Raven participated in the 31 Days of Doulas last year, with her post The Joy in Finding Your Doula Tribe. She lends more wisdom in today's piece, including practical, easy ideas families can use during a cesarean birth. I know words can build up, and words can hurt, so it is with great pleasure I feature Raven's contribution -- I hope it reaches past your screen and into a place where it can help a family facing a cesarean birth.
What comes to your mind when you think of the term “had a C-section”? Words like “fear” and “disappointment” might come up for you. You might feel a response in your body, some tension or a furrowed brow. As an experiment, let’s change our language a bit. What comes to your mind when you think of the term “birth by Cesarean” or even just “Cesarean birth”? Does that produce a different result? Perhaps it highlights the idea that this is a birth, the making of a family. It might even make room for the birthing woman to be viewed as a more active participant. As a birth worker, I acknowledge the power of words and semantics and have made a conscious effort to change the way I talk about Cesarean births.
The fact of the matter is, Cesarean births happen. Instead of discussing rates and statistics in this post, our focus will be on how we can bring awareness and love into the operating room. The Birthing from Within® model of childbirth preparation places an emphasis on birth as a rite of passage. Through creative exercises, journaling, and class discussions, parents explore their views of birth and the stories they carry about what makes a “good” birth, what our culture teaches about birth, and how they will know what to do when their birthing hours arrive. This thorough examination would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about Cesarean births. We never want you to whisper to your partner, “but I didn’t read this part in the book!” when a Cesarean becomes a part of your birth. Better to have a plan, to have thought things through a bit so that you can rest easier knowing that should a Cesarean become part of your birth, you have something you can bring into that space and ways to maintain your mindfulness mindset.
5 Ways to Bring Mindfulness to a Cesarean Birth
1. Music Have a chat with your provider about the possibility of playing music in the room during a Cesarean birth. They might request that it be kept low so that your birth team can talk and communicate easily during the birth, but think of how lovely it would be to set the tone in the room with music of your choice. This is a concrete way to say, “I am involved. I am choosing to add a bit of warmth and presence to this room where I will meet my little one.”
2. Affirmations Words carry so much power and this doesn’t change with a Cesarean birth. Talk to your birth partner about words you would like to hear during this time so they feel prepared to support you. “I focus on my breathing as I prepare to meet my baby.” “I make loving and mindful choices for me and my baby.” “Each inhale brings peace and each exhale sends love down to my baby.” What would be meaningful to you during that time?
3. Rainbow of Love This is a beautiful concept that I first learned about during my Birthing from Within training. As you lie on the table with a drape between you and your sweet baby, imagine a beautiful rainbow of rich colors, saturated with all of the love you have for your child. Imagine that rainbow reaching from your heart, over the drape, and touching down on your belly, right above your baby. Imagine this rainbow acting as a conduit for all of your love, connection, and good intentions. You and your baby are a team and you can shower them with your love.
4. Eye Contact An operating room can be a busy and distracting place, both for birthing women and their partners. It can be easy for a mother to suddenly feel very alone or removed from what is happening. Talk to your birth partner ahead of time and remind them to maintain eye contact with you when they come in the room. Let that eye contact communicate love, security, and connection. Let them show you that you are seen and heard and that you are still very much birthing this baby.
5. Stay Involved This is another important point for birth partners to remember. When a mother can’t see what is happening with her baby, it can be easy for her to become worried and wonder what might be wrong. When baby is born, it’s time for partners to keep mothers updated. “Oh, he has so much hair!” “They are taking baby to the warmer right now, but I’ll remind them that you want to hold her as soon as possible.” “She has your nose for sure, Sweetheart!” Fill her cup with details about her child and let her know that baby will be with her as soon as possible. Help maintain that connection and let her know that she has not been forgotten and that baby wants to be with her. Take pictures of baby and bring the camera over to show the birthing mother.
The ideas are simple, but they can make such a big difference. What ideas have you come up with as you consider the possibility of a Cesarean birth?
Raven Haymond is a Certified Birth Doula and Advanced Birthing from Within mentor serving the Salt Lake City area. Beyond the birth room and the classroom, Raven finds joy in her family and a good book. You can find her at www.beehivebirthcare.com
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)