In 2016-17, statistics reported that 28.2% of births in Canada were cesarean sections. With such a significant portion of babies being born by cesarean section there is more and more interest in creating a positive birth experience in the operating room. You may have also heard a Gentle Cesarean referred to as a Family Centered Cesarean because the experience is built around the growing family. Some cesarean sections are planned and some are decided on unexpectedly during pregnancy or labour. Some cesarean sections are emergencies and occur quickly with no time to discuss preferences and in some cases the baby, mother, or both require additional medical attention and may not be able to be kept together. However, most cesarean sections are not emergencies even if they were not planned. A medically necessary cesarean section is not always an emergency cesarean. In most cases there is time for discussion and planning. Since birth is unpredictable I always recommend that clients create a birth plan that includes their preferences should a cesarean section should occur. In fact, having a doula present may be part of your birth plan even if you are planning a cesarean section!
There many great reasons to consider having a Gentle Cesarean Section!
It often surprises families just how many options are available during a cesarean section! Here is a list of some of the things you can consider when planning your cesarean section keeping in mind that these are all situation dependent:
Clear Drapes - Some mothers would like to watch the birth of their baby. After all everyone else in the room is seeing your baby be born! Why not you? It’s certainly not for every mother, but for some mothers this option can bring a lot of joy!
Music - Mothers often spend a lot of time creating a labour playlist. You can still create a playlist for the birth of your baby! Pick some music that feels meaningful, or something that is relaxing, or whatever sets the tone you are looking for. Plan ahead to have a device that can play the music and check in with your care provider to make sure they won’t find it too distracting.
Skin-to-skin in the OR - You can plan ahead to have your gown pulled down so that your baby can be placed on your chest skin to skin in the operating room. Another option is to have someone hold the baby next to your face so that you can enjoy those first moments with your baby.
Breastfeeding in the OR - You can chat with your care provider about initiating breastfeeding in the operating room. This can be a way to get breastfeeding off to a great start during that golden first hour.
Let Baby be born more gradually - You can speak to your Care Provider about allowing the baby to be born more gradually. This involves the head being delivered and then allowing the rest of the body to be birthed more gradually. This allows for a bit of a squeeze. That squeeze helps fluid in the lungs be expelled similar to a vaginal birth.
Delayed Cord Clamping - Delayed cord clamping is possible in a cesarean section. In fact it is becoming more and more common. If you would like to learn more about Delayed Cord clamping you can check out our previous blog post on this topic “D is For Delayed Cord Clamping.”
Doula - Depending on your location a doula may be allowed in the operating room. They can provide additional support to you when your baby is being checked over as well as taking pictures, keeping you calm, and assisting with breastfeeding. Most doulas have attended cesarean sections and are comfortable in an OR. If this is something that is important to you make sure you check ahead of time if your hospital allows doulas in the OR.
Keeping Mom and Baby together - Usually, in order to keep mother and baby together as much as possible an additional nurse is required to be in the OR to care for your baby. That is one reason why it important to discuss your wishes ahead of time so that the additional nurse can be arranged. Some hospitals automatically do this if they have someone available and others don’t.
Pictures and Video - Make sure you ask ahead of time. Some care providers won’t mind being in the pictures (some even request to be in them!) and some will ask that you just solely take photos of the baby. Some are comfortable with videos and others don’t want the operation recorded. If you ask ahead you will know what your care provider is comfortable with.
IV in non-dominant hand - This makes it easier for the mother to touch her baby without getting anything tangled or hurting her hand.
Hands free to touch baby - During a cesarean section your hands may be strapped down because your body might shake. Shaking during the cesarean is very normal. You can ask to have your hands free so that you can touch your baby.
Being Informed as things go - Sometimes that curtain can make you feel very separate from what is happening on the other side. This might be your preference and that’s totally OK. However, you can request that your care providers talk you through what is happening so you feel more involved.
EKG Monitor Placement - Monitors can be placed in such a way that they don’t inhibit skin-to-skin contact.
All of these options are just that, options. You can take them or leave them depending on how you are envisioning your birth. Some may be completely out of your zone of comfort or they may just not interest you, but it’s nice to know that you do have options! I recommend making a birth plan for a cesarean section ahead of time so that you have it on hand if one becomes necessary at some point in your pregnancy or labour.