Gentle Cesareans

Gentle Cesareans

by Amanda Dodson
April is Cesarean Awareness month. This time is used to bring awareness and education to people about cesareans. If you find yourself facing a cesarean, what could you do to make it a more pleasant experience? Do you have options?
For many women, birth can be scary event. All of the high tech medical equipment, pain, interventions, health of the baby are legitimate concerns for several families. Giving birth vaginally may be one concern ,but for many giving birth by cesarean may be an entire new ball game and a whole new level of concerns may arise.
Let’s first explore what a cesarean section is? It is a surgical operation in which a baby is delivered through a cut in the front wall of the abdomen and womb. This procedure is often used when a vaginal birth does carry a higher risk of complications. A cesarean can be a life saving option for women who’ve had a medical emergency or a special circumstance arise that requires the baby to be born via surgery rather than vaginally.  For example, if a baby is presenting in a breech (feet or bottom first) position. Many who’ve delivered a baby by cesarean may have feelings of disappointment or failure because she was not able to deliver vaginally.
 To do more research about cesareans there are many great resources out there to help make informed decisions. Such as ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) or Childbirth Connection.
 If you find your baby needs to be born via cesarean, is there anything one can do to have a better experience? More families are beginning to ask for a “Gentle Cesarean” and hospitals are beginning to offer ways of helping a family make it feel more like a birth than a major surgery. This is a newer concept sweeping across many practices in America. So keep in mind your local hospital may not have much experience with it.  
 In a typical set up, the operating room is filled with bright lights and a lot of people. Each one has a job and a designated area to be. A curtain is drawn over the woman to keep the area sterile and the procedure is out of sight. The birth partner is brought in to set at the head of the bed. The baby is delivered and immediately whisked away, cleaned off, wrapped up and taken for mom to hold for a few moments. Then dad and baby leave the room. Often times this experience can may leave a woman feeling afraid or disconnected from the experience.
So how could a woman be more involved if she would like to be?
A gentle cesarean allows for a woman to participate in the birth with the main goals of letting moms see their babies being born if they want and put newborns immediately on the mother’s chest for skin-to-skin contact.
What can ask about when you go to a doctor’s appointment to discuss birthing preferences?
· Would they be comfortable with moving the EKG monitors from their usual location on top of the mother’s chest to her side? This allows the delivery team to place the newborn baby immediately on the mother’s chest.
· Requesting to no have the mother’s hands strapped down and the intravenous line placed in her nondominant hand so she could hold the baby.
· Asking for the drape to be lowered to watch the birth or seeing if clear drapes are used.
Take time to follow up on your hospital’s policies and procedures beforehand so that you are aware ahead of time. Communication with your doctor is a good start. Talking about the risks and benefits of the procedures. 
Best evidence: When making important maternity decisions, women should have information from the best available research about the safety and effectiveness of different choices.
From one mother’s experience she stated, “Honestly, it depends on the OB. I wish they were a little more flexible. They seem to be pretty open about most things, but I think it will take more people pushing for a gentle c-section for them to embrace it fully. Hopefully gentle cesarean will be come the normal way of things.”
Best Evidence: C-Section
The natural caesarean: a woman-centered technique
Cesarean Section: What You Need to Know about C-Section
Promotion of Family-Centered Birth With Gentle Cesarean Delivery
Connect with local Okinawa moms on Facebook in “Pregnancy & Birth Talk Okinawa”
Japan Birth Resource Network provides evidence based information and mother friendly support throughout Okinawa and Japan. To learn more visit:
Birth Education Center of Okinawa’s april Schedule in The BEC offers a Weekly Wednesday Weigh In every week for breastfeeding mothers & baby, IBCLC consultations, Hypnobirthing, Infant Massage, and more.

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