The gentle caesarean
It almost seems like a contradiction of terms doesn’t it?
The gentle caesarean.
There doesn’t seem to be much gentle about having several layers of skin and muscle cut and a baby pulled from its sleepy 9 month home. But believe it or not, the way caesareans are being done is changing, and hospitals are increasingly recognising the need for a more person centred caesarean birth.
Statistics show one in four births will end in caesarean section and this can be for a number of reasons, failure to progress in birth, breech baby, health deterioration of mother or baby, a baby that is measuring on the large size, all sorts of reasons. For many women, having a caesarean is not the ideal birth choice and for many, ending up with a caesarean birth has been the beginnings of them believing or feeling like they have had a ‘traumatic birth.’
Birth Trauma is real and recognised and can have a huge impact on the way parents enter their new role. For this reason, it is vital services are improved for those who are having caesarean births.
So what is the gentle caesarean?
In some sense, the gentle section is about giving women more control and a less clinical experience of an instrumental birth. This is more viable if the birth is going to be a planned section rather than an emergency section but still then, certain measures may be observed.
The gentle caesarean allows women to stipulate what they would like for their birthing process. At birth, the drape can be dropped so mothers and fathers can see the baby being born if they wish. Cord clamping can be delayed and the birthing partner can cut the cord if they wish. Specified music of choice can be playing in the background and low level lighting can be requested if possible to create a more calming and less clinical environment. Mothers can request that the birth partner tells them the sex of the baby, and request immediate skin to skin with the baby rather than baby being passed straight to the birth partner. The element of choice and decision making and control is passed back to the parents rather than clinical impositions being given to parents. This is proving to improve birth outcomes and reduce levels of post natal depression amongst women.
Maybe one of the most important parts of a gentle section is the way in which the baby is born. Instead of the baby being delivered quickly, the baby is gently eased out of the opening and almost walks its way out of the womb, an experience which takes longer, but is less distressing for baby as they are born gently and slowly. Whilst this may not always be possible, it is well worth discussing this with the hospital staff pre-birth and making arrangements from there. Amongst the backdrop of covid 19, there may not always be the options available, but a positive birth experience should be something that all parties strive for together, both midwives, surgical staff and parents. Ensuring that options are discussed thoroughly is key.
If you would like any more information on the gentle caesarean, please feel free to ask our antenatal course midwives via our facebook group or join one of our pregnancy coffee evenings, details of which can be found here via the link below.
Cal and the BNB Team