For myriad reasons. Losing control. Not doing birth the "right" way. Major abdominal surgery. While awake. I GET it. The list goes on. And I totally validate that fear for my clients.
A huge part of birth prep is PREPARATION. Preparing for anything. Intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
So whatever your triggers and fears may be surrounding birth - face them, explore them, and conquer them as best as possible. BEFORE your birth. So that during birth, whatever road unfolds before you, you can be as ready and as present as possible.
In that vein, I want to celebrate what I call "the sacred cesarean" today. I want to honor all my clients that are fed up with hearing "I'm sorry" or "How terrible" or "All that matters is a healthy baby" after their cesarean births.
This is what I want to tell mothers who have birthed by cesarean: You are a bad ass. You did what you had to do to birth your baby. You made a tough choice at an intense moment. You birthed your baby in the most beautiful and brave way you possibly could, and you are a warrior goddess. Boundless love to you.
So. In the moment - that harried moment after a long labor when cesarean becomes the best option - the only option - for the health and safety of mama and baby. What can we do? What can we as support people do to honor the BIRTH - to bring the sacred into the operating room?
1) Semantics matter. This is a birth. This is the culmination of nine months of love, and usually hours of hard labor, from a mother. A mother who probably wasn't hoping for a surgical delivery. Honor the birth of this baby. No more "C-Section" talk. This is a cesarean birth. If you're a doula, use those words. If you're a partner, use those words. If you're a mama, use those words in your head, and whenever you tell your story.
2) Sing that baby out. During a cesarean birth, the doula and/or partner can help to make a love-infused memory for the family. One gorgeous mama-client wept at the memory of her partner chanting her baby out in accordance with their Zen Buddhist faith. I've also known people to sing "Happy Birthday," or to say a prayer upon baby's birth. Encourage mama to lead this moment, or participate, if she can.
3) Take off that mask! Partner/doula: you are not in the surgical sterile field. You are on mama's side! Take of the mask, let mama see your face! Most often, the anesthesiologist won't mind.
4) Be prepared. Know what a Cesarean delivery looks like, sounds like, feels like, smells like, etc. ahead of time. So there is less opportunity for overwhelm and trauma, and more room for holding space and being present with the birth of your beautiful baby.
5) Skin to skin. If all goes smoothly, many hospitals encourage skin to skin immediately post-birth, before baby goes to nursery. Ask for this, push for this, demand this unless otherwise contraindicated. It is best for mama and baby unless there is a true medical reason otherwise.
6) Have a team. Cesarean births are quick - about nine minutes. The sew up takes a bit longer - sometimes up to 45 minutes - and this is a chunk of time where support is crucial. Have partner go to nursery with baby, and doula/sister/friend stay with mama for the duration of the procedure. Mama should never be alone without a support person if at all possible.
7) Take pics, Partner! When the partner goes with baby to nursery, and mama is still finishing up her procedure and immediate recovery, remind the partner to take some pics and movies of baby. Have the doula ready with mama's phone in the OR, and get those photos texted over. Then mama can focus her attention on images of her beautiful baby while waiting to have her sweet bundle back in her arms.
And remember. Every birth is sacred. Every birth is a BIRTH. Honor the mama, honor her journey, and honor her story.