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  • Writer's pictureHannah Bangel

When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Go As Planned - What I Learned After Having My Cesarean Birth

Birth plans can be massively different depending on the person. Some may involve an unmedicated home birth, while others feel more comfortable birthing in a hospital setting with whatever interventions are offered. Maybe you have a vision of a super specific birth plan, while your friend might just be ready to be done being pregnant.

And while the planner in us can read, prep, and take all the classes out there in anticipation of delivery, there are certainly some factors that are out of our control.

There is one common fact that is the same for everyone – there is a huge benefit to preparing the mind and body for your preferred plan AND for potential detours. [This has now actually been shown in literature thanks to K. Johnson et al. 2022!)

One commonly overlooked “detour” is a cesarean birth. For some, it is something we don’t want to think about because we reeeaaallly don’t want to have one. I know for me it was the last thing I thought about in the beginning of my pregnancy!

Being a pelvic floor PT, of course everyone told me I would have the “easiest” birth because I knew all the things. But knowing all the things doesn’t mean your plan is going to be perfect or go your way! Sometimes, our baby has other plans.

At my 36-week appointment my baby was still breech so my OB recommended we schedule a c-section just in case he didn’t flip. This is when I began to change my “plan” and prepare my mind and body for a different kind of birth. Granted, not everyone has the time to prepare for a c-section. For some, it is a last-minute decision (and one that does not come easily) made with you and your provider. Regardless of the "why" - recovery from a major abdominal surgery can be more challenging when you aren't prepared for it.

This is why I want to share my pre- and post- c-section tips and tricks that I learned after my own experience that will hopefully help your recovery be a little bit easier!

  1. Know you still have OPTIONS! This is where my doula was super helpful to educate me on all my options for my cesarean birth. Things I didn’t think about, such as delayed cord clamping, skin to skin, and a clear drape.

  2. Practice your “baby hug” during pregnancy – this will come in so handy post cesarean to help assist in healing and recovery of your abdominal muscles.

  3. Compression underwear is a must! Make sure to bring them to the hospital.

  4. Take the ibuprofen from the hospital and stay on top of taking the meds as often as recommended for as long as needed so you can start to move around as safely and comfortably as you can.

  5. Remember to breathe and “blow as you go” making sure to exhale when getting out of bed (in the hospital bed) or moving around in bed - this will help with pressure management in your trunk so there is not an increase in unnecessary pressure on your healing incision.

  6. Body mechanics getting out of the hospital bed - raise head of the bed all the way up, swing legs off side of bed first, use hand railings to help sit up on the edge of the bed.

  7. Bed mobility once home - roll to your side then sit up on the edge of the bed.

  8. Use a Belly Band once at home and when up out of bed to have added support around your incision – make sure to place it low so it covers your incision (should not be on your belly but should be low around your hips to add compression/support on top of your incision).

  9. More uses for those perineal ice pads! Stick it to the inside of your underwear so you can get some incision relief .

  10. Get up and walk when able and without pain! Try to make sure and stand as upright as possible taking regular breaths.

  11. Diaphragmatic breathing on the toilet – due to the location of the incision and proximity to your bladder, there may be feelings of pressure during urination so make sure to inhale and try to relax as best as possible.

  12. Scar Massage is a must when ready - start very gently above the incision as soon as you feel comfortable.

Do you have any other tips for c-section mamas? Feel free to leave them in the comments for others to benefit from!

And if you have any questions either before or after your birth, please reach out and ask!



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