The Gentle Cesarean

The process of a cesarean delivery, a surgical procedure, can distract from the celebration of welcoming your new baby. Often mom and baby are separated in the moments after birth when a connection to each other is especially important.

Now, obstetricians, anesthesiologists and nurses at the Center for Labor and Birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed new procedures to make cesarean deliveries more family-centered. The goal of the family-centered cesarean, or “gentle cesarean,” is to make the delivery as natural as possible.

For example, by using both solid and clear drapes, obstetricians could switch the solid drape for the clear one just before delivery and allow a mother to see her baby being born. Advances in regional anesthesia allow the mother to be awake and alert during a cesarean delivery.

With the gentle cesarean concept, one of the mother’s arms is kept free and EKG leads are placed on her back so that she is able to hold, interact with and provide skin-to-skin contact with her newborn in the moments following the birth. Research has shown that techniques such as skin-to-skin contact have important benefits for a mother and her baby.

Research also has shown that allowing a mother 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 breastfeeding.