What is a Gentle C-Section?

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mom with baby during a gentle c-sectionI had envisioned this miraculous drug-free birth for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be able to give birth to that 9lb baby with no drugs, but my body had other plans. All three of my deliveries and recoveries were very different. I had an emergency C-section with twins, a planned C-section after a failed VBAC, and finally a planned gentle cesarean.

I knew in my heart when we found out we were pregnant for the last time that I wanted the birth I never got. So I researched for hours on end on “how to make a C-section more like a vaginal birth”.

After many google searches, I came across what is called a gentle C-section, also known as a family-centered cesarean birth. The goal of this type of C-section is to make the experience less surgical and more welcoming. An attempt is made to create a calm and relaxing environment that allows you to have some of the things that you get with a vaginal birth setting.

Having had two prior C-sections, I was no longer a candidate for a VBAC at this hospital, so I met with my OB early on in the pregnancy to discuss our options. We talked about a gentle C-section and what was a high priority on my list of wants. Thankfully, she was incredibly understanding and supportive. Last June, we were able to make it happen when we delivered a beautiful 11lb baby two weeks early (yeah, she was not coming out the old-fashioned way).

In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, I wanted to shed some light on the options you may request when having a gentle cesarean:

Anesthetic & Medicine Options

Traditionally, you would have either an epidural, spinal block, or general anesthesia. Fortunately, they have other options that may interest you like a combo epidural/spinal. Also, you can request not to have any medication that will take you away from being present during birth and recovery unless medically necessary.

Request a Baby Nurse

Fortunately, the hospital I delivered at had an amazing baby RN program. My nurse was THE game changer for my postpartum recovery. She walked me through the entire procedure, took our first photos, helped with skin-to-skin and breastfeeding. She also helped play the middle person between me and my medical team while surgery happened.

Ask to Have Your Arms Free

Typically, the patient’s arms are strapped down and monitoring leads are placed on their chest. With a gentle C-section, you can request to have all monitoring placed in areas that won’t make the possibility of seeing, holding, and breastfeeding a baby challenging as well as arms being free to hold your newborn in the OR.

Request No “Shop Talk”

You can request to have music of your choice if the hospital allows you, but at the minimum, I requested that the team not have any “shop talk” or discuss anything outside birthing this baby.

Clear Drape to See Baby

During our first birth, they didn’t have clear drapes as an option. They have slowly become an option over time, but in most hospitals, they are becoming the standard. Something so trivial made our last birth the very best. During this pregnancy, everyone had me convinced we were having a boy. To everyone’s surprise, we all found out that she was a GIRL. The clear drape allowed us to see her birth alongside our medical team.

Almost a year later and I still tell everyone how my last birth was picture perfect. I was out of the hospital 48 hours after surgery and back home with my family. I didn’t suffer from postpartum as I did after my previous birth. Breastfeeding went so much smoother because I was present.

This birth and recovery was the most beautiful experience. It far exceeded my expectations and allowed us to really enjoy the birth.

If this is something that could apply to your situation please take the time to discuss your options with your medical team. This is just one mom telling another mom her experience, and in no way is it medical advice. It will depend on your circumstance, but it is always worth a conversation. Be mindful that not all OB/GYNs nor hospitals will provide this type of birth.

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