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Episode 4: Family-Centered Cesareans

birth prep cesarean birth labor Jun 10, 2021

Hello and welcome to Episode 4 of the Brave Journey Weekly Free Birth Prep Video. Today we're discussing Family-Centered Cesarean Births

(You can sometimes hear my kids playing right outside the window next to me 🙈)

In Episode 2 I talked about the importance of learning about cesarean birth even if you are planning an unmedicated birth. And I mentioned I wanted to do a video in the future about family-centered practices in the cesarean birth room so birthing people know they can advocate for them. Well, the future is now! :)

In this video I talk about family centered practices in the cesarean birth room, how they can change the tone of the room and include the birthing person and birth partner in the cesarean birth process. Family-centered practices are simple things that can make a huge positive impact on the birthing person and their experience meeting their baby.

Next week's topic: Doulas!

This video is part of my ongoing weekly Brave Journey birth preparation videos where I pick a birth topic and talk about it! Comment or DM me with any thoughts or ideas for future videos. What do you want to know or wish you'd known about childbirth and birth preparation?


Hi, I'm Cara Lee with Brave Journey. And this is episode four of my Weekly Brave Journey Birth Preparation Videos. Today, we're going to be talking about what are sometimes called gentle or family centered cesareans. I'm going to stick to the term family centered. I will be briefly talking about the importance of honoring cesarean births as a transformative birth experience for the birthing person and for the baby, of course.

And then I'll go through the high, positive impact practices that can improve a birthing person's experience of birthing their baby via cesarean. So, if you'd like to receive these weekly videos directly into your inbox, please go to and enter your email address. Then I'll add you to my list.

Also please go there and enter your email address so I can let you know when I open registration for my birth preparation program, the Brave Journey Birth Preparation Program. So onto the topic.

In episode two of my weekly birth videos, I talked about the importance of learning about cesarean birth, even if you're planning to birth your baby unmedicated. I talked about why I think it's important that we honor cesarean births as transformative. And I talked about the fact that 25% of low risk families, low-risk birthing people in 2020 birthed their baby via cesarean. And so that means one in four people listening to this video or preparing to birth their baby right now, approximately, will be birthing their baby via cesarean.

So this is it's relevant. There's no one right way to give birth. And cesarean birth is birth is birth and birth is beautiful. And a lot of people don't want to learn about cesarean birth because they're afraid of it. So the more that we can look bravely at cesareans, they become less scary. So I also mentioned in episode two, that family centered practices in the birthing room and this cesarean operating room can have a really big impact. And I promised to talk about them in the future. Well, the future is now and here I am talking about it. So like I said today, we'll talk about characteristics of a family centered cesarean birth and the importance of honoring cesarean birth as a transformative experience.

So, family centered cesarean births can be a positive experience for the birthing family. Even if it wasn't their first choice to meet their baby via cesarean. So I will go over the characteristics of a family centered cesarean and I may compare and contrast them with standard practices in hospitals. Because family centered practices are becoming more and more common. And as a birth doula, the only cesareans I've ever been to have been family centered cesareans, because they're the, usually the only cesareans that allow birthing people to bring in extra support people. But unfortunately not all hospitals are offering family centered cesarean practices.

So it is something that I think that more birthing families should advocate for when they select a hospital to help them have their baby so that all hospitals offer this for all families.

So first off some specific things to do, one is request support people. I already mentioned this. Request two support people. This would be your birth partner and your doula, if you have one. This way, your birth partner can be with you during the surgery, when you meet your baby during the birth. And the birth doula can be there to support you and your birth partner.

A disclaimer, I'm recording this in June of 2021. A lot of hospitals are not allowing extra support people into the OR because of COVID. But, hospitals are changing their policies based on local COVID transmission rates. And I'm hoping that those of you watching this in the future, don't have to worry about this. And you can just request two people in the birth room with you, any birthvia cesarean. Let's see.

Another thing that birthing people can do is request music. So, we all know that music can have a huge impact on the tone of the room. That you can request joyful music or peaceful music or the music you played when you found out you got pregnant or the music keep replaying when you conceived your baby, whether you conceived your baby via sex or in the clinic.

Request music that is meaningful to you. You might be able to simply request a genre on something like Pandora or Spotify on a computer already in the operating room, or you may be able to bring in a small speaker. So that's something you can ask about.

Smell, smell is such a powerful way to create a sense, a different feeling in our body that's completely different than the room around us. So the operating room, it is a birth room, but it is also an operating room and it smells like a hospital. So sometimes- it can just make a big difference to bring a little bit - bringing on a cotton swab or a cotton ball can help - so you can put it away if it's actually making you not feel very good. Cause sometimes smell is different. During birth, but something a lotion, perfume an essential oil. Your favorite candle - but you can't light it, you cannot light it. But it can be waved in front of your nose so that you can smell it. This can make a big difference and make the space feel more comfortable and soothing for you and the people around you.

Also, sometimes you might, in cesarean birthing people can feel nauseous. The intensity of the experience, and sometimes the medicine can make people feel nauseous. So smells may be different, but bringing a scent can make an impact.

