There are many reasons women may need a C-section. Sometimes the situation could present as an emergency but often the problem is that labour simply isn’t progressing. Some women will already know they are having a C-section and are booked in for a planned elective C-section, usually around the 39th week of pregnancy if it’s thought a vaginal birth is too risky.
An elective C-section could be an option if:
- your baby is in the breech position (feet first) and your doctor or midwife has been unable to turn them by applying gentle pressure to your tummy, or you’d prefer they did not try this
- you have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)
- Previous C-section
- You have certain infections, such as a first genital herpes infection occurring late in pregnancy or untreated HIV
If there are no concerns over mum and baby some hospitals are now offering small but significant changes to the procedure to make it seem more like a birth than major surgery andoffer what they call a gentle C-section.
These small changes in the procedure allow parents-to-be to feel more a part of the birth.This can make a big difference to couples experiencing surgical deliveries and give a certain level of empowerment creating a much more positive and personal event.
Typically, during a C-section, you’re laid flat on an operating table in a theatre setting. A screen is raised above your waist, so you won’t have to see the incision being made.
Hospitals that offer a gentle c-section may offer these accommodations:
- You can ask to be propped up slightly so you can view the birth through a clear plastic drape or ask for the drape to be lowered earlier and farther so you can see your baby being born. (A solid drape still blocks your view of the surgical incision.)
- Your baby may be delivered slowly to allow time for the chest to be squeezed on the way out, as in a vaginal birth, to clear the lungs of fluid.
- Your newborn is placed on your chest (and covered with a warm towel) right after delivery for immediate skin-to-skin contact. He may be allowed to stay with you for the rest of the surgery and accompany you to the recovery room.
- Your IV line is put in your nondominant hand, leaving your dominant hand free to hold your baby. The ECG leads (which track your baby’s heartbeat) can be removed as soon as the delivery is imminent.
It is important to understand no one is trying to advocate for c-sections and gentle C-section is not a replacement for a vaginal birth; it’s just a way to improve the surgical experience with the following benefits to consider:
- Studies show that women who have c-sections are less satisfied with their childbirth experience than those who deliver vaginally and are more likely to have postpartum depression, difficulty with bonding, and breastfeeding problems.
- Being able to view your baby’s birth allows you to feel like you’re participating in the process. And research has shown that immediate skin-to-skin contact helps regulate the baby’s body temperature and heart rate and facilitates bonding and successful breastfeeding.
- It’s an incredibly powerful experience for a new mom to be able to hold and comfort her baby right after birth. Newborns often stop crying when they hear their mom’s voice and feel the warmth of her skin.