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Introducing… the new “gentle caesarean” birth

Operate Room

When you give birth via caesarean section, it’s a serious operation. There’s an operating theatre, doctors in scrubs, a sheet so you don’t see anything upsetting and your baby is whisked away while you lie there, alone, getting stitched up. But all this is set to change with the development of the ‘new caesarean’ that focuses less on the operation and more on the creation of new life.

Professor Nick Fisk, professor of obstetrics at Imperial College in London, has completely redeveloped the caesarean birth. His new method is called ‘skin-to-skin caesarean’ or ‘walking the baby out’.

Professor Fisk said he starting thinking of ways to improve the caesarean birth due to the increase in the rate of caesareans. He told The Guardian, “While couples having normal deliveries have been given more and more opportunities to be fully involved in childbirth, very little has been done to see how we could make the experience more meaningful for those having caesareans.”

He immediately realised caesareans have to be slowed down. Unless there is an urgent medical situation, there is no reason for them to be so rushed which would allow parents to be more involved in the birth of their child. He also felt it was unnecessary for parents to be screened off from the mother’s abdomen and babies don’t need to be rushed off. They can spend time with their parents first, just like in a traditional birth.

He said, “When the baby is being born she’s still attached to the umbilical cord and is still getting oxygen from the placenta. Caesarean birth can be gentle, just as vaginal birth can be gentle.”

Doctors are clinging to many outdated beliefs when it comes to birth and Professor Fisk says one is that it’s being squeezed through the birth canal that helps a child breathe. “But by leaving the baby’s body inside the uterus for longer once the head is out, the body is squeezed and you see the lung liquid coming out of the baby’s nose.”

What you can expect from a gentle caesarean:

* Doctors and nurses to explain everything to you as it happens;

* Music playing in the operating theatre;

* The birth is not rushed;

* You can see the baby being born with mirrors;

* Immediate skin to skin contact;

* The umbilical cord is not cut straight away;

* As much time to ooh and aah over your new baby as you wish;

* Photos and videos being made;

* Mums are encouraged to try immediate breastfeeding if they wish.

Unfortunately, only a handful of hospitals around the world have embraced the practice. However it is hoped more mums and doctors will embrace the new technique.

All three of my kids have been born via caesarean. I’ve never gotten to push or tell my husband I hate him for doing this to me. I’ve never gotten to ‘bare down’ or squeeze my husband’s hand until it turned blue.

To be honest, I feel a bit ripped off.

My siblings and I have nine children between us and all have been born via caesarean section. In the order of their births, these are the reasons why they were born this way: big baby due to gestational diabetes, mother with abnormally small pelvis, gestational diabetes again, child with very large head meets mother with abnormally small pelvis, two previous caesareans so a third just to be safe, same reason again, big baby for no apparent reason, baby failed to engage correctly and then a second caesarean just to be safe.

In some of these births we experienced labour for a few hours before hand. My sister and sister-in-law spent some time trying to push before having to be operated on.

Caesareans are on the increase for a number of reasons. Babies are getting bigger, doctors are more wary of allowing mums to push after initial caesareans, some doctors prefer them, some mothers prefer them…

More hospitals are realising how important the first moments after birth are, even if it’s via a caesarean and mums who have caesareans are now able to experience proper skin to skin contact. Advocates of gentle caesareans say this method steadies the baby’s temperature and heart rate as well as helps to initiate breastfeeding.

You can request a gentle caesarean and hopefully more obstetricians start to agree to them.

What was your experience with caesarean birth? 

Jo AbiI never thought I’d settle for a conventional life. I was always such a rebel…and now here I am, a wife, a mother (and loving it!). I also dabbled in radio and traffic reporting for, oh, two decades. Now I’m a staff writer at iVillage Australia. Find me on Facebook and on Twitter.

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