Introductions. Now this is one of my favorite ones because it just completely changes the dynamic in the room. Introduce yourself to the people in the room. There will be a lot of them. There's a large team involved with helping a family birth, their baby via cesarean. But introduce yourself and then invite everybody in the room to introduce themselves and their role. It's very simple. I really think that all teams should be doing this anyways.

But it just really changes the dynamic. It reminds this birth team. This may be the umpteenth baby that they helped. Be born via cesarean on that day, and it reminds them that this isn't business as usual for you and your family, for the birthing person and their family. It is a really special precious one of the most important days of your life. You're meeting your baby.

Now to be real, if, if a birthing person has been laboring for a really long time, they may not be feeling chatty. They may be feeling completely exhausted. And have zero interest in small talk. I'm not saying you have to be chipper or that the birthing person has to facilitate a whole guided discussion, but simply starting the process of introducing yourselves and inviting the team to introduce themselves back to the birthing person and their birth support team can just completely change the dynamic in the room. And it makes the birthing person and the birth partner feel more involved and included in the process.

All right. The next thing you can do or birthing people can do is request that the drape be lowered after the baby is born. So you and your birth partner can see that baby the second that they're born. And some hospitals have clear drapes now, some have a clear drape that's got a blue drape in front of it they can just lift the blue part, but leave the clear. Some it's a purely clear drape. It is just- this moment when the baby emerges, however that baby is born, is wondrous. And it is beautiful. And asking for that drape to be lowered in that moment allows the birthing person to be a part of that in the same way as they would were they were birthing vaginally.

Another thing you can do at birth and people can do if they don't know the sex of the baby, you can ask the team not to tell you. If you'd like to see them to hold up the baby so you can see yourself, or you can ask that your birth partner be the one to tell you the sex of the baby.

And then once the baby is born, talk to the baby. When the baby is first via cesarean, they will likely be taken to a warmer for suction and an exam and to help get them started, so to speak. So you can talk to your baby across the room, stay connected. You can ask your birth partner to tell you all about the baby, what the baby looks like and how they're doing, and just feel talk across the room to that, to that baby.

And then the next thing is skin to skin. So as soon as possible, getting that baby skin to skin. So I'm going to do a whole video on the benefits of skin to skin. I was just looking up a bunch of the evidence on it again, and it is so clear the positive impact that skin to skin has immediately after birth on both the birthing person and the baby. In the cesarean it's, it's no different. So sometimes the baby has to be laid crossways like this, rather than down like this. And sometimes if the birthing person has been laboring a long time and they're too tired to stay fully awake and they're dozing in and out, the birth partner will need to help hold that baby in place.

But the baby can be tucked under the surgical gown with a bunch of blankets on top, helping them stay warm. And I mentioned that because- I have been in hospitals that, say, argue that the room is too cold for the infant to not be swaddled. And if the baby is struggling to maintain their temperature, they can be swaddled and then placed cheek to cheek against the mother's cheek. So the birthing person can inhale that baby and be really close to that baby. This is, it's a very positive impact for the person birthing the baby and for the baby. It's just the, data's huge. I'm going to do another video on it. I love talking about it. Plus not only is it data-driven, it just feels fantastic as a person who's given birth. It just feels fantastic to have that baby place skin to skin. It's it is a electrically soothing, emotionally and physiologically feeling.

So let's see, I talked about all this. Yes. So delayed examination delayed. The baby in order to be skin to skin for as soon as possible and as long as possible needs to have their exam and weighing delayed. And this is common practice in many birthing rooms. You just wait an hour or two to do the weighing and examination. And that same thing can be requested in this cesarean birth room.

I'm going to list these all out. These are the most high impact family centered Syrian practices. There is requesting two support people. Requesting music. Bringing smells on cotton balls that are soothing. Doing introductions changes the whole dynamic. Requesting that the drape be lowered when the baby is first born. If you don't know the sex of the baby request that the birth partner, or you can see for yourself and announced for yourself. Talk to the baby once it's born, even across the room. And skin to skin, as soon as physically possible getting that baby skin to skin, whether it's under the surgical gown with a ton of blankets over or cheek to cheek with the baby swaddled. And lastly, delayed examination and weighing.

So those are the most high impact family centered cesarean practices. Many hospitals do already have these practices in place. Many do not. So my hope is that all families who are preparing to birth their babies will advocate at the hospital they've chosen to help, help them have their baby for these family centered practices, even if planning to birth un-medicated.

I really do think that all hospitals could greatly improve the experience of people birthing via cesarean if they implemented these practices. They have they have a very positive, big impact.

All right. Thanks for sticking around. Yeah. I love talking about birth, obviously, and I love talking about families center and sincerity and practices, and I hope you enjoy learning about them.

If you'd like to receive these weekly videos straight to your email inbox, please go to and give me your email address. I'll add you to my list. And if you also would like to give me your email address, I will let you know when I open registration for my birth preparation program, online Brave Journey Birth Preparation Program.

DM me! Comment! Let me know what you think. Thank you.

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