The words natural and Caesarean don’t, at first glance, seem like they should fit together. Although the terms “natural Caesarean” or “gentle Caesarean” sound like a contradiction of terms, some hospitals are starting to implement a more natural approach to Caesarean birth.
This approach includes the baby being lifted out more slowly, over several minutes, mimicking the process of vaginal birth where the baby is squeezed on their journey through the birth canal, clearing out fluid from the lungs and stimulating their nervous system. Natural Caesareans are also more family-centred, placing the parents at the centre of the experience and facilitating early bonding and skin-to-skin.
If you are planning a Caesarean birth you might like to consider asking your caregiver for a natural Caesarean. You can also ask for the following things, which help make the experience gentler for you and for your baby:
Some hospitals also have facilities for music of your choice to play during the birth, or for certain lights to be dimmed, although this is not always the case. It might be worth considering asking everyone in theatre to be quiet during the birth so that the first voices your baby hears are yours or your partners.
You might also like to spend some time prior to your baby’s birth with a cellular or other cotton blanket close to your skin. This blanket can be taken to hospital and used to cover your baby as soon as they are placed on your chest, which in turn helps to cover baby in your “friendly” bacteria (a process which happens automatically during vaginal birth). We know that this early colonisation of the gut by friendly bacteria has positive implications for lifelong health. Some women even go as far as swabbing their newborn baby with their vaginal fluids after the Caesarean to ensure their baby’s tummy gets colonised by microbiomes. This should protect the baby from developing future diseases such as obesity, diabetes and asthma, which statistically, babies born by Caesareans are at an increased risk of developing.
It is worth seeking a meeting with your consultant well in advance of the birth to discuss your preferences so that they can find out more about a natural Caesarean. Arranging to see a Supervisor of Midwives could be helpful if you are meeting resistance when discussing your birth preferences. Sadly, not all consultants and not all hospitals will be keen to facilitate a gentle Caesarean, so you may have some persuading ahead of you.
It is much easier to plan a natural, or gentle, Caesarean in advance, rather than asking for the above during an unplanned, or emergency, Caesarean, as many obstetricians are not yet trained in this relatively new procedure. I am hopeful however, that in the future, most Caesarean births will be “natural” ones, as there are so many benefits to having what is as close to a physiological birth as possible.
If you’d like to find out more about natural and gentle Caesareans, you might enjoy the following videos:
The natural caesarean
Gentle caesarean birth
How to have a gentle caesarean
Kicki Hansard is a member of Doula UK, however any opinions expressed on this blog are personal views and not necessarily the view of Doula UK.