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Another Family-Centered Cesarean Birth

This post contains pictures of cesarean birth. 

I am more and more impressed with Greer Memorial’s cesarean practices.  If I had to plan a cesarean, that’s the place I’d give birth.

There are four OBs who attend cesarean births at Greer so the policy and practice is fairly cohesive.  None of the “well, if you get dr. so and so, then expect x, y, z.”

I was honored to attend a repeat client’s planned cesarean.  I use the term “planned” loosely since her darling boy decided to come early.  Just to keep us on our toes!  Come to think of it…her last “planned cesarean” also had me rushing to the hospital.  Her babies don’t like to be told what to do, I suppose.

Here is her birth in pictures.  I only took 150 snapshots so it was easy to narrow it down to a few.  Hehe.

Top reason I prefer Greer?  Doulas can enter the sacred operating room.  And I dig the nurse’s scrubs instead of the paper ones.  In this picture, I’m waiting with dad.  The mom goes back first and there is about a 30 minute wait while she receives her spinal anesthesia and her stats are monitored.  Dad was nervous even though it wasn’t his first rodeo so we talked about our kids while we waited.

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Now we’re in the operating room.  Notice mom’s arms are not strapped down.

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Dr. Danielle Harris is the OB.  She is lovely; relaxed and accessible.   I remember my first birth with her four years ago.  I suggested something wildly uncommon and she responded with a “hey, let’s try it!”

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The sweet baby grabs an arm and says, “Wait!  I want delayed cord clamping!”  No, actually, Dr. Harris delays cord clamping because it’s not a big deal to delay cord clamping.

(which is interesting because I’ve heard all sorts of reasons from other OBs as to why they can’t delay cord clamping during a cesarean)

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So, who’s this guy?  He’s the pediatrician on call.  Typically, the pediatrician or neonatologist examines the baby in the warmer immediately after birth.  When he walks in, Dr. Harris tells him, “Mom would like immediate skin-to-skin with her baby.”  And he says, “Fine by me.”

(again, I’ve heard all sorts of interesting reasons why this can’t happen:  a nurse will have to rotate out in order to hand baby to mom or it’s too darn cold in the operating room).

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Now you’ll see how fantastic it is that mom’s arms are free.

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Beautiful.  Mom will never forget this moment.  And perhaps, just as important, significant aspects of bonding, breastfeeding, heartrate and thermal regulations are happening in this moment.

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A little while later, that laid back pediatrician asks if he can just take a quick listen to baby’s heartbeat.  He does so without disturbing mom or baby and then steps back once more.

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Twenty minutes after the birth, as they prepare to transfer mom to her room, Dad gets in on the skin-to-skin.

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Focus on the calm, alert baby.  Do not focus on the bloody gauze behind him.

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Then mom is transferred to her hospital bed via a clever inflatable people-mover blown up with a shop vac.  Fascinating stuff, hospital ingenuity.  Side-note, many nurses wrap hep-locks in Glad press ‘n seal wrap so they won’t get it wet in the shower.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  

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The hospital bed returns to mom’s original room where she will stay until she goes home.  There are no recovery or postpartum rooms at Greer.  There is no nursery either.

Mom gets down to the first order of business.

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I don’t attend many cesarean births.  I’m honored when I am invited to a planned cesarean as part of the team.  Many thanks to this sweet family for sharing their positive birth experience with the community.

Another family-centered cesarean birth is featured here.

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April is Cesarean Awareness Month

Many bloggers have written incredible posts about the shocking cesarean rate, VBAC support, and resources for healing.

I’m not going to try to repeat what they have already so eloquently written.

I want to talk about the idea of family-centered cesarean birth.

I don’t attend many cesareans.  The ones I’ve attended lately are so vastly different from the ones 5 or 6 years ago.  Those involved babies sent to nurseries while mom was in recovery–sometimes alone.  Waiting family members snapped pictures of this new life while mom caught only a quick glimpse in the operating room.

Now, I witness something astoundingly different.  It is much more common to witness births in the operating room involving skin-to-skin contact, sometimes delayed cord clamping, moms with arms unstrapped, and recovery together as a family.  Baby is often held skin-to-skin with dad when not on mom’s chest.  Doulas are more frequently allowed to accompany the family for the cesarean.

Recently, one of my couples experienced a cesarean birth.  After pushing for hours in every position imaginable, their posterior baby (with a 15 inch head, mind you!) was born by cesarean.  Their medical team gave us all the time we needed to try every trick I knew.  The couple was disappointed but they remained empowered throughout their birth experience.

They won’t be showing up for the 18 month cry.

I want to share a few of the pictures from their cesarean birth.  The obstetrician called in to perform the cesarean was Dr. Danielle Harris.  She immediately agreed to their wishes for delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin.  The family physician who had supported them through the birth was Dr. Keith Stafford.  You know him on this blog as Dr. Polo Shirt.

Dr. Harris hands baby to Dr. Stafford who places him directly onto mom’s chest.  He doesn’t dry the baby first or take a detour to the warmer first.

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Dad steps in to help mom hold their son.  Mom’s arm is free to touch her baby.

Here’s hoping that more babies who must be born by cesarean will experience a gentle welcome like this one.

Huge thanks to my clients for permitting me to share a little of their birth experience.