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Any woman who has had a traditional cesarean section, or C-section, can tell you that the mechanics of the surgical procedure can distract from the celebration of bringing new life into the world. Frequently mom and baby are separated in the moments after birth when a connection to each other is especially important, both for the health of the baby and for bonding.
Now, through a multidisciplinary effort in BWH's Center for Labor and Birth, moms-to-be have a new option called a family-centered cesarean, or "gentle-C," as it is also known. BWH has pioneered techniques that are becoming popular in hospitals across the country, such as the use of a clear drape so that mom can see the baby being delivered.
In an effort to include the mom in the delivery as much as possible, William Camann, MD, director of Obstetric Anesthesiology, realized that by using both clear and solid sterile drapes, obstetricians could switch the solid drape for the clear one just before delivery and allow mom to see her baby being born.
This was especially meaningful to Rebecca Cook, who recently had her fourth child, Wyatt, at BWH. It was her fourth cesarean section, although she notes that this one was different from her previous experiences.
"As a mom who had delivered by cesarean, I never thought I would have the experience of actually watching my child as he was born, but the clear drape and this family-centered approach provided me with that opportunity," Cook said. "I am forever grateful to the team at BWH for that."
Camann explained that the goal with the family-centered cesarean is to make the delivery as natural as possible.
"We allow mom a free arm and place the EKG leads on her back so that she is able to hold, interact and provide skin-to-skin contact with her baby in the moments following the birth," said Camann, who teamed up with BWH's Kathy Trainor, RN, to make this option available to patients and their families.
Trainor notes that research has shown these techniques-specifically, the skin-to-skin contact known as kangaroo care-improve outcomes for both the baby and the mother.
"Allowing mom and baby to bond as quickly as possible after the delivery makes for a better transition for the baby, including better temperature and heart rate regulation, increased attachment and parental bonding and more successful rates of breast feeding," she said.
Daniela Carusi, MD, the BWH obstetrician who delivered Wyatt, said she was happy to participate in this approach for Rebecca. "This is just another example of how BWH is leading the way in providing patient- and family-centered care."
"All of these things that I was able to do to personalize this delivery made the experience a much easier one both during and after, especially from an emotional standpoint," said Cook. "I'm proud to be a part of this movement at BWH and encourage all women to speak with their obstetricians and care teams to talk about what might improve their birth experience. You'd be surprised at what could be possible."
Former patient Rebecca Cook is enjoying time with her newborn son, Wyatt, who was born by family-centered cesarean at BWH.