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22.06.21

Family-centered C-sections: a profoundly human approach to childbirth

Maternity
This innovative practice, which was introduced in the maternity unit at Hôpital de La Tour last autumn, makes childbirth a better experience for women.

In the final stage of their pregnancy, some women do not have any other option but to give birth by cesarean section. Women who have given birth in this way regret having had a medical intervention rather than a natural birth. To overcome this, the maternity unit at Hôpital de La Tour is now offering an alternative practice called a family-centered C-section or gentle C-section. “It is not just during the delivery itself that the expectant mother and her partner are invited to participate but during the whole process,” explains Antonella Valiton-Crusi, chief doctor of the maternity unit at Hôpital de La Tour who introduced family-centered C-sections in this facility.

Active involvement of both parents
A number of measures have been put in place to ensure that the expectant parents feel that they are fully involved in this extremely important moment. Any intervention is discussed and prepared in advance. When the scheduled delivery date arrives, the expectant parents walk into the operating room, whereas for a traditional C-section, the expectant mother would be brought in lying down on a bed. Patients that have benefited from a family-centered C-section agree that this simple action halved their anxiety. In the operating room, the lights are dimmed and the music preselected by the parents is playing. These adjustments help to create a more inviting and welcoming environment.

Once the baby’s head appears, the woman is raised to a sitting position so that she can see her child emerging from her womb. She is then encouraged to push to help the process. The baby emerges very slowly and, once it is in the open air, the gynecologist holds it towards its mother so that she can see it.

The family stays together
The partner can cut the umbilical cord and the baby is then given to the pediatric nurse, who places the baby on the mother for “skin-to-skin” before performing the initial examinations. This first physical contact between the mother and her baby is extremely important and comes much earlier than with a traditional cesarean section. Once the staff have finished taking care of the mother and the baby has been placed in its cot, the family goes back up to the delivery room together, accompanied by a midwife. With a traditional cesarean section, the mother remains in the recovery room while the father waits in their room with the baby. However, with a family-centered C-section, the parents and their baby are never separated.

“We have some really lovely testimonials from women who have given birth in this way, after previously having a difficult experience of a C-section delivery. They state that they have come to terms with their delivery,” sums up Dr Antonella Valiton-Crusi.