There is a new approach to cesarean sections called “gentle C-sections.” Also known as “family-centered cesareans,” gentle C-sections are becoming more popular for women who are expecting. Though the term seems to be self-contradicting, doctors in New York, Boston, Annapolis, London and elsewhere are making it possible.
“There isn’t a specific technique or anything that is different,” said Dr. Daniel Roshan, a board certified maternal fetal medicine specialist and high-risk obstetrician in Manhattan. “It’s just making [the procedure] more patient-friendly.”
“The idea is that the patient can be more involved and make it as natural and close to a vaginal delivery as possible,” he said.
This is accomplished by several factors. Instead of opaque surgical drapes, clear drapes are used so the mother can view the surgery if she wishes. The doctor may also drop the drapes from in front of the mother’s face to give her a clear view of the baby emerging.
As soon as the baby is delivered, the doctor will place him or her on the mother’s chest, initiating skin-to-skin contact, which is important for mother-baby bonding. In some cases, Dr. Roshan’s patients have started breastfeeding while the operation continued. “Her hands were free,” he said, ” so she could actually hold the baby and use her hands.”
Besides faster bonding, a gentle C-section can be a less traumatic experience for the mother and feel less like surgery and more like a natural delivery.
Women who are interested in these alterations to a typical C-section procedure must have a conversation with their doctor while coming up with a birth plan to find out if it is possible or allowed by the hospital. A gentle C-section can be a backup plan for vaginal delivery provided the situation is not an emergency requiring intubation and general anesthesia.
“Many patients don’t want to see the surgery,” said Dr. Roshan. “Some even prefer to be asleep. It’s not for everybody, but the patients who really want to do it, their doctors should be amenable to make some changes.”
Not every doctor, however, will be. A C-section is major surgery. If the patient moves around, it could cause unnecessary complications.
The approach was started by obstetrician Dr. Nick Fisk in the United Kingdom in 2005. Since then it has caught on in England and is slowly being implemented in an increasing number of U.S. cities. It is only a matter of time before gentle C-sections are available on Long Island. It is up to women to discuss options with their doctors to have the birth experience they desire.