What is a family-centered or gentle C-section?


What is a “gentle” or “family-centered” C-section?

Anyone who has had a traditional cesarean section, or C-section, can tell you that the mechanics of the surgical procedure can distract from the celebration of bringing your baby into the world.  During a traditional C-section, the mom and child are frequently separated in the moments after birth when a connection to one another is especially important, both for the health of the baby and for bonding purposes.

Now there is a new option available called family-centered, gentle C-section, or “gentle-C.” This practice began in an effort to make your C-section experience as close to a natural birthing one as possible. Doctors have tweaked this traditional surgery by:

  • Using double drapes which can be lowered to a clear surgical drape, instead of the solid one, so that you can now watch your baby being born
  • Placing EKG leads on your back so that you can hold, interact and provide, almost immediate, skin-to-skin contact with your baby in the moments following birth, which research has shown to have important benefits for both mom and child
  • Background music of your choice to make the environment more comforting

Is a gentle C-section always an option?

In certain situations, a gentle C-section may not be recommended, but your physician can advise what type of delivery is best. If you are planning to undergo a C-section, talk to your doctor about whether or not this option is available for you.


William Camann, MD, is the Director of Obstetric Anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Louise E. Wilkins-Haug, MD, PhD is the Division Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and Reproductive Genetics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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