A Perfect Cesarean Section, Complete with Skin-to-Skin {A First For the Hospital}

by Krystal Cleaver on May 22, 2013

From the outside, there is nothing special about my birthing story.  No unbelievable twists that surely haven’t happened to other women.  This is a special birthing story to me because it’s my birthing story.  Birth Without Fear has helped me realize my story is just as special as anyone else’s and I felt compelled to share it with other women that have been in a similar situation.  Sometimes the most imperfect birthing situations become the most perfect experiences.  This is my experience.

On April 8th, 2012, after almost a year of trying, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby in December.  We were so excited! Almost immediately, we began practicing hypnobirthing.  We knew exactly how we wanted to bring our baby into this world; no drugs, no excessive monitoring or unnecessary procedures. We wanted the experience to be as natural as possible. We took the hypnobirthing classes, read the books, learned the different breathing techniques, listened to the birthing affirmations, and used the rainbow relaxation cd to condition my body to relax itself with the music.  Perineal massages from 32 weeks on to prepare for the birth, taking primrose at 36 weeks to help soften the cervix, preparing a specific birth plan for the hospital, so much to do!

At 36 weeks, after an ultrasound to make sure things were progressing smoothly, we discovered our baby was breech!  Not to worry the doctor said. The baby had plenty of time to turn.  I talked to the baby to convince him/her to turn, tried forward-leaning inversion, and had even considered doing an ECV but decided against it.  After another week and an ultrasound, the baby had still not turned.  My doctors suggested I schedule a c-section as babies that aren’t turned by this time tend not to.  I wouldn’t give up!  It became difficult continuing to prepare for a natural birth knowing there was a chance my breech baby would not turn.  I held out hope that if I went into labor naturally the contractions may cause the baby to turn. The doctors knew how important a natural birth was for me and agreed to wait it out and hope for the best.

My simple birth plan had specifically stated that we not only wanted a natural birth but immediate skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby after birth.  Knowing the possibility of a c-section existed, I wanted to make sure I could still have skin-to-skin contact with my baby.  My primary ob/gyn said I would most likely not be able to hold my baby until 2 hours after I gave birth.  This made the idea of a c-section a million times worse!  Why, if I was conscious, would I not be able to hold my baby? On December 7th, at 40 weeks and 3 days I went for an NST and while things were fine, I decided to schedule a c-section for the following Thursday which would put me at 41 weeks and 2 days.  The stress of hoping the baby would turn was taking its toll and I knew at the end of the day all that mattered was a healthy baby.

I went home that night determined to find a way to hold my baby after birth with a c-section.  I spent most of the night tossing and turning, trying not to stress myself out.  At 7 o’clock in the morning on December 8th, my water broke!  I went into labor naturally!  It was really all I wanted in this situation. As we drove to the hospital, I was hoping one of the contractions had already or would soon make my baby turn; yet the idea that I would meet my baby soon regardless of the delivery method elated me!  When the doctor on call arrived, we learned the baby had not turned.  It was a Saturday, so once the operating team was gathered, I would be going in for a c-section immediately.  At that time, I expressed to the ob/gyn and the anesthesiologist how important it was that I have skin-to-skin contact with my baby immediately after birth.  After some consulting on their end and admitting it had never been done there before, they agreed!

With the support of my husband, I laid on the operating table as the doctors cut me open.  I could not wait to see my baby and reminded the doctor that I wanted to announce the sex!  He was sure to keep the genitals covered up as he handed the baby to the nurse.  I happily announced the sex of the baby as the nurse brought my beautiful daughter, Harper Adison, to me and laid her on my chest.  After recovery, I was able to breastfeed her.  While I was worried the delay in breastfeeding would hinder our success, she latched right on and I’ve been nursing ever since!  My husband was able to capture these moments with pictures I’ll cherish forever.  While my situation was not the hypnobirthing, drug free, natural experience I had spent my pregnancy preparing for, I realize now it was a perfect birth nonetheless.

breech c-section

breech c-section

breech c-section

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

JDay-Sully May 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Thank you for sharing your story! I admire your message and outlook. I think it is very important that we all keep open minds about our how our births may play out. Kudos to you for your amazing attitude and wisdom.

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Kara May 22, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I love this! I also got to have skin-to-skin in the OR after I delivered my son last May. The same hospital didn’t do that 2 1/2 years earlier when his sister was born so I was very happy to have that moment with him. I just wish the moment would have lasted longer. I got very nauseous and had to have them take him away. What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing!

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Michelle Kagan Sandler May 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm

I loved my c section- it was a wonderful experience :)

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kate May 23, 2013 at 5:00 am

Of course I cried! Thank you for this awesome story. I love that despite how much you wanted the natural birth, the cesarean birth was beautiful experience for you – “Sometimes the most imperfect birthing situations become the most perfect experiences.” This is so true. Thank-you kxx

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Lori May 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I also found out my baby was frank breech at 37 weeks, and a million spinning babies positions later he did not turn. I was devastated and cried the day we scheduled my c-section for one week past my due date. I went into labor on my actual due date, and went in to a very big hospital and ended up having a wonderful experience very similar to yours–skin-to-skin and nursing right away in the OR and all.

