Gentle Cesarean Birth at St. John’s Hospital
The practice of ‘Gentle’ cesarean sections was started in the United Kingdom in 2005 by obstetrician Dr. Nick Fisk. He observed parents who delivered their babies via vaginal birth had the opportunity for skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth but little effort was being made for parents who were planning a cesarean section. Being placed skin-to-skin with their mother benefits newborn babies by keeping their temperature, breathing and blood sugar stable immediately after delivery. Dr. Fisk believed babies that arrived by cesarean section would also benefit by being snuggled on their mother’s chest.
In the past St. John’s did not place mothers and babies together until after the cesarean section was completed and the patient was ready to leave the operating suite. The practice changed in November 2013 when St. John’s started placing stable infants born via scheduled cesarean section in direct-skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
Dr. Robert Abrams, Director of Obstetrics for the South Central Illinois Perinatal Center and Chairman of OB/GYN at St. John’s Hospital has noted the interest for a ‘gentle cesarean’ has markedly increased across Central Illinois. “I have heard from many patients that their friends in larger cities have undergone this type of cesarean and have been able to bond with their child so much sooner. I felt strongly that Springfield needed to provide this service for our patients to allow the family to bond immediately with their newborn.”
The process of a ‘gentle cesarean’ begins when baby is delivered. The mother is then shown the infant prior to going to the warmer for assessment. After the baby is dried off and assessed by the infant’s nurse, the anesthesiologist and obstetrician are asked if the mother is stable prior to placing the infant skin-to-skin. If both the mother and infant are able and willing, the infant is placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest and covered with warm blankets.
The infant’s nurse maintains full responsibility and care for the infant while the newborn is being held by the mother in the surgical suite and does not leave the infant unattended. If the infant shows signs of interest in breastfeeding, the nurse will assist with latching the baby.
Since inception of this new program, Dr. Abrams has seen a tremendous improvement in patient satisfaction. “The feedback I have received from my patients has been overwhelmingly positive. The parents now feel that they are a large part of the birthing experience and not just undergoing surgery.”