section, but don’t be afraid to ask questions if they don’t bring it up. Additionally, remember that everyone’s experience with nursing is different. For some women it comes easily, while others experience challenges, regardless if they have a c-section. Fed is always best.

Prepare The Night Before

There are certain things you’ll have to do the night before your scheduled c-section. Very Well Family advises not to apply lotions or powder to the skin. You’ll want to ensure your bags are packed and your partner (or whoever will be caring for you) is ready to go tomorrow.

Follow all your doctor’s recommendations, including when you need to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. Some hospitals require you to not have solids for 8 hours before the surgery, whereas others only advise you to stop for 2 hours. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.

Manage Your Anxiety

Finally, it’s completely normal to be nervous ahead of a planned c-section. You may feel more anxious than if you were having a vaginal birth. After all, a c-section is a surgical procedure and the recovery is longer than that of a vaginal birth.

Signs of increased anxiety can include:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • So muscles
  • Increased fatigue
  • Sleeping problems
  • Trouble concentrating

But remember, this is a completely safe and regular procedure. In some cases, vaginal delivery can be riskier for mom and baby. If your doctor has recommended a c-section, trust their opinion and follow their instructions.

If you’re feeling extra anxious ahead of your planned c-section, take steps to manage your anxiety. There are plenty of ways to ease anxiety about childbirth (both vaginal and surgical), and what works for one person may not for another.

Parents Recommends practicing relaxation skills (like deep breathing and mediation), journaling your thoughts, and expressing your anxiety to others. It may be helpful to try and identify what exacerbates your anxiety and cut it out. For example, you may feel more jittery after having caffeine. Or you may become more worried after reading or hearing about bad childbirth stories.

If you find that your anxiety management strategies aren’t working – or if you experience heightened anxiety after your c-section – speak to your doctor. You may have an anxiety disorder, which can be improved through various methods, including medication. Your healthcare practitioner can formally diagnose you in this instance and discuss your management options.

For more information on how to prepare for a scheduled c-section, we encourage you to reach out to your doctor. Remember, whether you’re having a vaginal birth or a c-section, you’ve got this!

Sources: Very Well Family, Helping Hands Doula, Parents, Parents, WebMD, NIH,

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