(StatePoint) Those precious moments in the delivery room after childbirth can be a profound and lasting experience for any mom: seeing your baby take his or her first breath, then holding your newborn for the first time.
More than being a memorable experience, the immediate bonding after birth has health benefits for your child. According to the International Breastfeeding Centre, babies that experience skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after birth are happier and have more stable temperatures, heart rates and breathing rates. This close contact also helps promote successful breastfeeding in babies.
This bonding time is typically afforded only to moms who have a vaginal childbirth, not to those who give birth by cesarean section. Yet nearly one in three U.S. women today gives birth via C-section, according to the CDC. That’s more than one million moms annually denied crucial moments with their newborns post-delivery.
What’s more, women who have delivered by C-section have described it as feeling less like childbirth and more like a medical procedure. Walled off by an opaque barrier, the baby is delivered out of view and then whisked away without any mother-child time. The mother is largely removed from the entire process, and can be left without a sense of closure following months of pregnancy and an exhausting delivery process.
Fortunately, many hospitals now offer a solution with the family-centered birth experience. Also known as a “gentle cesarean,” this alternative allows mom and baby to retain the special bonding time of a natural childbirth but in a C-section operation. That includes seeing and even holding the baby immediately after delivery.
If you’re an expectant mother planning to have a C-section and want a family-centered birth experience, here are some important considerations to be thinking about:
• Choose the right hospital. Not every hospital offers a family-centered delivery experience. Do research ahead of time to find a hospital that offers the service and can meet your needs.
• Watch the birth. Talk to your OB/GYN about your ability to see your baby’s delivery. New options such as the Family Viewing C-Section Drape from Ecolab allow a mother to witness her baby’s first breath, just like she would in a natural birth. The drape’s see-through window allows the mother and family members to see only the child’s birth, not the C-section procedure, while still maintaining an essential surgical barrier.
• Cuddle time. Another discussion to have with your doctor is whether you want to hold your newborn immediately after the operation. It can require additional staff and rearranging of equipment in the delivery room, as well as altered placement of the EKG leads on your body, but initial skin-to-skin contact offers health benefits for your child and a more emotionally satisfying delivery experience for you.
Opting for a family-centered birth experience will require some additional upfront planning during pregnancy, but the bond created between mother and child will be a lifelong memory for the family.