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What is a Gentle Cesarean and Can I Have One in Madrid?

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A gentle cesarean is something many doctors are beginning to offer as an option for birthing people to have more positive experiences. Many medical providers understand the profound life experience that birth is and how they can easily make small changes to protocols that increase the likelihood of a person having a positive experience without decreasing safety in any way.

The concept of a gentle cesarean is to create calm, peaceful vibes and implement protocols that are respectful to both baby and mother. Giving birth, no matter how it's done, is something that should be honored by those providing care for birthers and babies. While Cesarean birth is often considered an undesirable outcome, some women choose a Cesarean birth and others must have one due to medical reasons.

People often talk about preparing the birthing environment to have a more positive birth experience and it's often assumed that this is only doable for vaginal birth. However, this is not the case. Women can have positive, warm, calm birth experiences when birthing via Cesarean if they are with a respectful team and understanding of their emotional needs during this unique life experience. While a Cesarean will never stop being a surgical procedure, that doesn't mean it has to feel sterile, cold, and sometimes frightening and traumatic. There are many ways that providers can help make Cesarean birth feel like giving birth instead of an operation.

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One of these ways includes being able to be accompanied by one person of your choice - whether this is your partner, doula, parent, or a close friend - someone should be allowed into the operating room with you. Right now due to Covid, there are more restrictions than before when it comes to who can be in the room for a vaginal birth and Cesarean birth has become even more lonely for many women.

If you're giving birth in Spain, you may want to ask what the policy is in your hospital for Cesarean birth. You can ask what the policy is for planned Cesarean birth and what the policy is for a Cesarean birth that is determined to be necessary during labor (often referred to as an emergency C-section - cesárea de urgencia - in Spanish). Some hospitals allow partners during Cesarean births only if it is planned so knowing your options before being in labor may help you feel more prepared.

Something to ask is if your companion can stay with you after giving birth the whole time until you move to recovery and then your hospital room. I've learned recently that the common procedure in Madrid is for the partner to be asked to leave and the birthing person is then alone in the operating room without her baby and her partner. This does not have to be the case and if you ask about protocol before going in you will either be more prepared for the reality or open the conversation to possibly have your partner with you during that time after baby is born.

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Another way the care providers can help make a Cesarean birth more positive is by entering into productive conversations with the birthing person before the day of the birth itself. A care provider can answer questions, accommodate preferences when they're able, and explain the full process. You are never asking too many questions and it's always okay to request more information about a process that will be a rather large part of your life.

Just as providers should respect and pay attention to your birth preferences (birth plan), so too should they respect and pay attention to your Cesarean birth preferences.

*Printing your birth preferences on a colored sheet of paper can be helpful so everyone quickly knows which piece of paper is the one with all your preferences.

Specifics of gentle cesareans will vary depending on your own desires and what will make the experience positive for you.

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Here are some common options that birthers put on their Cesarean birth preference lists:

  1. Not having arms strapped to the operating table.

  2. Not administering drugs that make the birthing person feel out of it. These are often administered to help the birthing person stay calm, but some women prefer not to have anything besides the epidural pain medication in their system.

  3. Playing the birthing person's choice of music either on speaker or in headphones

  4. Please no chit-chat from the medical providers --> this is their everyday work, but it's a unique birth experience for the birthing person and baby

  5. Low lighting when possible

  6. Use of a transparent drape (only during actual lifting of baby out)

  7. A two-stage delivery where the baby's head is delivered first then the body, more closely mirroring vaginal birth

  8. Skin to skin contact for the baby and birthing person in the operating room if the birthing person feels up to it

  9. Delayed cord clamping

  10. Early latching/breastfeeding in the operating room

  11. Holding baby or not being separated from baby while being moved to the recovery room

  12. Vaginal seeding: this mimics the baby's first exposure to bacteria in a vaginal birth --> passage through the vaginal canal. Vaginal seeding is when they swab the vagina of the birthing person then rub that on the baby's skin when born.

Can you have this in Madrid? Yes! Maybe this full list won't be doable at your hospital, but some private teams and public teams are open and willing to work with women to have more respectful positive Cesarean birth experiences. One of them is the One to One team at Nuevo Belen which is featured in this birth story in the Madrid Birth Story Library. I have heard a personal story from a mother who had a respectful planned Cesarean birth like this in Hospital Doce de Octubre. I've also heard that doctors and midwives at the public hospital Torrejon de Ardoz are often willing to make a Cesarean birth as gentle and positive as possible.

You can ask for this anywhere and advocate for it at any hospital you'll be birthing at. The more women demand this type of care as standard when it comes to Cesareans, the sooner this will come to be a reality. Cesarean birth can be positive and the very first step to it becoming a reality across the board is sharing that it's possible!

If you'd like help processing your own birth plans, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me to learn more about how I can help you pinpoint your desires and formulate your own birth preferences for both vaginal and Cesarean birth.


Giving birth in Madrid or a new mom in Madrid? Looking for support on the wild ride called parenthood?

Look no further - book a free discovery call with me (Madison - doula in Madrid) today and let's chat about how together we can work to make your experience a positive one! And be sure to check out the Madoula homepage. If you're looking for doula support during your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum please be sure to contact me for a free consultation!

Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable moments in a person's life. There are many factors to consider at all times. The support of a doula from home to hospital adds an additional layer of support for both the birthing person and partner. Continuous care and individualized support both increase the likelihood of satisfaction with one's birth experience, regardless of the birth outcome (C-section, instrumental birth, etc).

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