Prepare for a Scheduled C Section: From a Mom Who’s Done it Twice

At 36 weeks pregnant with my first baby, we discovered she would most likely be born by Cesarean section because she was breech. This was not at all what I was expecting.

I had been busy reading all the books to prepare myself for labor and had even taken a traditional hospital childbirth class. When the doctor said the kind of birth I was expecting was unlikely I felt all kinds of feelings – anxious, upset, disappointed.

But once I dove into all the information I could find about preparing for a scheduled C section, I realized everything was going to be OK and what was most important was a healthy baby – that the way she came out of me didn’t matter as much as I thought it did. 

In this detailed post, we’ll go over everything I wish I had known for my first C section and everything I learned from having two. I hope my experiences will help you feel more at ease and ready for your C section! 

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How to Prepare for a Scheduled C Section

Preparing for a C section can be scary and overwhelming, even it’s a scheduled one that you know about days or weeks in advance. Not only are you getting ready to bring a new baby home, but not you’re preparing to have and recover from major surgery!  I’m always less overwhelmed when I have more information and there are a few things you’ll want to be mentally and physically ready for. 

Be an Active Participant in Your C Section

Your C section doesn’t have to be something that just happens to you. Just as you would prepare for a vaginal birth (maybe you were already doing that) you should learn everything you can about C sections and some of the different options you have. 

This is your birth, your body, and your baby.

Create a Birth Plan

Whether it’s a long and detailed document or just jotting something down on a sticky note, you’ll want to have some form of birth plan. You’ll have a lot on your mind the day of your surgery and will want to make sure you remember the important things. 

A C-section birth plan should (at a minimum) include: 

  • Who will be with you during the procedure?
  • Do you want photos and videos taken and does the hospital allow it?
  • After birth do you want to do skin-to-skin, are you breastfeeding?

More questions to consider include:

  • Who will cut the umbilical cord?    
  • Do you want the hospital staff to bathe your baby? 
  • What are your preferences for postpartum pain medication?

While the hospital staff might not always follow your plan exactly, it will be helpful to go over a few things with them in advance. It will also help you feel more in control on a day when, honestly, there are a lot of things you can’t control. 

Bring your birth plan to your next OB appointment to go over it and ask any questions you still might have. It’s a great tool to guide a conversation with your doctor. 

Take a Birth Class that Specializes in C Sections

Before I knew I was having a C section my husband and I took a “typical” birthing class at the hospital where they focus on vaginal delivery and barely touched on C-sections. Oh, how I would have loved to take a class that focused only on C-sections! Lucky for you, now you can. 

Liesel Teen, RN of Mommy Labor Nurse put together a video-based course to get you totally prepared for your C-section birth on your schedule, from the comfort of your own home. The class will help you:

  • Become an expert on the entire C-section timeline
  • Learn how to advocate for yourself and your baby during and after your C-section
  • Gain a positive mindset for a better C-section birth
  • Eliminate any fear or anxiety you have about the big day

An online course will also help your partner be prepared, knowledgeable, and calm on the big day.

Have Your Partner Prepare for Your C Section and Actively Participate on the Day

Your partner should actively participate in the C section as well. He can talk to you and keep you calm when your nerves are heightened, hold your hand, and announce the gender of the baby once the baby is born (if you don’t know it already). Just make sure that you remind your OB about these preferences on your birthing day. These choices may be something that you want to add to your birth plan!

Also, make sure your partner knows he will have to help out more around the house those first few weeks. If you have a child at home already, start practicing having your partner do some of the things you normally do. For example, I knew that after my second C section I wouldn’t be able to lift my toddler daughter in and out of the bathtub or into her crib – things she was very used to mommy doing. So I had my husband start doing these things a few weeks before my son was born. That way it become part of her routine and not something new that only started happening after the baby arrived. 

Connect with your anesthesiologist

There are lots of different medical professionals who will be in the surgery room with you during your procedure. It was actually pretty surprising to me how many people it takes! But the anesthesiologist will be the one you interact with most during your baby’s birth. See, your surgeon will be behind a curtain and you can hear her but can’t really see her. The anesthesiologist on the other hand is at your head, monitoring your vitals and continuously asking you how you are. 

