Rebecca Cook with her newborn son, Wyatt, who was born by family-centered cesarean at BWH.

Any woman who has had a traditional cesarean section, or C-section, can tell you that the mechanics of the surgical procedure can distract from the celebration of welcoming your new baby. Often mom and baby are separated in the moments after birth when a connection to each other is especially important.

Now, doctors and nurses at the Center for Labor and Birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed new procedures to make the C-section more family-centered. Dr. William Camann, Director of Obstetric Anesthesiology, explained that the goal of the family-centered cesarean, or “gentle-C,” is to make the delivery as natural as possible.

For example, Dr. Camann realized that by using both clear and solid sterile drapes, obstetricians could switch the solid drape for the clear one just before delivery and allow mom to see her baby being born.

“We also allow mom a free arm and place the EKG leads on her back so that she is able to hold, interact, and provide skin-to-skin contact with her baby in the moments following the birth,” said Camann, who teamed up with BWH registered nurse Kathy Trainor, to make this option available to patients and their families.

Kathy Trainor notes that research has shown that techniques such as skin-to-skin contact have important benefits for a mother and her baby.

“Allowing mom and baby to bond as quickly as possible after the delivery makes for a better transition for the baby, including better temperature and heart rate regulation, increased attachment and parental bonding and more successful rates of breast feeding,” she said.

These changes were especially meaningful to Rebecca Cook, who recently had her fourth child, Wyatt, at BWH.

“As a mom who had delivered by cesarean, I never thought I would have the experience of actually watching my child as he was born, this family-centered approach provided me with that opportunity,” Cook said.

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– Lori S


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