Rebecca Cook with her newborn son, Wyatt, who was born by gentle cesarean at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
New procedures developed by anesthesiologists, obstetricians and nurses working together at the Center for Labor and Birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital made Rebecca Cook’s cesarean experience particularly meaningful.
“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,” says Cook, who had her fourth child, Wyatt, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This family-centered approach provided me with that opportunity.”
The goal of the family-centered cesarean, or “gentle cesarean,” is to make the delivery as natural as possible. Procedures such as switching solid drapes to clear ones just before delivery and monitoring anesthesia in a way that allows a woman to have skin-to-skin contact with her baby in the moments after birth have important benefits.
Ceceliaann Green had been firmly set against having an epidural in labor, thinking it might make it difficult for her to deliver naturally. But when a bad hip made her labor even more painful, the anesthesiology team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital was there to help.
“They came in several times and explained my options,” she recalls. “They talked to me before labor became very painful, so I wasn’t making any decisions under distress.”
She decided to have an epidural and says it was the right decision. She felt sensations but no pain when she delivered her son, Kylahn, and was able to enjoy holding his small body to hers moments after his birth.
“It was definitely wonderful,” she says. “I was so against an epidural because I thought it wouldn’t work or I wouldn’t be able to push the baby out. I’m very thankful I went there (to Brigham’s Center for Labor and Birth) and had those doctors.”
When Karen Machado had her first baby, she waited as long as possible before having an epidural, thinking it would prolong her labor. But she delivered her son, David, less than an hour after it was administered. So when she went into labor three years later with her daughter, Daniella, she decided to have an epidural sooner.
“It was 100 percent pain free,” she says of her labor. “The only thing I felt was the pain of the contractions going away. I still had feeling in my legs. Within the next half hour, I felt pressure and the nurse said the baby’s coming. Three pushes later the baby was born.”
Because she was so comfortable, she felt she could connect with Daniella right away. “Having a baby is the most amazing and special thing I could hope for, and being pain free gave me the opportunity to really enjoy the experience,” she says. “It was absolutely fantastic.”