Having a Gentle Caesarean

Think about your birth plan for a minute. (If you don’t have one, pretend!) I don’t care who you are, or how you view birth, or whether you are planning a drug-free birth or a scheduled Caesarean—my guess is that your birth plan does not read like this:

  • I want you to numb me from the waist down.
  • Cut open my uterus open while chatting about your weekend plans.
  • Take my baby somewhere else to do routine procedures so I won’t see her for at least an hour.
  • Stitch me up.
  • Bring me to recovery.
  • Let me be the fourth or fifth person to hold my baby, now that I’m finally allowed to.
  • Watch me flounder around trying to get a good latch.
  • Promise me that the lactation consultant will come eventually.

Not my idea of a good time. Sadly, this is what many women have to call their “birth story.” Shouldn’t someone do something?


Enter the “natural,” “gentle,” or “family-centered” Caesarean. (For the purposes of convenience, I am going to refer to this as a gentle Caesarean for the remainder of this post)

The idea of the gentle Caesarean is simple. Just because you need or want a C-section, does not mean that you no longer deserve to be an active participant in your child’s birth. You are still the one birthing your baby, even if the conditions of that birth are a bit more technical.

In a gentle Caesarean, you call the shots. When you talk to your care provider at your next checkup about the possibility of a gentle Caesarean, either planned or emergency, cover these topics to make sure they are on board with them:

  • Want specific music playing as your baby enters the world? Just ask.
  • The ambiance should be about your baby’s birth, so no extraneous or unnecessary conversations should be taking place.
  • Want to watch your baby enter the world? See if the hospital has transparent surgical drapes, or if your drape can be lowered as the surgeon lifts the baby from your uterus.
  • Want to push? Some care providers remove the baby slowly from a small incision in the uterus while asking mom to push. This way, there is a psychological sense of participation in the birth, rather than feeling like a bystander.
  • Just like in a vaginal birth, Skin-to-Skin time is important for bonding and breastfeeding. Ask if the chest electrodes can be put on your back or sides, so that baby can immediately be brought to your chest for Skin-to-Skin time.
  • Specify that you would like to maintain Skin-to-Skin for the first hour (at least) after birth, and to attempt breastfeeding as soon as possible. Ask if all necessary procedures can be done while baby is on your chest, and if all others can wait at least an hour.

Gentle Caesarean births can be meaningful and beautiful. Many care providers in America are on board with them, and they are so meaningful to the families who have experienced them. A doula may also be helpful in keeping your birth atmosphere what you want it to be. Don’t risk having a cold, unemotional birth. Talk to your care provider, and put it in your birth plan!

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