About one in three babies is delivered via C-section in the U.S. It’s the most common surgery in the nation.
While much has been written about the need to reduce or eliminate unnecessary cesarean sections, many are unavoidable – but can also leave a mother feeling that she missed a crucial part of the experience.
Moms who deliver through C-section can struggle with feelings of disappointment or even guilt. But obstetricians have devised new ways to allow for maternal bonding during the procedure.
“Birth comes in two forms and both lead to motherhood,” says Dr. Alissa Erogbogbo.
Erogbogbo, OBHG medical director of operations for northern and central California, says advances in the understanding of the capabilities during a C-section have developed into what’s now known as the ‘family-centered cesarean’, which allows for more active involvement of the mother in the birth of her baby.
“A family-centered C-section can entail any of the following: skin-to-skin contact, the continual presence of a support person, breastfeeding in the OR, dimmed lights, calming music, unstrapped arms, and lowered sheets,” she says.
A mother can opt to stay alert and watch the birth process happening, and have the infant placed on her chest to help stimulate breastfeeding. If her hands are not strapped down (and the IV inserted in her non-dominant hand), she will able to immediately hold her newborn and keep her baby close.
Initial research has shown that the new method is as safe as the traditional procedure, and also results in better breastfeeding and bonding outcomes and significantly increased satisfaction for the mother and family members.
While this gentler, more personalized cesarean method is less common in this country than the UK where it began, Erogbogbo is not surprised it is catching on in the U.S.
“It changes the birth experience,” she says. “It allows the mother to embrace her delivery.”
April is Cesarean Awareness Month, which helps remind caregivers and patients of the need to know and understand the facts about C-sections.