What's Gentle About Major Surgery?
As a veteran of three C-section deliveries, I was taken aback at the headline for one of the articles in our July issue. Gentle C-sections 101? What did that mean? More pain meds? Surgeons with warmer hands? Until I read the article, I pictured a cartoon-type scenario in which the mom undergoing the surgery, the surgeons and the nurses were all smiling and then broke out into song as the baby emerged picture perfect — singing harmony.
The article painted a much more realistic picture of parents in a surgical suite that was as warmly decorated as optimal health practices could allow. They were able to choose to watch the birth of their child. When the baby was born, rather than being whisked away by a neonatal team, the parents got to hold and feed their baby.
After reading about this new trend, a sense of contentment washed over me. C-section deliveries have a tendency to erase the picture the expectant mom created in her mind of a textbook, uncomplicated delivery. After nine months of meeting with doctors, reading books, attending classes, surfing mommy Internet sites and watching videos, expectant moms have a pretty good idea of what to expect. But all that changes when a C-section is recommended.
Eighteen hours into labor, my fantasies were certainly ripped away when the doctor told me both my baby's health and mine could be at risk if they did not go ahead and do a C-section. When he was born, I was the last to see him. All the relatives got glimpses of him in the nursery well before he was brought to me. I had to wait six hours before I could see and hold him.
Some might worry that "family-centered" or "gentle" C-sections could increase the number of elective surgeries over vaginal deliveries. And while that is always a possibility, for the more than 1 million women each year in the US whose fantasies of a textbook labor and delivery are ripped away by the immediate need of C-section and their infants, this trend is a heartening development.