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 you always have control over. But whether you are scheduling a C-section birth or you end up having an unplanned procedure, thinking about your preferences in advance can prepare you emotionally and ease your recovery.

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

Where to Begin

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, remember that a birth plan needs to be flexible and should include a range of contingencies and outcomes.

Use a bulleted list format for your birth plan and keep things brief. You don't need to follow a template or get fancy; a simple document will do.

Create sections so that the nurses who care for you can quickly find the appropriate part. So, if you end up having a C-section, they can read about your related wishes rather than having to scan through your preferences about baby feeding or when you'd like to go home.

C-Section Birth Plan Topics

There are many topics that you will want to consider adding to your birth plan in relation to a C-section. While some C-sections are done under emergency circumstances, your practitioner will work with you to accommodate your preferences when possible. However, remember that your health and your baby's health are your medical team's primary focus.

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. Here are some topics to consider:

  • Can you have a mirror to watch the birth?
  • Can you have the baby placed on you in the operating room while the surgery is finishing?
  • Are photos permitted?
  • 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 Plan

This sample excerpt of a birth plan is an example of one that someone 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.

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

A Word From Verywell

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

Remember that what happens during your birth may stray from your birth plan. Still, setting out your intentions ahead of time is still a worthy exercise, particularly if it gets you to consider multiple possibilities for your birth—and to make peace with whatever may come. Also, even if it doesn't happen exactly as planned, creating a birth plan gives you a greater sense of control and engagement with the birth itself.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. 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

  2. KidsHealth from Nemours. When your baby’s in the NICU.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.