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Once you have found out you’re pregnant, have reached the 12-week mark and have started telling family and friends the good news – the next natural step is to start thinking about your birth plan.

Your midwife or consultant may ask you about your ideal birth plan and start to discuss your options. Whilst many women opt for a natural birth, at least one in five women will have a caesarean section either through choice, or because it is medically recommended as the safest option for mum and baby. 

Choosing a birth plan

It’s important that you’re able to choose a birth plan which is right for you. Most women choose to have a natural birth, but others may opt for a caesarean. Our aim is to ensure you have the safest and best birth experience possible, whilst giving you all of the information to ensure you feel supported when making these decisions. 

Why opt for a caesarean birth?

There are many reasons why a caesarean birth might feel like the right choice for you. These include:

  • If you have struggled to conceive – you may feel more comfortable having a caesarean delivery
  • Severe fear of childbirth or a phobia of childbirth (tokophobia)
  • Fear of vaginal examinations
  • If you have had a traumatic natural childbirth experience previously or know someone close to you who has
  • If you have had a previous caesarean delivery, you might choose to have a second one

You might wish to opt for a caesarean delivery, but still want the birth to have some naturality about it – this is what some call a ‘gentle C-section' or ‘natural C-section'. Here, as long as your baby isn’t in distress, once your baby has let out their first gasp, your baby can come out gently with your natural contractions. We will also delay the clamping of the cord, which is what happens in a natural delivery and means that the blood from the placenta can continue to flow through your baby.

Why opt for a C-section?

Why a caesarean birth might be recommended for you?

For some women there may be a medical reason why it’s safer for you and baby to have a planned caesarean. This might be because:

You have a certain medical condition, such as a heart condition, uncontrolled blood pressure or pre-eclampsia.
You have had a bad tear in a previous delivery and still have symptoms.
Your placenta is low – often called placenta praevia – blocking the birth passage.
Your baby is very small or large, or not in a head-down position as you approach your due date.

Your maternity team may be able to recommend a planned caesarean delivery at the beginning of your pregnancy, but sometimes it might become clear that a planned caesarean is the safest option for you and baby as your pregnancy continues. 

Many women will have a clear idea about their birthing plan by 34-36 weeks, and if you have opted for a caesarean birth, you will have a date to look forward to.

Why your birth plan might change?

Even though you can do everything possible to plan your baby’s arrival, it’s not always predictable and those plans don’t always go as expected! It might be advised by your medical team that an emergency caesarean section is required. There are many reasons for this, including: 

  • You might not be progressing in labour as expected
  • You might develop uncontrolled blood pressure
  • If you demonstrate early signs that you might have sepsis, such as an unusually high temperature 
  • Your baby is in distress – we monitor the heart rate of your baby throughout labour and if there are concerns about your baby’s heart rate, then a caesarean might be recommended
Having a baby by Caesarean

Recovery after a C-section

If you did undergo a caesarean delivery, it’s likely you will be fully recovered after six weeks, although this varies from woman to woman. At this milestone, you will also often be welcomed to attend a birth reflection clinic, where you can discuss how you birth went, whether it went to plan, and how you feel about your birth and baby. Some women can find it difficult to cope if their birthing experience didn’t go as planned – but your midwife or obstetrician can offer support if you are finding it difficult.  

When it comes to your birth and how you want to bring your baby into the world, it is your body and your choice and at The Portland Hospital, we support safe and personalised care, tailored to the individual, for all our mums to be.

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