Cesarean Births: Not just Surgery…..This is Birth!
If you talk to anyone who has experienced what is commonly referred to as a C-section, ask what they remember and to some, it may sound as if they were robbed of “birthing” their baby, it may sound like what was exactly needed to have the outcome of a healthy baby, and for others it may reflect the strength of one to be cut open for their baby. However, what if we were to change the language and focus in today’s birthing culture, as well as amongst families and friends. To birth a baby does not have to result in one being strapped down to a bed in the OR, no one holding their hand through the birth and at times, feeling disconnected from their own. Happy, healthy baby does not equate to happy, healthy mother. There is value to one’s birth story, and for those facing the decision of not birthing vaginally, a compassionate cesarean is always an option.
Originating in Europe, compassionate cesareans, also known as gentle or family-centered cesareans are gaining popularity in NYC. There are specific hospitals/care providers offering this option to families and as a doula, although never with a cesarean in sight, I educate my families about this option. When creating a birth preference list, it is important to consider being flexible and making room for the unexpected. Birth, despite how much one may prepare for it, at times leaves our hands due to certain unexpected circumstances. Knowledge and education are vital in making informed decisions and being equipped to have an empowered birth experience, even if it may not end in what was wanted. Take the time to ask your care providers about this option during one of your visits. It is important for your questions to be answered and to have an understanding of how your practice functions around cesarean births, planned and emergencies.
Whether a vaginal birth or cesarean birth, bringing forth life is birth. For both baby and the birthing person, a new life begins. When honoring this new beginning, it is important to think of what is important to you as you come through this rite of passage. There may be certain non-negotiables whether in the OR or in the labor and delivery room. What would you like the birth story to be for both you and your baby? Some things to consider may be:
Doula Welcomed: Although at times only 1 person is allowed in the OR, this is completely up to the anesthesiologist. Perhaps your doula can be welcomed in for photography purposes and additional support for a short time.
Music of choice: Setting the environment for your delivery is important to set the energy as well as make the birthing person and team feel at peace. Perhaps you play that same playlist in the OR as you were planning to do at home or in the delivery room.
A Moment of Silence: What better way to welcome your baby than your own voice as opposed to the doctors talking about their most recent golf game or family vacation. Request the medical staff stay quiet as they gently welcome your baby earth side.
Gender Reveal: If the gender was going to be a surprise, keep it that way. Ensure that staff know to allow your partner to announce the gender to you or for you both to see it as baby is pulled over to the other side of the surgical sheet.
Arms Free: No need to be bound to the bed. Your arms can be free to wrap around your baby when it comes to skin to skin after delivery and sharing a hug with him/her and your partner.
Skin To Skin: Despite a cesarean birth, other than medical, there is no reason to be separated from your baby after delivery. This allows for baby to be reminded of your scent, help with nursing and other benefits.
There are other options to this, but these are just a few. No matter how or where you birth, it should always be humane and in a respectable manner. Whether expecting, a medical provider or doula/support person, one can educate themselves about compassionate cesareans at DTI’s Learning Lab, http://learn.doulatraininginternational.com/.