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If you're preparing for elective C-section surgery, you likely have a lot on your mind — whether or not you've had the procedure before. It's common to be worried and you may have questions or concerns that were not answered by your doctor. Here are four tips that may help relax you, prepare you for the procedure before and after, and also answer surgery questions you may have. We've also included items to bring with you that will keep both you and your new baby comfortable and ready to go home.
1. Ready Yourself for the Emotions Involved
With childbirth comes hormonal changes that may cause emotional ups and downs — positive and negative, excitement and fear. It's crucial to be prepared for this, particularly before an elective C-section. You may experience feelings of regret for not going through natural childbirth or contentment that you are making the best choice for your baby. Discuss any fears you have with your doctor or other health care practitioner. Knowing what to expect prior to your elective surgery helps to decrease fears and may make the experience more positive, despite the 'surgical' part of your delivery.
2. Eat Light Leading Up to Your C-Section
After surgery, your bowel may "sleep" depending on the medications you were given for anesthesia and pain. To help with gas and bloating, eat lightly prior to your elective C-section. Soup, clear liquids, juices, and smoothies are best choices. Avoid meats and dairy, as these tend to cause bloating and heaviness.
3. Know What to Pack
You may be hospitalized up to four days after your elective C-section. Here is a sample list to pack for both you and your new baby:
- Picture ID, insurance card, and any other needed hospital paperwork.
- A receiving blanket.
- A going-home outfit and hospital clothes for the baby.
- Snacks (preferably high in fiber and low in fat).
- A camera or video camera with batteries, charger, and memory card. Make sure you check with the hospital to understand their policy on recording or taking pictures of the delivery.
- A loose-fitting going-home outfit (many mothers recommend dresses over pants).
- A notepad to record after-birth moments and to write down any questions that come up.
- Music, books, a tablet, or anything to help you relax and distract you from the pain.
- Maternity underpants.
- Nursing bras or supportive regular bras.
- Loose and comfortable clothing (bathrobe, nightgown).
- Toiletries (your hospital will provide some, but you may want your own).
4. Picture Your Ideal Situation and Make Requests
Childbirth is such an important event in your life, and being prepared will make the experience that much easier. Be sure to speak with your doctor or other health care practitioner if you have any specific questions about preparing for C-section surgery. Many requests are able to be fulfilled with prior preparation, such as family in the room, or a support person. The surgery usually takes about an hour, and your recovery will be in either the Post Anesthesia Care Unit or a room in Labor and Delivery. Typically, the staff will weigh and wash your new baby, and return her or him to you after this is complete for bonding. Be sure to ask for assistance with breast feeding or formula feeding, whichever you choose. Your baby may be hungry and it is an excellent time to try to feed her or him, take photos with your family, and get to know your new baby.