May 18, 2010

Mother & Baby Friendly Cesarean

The United States cesarean section rate is rising at an alarming pace. While we need to educate ourselves about and discourage the use of unnecessary cesareans, the medical necessity of the procedure has allowed for healthy outcomes for countless mothers and babies. (me to be included!)

For those mothers and babies that medically require delivery by cesarean I argue that we should explore the option of a mother/baby friendly experience. The Natural Cesarean: A Woman-Centred Technique (pdf file) is an article published in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology exploring the option of the parents being active participants in the birth of their baby.

What would a mother/baby friendly cesarean look like? According to the authors of the article:
  • The drape would be lowered and the mother's headed elevated so that she may witness the birth.
  • The partner would be allowed to observe as well
  • Baby would be allowed to slowly emerge helping to expel liquid from its lungs as it would during a vaginal birth
  • Rest of delivery is allowed to occur passively as the uterus continues to contract
  • Clamping of the cord is done in front of both parents and the partner is permitted to cut if desired
  • Baby is brought between the mother's breasts for immediate skin to skin contact and offered a chance to suckle
  • Baby is allowed to remain on mother's chest until the surgery is complete. Procedures (labeling, Vitamin K, etc.) that can be completed in this position are.
  • Once surgery is complete, partner accompanies baby for weighing and remaining procedures
  • Upon completion of procedures, baby is immediately returned to mother for skin-to-skin contact
A cesarean section is major abdominal surgery. This birth experience is not suitable for all cesarean births, but I think, as suggested by the authors of the article, this option can be explored for non emergent situations. The International Cesarean Awareness Network has also written details about how to have a family centered cesarean.

If your medical situation dictates that a cesarean is the safest way to deliver your baby discuss your options with your doctor.


  1. One of my clients just had a c-birth and was very satisfied with the experience. Baby was breech, labor started at 36 weeks, OB allowed midwife to hold her hands in OR while her husband stayed by her side and watched the birth. The midwife helped her have skin-to-skin contact with her daughter while the OB finished working on her. Mom and baby are healthy and breastfeeding well. The couple couldn't be happier with their experience. A real testament to the power of emotional support and respect for the parents when a c-birth is medically necessary.

  2. This latest advancement in minimally invasive surgery significantly reduces patient recovery time.
    female obgyn