Cesarean birth

A cesarean birth is where a baby is born surgically through the abdominal wall instead of through the vagina. There are many reasons why people are faced with a cesarean birth.

There are still many things you can choose to do to preserve the physiology and bonding of a vaginal birth. This new cesarean philosophy is called a “Family-Centered Cesarean” and is being practiced in more and more hospitals every day.

 

Click on the icons below to learn more about your options for cesarean birth

For those birthing in a hospital, birth can seem more like a medical event and less like a, well,  birth.  Here we'll discuss a little tip you can use to turn your birth into a celebration of a new life entering this world, especially within the context of a cesarean birth.

For those birthing in a hospital, birth can seem more like a medical event and less like a, well, birth. Here we'll discuss a little tip you can use to turn your birth into a celebration of a new life entering this world, especially within the context of a cesarean birth.

In some cases where you know you need a cesarean birth for medical reasons you can still wait for your body to go into labor naturally before heading into the operating room. This helps to make sure your baby (or babies) are ready for life outside. While not a good option for every situation, this can be done in situations like  breech birth  if you can't find a care provider who will catch your baby breech or if you feel unsafe having a vaginal breech birth.

In some cases where you know you need a cesarean birth for medical reasons you can still wait for your body to go into labor naturally before heading into the operating room. This helps to make sure your baby (or babies) are ready for life outside. While not a good option for every situation, this can be done in situations like breech birth if you can't find a care provider who will catch your baby breech or if you feel unsafe having a vaginal breech birth.

Usually cesarean births are performed with a spinal block, a type of anesthesia that numbs you from the breast downward while you remain awake. This is usually the ideal, so you can still be a part of your baby's birth and can touch, kiss, and caress your baby after they are born. However, in a true emergency or if the spinal doesn't work, general anesthesia may be used. General anesthesia is when you are "put under" and are unconcsious for the birth and repair.

Usually cesarean births are performed with a spinal block, a type of anesthesia that numbs you from the breast downward while you remain awake. This is usually the ideal, so you can still be a part of your baby's birth and can touch, kiss, and caress your baby after they are born. However, in a true emergency or if the spinal doesn't work, general anesthesia may be used. General anesthesia is when you are "put under" and are unconcsious for the birth and repair.

 
Usually in non-emergent cesarean births your partner will be allowed into the operating room with you. Having another support person such as a friend, family member, or  doula  can be very helpful for both you and your partner.  Some people think that doulas are only helpful during unmedicated vaginal births, but they can definitely be helpful during a cesarean birth as well . This all needs to be pre-approved by hospital staff, usually the anesthesiologist makes the final call.

Usually in non-emergent cesarean births your partner will be allowed into the operating room with you. Having another support person such as a friend, family member, or doula can be very helpful for both you and your partner. Some people think that doulas are only helpful during unmedicated vaginal births, but they can definitely be helpful during a cesarean birth as well. This all needs to be pre-approved by hospital staff, usually the anesthesiologist makes the final call.

Typically during surgery EKG monitors (also known as "leads") are placed on your chest to measure your heart's electrical activity. If you are doing skin to skin in the operating room, these leads could interfere with that. Consider placing EKG leads on your back or side instead of on your chest, they often work just as well. This allows for unobstructed skin-to-skin with your baby.

Typically during surgery EKG monitors (also known as "leads") are placed on your chest to measure your heart's electrical activity. If you are doing skin to skin in the operating room, these leads could interfere with that. Consider placing EKG leads on your back or side instead of on your chest, they often work just as well. This allows for unobstructed skin-to-skin with your baby.

A "vaginal prep" means cleaning the vaginal canal with antiseptic can help prevent an infection prior to a cesarean birth. Some medical facilities only do a vaginal prep if the amniotic sac is ruptured before birth and some prep all non-emergent cases. Your care provider may inform you they are doing it or they may not. It's important to know you can consent to or refuse this procedure.

A "vaginal prep" means cleaning the vaginal canal with antiseptic can help prevent an infection prior to a cesarean birth. Some medical facilities only do a vaginal prep if the amniotic sac is ruptured before birth and some prep all non-emergent cases. Your care provider may inform you they are doing it or they may not. It's important to know you can consent to or refuse this procedure.