Before your C section, the anesthesiologist will come into the room to meet you. Since this person will end up playing such a huge role in the birth of your baby, I recommend remembering their name, connecting with them on a personal level, and really asking any questions or concerns you may have. I was really lucky to have two great anesthesiologists who were kind and concerned and helped talk me through some of the reactions I was having – helping me (and my husband) feel like everything was normal and OK. 

Packing for Your Hospital Stay After C Section

There are so many lists out there about what to pack for your postpartum hospital stay. I want to mention a few things that I think are especially helpful after a C-section to have on hand in your hospital room. 

  • When packing clothes for you, keep in mind you will have an abdominal incision and sore abdominal muscles. Opt for comfortable clothing, like pants with a high waistband or a dress.
  • High-waisted underwear is your friend. You don’t want underwear that rubs up against your incision. (These are comfy and actually kind of cute!)
  • Baby clothes that are easy to get on and off: These sleepers have an inverted zipper, so you only undress baby’s legs for a diaper change. A velcro swaddle is magical when you’re sore and can’t be bothered to figure out how to swaddle with a blanket. There is no reason these days to try to figure out the blanket swaddle. You just had major surgery…why are they trying to teach you origami! 
  • A partner who is prepared to care for a newborn.
  • Consider bringing some snacks for your husband or partner. You probably won’t be hungry right away but your partner might and no one wants a hangry new dad hanging around. 
  • I always just used the hospital pillows to nurse my babies but you might consider bringing your Boppy or another nursing pillow with you. 

5 Important Tips for a Successful C Section Recovery

There are lots of things you can do to have a better post-C-section experience. 

  • Tip #1 – STOOL SOFTENERS!!! Ask for them right away. Do not, I repeat do not, assume your nurse will offer them to you and wait for that to happen. For both my C sections I asked and was so glad I did because they would have given them to me much later than I preferred! Also, purchase some to have at home and take them on a consistent schedule. Trust me. This is not something you want to lose track of. That first poop is scary. 
  • Tip #2 –  take your prescribed pain medicine as suggested to stay ahead of the pain. I kept a notebook with me at all times to write down when I took my pain meds and my stool softener. Time sort of stands still when you have a newborn so writing it down helps immensely!
  • Tip #3 – wear your belly binder as often as you can! You may get one of these from the hospital which is great. I really think they work just as well as the belly binders you can purchase online. If you’re not given one in the hospital or you just want to have one ahead of time – this is a great one. Get your belly binder nice and tight (have your partner help you) and make sure it covers your incision. Covering the incision will help prevent your clothes from rubbing up against it. 
  • Tip #4 – Listen to your body – you’ll have to find the right balance of moving around enough but not overdoing it. Walking will help with recovery and to move the gas out of your system. Follow your physician’s instructions when it comes to moving and lifting. If you overdo it, you will feel it. You’ll be sore. Take this as a sign to slow down. Snuggle your new baby and let other people do the work for you. The easier you take it in the beginning, the more quickly you will heal and be able to get back to normal life. 

Related Post: Online Birth Classes: Get Ready for Your Baby’s Birth

You’ve Got This!
I wish you the best with your scheduled C-section and for you and your baby to be happy, healthy, and well prepared!

Birth It Up! The C Section Series

In addition to reading this post and talking with friends and family who’ve had a C section, I strongly recommend this online, video-based class. You’ll gain the positive mindset and sense of control you deserve before your C section birth. Become an expert on the entire C section timeline, learn how to advocate for yourself and your baby, get your partner prepared, find out what to expect during recovery, and get ready to rock your C section birth!

  • Erase the unknown
  • Eliminate the fear
  • Have a more confident, better birth

Birth It Up: The C-Section Series ensures that you know exactly what to expect ahead of the big day.

After enrolling, you’ll have unlimited, lifetime access to the class so that you can get prepared on your time, from the comfort of your own home!

Right now you can save 10% on your class by using code EMILY10 at checkout!

Take Me to Birth It Up! The C Section Series