Friday, May 31, 2013

New birth trend? Gentle C-sections

For baby number two, 31-year-old Lindsey Canon is hoping for a much different birth experience.

During labor with her son Tommy two years ago, his heart rate decreased dangerously and caregivers quickly rushed her to the operating room for an emergency C-section. Since she hadn’t had an epidural yet, she was under general anesthesia and didn’t remember any of it.

“I didn’t see him until six hours later,” she said. “It’s hard when you don’t get to see your baby right when he’s born.”

She also had a hard time breastfeeding, and gave up after four weeks.

This time around, though, she’ll undergo a C-section now done a little bit differently at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. The method, called gentle C-section, involves giving Mom and baby immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth and, if mom wishes, lowering the drape so she can watch the delivery. Gentle C-sections are done for Moms and babies without complications -- so Lindsey would not have been a candidate for it when she gave birth to Tommy.

 “We’re trying to involve the parents more during C-sections and slow things down so they can feel more connected to what’s happening,” said Gina Smith, nurse manager of labor and deliver at Texas Health Fort Worth. “We make the environment quiet or allow the parents to have music. It’s still their birth experience even though it’s in the operating room.”

Clinicians clean off the baby and check vitals while he or she is resting on Mom’s chest instead of lying in a warmer across the room. The skin-to-skin contact after birth helps calm and relax both mom and baby, and has been clinically proven to help regulate baby’s heart rate, breathing, blood sugar and temperature.

“It’s called ‘gentle’ C-section because that’s exactly how the baby perceives it,” said Dr. Laura Bradford, OB/GYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth. “There is something about that relationship between mom and baby – it can be recorded in outcomes that babies do better when they spend time with mom from the beginning. It improves their well-being.”

For Lindsey, the most exciting part of undergoing a gentle C-section will be feeling more present and involved in her second child’s birth.

“I’m also hoping to breastfeed successfully, and skin-to-skin will help with that,” she said.

Lindsey and her family will meet their new addition next week, and they couldn't be more excited.

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