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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