Being Prepared for a Scheduled Cesarean Section

Pregnant woman at hospital holding lower back

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Planning for any surgery can be scary, even if it is a scheduled cesarean section for the birth of your child. In addition to all the regular preparations for bringing a new baby home, there are some things unique to a C-section that you will want to get mentally and physically ready for. 

Setting The Date

Depending on the reason for your scheduled C-section, you may have several weeks' notice or just a few days to prepare. Your doctor will typically set a general time frame for the birth, and you will work with the office appointment scheduler to set a date and time. Many OBGYN offices can make the appointment for you, though some may require you to call the hospital to set the date.

Once the surgical appointment has been made, you will probably be asked to preregister at the hospital where your baby will be born. This may include information on your insurance card and your prenatal records. You may be asked to pre-certify your stay with your insurance company.

This is also a good time to schedule a tour of the hospital, where you will learn about different hospital policies and get an idea about what you can expect after surgery. Most hospitals have protocols on maternity wards to prevent mixing up babies, such as scanning mother and baby bracelets or checking code numbers.

When you schedule the surgery, you also may be asked to have a special consult with either your anesthesiologist or with your baby's doctor or specialist. These may take place the morning of your surgery or weeks prior to the surgery depending on the timing of your cesarean birth.

Making Preparations

Many women opt to craft a birth plan, and you can still do this with a scheduled C-section. A C-section birth plan should include things like who will be with you during the procedure, if photos or videos are allowed, and preferred type of anesthesia, as well as plans for once the baby is born, such as no pacifiers and who will follow the baby to the nursery. 

While the birth plan may not necessarily be followed to the letter, having a birth plan can help you to feel like you have some degree of control during an uncertain time and many women find it gives them peace of mind.

You will also want to make plans for taking care of your home while you are in the hospital. Following a C-section, most women require a three-day hospital stay. Though your partner will likely go home at night and be able to care for things, if your hospital is far from home, you may want to enlist outside help.

If you already have other children, you will need to make arrangements for their care. You may also want to alert their teachers or daycare providers of the date so they know what is going on at home. If you have pets, you may need to line someone up to feed or walk them. 

In addition, you will want to make sure you have a bag packed for your hospital stay. When selecting clothes, keep in mind you will have an abdominal incision and sore abdominal muscles. Opt for comfortable clothing, like pants with a high waistband or a dress.

The Night Before

Be sure to follow all of your doctors instructions for the night before surgery. These typically include bathing and not applying any lotions or powders to the skin, as well as instructions for how long you can not eat or drink before the surgery.

If you are overly concerned that you will not be able to sleep, talk to your doctor who can prescribe a prescription sleep aid for the evening prior to your surgery. Your doctor may give you other prescription medications to be taken before your surgery as well.

Be sure to have your bags packed and ready to go in the car. You most likely will not need them until after the birth and can send someone down to the car to get them. This plan actually works better for most people so you don’t have to keep track of the bags as you move from the triage area to surgery to the post-surgical care ward, and then finally, the postpartum area.

Baby's Birth Day

If your surgery is scheduled for very early in the morning, you may need to be at the hospital before the sun rises. 

If you aren't a morning person, this can be a bit daunting. Be sure to set multiple alarms to ensure you get out of bed. You might think you'll be so excited that you wouldn't oversleep, but it happens more than you think, particularly when you may have trouble sleeping the night before.

While you cannot eat prior to surgery, make sure your partner has breakfast. This helps them be prepared to help assist you by providing them some sustenance to go on. 

Grab your bag and get going! Don't forget to bring your birth plan for your birth or your breastfeeding plan.

Once at the hospital, figure out the best place to park. While you may be allowed to park in the labor and delivery parking spots, those are often limited. It might be better to park in the regular parking area and walk in. This prevents you from having to be separated from your partner after the birth. If you need to be dropped at the door to prevent walking, that works too.

You may have special stops to make before signing in for surgery. Be sure to ask if you need any additional lab work or testing.

If you have guests planning to wait in the waiting room during the birth, you may want to either pop in and say hello or direct them where they need to be to wait. If you have family waiting at home, you may want to designate someone to start a phone chain to spread the news once baby arrives. 

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