VBAC (Vaginal birth after C section)
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Aileen Keigher
Community Midwife Team Leader Whittington Hospital, London
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Birth and labour

What is a natural caesarean section?

Natural caesareans were developed at Queen Charlotte's hospital in London. The idea was to try and make a caesarean birth as similar to a natural delivery as possible by slowing down the delivery of the baby, delaying the cutting of the cord and allowing the mum and baby to be in close skin-to-skin contact after the birth.
In Short
The focus is on the experience of the baby and the mother rather than viewing a caesarean simply as a surgical procedure. Natural caesareans are not widely available in the UK but it is worth talking to your antenatal team if you would like to explore the possibility of having one at a different hospital or your obstetricians may be able to incorporate some of the parts of the procedure into your caesarean delivery.

How is a natural caesarean different?

Unlike in a standard caesarean delivery, the barrier is lowered so that you can see your baby being born. The area is kept sterile in the same way but the baby is delivered more slowly. The obstetrician lifts out one shoulder and then another, slowly easing the baby out and fluid is squeezed out of the baby’s lungs as it is born.

The cord is usually cut very quickly in a caesarean section but during a natural caesarean, the cutting of the cord is delayed. NICE guidelines recommend delaying the cutting of the cord to allow all the foetal blood to move across into the baby’s body, which is important for oxygenation and iron stores and what would happen in nature.

With most caesarean sections it is perfectly possible for you to have skin to skin contact in theatre while the surgeons are stitching you up. Your midwife can talk to the anaesthetist to ensure any electrode/ monitoring equipment be moved away from your chest area to make room for your baby. All the assessments of the baby by the midwife and any injections, for example, Vitamin K, can be done while the baby is skin-to-skin contact with the mum. The baby can be weighed while the mum is gently moved off the operating table to a recovery bed and taken to the recovery room. At this time the birth partner can also hold and cuddle the baby.

Mums who previously had a tough birth and even post-natal depression have reported that a gentle mother-centred caesarean birth was wonderful and a healing experience. The difference in the surgical technique is small, but the experience is much better for mums and dads and probably more gentle for the baby too.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.