Gentle C-section now available on the Main Line

Gentle C-section now available on the Main Line

Bryn Mawr Hospital
Bryn Mawr Hospital on the Main Line now offers gentle C-sections.

There’s great news for women in our region as there’s now an option for delivery with a “gentle C-section.” For women needing a cesarean section, the experience is sometimes traumatic. Instead of their anticipated tender first moments snuggling baby right after birth, they find themselves strapped to the table, unable to even see baby, who may be whisked right away for screenings without getting to even meet mom. Then, by the time baby returns, mom may have trouble holding baby due to medications or pain. While US C-section rates (approximately one third of births in the United States) are far beyond the 10-15% maximum recommended by the World Health Organization*, so while they are certainly not advocating an increase in C-sections, it is great to see some hospitals beginning to improve the C-section experience for mothers and babies who do need this option.

Bryn Mawr Hospital, part of Main Line Health, has recently become one of the few hospitals in the country now offering changes to the typical C-section procedure, collectively referred to as a gentle C-section or family-centered C-section.

So, what exactly IS a gentle C-section? A gentle C-section aims to improve the birth experience for mothers and babies having a C-section, making it feel less clinical and more like the moms envisioned birth to be. Clear plastic draping is used so mom can see baby right away and doesn’t feel isolated behind a curtain. Then baby is put right onto mom’s chest for important skin-to-skin time. In addition to its benefits for improving breastfeeding outcomes for moms choosing to breastfeed, that skin-to-skin time benefits moms with less breast engorgement, pain, and anxiety come day three and benefits babies with less crying and improved likelihood of heart rate, respiration, and temperature remaining stable. Moms and babies both do best starting out skin-to-skin whenever possible. In addition, gentle C-sections may require many small changes to the typical operating room setup to accommodate this skin-to-skin time, for example, bringing in an additional nurse to care for baby, to moving the location of monitors, not strapping mothers down, and even considering IV placement for mom to make it easier for her to hold baby.

How do moms feel about the gentle C-section? As Bridget Kavitski, the first woman to deliver a baby at Bryn Mawr with these new procedures, put it, “It changed it from having a surgery resulting in a baby to having a birth that took place on an operating table.” Read more of Bridget’s story from CBS Philly.

And how else can a mom improve outcomes for herself and baby after that C-section? By hiring a postpartum doula to get through that period of healing and adjustment, naturally! 🙂

*Because “caesarean section rates higher than 10% are not associated with reductions in maternal and newborn mortality rates.” 

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