How to Take Control of Your Unplanned Birth Experience

  • 1
  • April 10, 2014

How to Take Control of Your Unplanned Birth Experience

When being pregnant, we all dream about the perfect birth experience: Quick, enjoyable and without complications. Healthy baby – happy mama. We prepare for it; we stay fit during our pregnancy, we eat right, we attend birthing classes and do prenatal yoga. But what happens when things don’t go as planned and you are faced with a cesarean birth? I will present to you a list of things you can do to make your unplanned birth experience a little less, well, unplanned.

We all like being in control, it gives us a certain security. Losing control is scary. Now, it just so happens that birth usually has a mind of it’s own. It is raw, it is spontainous, it is powerful! In fact, we need to let go in order to have a succesful labor. It is a leap of faith. You dive in, you surrender. In most cases you appear out of the depths with a tiny, wrinkly and beautiful baby in your arms. Happy end!

Sometimes however, it doesn’t work out that way. When that happens we feel scared, defeated, or worse, we end up being depressed.

There are a few things we can do in advance and even in the days after your birth, to make it a little easier to overcome this situation:

Educate yourself!

And I don’t mean read up on everything that can go wrong! No, concentrate on your positive birth experience, let it fill your mind. Let the idea of your perfect birth consume you. When you are absolutely convienced that you can do this, then and only then, read up on your hospital policy (if you have a hospital birth) about what happens during a cesarean birth. Ask you health care provider if you need more information.

In case of an unplanned cesarean birth, you will be prepared with the knowledge of what is involved in the procedure. It is less frightening if you know what’s going on.

Write a birth plan!

A birth plan will help express your wishes regarding the details of your dream birth. It includes infortmation about the different stages of labor and birth and how you want to approach them. For example, you want to be mobile during labor, use a birth tub or avoid certain medications. It should be no longer than two pages. Make sure you discuss it with your health care provider in advance and hand out copies to every member of your birth team. See 5 tips for writing your birth plan

Also include an “if” section in case of a cesarean birth, to ensure skin-to-skin contact with your baby right after birth. (More on this later)

Hire a Doula!

Not only will she support your natural birth, but just in case there is a little bump in the road, she will be there to comfort you and your partner, to explain what’s happening and to make sure you will stay as close to your birth plan as possible.

While they are not allowed in the operating room, most Doulas will stay and wait for your return and make sure all your belongings are safe and to calm your partner or family members. Once you are back in the hospital room, she will stay with you until you are settled and have nursed your baby.

Skin-to-skin contact or Kangaroo care!

THIS IS A BIG ONE. Skin-to-skin contact, also called Kangaroo care, is extremely important for a succesful breastfeeding relationship with your baby. The sooner and the more, the better. Skin-to-skin, will trigger the baby’s instinct to latch on and “practice” nursing. This suckling is crucial for your milk production.

 Skin-to-skin also helps to reduce stress for the baby and the mother. You two have spent the last 9 months so close together, being suddenly seperated is a big stress factor for both of you. Babies are not designed to be apart from their mother, they need skin-toskin to regulate their body temperature, stabilize their heartbeat and breathing and to be comforted by the familiar smell.1

You might not be able to hold your baby for a long time in the operating room, but every moment counts. It’s little things like this that will stay with you forever, moments like this, that will help you overcome your disappointment of not having the birth you were planning on.

 You need to talk to your health care provider about this and want to check the hospital policy (if you plan on a hospital birth). You might have to fight for this, so be prepared. If you hire a Doula let, her know. Let your partner know also. The more people know about your wishes, the better they can support you.


Hospital buddy!

If you had a cesarean birth you will not be allowed to keep your baby in the room with you if you are by yourself, since you are not able to properly care for him or her in the first hours after birth. Depending on the hopsital policy, this can range from the first day after the surgery, up to the full hospital stay. Skin-to-skin bonding is very important in these first hours and days, and although you might be groggy and tired, these memories will mean the world to you later on.

 Plan for your partner or better yet, for your partner AND a team of close friends or family members to rotate, so that you are never alone and your baby can stay with you. If you need to rest, they can hold the baby for you. Trust me they will love it!

Don’t be shy taking pictures! Yes, you might look tired, but that’s besides the point. I mean, hello, you’ve just been through a lot! Trust me, the “new mommy glow” will make up for it. You will be thankful to have these pictures to remember these first moments with your baby.


Post partum care!

A support system is very important for any birth, but especially for cesarean births, as you will be recovering from a major surgery. Make sure you have frozen meals in place, somebody who can help you out with the care for your sweet new baby and the basic cleaning. Have your partner make a schedule for visitors to make sure your house does not get too crowed. You need rest in order to heal and you as a family need bonding time! Plus, the more skin-to-skin cuddles you get with your baby, the easier breastfeeding will be.

Have a survival pack right next to your bed or couch, or whereever you camp out with your babe, including cell phone (have your partner charge it for you), your lap top, plenty to drink, your pain medication, wipes, snacks, tissues (there will be lots of crying due to hormonal changes) and everything else that is essential for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Hire a post partum Doula or lactation specialist to help with breastfeeding!

Most birth Doula services will at least include one post partum visit. That might not be enough. A post partum Doula is specifically trained to support you in the weeks after you have given birth. Besides helping around the house and the care for your baby, she can also assist with breastfeeding.

A lactation specialist ist usually paid by the hour and will concentrate on nursing only. Do to the surgery, you will have a hard time moving around and holding your baby in the cradle position for nursing might not work for you. Your Doula  or lactation specialist will be able to show you different breastfeeding positions and assist you with the latch.

A succesful breatsfeeding relationship can work wonders when you are healing physically, but also mentally from a cesarean birth. It is important to get the help when you need it, as the first days and weeks will set the tone for your breastfeeding experience in the months after.

One more thing for all you cesarean birth mamas: You have the right to be proud of your birth! It is not your fault that it ended in a cesarean birth. You did everything you could to bring your little babe into this world. You are strong! You are a heroine!

While it is OK to grieve the birthing experience you didn’t have, it is important to focus on what you have accomplished. You, with a little help of your partner, gave life to this precious little being. And, while this is already pretty amazing, you also have become a mother in the process. It doesn’t get much better than that. So, be proud, mama.

My name is Lena Howard. I was born and raised as the oldest of three sisters in a small village in Germany. At an early age, I discovered my love for books and writing and since then it has become my creative outlet.

In 2008, I moved to the US to be with my husband Ron, who I met by chance over the internet. We have been married for almost 6 years and live in South Florida. In May 2013, we welcomed our first child, a daughter named Amelie. Since my pregnancy, I have become passionate about natural birth, breastfeeding and all things attachment parenting.

Now we are a family of three, living under one roof with two dogs, three cats and some salt water fishes, juggling two different cultures to create a harmonic, and sometimes chaotic, household. We feel strongly about living a natural lifestyle, which is based on healthy, organic foods and being environmentally responsible, a very down to earth and gentle approach of raising our daughter, a conscience of gratitude and naturally – Love. 

Link for Lorie’s website:

Link for my Blog:

*Photo by Lou Bueno 


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