At Triangle Physicians for Women, we continuously strive to stay abreast of new pregnancy, labor and delivery technologies and procedures, all with the thoughtful goal of improving your overall patient experience. One topic that has been gaining recognition and popularity lately is “gentle cesarean sections”.
Since most women enter the labor and delivery unit with specific hopes and expectations for their birth, the process of cesarean sections usually carries an undue sense of “disappointment”, “failure” or “missed opportunity” for the women whose birth plans had to be altered unexpectedly to include the operation. Gone (or need-to-be-gone) are the prenatal instructors who preach au natural, drug-free, vaginal births as the “best” or “only” way to to be “successful”.
With a 32% c-section rate for all births in the U.S., many hospitals and physicians have gone to great lengths to make c-section operations more similar to the experience of a vaginal birth, increasing the acceptance of these medically or surgically assisted births. New moms can embrace this gentle intervention (for any reason) as a full-fledged birth “success”, and enjoy the same maternal advantages of bonding and breastfeeding.
All cesareans involve the surgical removal of the baby through the mother’s abdomen, rather than through the vaginal birth canal, and typically take place behind a veiled blue curtain in a brightly lit, sterile environment. Most c-sections occur with a sense or urgency or emergency, such as fetal distress, non-progressing or obstructed labor (when the baby is positioned feet-down), maternal infection or diabetes.
Jenny Smith, a midwife and co-author of a study published in BJOG, An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, was one of the early proponents of this refined technique in 2008. Unlike typical c-sections, this equally safe technique involves lowering the surgical drape so that both parents are able to see their baby’s birth, the partner can cut the umbilical cord, and whenever possible, customized birth plan requests such as music or lowered lights can be part of the process. The anesthetic is subtly dosed so that the woman’s upper body and arms can safely cradle the baby with skin-to-skin contact after the baby is slowly removed from the abdomen. Research has shown that these changes do not increase complications, and with just a few modifications to the hospital’s standard Caesarean procedures, mothers can still have that “birth moment” with their partner and infant, and feel more empowered during the process.
Triangle Physicians for Women is pleased to offer this new patient-centered technique whenever possible, and welcomes your questions and requests for more information on the procedure. Our feeling remains: no matter how your baby arrives, birth is a miracle and joy that should be celebrated and supported.