When you have to have a C-section

While I’m a great advocate of vaginal birth, I understand that many women choose unnecessary C-sections, and for many others, it’s a safer course of action for themselves or for their babies than a vaginal birth. Also, sometimes C-sections become necessary in the course of labor, even when the mother had wanted a vaginal birth.

But does the surgery and the immediate postpartum have to be the way it currently is? Read this post (with lots of great links — read those too!) and find out about alternatives when you have your baby by surgical birth.

Most of the time — in fact, almost exclusively — when women have C-sections, there is a screen put up which blocks the view of their stomachs. (If you’re squeamish, you may prefer this.) While sometimes the screen is taken down, or the baby is held above the screen, so the moms can see the babies immediately, sometimes this doesn’t happen, and the mom doesn’t even get to see the baby for several minutes — and usually when she does get to see the baby immediately, it’s just for the briefest of moments. The screen is up for purposes of sterility, but some doctors are challenging the need for this. (Just follow the link.)

Usually, the cord is clamped and cut immediately, and the baby is taken away for newborn exams or oxygen. Since many babies born by C-section have problems breathing (possibly because they do not get some stimulation from coming through the birth canal, possibly something inherent in the surgery like the numbing agents or extra fluid), this might make sense… but those things could be brought to the baby instead of the baby being taken to the table. Also, some doctors (scroll down to read the comment by David Hutchon) are questioning the interference with normal physiology by the immediate clamping of the cord, instead of waiting for the cord to naturally stop pulsing and seal off, especially in cases where the baby’s oxygen supply might be low, or breathing has not yet started. What sense does it make to completely stop whatever oxygen is going to the baby (which, you must remember, is keeping the baby alive in the uterus) prior to another source of oxygen (breathing) being established? Even if the placental supply is low or failing (for instance, in cases of fetal distress), as long as some oxygen is going to the baby, that’s better than none.

What I realised was that caesareans were done a certain way because they’ve always been done a certain way, but in fact they can be done differently – and in a way that parents love,” says Fisk. Other doctors are sometimes shocked when they hear what he is doing. “They say, but surely you have to get the baby out fast so she can get oxygen straight away? And I say, 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.

Obstetricians are too hung up on getting from the point of incision to the birth of the baby as quickly as possible: that’s been the benchmark of a skilled surgeon. But I’m challenging that because, from the baby’s and from the parents’ point of view, it’s not very helpful.

2 Responses

  1. Very nice. Indeed some cesareans are necessary and the gentler we can be to mom and baby during these births the better. I know that for me as a doula, there is a local hospital where mom and baby go straight back to moms room after surgery to recover there together. Beautiful! The worst part of my cesarean was being alone in the recovery room while my baby was in the NICU with my husband. I was so scared and alone. If I could have been with them during that time, it would have made a huge difference.

    So when I talk to moms about choosing a birth location, I encourage them to ask cesarean “routine” questions, even if planning a vaginal birth.

  2. […] Kinder, gentler Cesarean Filed under: C-section — Tags: C-section, caesarean, cesarean, cesarean section, Jennifer Block, pushed, Pushed Birth, surgical birth — Kathy @ 4:16 pm Go over to the blog of Jennifer Block (the author of Pushed) to see a picture and brief discussion on how some British doctors are making surgical birth kinder and gentler on the mother and baby. It’s along the lines of what I blogged about here. […]

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