A virtual friend of mine recently gave birth to her first child, and she had the baby via C-section, after being in labour for two days with no progress. In the end, an emergency C-section was done and today, she is able to hold her daughter. A girl she waited several years for.
However, she’s so put out by the fact she didn’t have a vaginal birth. It was so bad that she questioned her womanhood, and wondered if she would be able to have a vaginal birth in her life, and what she would tell people if they asked her what her birthing experience was like.
The vibe I got off here was anger at having to have a C-section birth, rather than the vaginal birth that would have ‘validated’ her womanhood. With a vaginal birth, she would have ‘war stories’ to swap, but come to think of it, she basically experienced both, having been in labour for two days! That is no joke at all!
Before the baby came, I was trying to prepare her for a possible C-section birth, not because I thought she would have one, but because I just wanted her to have an open mind where childbirth was concerned. However, it just wasn’t on her radar. So, as you can imagine, it was quite a shock that she had to experience the birth she had been running away from.
For people who feel that C-sections take away from them, rather than make life easier, there is a version of the C-section which has been gaining grounds in recent times, and it is called the ‘Gentle C-section’.
A gentle C-section is a change in the attitudes toward C-sections, where the care team (the obstetrician, anaesthesiologist, and nurses] aims to make the C-section experience in the operating room as similar as possible to the labour and delivery room.
The procedure was designed to create better connections between the mother and baby, in the moments leading up to, and immediately after, birth.
The biggest difference between a standard C-section and a gentle C-section is a focus on bringing as natural an experience as possible to the surgical operation.
Other differences include allowing the other parent or birth partner to record the procedure, and when the baby is delivered, they are immediately handed to mom to receive skin-to-skin contact while the umbilical cord is still attached.
Some physicians fear that the option of a family-centred, or a gentle C-section will lead more women to request C-sections, but most doctors who perform the surgery say this is not completely true as, the procedure is mostly for women who don’t have the option for vaginal delivery, and it tries to make it easier for them.
For women unhappy about having a C-section, opting for gentle C-section gives them a sense of control they might not otherwise have with a regular C-section.
To be eligible for a family-centred or gentle C-section, both mother and baby must be in good health and must already have a need for a scheduled C-section.
This typically applies to women who have had prior C-sections, are pregnant with multiples, or when the baby is in breech, or feet first, presentation. Although there are other reasons for scheduled C-sections such as placenta previa, in which the placenta is blocking the birth canal, or preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related high blood pressure condition, women with these conditions wouldn’t be ideal candidates for gentle C-sections.
In a typical C-section, women are strapped to the table with a solid curtain above them so they don’t have to see themselves being cut open, and their babies are taken to the NICU for paediatric care immediately following surgery. This can last up to 30 minutes, but is often a precaution rather than an indication that something is wrong.
That’s not necessarily the case in gentle C-section. So just what does a gentle c-section entail?
A clear drape: Rather than just using a solid drape to block the mother’s view of the procedure, doctors use two drapes — one solid and one clear. Right before the delivery, the solid drape is dropped so the mother can see the baby being born.
Immediate skin-to-skin contact: Only one arm is strapped down during a gentle C-section, leaving the other arm free for a mother to hold her baby immediately after the birth. At the same time, the EKG leads are placed on the mother’s sides, rather than her chest, so the baby can rest there.
And for some women who request it, a special medical-grade cloth can be inserted into the vagina an hour or so before surgery in order to soak up important microbes baby would otherwise miss. This cloth is then extracted from the mother and used to gently wipe the nostrils and inside of the baby’s mouth, thus making sure that the baby is getting the necessary microbes to boost a healthy gut for optimal health.
While the gentle C-section option may not be a great fit for every mom out there, it is a great idea for those who yearn for a natural birth, but cannot, for one reason or another, birth a child vaginally.
No matter what happens, how the baby arrives this world is not as important having a healthy baby and of course, a healthy mama.
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