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Is-There-Such-Thing-As-A-Gentle-Or-Natural-Caesarean

Is There Such Thing As A Gentle Or Natural Caesarean?

As Caesarean births become more common in Ireland more women are requesting what’s now being called a ‘Gentle or Natural Caesarean’ especially if the Caesarean is planned or is for a non-urgent ‘in labour’ 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 caesarean 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 Donegan from GentleBirth. 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. Available now on the App Store and GooglePlay.


About the Author

I’m Tracy Donegan, registered midwife and mum to 2 gorgeous boys. I’ve been working in Irish maternity services since 2005 and really enjoy helping Irish families have the best experiences possible. You may be familiar with my books – The Irish Better Birth Book and The Irish Caesarean and VBAC Guide, as well as the very popular GentleBirth Positive Birth app.

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