A Kinder, Gentler C-Section?

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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
Mar 2017
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Photo: Getty

A c-section probably isn’t the empowering, magical birthing experience you had in mind; there’s a lot more sterility and a lot less bonding. But family-centered cesareans are gaining popularity, and making the whole procedure a little bit gentler.

Also referred to as a  natural cesarean, the technique has a two-fold aim: to help mom feel more engaged in the delivery and to promote skin-to-skin contact immediately after.

While doctors typically curtain off the operating field to block mom’s view, a natural c-section uses a clear or lowered drape so she can watch. EKG monitors are moved from her chest to her side, her hands aren’t strapped down, and the IV goes in her non-dominant hand so she can hold the baby.

This was mom Kristen Caminiti’s experience during her third c-section. And it’s all because the Maryland native stumbled upon a Facebook post about family-centered cesareans catching on in England.

"I clicked on the link and thought, ‘I want that,’ " she tells  NPR. So she asked her OB, Marcus Penn, MD, if he’d give it a try.

“I didn’t see anything that would be terribly out of the norm,” he says. “It would be different from the way we usually do it, but nothing terrible that anyone would say we shouldn’t try that.”

A few adjustments were all it took to make it happen, like bringing an extra nurse and a neonatal team into the operating room, but this doesn’t affect the cost. Wondering why it hasn’t yet caught on nationwide? It’s a new idea in the US, and there are no clinical studies about things like infection control. But for Caminiti, the innovation was life-changing.

“It was the most amazing and grace-filled experience to finally have that moment of having my baby be placed on my chest,” she says. “He was screaming and then I remember that when I started to talk to him he stopped. It was awesome.”

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