A few months ago I wrote a post about Mother-Friendly cesareans, debuting a Ceci-Jane video of a "gentle cesarean". It was a necessary post at the time, not to mention a relatively new phenomenon. Since then, they have gained in popularity and the word is out! Women are flocking to the OB who will give them a "gentle" cesarean. I know of dozens of women who have had these cesareans now. The out-of-hospital midwives are super excited too because they feel they are not sending their transfers off to the butcher, but their couples can still have aspects of their birth plan honored.
I actually wouldn't even be discussing this again except for the fact that the Texas Health Resources mini magazine just came in my mailbox yesterday, and in it is an article called, "A Gentle Welcome to the World." I admit that I cringed the minute I saw it. Now, now, before you get upset with me, I'm not saying that women shouldn't have access to this type of cesarean. Just the opposite! Really, in a perfect world, all cesareans should be "gentle" (we'll come back to the word choice in just a minute), for the sake of both mother and baby.
What concerns me is marketing its availability. Women are already so terrified of childbirth, a cesarean seems so much easier. They opt for it without ever feeling a single contraction. And now, to be able to still have your baby placed on you right after surgery, possible delayed cord clamping, more bonding time with baby... Well, where do I sign up?!
Addressing the word "gentle" in regards to this type of cesarean, according to Dr. Laura Bradford, "It's called 'gentle' cesarean section because that's exactly how the baby perceives it." I feel like swearing, but I won't. She went on to talk about the benefits of not separating mom and baby immediately after birth, like this is new to everyone! Then why wasn't this done long before now?! Again, great marketing! They are doing it for the babies, everyone! The impression is that a "gentle" cesarean is easier on the baby than a vaginal birth. Ugh.
As part of the Management Team over at Birth Boot Camp, we've had lots of discussion about including a "Mother-friendly" or "gentle" cesarean as part of our birth video selection. Here's the problems we always come back to:
1. When you watch natural birth films, most moms are working hard. She probably doesn't have any makeup on. She's probably sweating. She's likely making sounds. She might have facial expressions that are not "normal" - eyes closed, mouth open, bearing down when pushing. While extremely beneficial in preparing for a natural birth, some women fear what they will look or sound like in labor.
2. In the "gentle" cesarean videos, her hair and makeup are beautiful. She's not making any uncomfortable noises or facial expressions. She doesn't feel a thing, in fact. It just looks so... easy. And this is where the problem lies. The allure of the "gentle cesarean" is just so powerful.
For the very small percentage of women who actually need a c-section, this is so wonderful that this type of cesarean birth is being offered. It's the marketing and overuse that is bound to happen that makes me sad. It's a smart marketing move though. The hospitals and doctors offering the "gentle" cesarean are bound to make bank. In a nation that says they are trying to figure out how to lower the c-section rate, where does the "gentle" cesarean fit it? I can't help but think this has the potential to cause it to grow higher...