A little boy Prince is born in the UK, and my thoughts go not to Saint Mary’s Hospital but Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in London, where something very special is being offered to mothers and fathers. The natural or family centered cesarean section.
In the following 12 minute video (if the link doesn’t work automatically, just copy and paste into your browser), you can see this, in growing demand from informed parents facing a c-section.
Our growing family story featured multiple c-sections, each one done by-the-book, pretty much. In contrast, this natural technique mimics aspects of natural delivery in some aspects, emphasizes parental involvement in the actual birth and features a focus on skin to skin contact immediately after the baby is born.
When I submitted my birth plan to The Birth Place Lakeland HealthCare Community Hospital, Niles and my Obstetrician, I was surprised that such a birth might be possible for our family right here in Southwest Michigan.
Happily, with Dr. Megan Murphy- a family centered approach became a reality for us. On June 3rd, a c-section had been scheduled. Contractions began in earnest around 5:45 am that morning, as if our little baby was in agreement with our team’s “plan”. I enjoyed the feeling of regular labor as I got dressed and ready for the drive down. Once prepped and in the operation theater, surgery began. I enjoyed the company of my doula, Kris Kelly and my husband. Kris’ role was that of a sisterly encourager for me, and gave my husband the ability to focus on all things baby. Hand squeezes and verbal support were offered throughout the beginning of the procedure.
The surgical staff and Drs. Johnson and Murphy also made themselves available to answer questions from me about their work and process. Finally, they were ready to bring our baby slowly out of the uterus, and as per the request on my Birthplan, they lowered the tent blocking my view of our baby. I saw the dear head being helped out first. It was the first time I had ever “seen” the birth of a child with my own eyes.
Then, once baby was walked out of the uterus, Dr. Murphy turned the baby around to show me the gender. We enjoyed seeing it was a boy, all together-at the same moment! Another first for my husband and I in this wonderful adventure of birth.
Baby John and I remained stable with no complications, so another request in the Birthplan for our child was honored, that was of a delay in the bathing and immediate contact and proximity with Mom was achieved. Although skin-to skin contact was not achieved, the pediatrician and nurses performed as much work as they were able while Baby John was stationed on my chest, supported and kept warm by Kris, our Doula.
Proximity allowed me to feel close to and speak to our Baby. It was precious to me to enjoy bonding through voice and touch. In all former experiences, I was denied my Baby until sometimes an hour after heorshe was born.
My chief goal for John’s first moments was that he could know his Mommy was near to him right away and for as long as possible.
The staff at The BirthPlace went beyond my expectations.
I used to think it was a little selfish to ask surgeons and medical staff, who have to balance the saving of lives and so many important considerations in the balance, to consider “special” experiences for a birth mom. I still respect that anything requested should need to be held loosely in the condition that unstable equals modification in regards to the birth plan.
I do, however hold the view that basic advocacy for the baby demands a second look at parental involvement in the first moments of their child’s birth. Mothers who are faced with a cesarean section also need to know they are “enough” for their baby in those first moments. Closeness, loving words, voice and touch solidify the knowledge that, “Yes, this is my baby…he needs me in a unique way.”
I am thankful for the staff at The BirthPlace, Lakeland HealthCare of Niles, for their ability to support this endeavor. It required of each staff member to relinquish routines which are sometimes ritualized in the obstetrics culture. They considered my doula, my husband and I not “just the patient” but participants in the operating room. They assumed a slightly higher risk for an unknown gain.
They will always have my heartfelt gratitude for their professional bravery.
I hope that bringing children into the world will become more family centered, more possible, less fearful. The courage of a staff to change and flex their roles in implementation of the Natural Cesarean Section may be key to this. Baby John and I have seen it firsthand.