How to Have a Gentle Caesarean
If you're pregnant and you know that you're going to deliver your baby by c-section, you're probably feeling a sense of relief that there's an end-date to your pregnancy and a sense of terror about being out of control of your birth at the same time.
It's totally normal to have mixed feelings, Mama!
In my 20 years of experience, I've led many women down the hall to the operating room for their birth. Some chatter nervously, some get very quiet and some start shaking. Personally, I've had two caesareans and I remember being so nervous that I was a "chatty- shaker"!
What if I told you that you can feel a little more in control of your birth experience?
Over the last few years, as the rate of caesarean has grown, women have started to demand more from their birth. They're trying to infuse a personal, gentle touch into their birth day when it has the potential to be so sterile and cold. The principles for a newborn are the same no matter how the birth happens- skin to skin immediately after birth is scientifically proven to regulate the baby’s temperature, improve bonding and make breastfeeding easier.
In fact, skin-to-skin immediately after birth may be more important for a baby born by c-section.
A Gentle Caesarean is still the same surgery. It’s not to suggest that the surgeon is otherwise being rough. But typically a baby is born very quickly during a caesarean because of the operating room environment: it’s cold, the baby has been subjected to the medications that the mom received so they want to make sure she’s breathing well, and let’s be honest- the operating room is the biggest money-maker in a hospital so time is money!
A Gentle Caesarean is when the birth team (the doctors,anaesthetists, nurses) all agree to do everything possible to make this birth feel like it’s happening in a birthing room, rather than an operating room.
That may include:
- Delayed cord cutting
- Handing the baby to the mom for skin-to-skin and immediate breastfeeding
- Delaying the eye ointment
- Doing the baby assessments while mom is holding the baby instead of taking her to the warmer across the room.
- Playing gentle music.
- Providing clear drapes so a mama can see her baby born
- Some have even been able to help lift their baby out of their tummy!
There are so many small things that can be adjusted if the birth team is on board, so ask for everything that you want and be flexible with the things that just can’t be. At the end of the day, this is surgery. And the last thing you want is to risk the sterility of the operating room and get a post-op infection in your wound. There’s nothing worse than recovering from your birth, without your baby in the Intensive Care Unit.
Start talking about it with your doctor now, while you’re still pregnant. Ask if you can have a prenatal consultation with the anaesthetist because that’s who’s truly in charge of the operating room. Start planting the seeds early and just remember- not all hospitals are going to be on board. If it’s really, really important to you, you can get a second opinion or even look for a different hospital.
( For more information about a detailed caesarean birth plan, check out this post by Hanna at Babytalk (she's a labour and delivery nurse, too so she knows what she's talking about!): Planning for Your C-Section: a Detailed Birth Plan )
Gentle Caesareans are becoming more and more popular and this is a time you'll remember forever, Mama. You may have to fight a bit for the best birth experience possible.
If you're having a scheduled caesarean, you may want to check out this post about your baby's microbiome:
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!