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  • Charlotte Watson

7 ways to use Hypnobirthing if you're having a C-section?

Updated: Oct 4, 2023


YES! but I would say that wouldn’t I.


In the UK 35% of all births are caesarean (NHS figures for 2021-22). There are 4 categories ranging from category 1 - immediate, happening with 30 minutes of a decision. Category 2 - urgent or 'unplanned', happening within 75 minutes of a decision. Category 3 - Scheduled, happening within 12/24 hours of a decision and finally category 4 - planned when it is booked in on an agreed day.

1 in 3 caesarean births are category 2, so even if it's not your plan A, hypnobirthing relaxation skills, informed decision-making tools and birth partner support tips are transferable to ALL birth scenarios.


You are also well within your rights to request a Caesarean section birth if you feel that is the right choice for you.


This blog covers:

Caesarean section resources (Books, podcasts, websites, instagram / birth videos)


“Stand tall, feel proud and know you have achieved something amazing” Clare Goggin, Why Caesarean Matters


Benefits of using Hypnobirthing during a Caesarean section:

  1. Like with all birth, understanding what is happening and what you can control can help to reduce pre-birth anxiety.

  2. Hypnobirthing can help you feel relaxed, in control, more confident and centred in your birth experience.

  3. Hypnobirthing encourages you to ask questions and use the BRAIN mnemonic to and make confident informed birth decisions that are right for you.

  4. It can help you feel confident to have conversations with your health care providers about your wants and needs, ensuring you are listened to and can advocate for yourself and your birth partner can advocate for you too.


How to use hypnobirthing preparing for and during a C-Section:

  1. Listen to relaxations and practice relaxation before your birth to help you feel less anxious and calmer on the day. The more you practice the easier relaxation becomes.

  2. Positive birth stories: Reading, listen to and watching positive birth stories can help you imagine what you would like your birth to be and might give you some ideas of things to ask for .

  3. Create positive anchors with your senses to help you feel calm and relaxed. You could create an oxytocin playlist of songs you love to be played into theatre during your birth, or use smells like essential oil of lavender or a favourite scent to help anchor you in a feeling of calm safety.

  4. Affirmations can help you focus your mind on the positive, such as “I am giving my baby the best birth possible” and “I feel confident. I feel safe. I feel secure.” You can write your own, they just need to be positive and present. “I focus on what I can control and let go what I can’t” is a great one and can be especially helpful if your caesarean birth is unplanned.

  5. Calm breathing helps calm your nervous system and reduce your adrenaline. This breath is particularly helpful when your spinal / epidural anaesthetic and catheter are inserted. Your birth partner can use this breath to feel calm too, and support you in your breathing.

  6. Reframing and positive distraction: If your caesarean is planned, there is often waiting time before you are called to theatre. To reduce any anxiety during this time, use positive distractions like a book, tv series or music and focus on building your natural oxytocin. You could also reframe this time as “I am waiting because all is well with my baby and more complex cases are seen first” and “I will meet my baby soon”.

  7. Write a birth plan: This is a great opportunity to think about what is important to you before, during and after your baby’s birth. Creating a birth plan helps your care providers know how to best support you during your experience. You can read my post about birth plans here.


Tips for writing your caesarean birth plan:

There are loads of options available to you when thinking about what you would like your caesarean birth to be like, here are some suggestions, you can include what you would like the environment to be like, who you'd like to support you during birth, anything you feel is important to you (this list is by no means exhaustive)...


During your baby's birth, would you like:

  • Your baby’s body to be born slowly after their head is born, this can help with clearing fluid in baby’s lungs.

  • To see your baby being born and have the sterile drape lowered.

  • To film or photograph your baby’s birth. Your birth partner or midwife could do this.

  • To be actively involved in the birth of you baby? E.g. Maternal/Partner Assisted Caesarean – check out Dr Natalie Elphinstone for more information about this.

After your baby’s birth, would you like:

  • Optimal Cord Clamping (OCC)? Check out www.waitforwhite.com for more information about the benefits of OCC to baby.

