Gentle Caesarean Section Birth!
Caesareans can be a daunting concept for a lot of women and partners, whether it is elective, unplanned or an emergency. The very fact that it is surgery is enough to get the adrenaline pumping!
Oxytocin is an incredibly important hormone in labour and birth, and it is what helps to create the bond between the baby and the parents. It is a magic hormone! We love it. Adrenaline, which is released when we feel scared, is the rival of this wonderful hormone because when adrenaline rises, oxytocin falls.
So many women who have a caesarean birth, especially due to an emergency, can end up feeling a sense of loss, as if they have somehow failed - this can be changed by everyone involved in the surgery being aware of the fact that this woman is giving birth to her child, and that's the most important thing. Making this change is a key ingredient to bringing down the number of women who suffer from post-natal depression following a caesarean birth.
The trick is to keep the oxytocin levels high and avoid having the adrenaline take over. That is where the gentle or family-centred caesarean section birth comes in! The idea behind this is to make you, the mother, feel more at ease, and it makes it possible for you to be more present. After all, you're still the only one in that room who is giving birth! Why should you feel as if it's being done for you? Another benefit of the gentle c-section birth is that it allows the baby to squeeze through opening, sometimes just by allowing the contractions to do their job, which helps to clear any fluid from their lungs.
One of the main focuses of a family-centred or gentle caesarean birth is bonding. Little things are done to increase that skin-to-skin contact and to protect the 'golden hour' (the first hour together). The small changes they make can be as simple as putting the oxygen saturation probe (the thing with a red light that makes you look like E.T) on your toe, instead of your finger! That way, when your baby is handed to you, there isn't an obstruction. In a lot of hospitals there is the option of having a clear screen where the usual one would be, or if not, they can lower the screen when the baby is being born. Even if all you need to make you feel relaxed is to have your own personal playlist on in the background instead of 'Sunday Love Songs' on Radio 2.
When a caesarean birth is the result of an emergency, these things might not always be possible. But the simple things might be, so it's worth knowing about them so that you can bring it up if it feels right for you.
If you have a c-section birth planned, or if you hope for a vaginal birth but would like to be prepared in case things change, you can ask about the hospital's options on gentle c-sections. You can also put your preferences in your 'birth intentions' or your 'birth wish list'!
Watch this space - I'll be writing a post soon about birth intentions and postnatal wish lists too!