Is There Such Thing As A Gentle Or Natural Caesarean?
For many parents, the usual caesarean experience can feel less like a birth and rite of passage of becoming a parent and more like a cold, routine surgical procedure like having your appendix removed as staff chat about last night’s episode of EastEnders or what their weekend plans are. A cesarean birth is a birth – the birth of your baby – and the birth you as a mother. There are simple yet profound ways to acknowledge this huge moment in your life that are respectful and meaningful for everyone involved.
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UK obstetrician Dr Andy Simms pioneered this new way of approaching caesareans by encouraging more participation by mum – and her baby. Instead of making the incision and pulling the baby out, the obstetrician delivers the baby’s head; and then as the drapes are lowered, a mirror is positioned and mum is able to watch the rest of the birth. Mum is given IV medication that makes the uterus contract so it looks like the baby is crawling out, which helps clear baby’s lungs. In a vaginal birth, the tight squeeze of the vagina usually does this for baby.
The cord is left to pulsate, and mum has skin to skin with her baby. Weighing etc will wait until mum is ready. The lights are turned down and mom’s own music plays. Staff are quiet and respectful (not discussing last night’s EastEnders)
According to Dr Simm: “It’s about creating a soft environment and making the birth less clinical. And it doesn't require any more resource of staff than a regular caesarean – it just adds a few more minutes to the operation”. According to Dr Simm, gentle caesareans are still quite rare due to resistance to changing obstetric practice. As more women demand a more gentle, positive caesarean birth experience for themselves and their baby, maternity units around the country are starting to receive more requests for this option.
Whenever possible a Gentle Caesarean will include:
- Clear drapes or drape lowered once your baby’s head is born
- Music of mum’s choice playing
- Lights dimmed after initial incision
- Baby allowed to ‘crawl’ out
- Cord left to finish pulsating
- Immediate and ongoing skin to skin with mum (weighing/checks can wait if baby is well)
To see what a Gentle Caesarean looks like, watch this video:
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Written by Tracy from GentleBirth for eumom. Now in its 10th year of supporting parents, GentleBirth has moved to a completely digital platform to deliver their unique ‘brain training for birth’ to anxious mums to be. GentleBirth make fear a thing of the past as you enjoy short daily brain training experiences in mindfulness, hypnobirthing, affirmations and sports psychology as well as our comprehensive guide book written by Irish Midwife and eumom pregnancy expert Tracy Donegan. You’ll begin to feel calmer, more relaxed and enjoy your pregnancy more just within a few days of beginning the program as you join a community of moms around the world preparing for their positive birth. Available now on the App Store and GooglePlay