From 'surgery feel' to 'birthing experience'

The risks and rewards of a 'Gentle C-Section'
Posted at 8:46 PM, Feb 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-05 23:25:53-05

April Clemency is adjusting to life as a mom of four. She said she wasn't expecting twins during her third pregnancy.

"We were in shock. It was wonderful news but at the same time it took a couple weeks to soak in."

Twins Owen and Matthew came into the world at Mercy Hospital on Christmas Eve. Both are healthy. Their delivery, though, isn't what this Hamburg mom had planned.

At 32 weeks, baby Owen was no longer in position and a cesarean section was likely the safest bet.

"I had to come to terms with the fact that maybe my initial plan wasn't going to happen."

Clemency said she started researching C-sections, and came across gentle C-sections. Sometimes called a "family-center birth," they are meant to make the birthing process as peaceful as possible.

"We're trying to take away the surgery feel and make this a birthing experience," said OBGYN, Catherine Falkner.

One of the biggest differences between a traditional C-section and a gentle C-section is the drape that's used. At one point, it becomes a clear drape so that mom can feel like she's more of the birthing process. Other options include playing music, or refusing extra relaxation drugs.

"That was really special that she was able to hold each baby up and see the through the drape," Clemency said.

Doctor Falkner has delivered several thousand babies in her 15-year career. But it's only been within the last year that she's added gentle C-sections into the mix.

"One of the biggest complaints from C-section moms is they feel a disconnect. They don't feel like they gave birth," she said.

Gentle C-sections help remove some of those feelings, Falkner said. But the idea isn't for everyone.

"There is a tender balance. Some people don't want to see the whole process."

Falkner said she always puts the traditional drape back up to finish the surgery. In Clemency's case, it was the best possible scenario given her situation.

"The physical representation of the drape can sometimes make you feel like you're not a part of it and the fact that it was clear just made me feel like I wasn't disconnected from my own birth."

Gentle C-sections are offered at Mercy, Millard Fillmore Suburban, and John Oishei Children's Hospitals.