Sometimes a cesarean is necessary and a family knows this before labor begins. This gives them a chance to prepare in ways they may not have thought of during a regular labor-turned-cesarean birth.
1. Bring easy carbs to snack on -- fruit, cheese, crackers -- bring what you and your partner like to eat. Aside from the surgery aspect and the fact that you usually can't eat until you pass gas (to ensure everything is moving as it should), I suggest you just take care of yourself like you do every other day of your life -- pretend you are staying at a hotel; what would you bring food-wise to eat when you weren't able to go out? Like that 2 am snack?
2. While none of my local hospitals have mini fridges for patients and family, it is possible to bring a small ice chest for things like yogurt or drinks that you'd like to keep cool.
3. More often than not people bring too many things. Bring your own pillow, pajamas (maybe nursing night gown so no waistband to put pressure on your belly). Bring small comfort items that help you feel better -- again, things you would bring on a trip. Most hospitals provide you with a belly binder after a cesarean birth, but you should call and find out for certain. This would be a wise purchase ahead of time if you don't get one from the hospital.
4. Some families like to dress their babies in the hospital, others keep babies in the hospital shirt/diaper and just do lots of skin-to-skin...that choice is yours. Everything your baby needs during the stay will be provided. If you want your baby in special diapers, then bring those (if they are cloth, bring the necessary wet bag to store the used diapers in).
5. I suggest packing in levels -- everything you will need before your cesarean birth in one bag, everything you need for your stay in one bag, then everything you need for going home in one bag. This way you don't have to dig through the going-home outfits to find your slippers, etc.
6. They will not take your baby to give you a break, even if you request it. I had a mom who had twins and had to stay at the hospital alone as she had other children dad needed to stay with. She was exhausted and asked if a nurse would just take one baby for one hour, and the nurse said sorry, babies only leave mom if they are ill and need to be in the NICU. You can have your partner stay the night if you wish. If your partner can't stay the night, some families arrange to have a grandma stay with mom.
7. Although there are TVs in all the hospital rooms, many families do well with a tablet, phone, and/or laptop. This way you can share baby updates and pictures with family and friends, and you can watch movies or listen to music if you have a spare moment.
8. Advocate for yourself. This is a day you will never forget -- if you are receiving care that isn't up to your standards, address the situation or ask for a new caregiver. You are paying the bill and you deserve cheery, positive, helpful support, even if you choose to do things a little differently or decline traditional procedures. You can decline ANYTHING if you don't want it. Don't feel pressured, and be sure to start a conversation that is centered around shared-decision making. You are the expert of you, while your doctor is the expert regarding the medical issues. You have equal say and power in what is going on.
Women rate their birth experiences on 2 things: How in control they are, and how much support they get. This can happen in ANY kind of birth. I have seen women walk away from what looks like an amazing vaginal birth traumatized with PTSD, and I have seen women walk away from unscheduled cesarean births beaming with pride and happiness. It is mostly about how you are treated and how much say you have in how things go. Even in a cesarean birth you have options -- ask what those might be (things like listening to music during the birth, no outside conversation that doesn't relate to your baby's birth, having the drape lowered as baby is being born, etc.). Often families find they can have greater say in something because of FOMO -- the things they feel they might be missing out on during a vaginal birth. Bring these concerns up ahead of time with your provider and ask what accommodations can be made to shape this into the birth you dreamed about!
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)