Caesarean Birth: What are my options?


Caesarean Birth: What are my options?

by Peta Collins, Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife, Victoria, Australia


Caesarean birth in Australia is very common: 4 in 10 babies are born this way. Sometimes a caesarean birth is recommended during pregnancy - for example, if you are expecting twins or your baby is in breech position. At other times it may be decided during your labour, if your progress is slower than expected or your baby becomes distressed. Regardless of the reason for your caesarean birth, many women find the experience is more enjoyable if they participate in making some of the decisions.


Your birth environment:

Operating theatres need to be sterile places - but that doesn’t mean you can’t add some personal touches to make your baby’s birthday extra special. You can bring your own music into the operating theatre, to relax you and take your mind off the operation.  Ask about having non-essential lights dimmed to create a more gentle, welcoming environment. Some families even have a photographer present to capture those irreplaceable first moments. Progressive hospitals are introducing clear drapes so you can choose to witness your baby’s birth, and in some facilities mums are donning sterile gloves to help lift their baby up onto their chest, having their first cuddle immediately at birth. Let staff know if you wish to discover the sex of your baby for yourself (if you’ve chosen not to find out ahead of time). Delayed cord clamping - whereby doctors dont clamp and cut the umbilical cord immediately at birth, but rather allow extra time (around a minute) for the blood in the cord and placenta to flow to the baby - can also occur at a caesarean birth.


Your baby:

Early skin-to-skin contact is a natural process that involves placing your naked newborn on

your bare chest and covering them with blankets to keep them dry and warm. This enables immediate bonding and helps your baby to maintain their body temperature. You’ll have leads and monitors attached to your arms and hands during surgery, and these can be shifted and adapted to enable access to your baby. After your surgery you’ll be moved to a recovery area for around an hour. If both mum and baby are well, you may request to continue skin to skin contact and be supported to offer your baby’s first breastfeed. Your partner may also appreciate some skin-to-skin time with the baby. Other hospital tasks such as weighing and measuring your baby can be delayed, if you choose, until after this first ‘golden hour’.


Implementing your choices:

It can be useful to learn about the policies and processes of your chosen hospital ahead of time. Ask questions at childbirth education classes. Discuss your needs with your healthcare provider and decide if there are areas where compromise will be needed. Many women appreciate the opportunity to have more control over their caesarean birth experience. Taking some time to consider your options can make you feel more prepared emotionally, and ease your recovery. Welcoming your baby into the world on your terms can establish a strong foundation for early parenthood in the challenging weeks and months ahead.


Peta Collins (Clinical Midwife Specialist).


Peta has worked as midwife in both private and public hospitals for over 20 years.The most rewarding aspect of her role is seeing healthy, happy families leave the hospital to begin their new adventures as parents.