How to Minimize Anxiety Before a Planned C-Section

Photo by Frank Alarcon / Unsplash

Preparing for a planned C-Section provides a different set of concerns that anticipating a vaginal delivery.  If you have placenta previa, a breech baby or high blood pressure, you may need to schedule a C-Section with your provider ahead of time.  If your birth includes a planned C-Section, you have more opportunities to talk to your doctor and  

Your C-Section may look like the following: you'll get to the hospital a couple hours before your scheduled surgery.  After checking in, you'll change into a hospital gown and the nurses will get your IVs setup and start pumping fluids. The anesthesiologist/nurses will come get you when its go time!  You'll walk into the operating room where your partner or support person may be asked to wait outside the room, while you get prepped.  You'll sit on the surgery table, and prepare for regional anesthesia, such as a spinal or epidural block.  Usually, you'll have an injection of medication into your back to numb the lower half of your body. General anesthesia, which puts you to sleep, may be used in certain situations, if you have an aversion to regional anesthesia.  

After medication is in place, your partner will come in, and surgery will start.  If you are worried about the smells of the procedure (some smell burnt hair) request an alcohol wipe from the nurses to dab on your nose.  The surgery will begin with your surgeon making a small incision in your abdomen and uterus to deliver your baby.  If you happen to still feel any sensations, let your anesthesiologist know so they are able to adjust medication levels.   Do not be afraid to speak to the anesthesiologist while you're on the table.  If you need to tell them you're anxious, nervous, or nauseous, they'll be able to offer reassurances.

My anesthesiologist was very communicative during my C-Section, and was able to dictate the events as they proceeded.  

Because there are multiple layers that are cut, your baby is usually born within 15 minutes.  Gentle techniques are used to deliver the baby to minimize any internal damage.  When your baby is born, the team will check their vitals and clean them.  If both you and your baby are stable, you may be able to hold your baby and breastfeed while the operation continues.  The time to be stitched up is a process that may seem to take longer than you anticipate.  Approximately 40 minutes later, you'll be brought to recovery.  If you wish to have companionship in the recovery room, you'll  need to request that a nurse remains present.    

Requests can also be made for a gentle C-Section.  This operation will focus more on the family, and the birth of your baby.  A few of the requests to be more family-centered could be:  

  1. Clear drapes: You can ask for clear surgical drapes to see your baby as soon as they are born.
  2. Delayed cord clamping: the umbilical cord can be clamped and cut after it has stopped pulsing. This can provide your baby with blood and nutrients.
  3. Skin-to-skin contact: skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after birth even if you are still on the operating table can help you bond with your baby and encourage breastfeeding.
  4. Music: music can be played in the operating room to create a more calming and soothing environment.
  5. Lowered lighting: Ask for the overhead lights to be dimmed during the birth to create a more peaceful atmosphere.
  6. Minimal sedation: if you'd like to be more alert and present during the birth, you can request minimal sedation.
  7. Support person: Ask if you can have your support person, your partner or doula with you during the surgery.
  8. You may request that the staff center their conversations during the operation about the birth of your baby, instead of providers discussing weekend plans or upcoming sporting events.  You can request for your baby to be placed on your chest while you are stitched up.  

You will likely stay at the hospital for two to three days after your surgery depending on your health and the health of your baby.  Your insurance may have minimum or maximum requirements as well that you can find out through member services.  

The hospital labor and delivery unit, or your provider may be able to walk you through any specific procedures at your hospital ahead of time, so your expectations are clear.  

A Mindful Birth is achieved when you know your options and take an active part in the planning and preparation of birth!  To learn more about the modes of delivery, enjoy our modules in Birth Made Mindful course.  Different types of C-Sections are discussed, and how to plan your recovery are covered in The Fourth Trimester Course.

Article by Sarah Ziroll

Hi!  I'm Sarah, and this is my first son, who was born via an unexpected andd unplanned C-Section.  While I was so grateful that his birth resulted in healthy baby and healthy mother, I wish I would've been more prepared with what may have happened if I needed a C-Section operation.  With a passion for helping families avoid unnecessary C-Sections or prepare for Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC) I hope to provide information and education to all birthing families.  

I'd love to keep in touch!  You can email me at  

Sarah Ziroll

Sarah Ziroll