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The family centered cesarean

The Family Centered Cesarean: A Woman-Centered Technique
by Stephanie Stanley, Chapter Leader ICAN of Phoenix

A natural cesarean? You may have heard the term being used lately, largely as a result of this video that is circling around, but what exactly is a natural cesarean? Seems like an oxymoron right?

The natural cesarean, or family centered cesarean, is a procedure developed in the UK which takes a “woman centered” approach to the surgery that now accounts for one third of all births in America, a cesarean. This approach to a c-section incorporates many important aspects of a vaginal birth, parent participation for one. An article from Reuters Health explains

At the start of the procedure, surgical drapes block the incision area from the parents’ view until delivery of the infant’s head. The field is then cleaned and the partner may view the birth at that point.

The obstetrician then slows delivery so uterine contractions can help clear the infant’s lungs, “just as happens at vaginal delivery,” Fisk noted. The baby’s shoulders are eased out “and the baby then frequently delivers his/her own arms in an expansive gesture.”

The mother can then see the half-delivered baby, and watch the rest of the birth. The newly delivered infant is placed directly on the mother’s chest for bonding.

The video explains that this woman centered approach to a cesarean birth takes only a few extra minutes and is safe. They believe it is something that all OBs could easily adopt as their standard of care.

Of course we want to do everything we can to encourage a vaginal birth, as a vaginal birth is usually best for the low risk healthy mom and baby. But for some, the best way for baby to be born is a cesarean birth and wouldn’t it be nice to have a procedure that gives babies a few extra benefits and encourages natural bonding and breastfeeding between mother and child?

How to plan a family centered cesarean

Sometimes cesareans are necessary, whether they’re planned or not. Sometimes a VBAC becomes a CBAC. Acknowledging this is not mentally accepting that it will happen to you, it simply is an opportunity for you to make a repeat cesarean, should it occur, a better experience than the first.

Often times I hear women (myself included) say, “I only planned for a natural birth, I just skipped right over the chapters on c-sections.” Many women do not even consider the possibility of a cesarean and often times when preparing for a VBAC they think “I certainly can’t plan for a c-section now!” Whether it’s a fear of jinxing yourself or just not wanting to admit that it could happen again, I meet a lot of women who are afraid to write a Cesarean Birth Plan. I get that, I really do! But, as I’m sure you know, birth doesn’t always go as planned, even when we “do everything right”. So what if you could create a cesarean birth plan that included one or more of the items below and your doctor said “ok, we can do that.”

* I would like my arms unrestrained so that I may touch my baby

* I would like the screen lowered once my baby’s head is out so that I can see his/her    birth

* I would like the baby to be placed immediately on my chest

* I would like to nurse the baby immediately

* I would like dad to hold baby

* I would like baby to stay with my partner and I (no nursery unless medically necessary)

* I would like my doula and my partner with me during the surgery

The list can go on to include anything you might find comforting or important to you in your birth experience. Some other ideas may be photos/videos, lights dimmed, music, announcement of the sex.

Have a conversation with your care provider well before your due date and find out what they’re open to should the need arise for another cesarean. Encourage your care provider to watch the 12 minute video on a natural cesarean birth. If they’re not open to your requests or compromising with you, then maybe it’s time to search for a care provider who is willing to respect and acknowledge your birth as a momentous event in your life and who will work with you to ensure that your birth experience is something you feel good about and remember joyously.

Continued Reading:

The natural caesarean: a woman-centred technique–National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Family-Centered Cesarean–ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) White Papers

Ideas for the best cesarean possible–by Penny Simkin. Free PDF printable.

Delivered safely by caesarean with his mothers hands (”assisted cesarean”)–The Age (Australia)

The Case for Kangaroo Daddy Care–Baby Gooroo–One family’s story of how Dad provided Kangaroo Care for baby while mother was recovering post-cesarean, and why babies can benefit from this.