Post-surgical protocol could improve health and mother-child bond

Family

POSTED: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 12:30pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 12:34pm

It's just been a few weeks since Esma was born.

Her mother, Jennifer Alrahbi, had her husband and her doula, a non-medical labor companion, by her side when she had her medically necessary Cesarean birth.

"Opposed to it being a surgery. It was a birth," Alrahbi said.

That's because Alrahbi had what's called a Gentle Cesarean section.

Doula Jessica Fuss described a typical Cesarean birth.

"They're taken out of their mom. They're put under bright glaring lights flat on their backs when they've been nice and curved in the womb for so long -- flailing their arms around, totally out of control," Fuss said.

"In some instances, moms got to see the baby kind of as the baby was being born, we would lift her over the drape and go, 'Oh, there's your son or daughter,' but not really be able to bond or even touch the baby," said Dr. John Rollin Morton of Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.

The experience is different in a Gentle Cesarean birth.

"Whoever is attending the baby's birth will take the baby and bring it to mom's chest," said Dr. Susanna Magee of Memorial Hospital.

"It wasn't rushed. I had my husband with me. I had my doula with me. It was really calm, and I had my son instantly," said Leanne Benoist, a new mother.

Benoist was one of the first mothers to have a gentle cesarean birth at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket.

That was two years ago.

Her son was breach.

She has since had another baby, 4-month-old Celeste, who was born vaginally.

"It was a very calm experience. I felt like everyone was listening to me," said Dulari Tahbildar, who switched hospitals and doctors "at the very last minute."

All of these mothers were supposed to deliver elsewhere, but they went to Memorial Hospital because of the program.

"Well, it can only work if everybody's working together to facilitate a patient centered experience," Morton said.

At Memorial Hospital, the gentle cesarean is now part of the birthing culture for those who must have a C-section.

The research is clear.

"There's decreased rates of postpartum depression. There's improved breast feeding rates. There's improved sense of maternal experience in the sense that women rate their experience as more positive," Magee said.

Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket started the gentle cesarean program two years ago.

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