I rang in the New Year at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, having my third child, on Dec. 31, via cesarean section. I have never had surgery before and wasn’t nervous until they wheeled me to the operating room. It was so sterile and felt a LOT different than my two previous, natural births.
That said, it was the best the situation could be because I experienced a family-centered C-section, which is a relatively new offering at hospitals like Vanderbilt (it is not available for all c-section deliveries). The goal of a family-centered C-section is to make the experience feel more warm and friendly and less like a “typical” surgery. This is accomplished in a variety of ways:
You will have an advocate: While I knew that I would have a nurse dedicated to me during the surgery, I didn’t realize the extent of the care and comfort she would provide. Her sole goal was to ensure that our family had what we needed and that our baby was with me (us) as much as possible. She made sure we were comfortable, took photos, helped me cuddle skin-to-skin with my newborn son, Ezra and more. It was a beautiful gift to our family.
You will see your baby right away: One of the unique aspects of a family-centered C-section is that the curtain between the mother’s chest and her belly that’s typically kept up during the baby’s delivery is lowered, or a window in it is opened, so the mother can have a view. At Vanderbilt, the curtain had a window and I was able to see Ezra being born. I still get tears thinking about seeing him for the first time and hearing his newborn cries.
Your baby will be brought to you quickly – and stay with you: Unlike other friends who had C-sections and had to wait to spend time with their babies, Ezra was brought to me almost immediately after he was born. The nurse helped get him and me comfortable and ensured I could keep him close.
You will have skin-to-skin time with your baby: This skin-to-skin contact is important for bonding and was a big one for me! With the help of our nurse, I was able to hold Ezra, skin-to-skin, after he was born. He nestled on me for nearly the whole time I was in the operating room.
Your arms will not be tied down: My arms were free during surgery and ready to hold my son when he was brought to me. My IV was put in my non-dominant hand so that it was less likely to get in the way.
The family-centered C-section made the experience so positive. While it was very different than my vaginal births, it was still incredibly special. I can’t say enough about it (and not just because I work for the hospital)! Everyone was so kind, attentive and loving. I would definitely advocate for the experience to any mother who has a C-section.
Jessica Turner is a member of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s content team and a mother of three. She loves spending time with her family, memory keeping and blogging on her popular lifestyle blog, The Mom Creative.