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Gentle C-Sections: An Option All Moms Should Know About

*This is a guest post written by Amber Oliver. 

I would never think I would share about birth via caesarean. However, I came to gather knowledge on this form of birth because my breech baby wouldn’t turn.

I will be honest, I’d heard nothing but the scariest things about c-sections and the decision to get me to schedule was made at 37 weeks. I felt unprepared and down-right scared. 

I had a birth plan in place, but of course plans don’t always manifest with childbirth, and the possibility of not getting the few specific things I wanted was terrifying. I am so blessed that the hospital staff honored my fears, explained everything as many times as I needed them to and informed me of gentle c-sections.

So let’s get into it; because I want you to know unless there is a severe emergency this can be an option for you. 

In this post, we’ll talk about what a gentle c-setion is, how it differs from a traditional procedure, and the benefits of having a more natural cesarean. 

What Is a Gentle C-Section?

A gentle or “family-centered” c-section is when hospital staff make a few changes in the procedure to allow you and your partner to feel more apart of the birth. For example, you can have the screen lowered to watch your baby be born and you have the option to not be as heavily sedated during the procedure.

A pic graciously taken by an OR nurse during the birth of my daughter

How Does a Gentle C-Section Differ from a Traditional C-Section?

In a traditional c-section, you are strapped down and the screen divider is up, so you cannot see any part of the procedure or your baby emerging from your womb. You typically get a quick peek at your child and then they are carted off for pediatric care. You are taken to recovery and there you are reunited with your baby within the hour.

With gentle c-sections:


  • You can request for one of the OR nurses to take birth-day pictures once you have delivered your baby. Standard procedure prohibits any cameras or recordings.
  • You are able to have skin-to-skin immediately after birth (After I had my daughter I was able to have her on my chest the entire time I was sewn up.)
  • Your hands aren’t strapped down the entire procedure, so you are able to hold your baby. This is also why the IV is placed in your non-dominant hand.
  • The EKG leads (which track your baby’s heartbeat) are placed on your back instead of your belly, so they don’t get in the way either.
  • You have the option to not be as sedated during the procedure, allowing you to be more present during delivery. 

Here is an excerpt from my birth plan before realizing we would indeed have a c-section. All of my requests were honored in my family-centered c-section.


During my experience, the screen divider was lowered for my husband (I was afraid of looking, so I didn’t). There was also an overhead mirror that the nurses encouraged me to look at so I could see my baby’s birth post-incision.

The nurses snapped quite a few great pictures. My operating OB also asked if I wanted to attempt a VBAC and sewed me up accordingly. 

What are the Benefits of a Gentle C-Section?

For me personally, having a gentle c-section lowered my anxiety drastically. It didn’t make me feel powerless, especially since we planned for a water birth.

My husband and I felt very involved in the birth process. It meant a lot to me to be able to express my concerns and make requests that were actually heard without me having to stand my ground in regards to anything.

Many women who undergo a c-section feel powerless and disconnected during delivery. They might not see their baby until they’re in the recovery room. Even if they do get to see their baby briefly in the delivery room, they may be so sedated that they have no memory of the experience.

Studies have shown that women who have c-sections are less satisfied with their childbirth experience than those who deliver vaginally and are more likely to have postpartum depression, difficulty with bonding, and breastfeeding problems. I’d prepared myself for depressed feelings after my daughter’s birth because I had to have a c-section and being able to have a gentle, more natural, procedure actually made the initial postpartum journey a very happy one.

Research has also shown that immediate skin-to-skin contact helps regulate baby’s body temperature and heart rate and facilitates bonding. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to immediately hold your child. It’s also very calming for your baby, as you are the one familiar thing to them when they cross to earthside.

A More Natural Cesarean

If you have a planned c-section or circumstances arise leading you to schedule one, I highly recommend that you request a gentle cesarean.

It makes the procedure feel warmer and more natural than general, and you get to take advantage of the feels that often go missed when mamas don’t delivery vaginally.

A gentle c-section is an option. Don’t be afraid to ask mama! 

What About You?

Have you heard of family-centered or gentle c-sections? If you haven’t until now, is this something you would opt for given the information that I’ve shared?

Have you had a more natural cesarean? Share your experience and encouragement in the comments below and feel free to share this post with other moms-to-be. 

This post was written by the talented Amber Oliver. 

I’m a married SAHM of 2. I have an autistic child, and I have postpartum depression. I advocate for moms balancing motherhood with their womanhood. I’m a Maternal Mental Health Advocate and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). My blog, Look What Love Made, was created to discuss all things motherhood in hopes to show how much moms can relate, even if they have different mothering experiences.

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2 Comments

  1. Lindsay on July 22, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    You make regular C-sections sound like a science experiment. So other moms know my “regular” c-section was great. My husband was with me the entire procedure, he was able to use his phone to take pictures of baby being pulled out of my tummy and one of the nurses offered to take our picture so both mom and daddy could be in the first look picture. As well, my arms were not strapped down… and I was sedated but awake enough to speak and remember seeing my little one and waiting to hear him cry. I just feel as though this was a little unrealistic as to what a c-section can be without labeling it as “gentle”

    • Nicolle on July 22, 2019 at 12:56 pm

      I’m so glad that you’re c-section experience was a good one Lindsay. While this is the case for some moms, it is not so much for others. Everyone’s c-section experience will be a little different. I know for a fact that one of our local hospitals do not allow any photography whatsoever. It sounds like your hospital is using good, up-to-date practices, but many hospitals have a far way to go to make c-sections a better experience for moms. Doing immediate skin-to-skin and allowing delayed cord clamping are huge parts of what makes a c-section a gentle one.

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