Though sometimes necessary for the health and well-being of a mother and her baby, a cesarean section can create a disconnect for mothers during the birthing experience. For some women, the effect is so severe, it increases the risk for breastfeeding issues and postpartum depression. To combat the traumatic potential of such procedures, many hospitals are now offering what they call ‘gentle’ cesareans. What is this movement, and could it be right for you? Keep reading to learn more.
What is a ‘Gentle’ Cesarean?
Expectant mothers are often permitted to use relaxation tools (i.e. music, aromatherapy, etc.) while in the delivery room, but cesareans have historically excluded them. ‘Gentle’ cesareans allow moms to use some of these same tools, provided they do not interfere with the sterile environment. For example, moms may request a see-through drape, rather than the traditional blue one. This gives mom the ability to see her baby as he or she is delivered.
Surgeons can also move monitors away from the mother’s chest so that she can hold her baby right away (provided it does not place the baby in danger). Moms have also requested that conversation be kept to a minimum so they can better enjoy the birthing experience.
Possible Benefits of a ‘Gentle’ Cesarean
While the most notable benefit of a ‘gentle’ cesarean is the possibility of a better birthing experience, there may be other potential benefits to it as well. For example, experts say that it may decrease a mother’s risk of postpartum depression, and it may decrease the chances of breastfeeding issues.
Tara Martinez, who had a traumatic birthing experience with her first child, underwent a ‘gentle’ cesarean with her second child. She said the immediate skin-to-skin contact and ability to watch the delivery made a massive difference in the outcome.
~Even if you have to have a surgical birth, it doesn’t mean you have to be a passive participant in the process ~ Thank you @kim_rondas_fotografie for such a beautiful photo #gentlecsection #gentlecesarean #birthphotography #birthphoto #cesarean #csection #csectionbirth #cesareanbirth #bellybirth #childbirth #pregnancy #newborn #badassmotherbirther
“It was amazing,” Tara told ABC News. “With my first, I don’t really remember being able to meet him the first time so this was totally different . . . You’re carrying this baby for nine months and the first thing you want to be able to do with this baby is hold them and that’s what you’re able to do . . . It definitely felt more of a childbirth then just having a surgery.”
Skin-to-skin contact can also improve outcomes for babies. Most will stop crying once they hear and smell their mother, which may benefit them if they are immensely stressed from the birthing process. That contact can also help regulate baby’s body temperature and heart rate immediately after birth.
We keep making strides towards true family-centered cesarean practices over at the OSU #wexnermedicalcenter. It's wonderful to truly be embraced as part of the team for a fully supported birth. ….. Do you know you have options for family centered cesarean birth? Here we see baby #2 from a cesarean twin birth. Drape lowered to see both babies born, delayed cord clamping for both, and lucky babe #2 got to go straight to mama, skin-to-skin on abdomen. This little one had everyone "awwwww"ing in the OR with her hugs to mamas belly and attempts to crawl up to mama's chest. These are things than CAN be done when your care team is on board. Talk to your provider about what practices they have in place for making every type of birth as family focused as safely possible. …. #skintoskin #gentlecesarean #knowyouroptions #familycenteredcesarean #OSU #birthphotography #columbusbirtharts #twinbirth #doulassuppprtalltypesofbirth
Requesting a ‘Gentle’ Cesarean for Your Birth
While the ‘gentle’ cesarean movement is growing, it is not yet available at all hospitals. However, moms may still request the concessions. Typically provided at no additional cost, such measures are fairly easy to incorporate. Just be sure to request them well before your due date if you are expecting to deliver via cesarean. Expectant mothers who are planning a vaginal birth but want to ensure they have a ‘gentle’ cesarean, should there be any complications, are also encouraged to discuss their desires with their OBGYN early on.