The Family-Centered C-section: More like a birth than an operation

When a woman is in the early stages of pregnancy, she begins planning for the arrival of her child. She often has a clear vision of what welcoming her baby should look like; and that plan is generally built around the desire to have a vaginal/natural birth. However, if pregnancy complications arise, or labor progresses too slowly, a cesarean section (C-section) may become a necessary part of birth.

The C-section is the most common surgery in America – about one in three babies is delivered using this method. Whether it is because a mother has a history of C-section birth(s), there is an emergency, or other factors make vaginal delivery difficult, a C-section may replace a natural birth.

For moms who have a planned, non-emergent C-section, Mile Bluff is now offering a new birth option - a family-centered C-section. In a family-centered C-section, the traditional surgical method slows down, and comfort measures are added to put more of a focus on the family as they welcome their newest member.

Since it is a surgical procedure, a family-centered C-section follows the rules and safety protocols of the operating room. However, this new approach does allow women with low-risk pregnancies to have some additional control over their deliveries. Some of the choices offered include lowered lights, personalized music, aromatherapy, and a slower surgical pace.

One major difference is in the surgical draping that is placed between mother and baby. Instead of one solid blue drape, a two-layered drape is utilized. During the initial stages of the procedure, the blue drape is used. When it’s time for delivery, that drape is lowered, and a clear portion remains so that mom can see her baby coming out of the womb. Then, within a few minutes after birth, baby is placed on mom’s chest to begin skin-to-skin contact.

Instead of feeling disconnected from her birth experience, and waiting to see her baby in pictures taken by her support person, a mother is given the option to see her baby being born, and to bond with her newborn almost immediately. These adjustments help to transform the C-section from feeling like a major surgery, to feeling more like a natural birth experience.

Kaitlyn and Kyle Huber of Elroy welcomed their daughter, Hattie, using the family-centered C-section. Kaitlyn has been a patient of Mile Bluff for years, and received care from Dr. Kimberley Sabey during her previous pregnancies. Kaitlyn welcomed her two sons via natural delivery, but with Hattie, circumstances were a little different. “Doctor Sabey recommended that I have a C-section if I decided to become pregnant again,” remembered Kaitlyn. “When I was pregnant with Hattie, I always knew that I would be having a C-section, and I was given the opportunity to have a family-centered C-section. [This option] made me very much involved in her birth, just as I would have been delivering her the natural way.”

As she reflected on her family-centered C-section, Kaitlyn was happy with her experience. “It did not really feel like I was having surgery,” said Kaitlyn. “It meant a lot that we were still able to be as much in control of her birth as possible and to have things go our way. We appreciated having music playing in the delivery room, and I did use some aromatherapy for calming because I got a little bit nervous.”

“Kyle was able to be with me every step of the way,” continued Kaitlyn. “He sat by my head the whole time until Hattie was being born. Because there was a clear drape, we could see her being born. That was really cool that we both were still able to be a huge part of Hattie’s delivery, even though we were having a C-section.”

While the birth plans of most expecting mothers will not have to include a C-section, some will. Regardless of how a woman welcomes her baby at Mile Bluff, the pregnancy care team does everything it can to make each birth as beautiful and personalized as possible. If you know that your upcoming birthing experience will include a C-section, talk to your pregnancy care provider to see if family-centered C-section at Mile Bluff is right for you.

Learn more about Mile Bluff's birth center,family-centered c-sections, and pregnancy care providers.