What Expecting Parents Should Know About the “Gentle” C-Section

Pierre Van Zylparenting, Pregnancy

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Hospitals Using Clear C-Section Drapes To Let Moms Meet Their Babies in a New Way

When this photo shared by a doula went viral last year, we embarked on this new trend of a “gentle” C-section. This wholesome and raw photo depicted how heartwarming it truly is for parents to welcome their newborn in a clear drape or window cesarean section. 

This option is now being offered in many hospitals, parents now have the option to opt-in for a clear drape, or window. A method which allows the mother to visually experience the delivery, and also enjoy the element of bonding immediately after birth. That is, if the parent and baby are both doing well, there would be immediate skin-on-skin contact, and if possible this new mom can breastfeed in the operating room or recovery room.

This new version of the cesarean procedure aims to make the experience in the operating room similar to the delivery room. A gentle C-section approach allows women to be almost as involved as if the birth was happening vaginally. 

For many years it has been agreed upon that conventional C-sections can make it more difficult for expecting parents to be involved and attain a certain level of intimacy. “When we do C-sections, they’re usually draped, and we create a sterile field,” Dr. Ruiz explains, OB-GYN Lead at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.

A clear drape may be the answer, as it allows the mom to witness the birth of her baby. Undoubtedly this alternate route of welcoming a baby via C-section has generated some buzz-worthy attention. So this is what expectant parents should know about this option.

What Happens During a Clear Drape C-Section?

Dr. Ruiz notes that a typical C-section would prevent women from seeing past their bra-line, or just below their breasts. This leaves them staring at a curtain, awaiting the unseen arrival of her baby. However, with a clear drape section, there is an opaque portion and a clear portion. 

Just before the baby is born, the doctor has the ability to drop the solid portion of the drape, so parents can look through the clear plastic drape and experience the visual of their baby being delivered.

While many may think they would be squeamish about seeing the incision site, it’s unlikely that they will be able to see it, as it’s situated near the pubic bone. When lying flat on your back, as a pregnant women, it is not likely that you can see this area. 

Why Parents Are Choosing a Clear Drape C-Section

Approximately 97.5% of women who give birth by C-section, did not plan on it being their primary method of delivery. Many of these women were already expecting to witness their vaginal delivery. This clear drape can offer an emotional benefit for mom, being able to see what’s going on allows for her to be more involved with this process. 

Many women may feel disconnected from their babies during a traditional C-section. In most cases, once the baby is fully out everyone else in the room will have seen the baby before the mother. Not being able to witness your child entering the world is something many mothers feel is missing on this cherished day.

How A Clear Drape Can Change the Experience

This method not only allows the mother to visualize the birth of her baby, but this practice also offers an early bonding experience. An opportunity that is given after vaginal delivery, but is not as immediate in a conventional C-section. These operations are quite safe and most often complications don’t come from the procedure its self, but rather the reason for procedure needs to be performed in the first place. However, a mother who feels faint at the sight of blood may want to prepare herself, as C-sections entail a high level of visible vernix and blood. On average women lose approximately 4 cups of blood during a C-section, that’s twice as much as the loss from vaginal deliveries. 

Overall, this decision should be optional to all expectant mothers. In most cases, Linda Dudas, MSN, RNC, CNL, Unit Director Obstetrics Specialties at UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania says “For the most part, the patients seem to like the experience. We leave the option of utilizing the drape completely up to the patients.”

If you’re interested in this clear drape, or window, if a C-section becomes a part of your birth plan, Dr. Ruiz recommends that expecting parents discuss this option with their B-GYN and birth team ahead of time and making it part of the plan.

  1. How Clear C-Section Drapes Let Moms Meet Their Babies in a New Way https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/clear-drape-c-sections-what-expectant-moms-should-know/
  2. A Comparison of Excessive Postpartum Blood Loss Estimates Among Three Subgroups of Women Attending Births in Matlab, Bangladeshhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897753/

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