C-sections have come a long way over the last year. For both moms who schedule them and moms who unexpectedly need them, c-sections are starting to have similar processes to traditional vaginal births. And the credit is largely owed to doctors and nurses willing to go out of their comfort zones for the best interests of both the parents and newborns.
"Within the culture of medicine, we get so used to doing things a certain way," Dr. Gearhart of Penn Ob/Gyn Midwifery tells HuffPost. "And when things are much more technical, like in the operating room, we tend to focus more on those technical aspects than the humanistic aspects."
At Gearhart’s practice, patients are able to request techniques like delayed cord clamping or soothing environmental changes like dim lights or calming music. Later this month, they plan to introduce a pilot program at Pennsylvania Hospital for immediate skin-to-skin contact for low-risk mothers.
Although these may not sound like big changes in a birth plan, immediate skin-to-skin contact involves an extra nurse and often additional team members to make sure both the baby and equipment remain safe and sterile. (Nurses in Virginia have invented a Skin to C-Section Drape to make this part of the process even easier.)
“One of the things that makes a huge difference [to women] in how they experience a Cesarean birth, both in the short-term and long-term, is how they’re taken care of during the labor process,” says Pam Kane, a certified nurse-midwife at Penn Ob/Gyn and Midwifery.
This type of more personalized care is part of a procedure commonly referred to as a natural cesarean, a type of birth method that’s a fairly new idea in the US, though already popular overseas. Many moms find that the adjustments and requests to accommodate more immediate contact with baby make for a more positive birthing and bonding experience.
“This really changes things for patients, so there are just a few minutes when they’re not able to hold their babies," says Ruth DiLeo, nurse manager of labor and delivery at Pennsylvania Hospital, who has helped develop the pilot program. "It really, for the patients, allows them to be much more a part of their birth than in the past.”