Creating a C-Section Birth Plan

Pregnant woman scheduling a cesarean birth

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Having a cesarean section (c-section) is not something many moms feel like they have control over. But whether you are scheduling a c-section birth or you end up having an unplanned procedure, thinking about your preferences before your baby's arrival can be helpful. You can work through this and communicate your wishes by creating a birth plan.

While birth plans are not intended to be followed to the letter (mainly because that usually ends up being impossible), the exercise of creating them can prompt you to think and ask questions about aspects of the birthing experience, including a potential c-section, and facilitate communication with your doctor.

Where to Begin

You don't need a fancy document or journal; a simple piece of paper will do. A complete birth plan covers a range of topics, from the desire to use pain medication to preferences for the number of people in the room when you deliver, and more, including your thoughts about a C-section. Again, a birth plan should include the latter whether you intend to have the surgery or not.

Use a bulleted list format for your birth plan and keep things brief. This allows you to create sections so that the nurses who care for you in the operating room (OR), if you have a Cesarean, don't have to read about baby feeding or when you'd like to go home.

C-Section Birth Plan Topics

Here are some topics that you will want to consider adding to your plan in relation to a C-section. While many C-sections are done under emergency circumstances, your practitioner should work with you to ensure that it is both safe and memorable.

Until you solidify your birth plan, your initial draft can include a mix of both existing wishes and questions that will help you shape your final thoughts.

  • Can you have a mirror to watch the birth?
  • Can you have the baby placed on you in the OR while the surgery is finishing?
  • Is photo taking permitted?
  • Preferred anesthesia options (epidural, combined spinal epidural, general)
  • What postpartum pain management options are available?
  • When can you begin breastfeeding (if desired) after the procedure?
  • Who can be with you at the birth? Your partner? Your doula?
  • Who will go with the baby if they need special care?

Sample C-Section Birth Plans

This sample excerpt of a birth plan is an example of one that a woman having a planned c-section might create to express their preferences and desires. It is not intended to be a script and should only serve as inspiration for a plan of your own.

I fully realize that situations may arise such that my plan cannot and should not be followed. However, I hope that, barring any extenuating circumstances, you will be able to keep me informed and aware of my options. Thank you.

The Surgery

  • Baby on my skin in the OR
  • Breastfeeding in recovery room
  • Breastfeeding only
  • Delay eye medication
  • Do not bathe the baby; we'd like to do it later as a family
  • Doula present at all times
  • Duramorph for postpartum pain
  • Free one hand to touch the baby
  • Mirror to view the birth
  • No pacifiers or glucose water
  • No pre-operative medications
  • No separation of mother and baby
  • Partner to cut the cord
  • Pediatric exams in the mother's room
  • Postpartum and Baby Care
  • Skin-to-skin in the operating room
  • Spinal/epidural anesthesia
  • Spouse present at all times
  • Videos and pictures allowed

Once you have written your full birth plan, ask your doula or childbirth educator to look it, fill in gaps, or help you clarify your needs. Once you're ready, show your plan to your doctor. The finalized document should be given to your obstetrician, the hospital, and perhaps your pediatrician; keep extras in your hospital bag.

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Article Sources
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  2. Magee SR, Battle C, Morton J, Nothnagle M. Promotion of family-centered birth with gentle cesarean delivery. J Am Board Fam Med. 2014;27(5):690-3.  doi:10.3122/jabfm.2014.05.140014

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Pregnancy: epidurals & pain relief options during delivery. December 2018.

  4. KidsHealth from Nemours. When your baby’s in the NICU. Updated: January 2019.