  • Skin-to-skin to be supported in theatre. This can help stabilise baby’s heart rate, temperature and bonding. To facilitate this, you can have your heart rate monitors attached to your back to keep your chest clear and your canular in your non-dominant hand.

  • First breastfeed to be supported in theatre.

  • If all is well to have all baby checks occur after skin-to-skin, feeding and bonding have occurred?

Postnatal healing tips:

You have just grown and birthed your baby, whether you birth was what you expected, or far from it, postnatal healing is important. Here are some tips and ideas.

  • Stand tall: Stand up fully, (shoulders back, head up, try not to ‘hunch’ it may feel uncomfortable to start with and you might want to avoid it, but it will help you heal.” This is from the book Why Caesarean Matters and is so true. You are powerful and have birthed your baby. You might feel bruised and battered, but be proud, you are AMAZING!.

  • Take your painkillers. Caesarean is major abdominal surgery so take your painkillers, they will help your body heal. If you’re worried about painkillers crossing into your breastmilk, the App HalesMedscan be helpful giving info for breastfeeding friendly drugs.

  • Dealing with trapped wind / constipation: this is a common after effect of a surgical birth. Chewing gum within 24 hours of birth helps “enhance early recovery of bowel function” and “improves maternal comfort” (Cochrane review 2016) Eating lots of fruit, staying hydrated, drinking peppermint tea and stool softener can also help. Putting your feet on a step and using your ‘down’ breath can also help with the postnatal poo’s.

  • Rest: This is important for healing but might feel hard to come by. Practicing feeding lying down can help, take naps whenever possible or have a sit down with a brew in front of the telly.

  • Ask for and accept help. Sometimes were not very good at asking for or accepting help, but delegating as much as possible can help you heal, recover and bond. Ask friends to cook easily re-heated nourishing meals and drop them off at your door. Or you could batch cook and freeze meals before baby is born. Postnatal doulas are also available to book for support in the postnatal period.

  • Gentle movement: This helps your blood flow, reduces the risk of blood clots and aids constipation, take it slow and listen to your body. You could start with walking across the room. Avoid heavy lifting, including older children, and housework until this feels comfortable.

  • Look after your scar: Keep your scar clean and be aware of any possible infection. Support your scar when you cough or sneeze. When you feel ready, gentle scar mobilisation massage can help with the healing.

  • Talk about your birth: This can be helpful for processing your birth experience, when you feel ready. NHS trusts often offer birth debrief services, alternatively you could talk to a friend, family or postnatal doula.

I hope you have found this helpful. And above all else know you have so many choices when it comes to birthing your baby by Caesarean Section.

I offer hypnobirthing courses to help prepare you for a Planned Caesarean Section birth.

During this 4 hour (2 session) private course, we can discuss any previous birth experiences, how to prepare your mind positively for your birth, making informed decisions and focusing on how you want your upcoming birth to be. Helping you and your birth partner feel calm and confident for your baby’s birth.

Get in touch to ask about availability or if you have any questions. Charotte x



Caesarean resources:

Books:

Why Caesarean Matters – Clare Goggin

AIMS: 'Caesarean Birth- Your Questions Answered', by Debbie Chippington Derrick, Gina Lowdon and Fiona Barlow

'The AIMS Guide to Your Rights in Pregnancy and Birth', Emma Ashworth


Websites:

AIMS (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services): www.AIMS.org

Birth rights: www.birthrights.org.uk

Wait for white - Optimal Cord Clamping: www.waitforwhite.com


Podcasts:

The Obs Pod: NHS Obstetrician Dr Florence Wilcock – Episode 11 Caesarean https://www.buzzsprout.com/961453/4199210-episode-11-caesarean



Instagram:

@drnatalieelphinstone: Australian obstetrician sharing Maternal & Partner assisted caesarean birth and positive abdominal birth videos.

@drsarahjmurphy: Superb explanations and recourses for caesarean birth from an NHS Obstetrician.

@mamastefit: Caesarean recovery tips

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