I had a spooky evening last week because I received 3 emails in about 2 hours from different people who were all asking the same thing: Can you use hypnobirthing techniques if you have a caesarean birth? Absolutely!
It got me thinking that perhaps putting it out there in a blog would be no bad thing.
Firstly, a caesarean birth broadly fits into two categories:
A planned or elective caesarean where you know in advance this is how you are going to birth your baby. You usually have a chance to meet the obstetrician and anaesthetist before hand and discuss how the birth will unfold.
An unplanned or in-labour caesarean (sometimes called an emergency caesarean) which takes place during labour, or before labour starts if an unexpected medical problem comes up.
It is perhaps worth clarifying that emergency doesn't necessarily mean 'blue lights flashing' emergency mode. Of course, sometimes birth can be a true emergency, but usually, an emergency caesarean birth can progress at a relatively calm pace. Some people find thinking of the procedure as planned or unplanned is more helpful than planned or emergency as 'emergency' can be a bit of a misnomer.
So, can I use hypnobirthing techniques if I am planning a caesarean?
Yes! When you think of hypnosis for childbirth, you probably imagine a woman labouring in a birth pool or perhaps over a birth ball with her eyes closed and her mind focussed on using the techniques she has learnt to feel calm, in-control and less anxious about birth. If you have a caesarean birth, you have to start thinking about how you can create such serenity in an operating theatre
Hypnobirthing is all about teaching you how to work with your thoughts and reframe how you feel about birth. It is about enabling you to quieten the mind so negative thoughts stop racing and enable you to relax both physically and mentally.
For some people, having a caesarean birth many be the first time they have ever been in hospital to have surgery. Operating theatres can be daunting places with strange noises and equipment and it can be hard to feel calm when you are full of nervous anticipation about what it to come. If you you have been labouring already in a dimly-lit labour room, the sudden change of environment and medical personnel can be quite intimidating.
What can I do then ...
Create affirmations beforehand if you know you are having a planned caesarean. Focus on reframing any negative thoughts about a more medicalised birth.
Listen to hypnobirthing tracks specific to having a caesarean in the weeks leading up to the birth so that your subconscious can learn new beliefs and feelings about how birth will go and how positive it is to be birthing you baby safely by caesarean.
Breathing techniques can help you remain calm as you are being prepped for theatre and during the procedure.
Listen to hypnobirthing tracks or specific music which you associate with relaxation during the birth
Visualisation techniques to help keep yourself calm during the birth or being prepped for surgery
Massage - hand massage is good! Massage also works well whilst you wait for your appointment.
Have an understanding of what is happening. That can help lessen the fear as you know what to expect during the birth
If you have been using hypnobirthing skills during labour and have to transfer to theatre you can continue using them. If you know you are having a planned caesarean birth then it is possible to have hypnosis scripts especially created to help you prepare for your birth.
How I can help you prepare for your caesarean?
As an independent hypnobirthing practitioner, I am no affiliated to a particular hypnobirthing programme where I have to deliver set scripts and the parents I work with have to mould to fit them. We can work together and I can create scripts just for you and your caesarean birth.
I also offer antenatal education around caesarean birth and caesarean recovery as part of my Complete Birth Preparation Package Plus Hypnobirthing Course
Should I birth plan for a caesarean birth?
Absolutely! There are options you can consider to make your birth as special and personal as possible even in such a medicalised setting. If you are having a planned caesarean you usually get a chance to discus your wishes with your care team beforehand, but even if you are planning a vaginal birth you can consider writing down some options for a caesarean in case it is needed.
Some caesarean birth plan ideas
Do you want a running commentary from the theatre staff about how the birth is going?
Do you want music playing in the background to help you relax. Some people choose to make a play list or you many wish to listen to music associated with your hypnosis track.
Do you want to discover the sex of your baby yourself or be told by your care team?
Do you want to see your baby being born by the use of mirrors or have the "screen" down for a better view.
Would you like skin-to-skin in theatre with your baby?
Would you like optimal cord clamping if possible or for your partner to cut the cord (sometimes but not always possible in theatre.)
Sometimes (but not always) a baby born by caesarean may have to go to the special care unit. Would you like your birth partner to stay with you in theatre or go with your baby?
The majority of caesarean births are carried out under epidural or spinal anaesthetic. In the rare case of a general anaesthetic being used, would you like to have some photos taken of your baby at the time of birth / with your partner as you come round from the procedure? This can be useful to piece together a time-line of what happened whilst you were asleep.
I hope this has been helpful in letting you see just how you can use hypnobirthing techniques for a caesarean birth and that you do have choices you can discus with your midwife and care team.
Why not join me and others for an in person antenatal course in Livingston, West Lothian where caesarean birth is covered as standard so you can be fully prepared for whatever path your labour journey takes you.
If you have any questions about this blog or ways I can help you prepare for birth then please get in touch
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