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When I found out I had to have a cesarean section with my first son I was devasted. I had been taking birth classes and was planning on trying to have a natural birth. My son was breech so I was told that c-section was my only option. I wish I had known then about the gentle c-section so I could have felt more a part of the experience. Hearing more about the gentle c-section enabled me to have a much better birth experience with my 2nd and 3rd c-sections.
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What is a Gentle C-Section
A gentle c-section is still very much surgery. That part does not go away. There are a few differences though. The goal of a gentle c-section is to help the mother feel more involved in the birthing process. In a traditional c-section a mom is basically strapped to the table and has a sheet up in front of her face so she can’t see anything happening below the drape. Since she is numb from the chest down, she can’t feel anything either. The mom usually only knows the baby has been born when the doctor announces it, or the baby cries.
This is already a very emotional time for a mom but to not be involved with the birth at all is very hard. With my first son, I remember watching my husband’s face next to me begging to know what was going on. The doctors are so focused on the surgery and getting the baby out safely, that they practically ignore the mom.
Here are some of the main differences with a gentle c-section:
- You can choose to have the drape lowered by half and have a clear drape so that you can see the baby being born but won’t see your surgical incision.
- Your newborn can be placed on your chest right after delivery for immediate skin-to-skin contact. A blanket or towel is still a good idea to keep the baby warm. You might even be able to keep the baby on you while they finish putting you back together. I found it hard to hold him for too long with the IV’s and being flat on my back.
- Trying to start breastfeeding immediately, as you would a natural birth, is also an option.
- Your hands might not be strapped down and your IV can be put in your nondominant hand so you can better hold your baby after delivery.
- You might be able to have less sedation after the surgery so you can be more alert.
- You can have a mirror positioned above the baby coming out so you can see it better and feel more a part of the process.
Why the Gentle C-Section is better
Even if you don’t choose to have all of these options, the gentle c-section is still better than a normal one because you are more involved. It forces the doctors to be more aware of you being there and wanting to know what is happening. You, as the mom, get to say “Hi, I am here too. This is my baby coming out and I want to know what is happening.”
It is very okay to speak up and let the doctors and nurses know what you are feeling. With my first birth, I was so clueless, nervous and scared, that I didn’t want to say anything and just did what I was told. My second birth, I was blessed with having my college roommate be one of my nurses. She was able to tell me about everything that was happening. With my 3rd, I knew what I could ask for and what I wanted. I was not rude or inconsiderate but I did speak up and ask for things when I needed them.
I chose to have the drape lowered, use a mirror to see the baby coming out (It wasn’t very large so I couldn’t see anything else and through tears of joy it was hard to see much at all) and I chose to have skin to skin contact right after they were born.
Choosing the Gentle C-Section is also better for the baby. Having immediate skin-to-skin interaction can increase the chances of more successful breastfeeding and cardio-respiratory stability.
Related Post: All things breastfeeding
When to ask for a Gentle C-Section
The best time to request the gentle c-section is at your doctor’s appointment maybe around 7-8 months. You should let your doctor know sooner rather than later so she can make a note in your chart. It is also good to discuss what exactly you want to be modified before the big day. If your c-section is not planned but is not an emergency, then request it as soon as you are able. This is not usually an option for an emergency c-section like Rosebud’s birth story.
For additional information on Gentle C-sections read here.
C-Section tip: Make sure to take the stool softener they give you!
Here are some things I would recommend bringing to the hospital for your c-section (especially the C-section recovery underwear! Regular underwear sits right where your incision will be so these help a ton).