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How to Have a Gentle C-Section

Times have changed and surgeons are realizing that it is possible for a mother to experience a kind and gentle surgical birth. You may think that’s a stretch of the imagination, but yet here we are, living in a world where when we know better, we do better. Isn’t it amazing?

So you are going to have a cesarean section, a surgical birth, something very few women desire. You may be feeling anxious, scared, and frustrated with your options – or lack of them. All of your emotions are justified. But there is something you should know:  This is still YOUR birth. You have a say in how it plays out. Whether your hospital is seasoned on gentle c-sections, or you are the one who pioneers the change, your wants and needs will be heard, and your wishes should all be met.

A gentle cesarean section is still (very much so) abdominal surgery. The surgery is still the same as always, as is the recovery – physically speaking; however, when mothers experience a peaceful birth in an operating room, they are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression and breastfeeding struggles.  There is a peace that comes with having a say in your birth.

What is a Gentle C-Section?

A gentle, or family-centered c-section is allowing the mother to see her baby be born, having immediate skin-to-skin contact, creating a calm and peaceful birth environment, and mimicking (as close to possible) the immediate postpartum interactions that occur after a natural birth.

If your doctor is not receptive of your desires, it is not too late to interview other birth teams. Read and understand your hospital’s procedures and policies so that you can have an educated conversation with your doctor.

Baby few minutes after the birth

What should you include in your birth plan?

It is extremely important to talk to your doctor and birth team about your desires; much of what is needed to achieve a gentle c-section should be set up prior to you entering the operating room. Do not be afraid to voice everything you want, as no one can read your mind. According to MamaNatural the following should be included in your birth plan:

  • Request an epidural or spinal block; general anesthesia should be avoided at all costs, barring any emergencies.
  • Request that anesthesiologists do not automatically give you extra drugs to relax, so that you can be fully present for the experience.
  • If you cannot be conscious, partner should be allowed to hold baby skin-to-skin immediately after birth, barring any medical complications with baby
  • EKG or baby monitoring devices should be placed in areas that don’t infringe your ability to see, hold or breastfeed baby.
  • You can watch baby lifted from your belly through a clear drape; if this is makes you squeamish, the drape can be lowered and baby can be lifted above it.
  • Your gown can be lowered and baby can be placed on your chest while you are is being sutured. To facilitate this, you must ask that your arms are not strapped down.
  • Baby can breastfeed immediately while in the operating room, and a lactation consultant can even be called in.
  • Request cord clamp/cut delay until cord stops pulsing.
  • Request that the placenta be saved and/or frozen until discharge from the hospital (if desired).
  • Music of your choice can play in the operating room.
  • Doctors and nurses are asked to refrain from “shop talk” or their weekend plans.
  • Request vaginal swabbing to give your baby the best microbiome possible.
  • Baby can be held by you while wheeled into recovery, and continue to bond with you and your partner there.
  • Any and all usual post-birth procedures such as cleaning the baby and weighing the baby are delayed until parents are ready.
  • A doula, grandparent, or friend are permitted to photograph or videotape the birth so that parents can concentrate on bonding.
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