Preparing for a Positive Abdominal Birth
Are you planning to birth your baby abdominally? Is this your choice which is termed elective, or perhaps you have been advised to do so for a medical reason? You may be feeling completely fine with this decision or you may feel disappointed, perhaps with a sense of having no options and the vaginal birth you were planning has been taken away from you. I wonder also if the thought of abdominal surgery could be causing you to feel anxious, hindering you enjoying the reminder of your pregnancy. I want to reassure you that you can still have a sense of control over your abdominal birth and having this sense of control can then allow you to be prepared and excited whether planned or unplanned.
Your baby’s birth can be magical when you give birth abdominally. It is proven that the more relaxed you are going into your abdominal birth the easier the bonding, healing and recovery can be. We want and need to have an emotional experience however we birth, we should be given the opportunity for involvement and to be a part of the birth as much as possible, therefore you can use hypnobirthing as it has a wonderfully beneficial effect on your mindset and your ability to remain relaxed. Hypnobirthing as birth preparation really is for all births. Incorporating logic, mindfulness, affirmations, breathing techniques, confidence and techniques to keep the adrenaline at bay so you can enjoy your birth.
If you have elected or are preparing for an abdominal birth then being aware of your choices, understanding what the team are open to doing within your hospital and then communicating this to them via your wishes for birth will also help you to feel more in control. I always recommend my parents put together an option for a plan B or C. So even if you have an unplanned abdominal birth, you can still have some choices in place.
Are you familiar with the term ‘gentle caesarean’? this means that the obstetrician would make the incision and your baby’s head would be born gently before slowly waiting for the body to follow, this allows your baby to have a calmer entrance into the world. Moving through in this way also helps with expelling the fluid from the lungs which would have been squeezed out if your baby was born vaginally through the birth path.
If you have been using guided hypnobirthing MP3’s in your pregnancy, they would have made a positive association for you which will still be very helpful. Make sure you have your MP3 or music on one headphone, so you have this to keep you calm while also staying informed of what is happening in the room if this is your preference.
On gowning up you can have your gown tied at the front opposed to the back, like putting on a jacket, this will enable you to enjoy skin to skin with your little one as soon as you can. We know the benefits of skin to skin and this should be as encouraged with an abdominal birth. It will help to release the oxytocin and to stimulate your supply.
You may have heard of delayed cord clamping. Straight after birth, historically your baby’s cord would have been cut either right away or after around one minute. We now know that delaying your baby’s cord from being cut has huge benefits for the baby. Delaying it for even 3-5 minutes ensures that they receive a huge amount of extra oxygenated blood volume through the cord from the placenta, up to 30%. They are also then receiving iron which will be enough for 3-6 months. White blood cells and antibodies to keep their immune system boosted. They will also get the transferral of vital stem cells. You can also leave the cord until it goes white and floppy. Delaying your baby’s cord being clamped should be done for you unless of course, baby needs some help after birth and in this case, they will need to clamp the cord to assist your baby.
You can have the ECG dots placed on your upper back and shoulders opposed to your chest which will then allow for immediate skin to skin and for your baby to be placed directly on your chest after birth without any interference.
You can ask for the lights to be dimmed around the theatre room apart from those being used directly above the surgery. This will allow you to feel calmer and more relaxed. Once your baby has been born, it will then be able to enjoy skin to skin in a darker more dimly lit atmosphere up by your chest.
The surgical screen can be lowered so you are able to see your baby being born, this is magical if you would like to experience it. Some parents would prefer not to see it however some have described it as magical. It is your decision however; you do need to communicate this with your birth team I would suggest before the day just to make sure it is something they do offer.
Skin to skin. The first hour should be as calm as possible to encourage your baby to feed and establish breastfeeding if this is your wish. It will help to produce the oxytocin for bonding and will assist in encouraging your uterus to contract down. You can request that the midwives do not weigh or measure your baby until after that first initial hour following birth.
I really hope this helps to let you feel more in control of your abdominal birth and for you to prepare in the best way for you both as parents. I would urge you to communicate with your midwives as much as possible which will then enable you to stay close to your choices and if it is not possible then you will understand why.
Claire Dugan runs Tutum Birthing in North London, offering hypnobirthing and doula support, as well as post-natal services for parents. You can visit her website here to find out more and follow her on Instagram to stay up to date with pregnancy and birthing information.