No, a “gentle Cesarean section” is not a contradiction in terms.
C-sections—in which a baby is surgically removed from the mother’s womb—is a significant medical procedure that requires care and precision. But care teams at The Birthplace at University of Minnesota Medical Center have implemented new techniques to make the surgery more mom- and baby-friendly, said University of Minnesota Health Obstetrician/Gynecologist Samantha Hoffman, MD.
We spoke with Hoffman about the new approaches she and her colleagues are employing to make to make C-sections a more comfortable experience.
“We want it to be a birth experience, rather than a medical procedure,” Hoffman said.
What’s the difference between standard C-sections and the new, ‘gentle’ C-section?
There are several differences. Some are very simple. For instance, every surgery requires drapes that help keep the procedure sterile. But in a gentle C-section, we use clear drapes, so mom can see her baby right after he or she is born. Also, we delay the umbilical cord clamping for about 30-60 seconds which is similar to a vaginal delivery. This is thought to increase babies iron stores, blood volume and possibly help with brain development.
What other policies are you employing?
Whenever possible, we try to keep mothers and babies together. During the surgery, we try to have skin-to-skin contact, laying the baby on mom’s chest, with dad usually assisting. As long as mom and baby are both doing well, they’ll remain together in the operating room. I’ve had some very motivated moms even start breast feeding during the end of the surgery. It’s technically difficult, but with help it’s been done.
Aren’t new moms usually pretty groggy following such a significant surgery of this magnitude?
Yes, but we’re working with some innovative pain management techniques, including TAP blocks, to reduce the grogginess and other side effects of opiate anesthesia. Patients undergoing a C-section still need a spinal block, but the addition of TAP blocks, which block pain at the incision, may enable us to reduce, or in some cases eliminate, general morphine use for pain control.
How long has the University of Minnesota been working on these policies?
For quite some time now. We received national certification in 2011 as a ‘baby friendly’’ hospital, which focuses on promoting breastfeeding. Since then, we’ve placed a new emphasis on giving moms as much choice in the process as we can; for instance, letting them select the music that’s playing in the delivery room. One mom even requested the Bangles song ‘Eternal Flame.’
We continue to innovate. Our renovations to The Birthplace at University of Minnesota Medical Center are underway. The projects will add many mom- and family-friendly amenities to our maternity areas so they feel less like a traditional hospital room.