The “Gentle” Cesarean
Families are benefiting from a more natural birth experience
When Colleen Rein was pregnant with her fourth child, Dominic, earlier this year, she knew she would have to deliver via cesarean section. But the traditional cesarean — highly clinical, strapped to a bed, woozy from anesthesia and the feeling of being apart from the proceedings — wasn’t for her. Instead, she opted for a different way to give birth: the “gentle” cesarean.
“I’ve been doing “gentle” cesareans — which I actually call family-centered cesareans — for at least 10 years,” says Pamela D. Berens, M.D., professor and vice chair of clinical affairs in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, who delivered the almost 9-pound Dominic Rein on June 2. “Conceptually, you are trying to make it a better experience for the patient rather than just what’s easiest for hospital staff.
“Too often, women who deliver via cesarean section (C-section) feel like they didn’t actually ‘give birth.’ They are completely passive during the process, and sometimes they struggle with the belief that they missed the childbirth experience,” adds Berens, an OB/GYN affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and UT Physicians and a leading national expert on breastfeeding. “In fact, there’s a significant difference in how the women who’ve been put to sleep perceive the birth itself. With this method, we try to make them feel like an integral part of the process.”
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