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Things to consider for a ‘gentle’ caesarean section

A 'gentle' caesarean section section promotes skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which is in turn linked with improved breastfeeding rates
Baby being delivered in gentle caesarean birth
© Trinity College Dublin

A ‘gentle’ caesarean section section promotes skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which is in turn linked with improved breastfeeding rates. Skin-to-skin contact also promotes bonding and helps keep your baby calm and warm.

A gentle (or natural) caesarean section is the same operation as performing a caesarean section, but it involves additional wishes that you may request. This gives you choices and control during the birth of your baby. It requires consideration from you and your obstetrician. Talk with your midwife and obstetrician if you are considering this choice.

Things to consider

Some women know during their pregnancy that they will be birthing their baby by caesarean section. If this is the case, you can still plan your caesarean birth and have birthing preferences.

Think about the following:

  • Your choice of birth partner.
  • Who will be in the room.
  • Lighting (no bright lights over your chest and head area).
  • Music (pick a playlist).
  • Asking the operating team members not to talk at the birth, unless essential.
  • You and your birth partner choosing a sentence to be said when your baby is born.
  • Whether or not you and your birth partner want to see the baby being born.
  • The possibility of having your baby ‘self-deliver’ once she/he is close to being born. By ‘walking your baby out’, they clear their lungs themselves and ease their shoulders out.
  • Whether you want to see the sex of your child rather than being told by the obstetrician or anyone else in the operating theatre.
  • Skin-to-skin contact (your baby is placed onto your chest straight after being born or, if that is not possible for some reason, your birth partner’s chest).
  • Drips to be placed in one arm so as it won’t interfere with you holding your baby. If you are right-handed, ask to only have a drip in your left arm.
  • Heart monitors to be placed on your back (as your baby will be skin-to-skin).
  • Delayed cord clamping, which increases your baby’s iron level.

Things you can’t control

While deciding on the changes and ideas to improve on your birthing experience, you must also be mindful that:

  • Some or all of them may not be possible during an unplanned or emergency caesarean section.
  • They depend on your health and your baby’s health.
  • The plan may change.
  • The operating area needs to be sterile to reduce the risk of infection for your wound (surgery will start with a drape or screen up so you will not be able to place your hands in over sterile drapes/sheets).
  • Bright lighting will be needed in the area of the surgery.
  • There will be an assessment to determine the safety of you and your baby.

Feeling more involved

The focus of a gentle caesarean section is to promote as natural an environment as possible during surgery. It may be a good idea for you and your birthing partner to see the operating theatre before your surgery date (even in a photo). You can also try to meet your midwife and obstetrician before your surgery. This will help to create a sense of familiarity between you, your birthing partner and your birthing team.

Research shows that women feel more involved in gentle caesarean sections when compared to standard caesarean sections. However, a future normal vaginal birth is preferable.

© Trinity College Dublin
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