Assemble a support team. Even if your partner is ready to help, consider hiring a birth doula for your big day. Women who had doulas accompany them throughout their labor were significantly less likely to deliver by cesarean section, a study in the Journal of Perinatal Education shows.
Consider the possibility. C-sections can be physically uncomfortable, but they're emotionally charged too. One of the best ways to ready yourself for some of the feelings you may face (such as disappointment, regret, or frustration) is simply to accept the fact that you might go through surgery. Also keep in mind that any preparations you make won't jinx your delivery; they'll enable you to roll with whatever happens.
No one knows this better than Maureen Connolly, coauthor of The Essential C-Section Guide, who has had three C-sections. The first was a surprise; it happened because her labor didn't progress. She planned the second two, and prepared herself for them psychologically before checking into the hospital. She insists that her prep affected how she felt about those two surgeries.
"Although I felt confident going into my first labor, I wasn't ready for the possibility of a C-section," Connolly explains. "When it happened, I went through the motions and had to process it all later. I denied myself the gift of being in the moment. You can affect how you experience your baby's birth by how you think during it. You can say, 'I've given this my all; we have to move to Plan B.'"
Stay hydrated and regular. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fiber now, so you'll have an easier time after birth with that first (sometimes uncomfortable) bowel movement. "Consider adding a fiber supplement or taking a stool softener to keep things moving," Dr. Carusi says. "If you're constipated before surgery, you'll be even more constipated afterward."
Originally published in the June 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.
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