Sometimes in gestational surrogacy, a carrier may face the prospect of having to get a cesarean section. The procedure is actually more common than you think. After steeply increasing over more than a decade, the number of women who get a C-section leveled off at 33%, as polled in 2010 and 2011 (rising nearly 60 percent since 1996.) For many carriers on the journey of gestational surrogacy, a cesarean section may become a very viable or necessary option for delivering a baby, but what are they and why would someone want to get one, as opposed to a vaginal birth?

A cesarean section, or C-section, is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. In certain circumstances, a C-section is scheduled in advance, like if you’ve had a previous cesarean with a “classical” vertical uterine incision, more than one previous C-section, or have had some other kind of invasive uterine surgery, such as myomectomy. These significantly increase the risk that your uterus will rupture during a vaginal delivery.

In other circumstance, it’s done in response to an unforeseen complication as a result of the baby, or babies. Many mother’s carrying more than one baby require a C-section. Sometimes if your baby is to be very large (a condition known as macrosomia), or if your baby is in a breech (bottom first) or transverse (sideways), or if the baby has a known malformation or abnormality that would make a vaginal birth risky, a C-section become a necessary part of the delivery process.

Ultimately, the goal of a C-section is the safety and well-being of the baby and the mother. In saying that, preparing for a C-section delivery is very important, and there are some essential steps to include in the preparation process, including:

Mental preparation. Begin to break down any fear you have about a C-section by watching a video of an actual C-section. It may cause you some mental stress at first, but wouldn’t you rather know what you are in for?

Internal preparation. Many doctors recommend that you start taking stool softeners a little less than a week before the delivery. You should also increase your iron about 2-3 weeks before because, as with having any major surgery, you will lose blood. Being anemic and recovering from a C-section is not a pleasant experience.

Ask any and all questions. Don’t worry about how silly they may sound! There are no dumb questions when preparing for a C-section. You have the right to know each and every detail about your upcoming surgery, so talk with your provider/doctor about the expectations of a C-section delivery. Start by asking questions about the process, the medications you will probably be prescribed, and the roundabout timeline for recovery.

Talk with your support system. Once you obtain information from your provider, you can should share this information with your support system. Many carriers and mothers-to-be like to discuss the process with their partner or children to be prepared. After all, some younger family members may not fully understand what a C-section entails.

Eating and drinking. You should ask your doctor to clarify exactly how many hours before you need to stop eating for your surgery. Even though hospitals tend to throw out an arbitrary time because of the unpredictable nature of childbirth, it may not apply to you depending on your C-section time. Many doctors ask that you do not eat after midnight, regardless of whether or not your surgery is at 7am or 5pm. Though it may seem less important, planning you dietary schedule is a must. After all, no one wants a hungry pregnant woman.

Your life plan. Plan to be at least 2-3 days away from home. You should make a logistical plan ahead of time and discuss any work arrangement, childcare arrangements, pet care considerations, and other any other logistical considerations. Everyone in your support system needs to be on the same page concerning the dates surrounding the delivery, so share this plan with them.

Your hospital plan. Before delivery, you should find out who can be in the operating room, which includes when they can enter and when they have to leave. Don’t assume your OB makes this decision. When asking, try and be generally nice and open about who you want and why you want them present, and they may be open to more than just one.

Post-birth plan. Planning for the days following birth is almost as important as planning for the actual delivery. Remember that a C-section is considered major surgery, and as such there are recovery-related considerations that need to be made. Many C-sections have a longer recovery time, meaning there is a good chance you will not be able to drive for a while or perform other duties because of your prescription pain medication, so prepare for this period of time in terms of household tasks (i.e., grocery shopping, driving kids to school or daycare, etc.). You should also carve out that time for yourself and your family to ensure a safe and healthy recovery. Most mothers have a tendency to want to jump right back into the flow of life, but keep in mind your body needs ample time to recover.

Don’t forget the intended parents. Ask your IPs what their expectations of the delivery are. Do they want to be in the operating room? What is the plan for post-delivery? This is a personal decision between you and the IPs that needs to be decided upon before you step foot in the operating room.

If you would like to learn more about C-sections in gestational surrogacy or if you have other questions relating to the process of surrogacy or would like to become a surrogate, please call Surrogate Parenting Services at (949) 363-9525.