Operating Room Essentials

Operating rooms are brightly lit for obvious reasons, and, to limit the growth of unfriendly microbes, the room is kept cool.  You can warm up the space with music and scent. Bring your tunes. Consider music that helps you relax or stay emotionally or spiritually connected.  Your partner can bring scent: lavender is calming and peppermint is settling if you experience nausea. A small plastic bag with two tissues, one with a few drops of lavender oil and the other with a few drops of peppermint oil will give you options.

If silence feels important to you, ask your doctors to limit conversation to what is relevant to the birth (although some parents are calmed by everyday chatter, reminding them that this is routine for their medical team). Bring your phone or camera and take pictures in the operating room. Photos are often important to a woman when she later processes her experience.

“While the actual birth in the operating room was one of the strangest and outlandish experiences I have ever had (for Eric too), we were able to keep it very personal and intimate. Eric pressed his cheek against mine for comfort and had rubbed peppermint essential oil  in his hands for me to smell when I became nauseated by the pain medication. Also, the use of a diffuser in the hospital room before the cesarean and post birth was GREAT! Lavender and lime mixed was my go to aromatherapy!” Kathryn Alecci

It is helpful to have an advance sense of what an operating room looks and feels like. As someone who had never had surgery, I think my only image of an operating room was from TV which generally only shows the doctor’s perspective. I know I was surprised by how bright the lights were, shining down. I was intimidated by all the strangers and clanging of instruments on hard metal tables. It can be helpful for a woman to ‘take in’ the environment of the operating room, recognizing that the equipment, tools, and lights are there to ensure the safest birth possible.”  Suzanne Chesney

“I asked for delayed cord clamping if the baby was doing well. I asked for skin to skin. I brought in my music. My husband sat with me behind the drape. My midwife was there stroking my hands and hair.  I told the anesthesiologist, doctors, and attendants that this was a sacred birth for me and to please not discuss anything which was not relevant to the procedure. I hummed along with the electronic tempura. I pictured each of my close women friends in a circle around me praying. I called in my ancestors.” Elana Bell

“How I was feeling was pretty indescribable: I was now in the middle of the operation so there was nothing to fear, I was beyond excited, so apprehensive and weirdly calm… it was very strange. I could hear the doctors chatting to each other and it made me feel so reassured that this was something routine to them. As the minutes ticked by I got more and more excited. I was close to meeting my baby and becoming a mum!” Kelly Foulds

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