 
Traditionally your arms were tied down during a cesarean birth to prevent you from reaching into the sterile field (area of the surgery that must be germ-free to prevent infection), but as long as you are mindful not to cross the drape, your arms can be kept free to touch, caress, and hold your baby after birth.

Traditionally your arms were tied down during a cesarean birth to prevent you from reaching into the sterile field (area of the surgery that must be germ-free to prevent infection), but as long as you are mindful not to cross the drape, your arms can be kept free to touch, caress, and hold your baby after birth.

Often people who birth by cesarean feel disconnected from their birth. There’s "rummaging and tugging" behind the drape and then all of a sudden a baby is born! By dropping the drape, you can see the moment your baby is born. You can’t see the incision (it's behind your belly), but you can witness your baby’s first moments and feel more connected to your birth process.  Clear drapes are also available, but you may need to request your doctor or hospital orders them ahead of time if it's important to you.

Often people who birth by cesarean feel disconnected from their birth. There’s "rummaging and tugging" behind the drape and then all of a sudden a baby is born! By dropping the drape, you can see the moment your baby is born. You can’t see the incision (it's behind your belly), but you can witness your baby’s first moments and feel more connected to your birth process.

Clear drapes are also available, but you may need to request your doctor or hospital orders them ahead of time if it's important to you.

This is a term coined by UK obstetricians who practice family centered cesareans.  Instead of pulling baby out rapidly, they “walk him out” to mimic the squeeze babies receive through the birth canal during a vaginal birth.

This is a term coined by UK obstetricians who practice family centered cesareans. Instead of pulling baby out rapidly, they “walk him out” to mimic the squeeze babies receive through the birth canal during a vaginal birth.

 
One third of your baby's blood exists within the placenta at any given time. At the moment of birth, that blood floods back into the baby, protecting their internal organs and helping inflate their lungs. Your baby will get 80% of their cord blood within the first 30 seconds after birth, and close to 100% of their cord blood at around 5 minutes.

One third of your baby's blood exists within the placenta at any given time. At the moment of birth, that blood floods back into the baby, protecting their internal organs and helping inflate their lungs. Your baby will get 80% of their cord blood within the first 30 seconds after birth, and close to 100% of their cord blood at around 5 minutes.

After birth and beyond, your newborn baby’s habitat is skin to skin, ideally with you, but with your partner or relative as well. Babies are born with immature nervous systems. Having a baby snuggled up against your body helps them regulate their breathing, temperature, and heart rate. Skin to skin also promotes bonding and helps your breastmilk come in.

After birth and beyond, your newborn baby’s habitat is skin to skin, ideally with you, but with your partner or relative as well. Babies are born with immature nervous systems. Having a baby snuggled up against your body helps them regulate their breathing, temperature, and heart rate. Skin to skin also promotes bonding and helps your breastmilk come in.

Keeping your baby with you in the operating room is so important to bonding with your baby, building milk supply, and how you feel about your birth and becoming a new parent. If you both are healthy, do your best to keep your whole family together!

Keeping your baby with you in the operating room is so important to bonding with your baby, building milk supply, and how you feel about your birth and becoming a new parent. If you both are healthy, do your best to keep your whole family together!

 
 
After birth is the  “magical hour”  where baby is quiet and alert. After this period of wakefulness your baby (and hopefully you!) drift off into a long, restoring sleep. It’s tough work being born! The best time to bond and initiate breastfeeding is within the first few hours after birth. This is easiest when done with limited interruptions from others.

After birth is the “magical hour” where baby is quiet and alert. After this period of wakefulness your baby (and hopefully you!) drift off into a long, restoring sleep. It’s tough work being born! The best time to bond and initiate breastfeeding is within the first few hours after birth. This is easiest when done with limited interruptions from others.

During normal, physiologic birth, babies are exposed to a complex, diverse, and beneficial collection of flora (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc) present in the vagina. This helps colonize their  microbiome  which has lasting impact on their health for the rest of their lives.

During normal, physiologic birth, babies are exposed to a complex, diverse, and beneficial collection of flora (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc) present in the vagina. This helps colonize their microbiome which has lasting impact on their health for the rest of their lives.