What is a gentle c-section?

What is a gentle c-section?

If you have heard or read about a gentle c-section, you aren’t alone. Dr. Deann Harper, an obstetrics & gynecology physician at Aurora Medical Center Sheboygan County says they are increasing in popularity.

“This is a cesarean which makes the patient and family involved in the birth process,” she says. “Patients want to be part of their birth experience regardless of how the delivery occurs.”

Dr. Harper prefers to use the term “family-centered birth” rather than “gentle c-section.”

“There is nothing gentle about a cesarean surgery. It is a major surgery,” she says. “The family-centered birth during a cesarean is not changing the surgery, but the way we view the procedure and the family.”

Dr. Harper says the family-centered birth engages the family during the process and allows them to have a birth experience more in line with a vaginal birth.

During a typical c-section there is a drape separating the patient and support person from the surgical field that a person cannot see through. In a family-centered birth, there is a clear drape.

“We offer a clear drape during the delivery so the birth can be seen just like during a vaginal birth. Since we do delayed cord clamping after birth for the baby’s benefit, it is a nice time for the family to see those first moments after birth,” Dr. Harper says. “This process of cesarean delivery is incorporating the family into the process and I think it is such a positive experience for everyone involved.”

During a normal c-section, the baby goes to a warmer and is taken back to the room while the patient has their surgery completed. The family-centered birth can provide more opportunity for bonding.

“There is minimal separation from mom and skin-to-skin can happen during the completion of the surgery. The mom and baby get to bond during the ‘golden hour’ which improves breastfeeding,” says Dr. Harper.

That time together can also be beneficial for the mom.

“There can be decreased pain for the mother due to the distraction of holding the baby,” Dr. Harper says.

The family-centered c-section is not for everyone and patients can have their birth plans tailored to fit their needs and desired outcomes, Dr. Harper says.

“Some patients may not want the clear drape but would like the skin-to-skin in the operating room. I think the important thing to remember is trying to make the birth experience the best we can for each patient,” she explains.

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  1. It is wonderful that Advocate finally realizes the importance of bonding! I had both of my children at an Advocate hospital many years ago by C-sections. I did not get the opportunity to see my son until two days had passed and my daughter until fifteen hours after delivery!

  2. This is great! While my husband could not have dealt with it – he saw my insides when he went over to see the baby – I would have loved the option.

  3. I had my c-section over 30 years ago. I got to hold him about 5 minutes before the team started completing the closure of the surgery. Then I was moved to my hospital room. I didn’t get to see my son until 10::00 the next morning. I had an extended stay because my son and I had fevers of unknown origin. During these days I kept him in my room all day until bedtime. But the biggest struggle came from the c-section birth. My baby didn’t really seem to be mine. I did have a full labor but no delivery pain. It took weeks before he really became my baby. It took years before this emotion faded from my mind. So don’t consider a c-section lightly.

  4. This is amazing. C-sections can be so traumatic. Not being able to see or touch your newborn can make it that much harder. I’m so glad that AAH is starting to implement was to lessen that trauma.

  5. FINALLY!!!! Finally Advocate Aurora is getting on board with understanding how the psycho-social aspect of family’s experience has a direct impact to the healing for new moms and their families. Every woman who’s gone through pregnancy and childbirth knows how anxiety-inducing and traumatic it can be on the body and the psyche, but C-sections directly. In 2023 this type of approach should be standard for maternity care with C-sections (provided there are no emergent concerns), there is no reason to not offer and advocate for all these things for baby and mom upfront. This concept directly ties into the idea that anxiety and loss of control or involvement in one’s health causes increased pain and poorer recovery outcomes. By standardizing this type of psycho-social care during C-sections, we can effectively help mothers in reducing medical trauma, postpartum depression, and help increase bonding with baby. There is no reason why this shouldn’t be standard with today’s education on it.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.