Before he arrived I put so much stock into how my baby was birthed that I lost sight of what was truly important. Thank you for this reminder.

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Amber May 23, 2013 at 9:40 am

Thank you for your story, it is such an encouragement for me. I am 35wks and my baby has turned breech and I am so much hoping he will turn and I can have my natural birth. If my little guy does not turn I want to see of the hospital will let me do skin to skin right after the c/s. Who are the best people to talk to at the hospital to help make this a reality (OB, nurses…?)?. Thank you so much again for your story!

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Sarah May 27, 2013 at 11:44 am

Why don’t you try an external version? Get chiropractic care as well! Before and after the version to maintain the baby in place. I have seen very successful ones before! Good luck!

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Jeanine May 30, 2013 at 9:57 am

I would ask your OB if they are doing that at the hospital where you are planning to deliver. They should be able to accommodate your request. When you go to deliver if it ends up being a C/Section, tell your anesthesiologist what you are wanting ( they should also be able to accommodate your request).
I work in a hospital that just began doing skin-to-skin in our OR’s last year and it has been very well received by everyone, especially our patients. It has been very positive for everyone. So I can tell you from personal/professional experience that it can be done successfully.
Good luck with your birth, I hope it is everything that you hope for and more.

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Cin May 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

I’ve had 3 beautiful respectful, wonderful C-sections (two of them after labouring, with the attempt at VBAC lasting 72 full hours) at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife, NT, Canada. With my daughter, I nursed her, skin-to-skin, while they stitched me up. The OB director was a professional contact, and as a surprise, he also made sure everyone in the OR the day she was born was someone I knew already (friends, professional contacts, H.C. professionals who had cared for me during that very difficult hyperemesis pregnancy.) When she was born, they all cheered, and many cried. It was beautiful.

My 4th section happened “down south” and the difference in care and the lack of evidence-based practices astounded me. They didn’t hand me my baby, no skin-to skin and insisted on burritoing him — and the pediatrician ignored me and my husband as we called out, “Is he OK? Is he OK?” It was the anaestesiologist who went to check (bless him). The surgeon also gently said “Cin, I can’t see him from here, but he looked wonderful as we birthed him” (we being he and I — that’s what a section is, a surgeon helping you birth your baby, teamwork — he was wonderful with his language), “and he sounds great.”

The L&D nurse tried to force us to wait to breastfeed until she was done her post-op checklist! We eventually ignored her and latched him ourselves (we’re old pros, my husband and I.)

The anaestesiologist and the surgeon were top-notch, wonderful, communicated throughout, etc. But the rest of the staff…..

C-sections can be powerful and empowering, if the birthing woman, the baby and family are treated with respect and dignity.

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Stephanie @ The Good Stuff May 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Beautiful :)

I had a very similar experience. Well, I’ve actually had 2 c-sections.

The first, with my son, was unplanned. He was occiput posterior, labor was difficult, cascade of interventions, 24 hrs later I ended up with a very unexpected C/S that is probably the “norm”.

With my daughter (who is 4 months old today!) I was determined not to have the same experience. I really did not enjoy anything about my experience last time and I wanted a safer, more natural experience for all concerned this time around. We studied Hypnobabies, I did things to try to ensure proper positioning, etc. Everything was lovely until my daughter decided to flip to complete breech at FOURTY WEEKS! Crazy, right? So anyway, we tried to get her to turn back using natural means and no dice. I had extremely limited options considering I was so far along in the pregnancy and a VBAC hopeful to boot.

I ended up with a scheduled C/S at 41 1/2 weeks. I was not happy, but I have to say although it still isn’t the birth experience I was hoping or planning for us it was such a better experience this time around. I was with a wonderful practice this time and the midwife was with us the whole time, she advocated for skin-to-skin on the OR table (the OB performing the surgery is affiliated with the practice and was totally on board with it, the hospital staff, including the anesthesiologist was more wary and they said it had never been done before. Disconcerting considering I was at the most “baby friendly” hospital in the area). Not only were were able to do skin-to-skin which was such an important and beautiful moment for us, but we also did not have to be separated after birth, which was also hugely important. The first time around it was a typical C/S and I wasn’t able to hold my son until nearly 2 hours after delivery, he had already been bathed and such and that was very difficult for me.

I’m so very thankful we had a better experience this time. I think it’s incredibly important that women realize not only their choices with pregnancy/birthing when they’re having a vaginal delivery, but that they also have choices and can advocate for themselves and their babies if they are having a c-section. I didn’t realize that the first time around and I wish that I had given it more thought.

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Liz May 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Beautiful birth!! Thanks so sharing.

I am set to have my elective in just under 8 weeks. I am very excited and looking forward to seeing my baby! I am going to be pushing for skin to skin as soon as she’s born!

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Brooke May 23, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Your c-section birth sounds like mine. Breech baby, no ECV,and broken water. I was worried about the delay in getting him to the breast, but it turned out to be needless worries. Looking back after the c-section I most definitely needed that rest thanks to sever nausea. Nursing him (#3)was the best nursing experience until his little brother came along.

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rachel dams May 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I could have written this!!! I did the SAME EXACT birth preparations for my last baby, and he was breech breech breech. We tried all the same, and denied the ECV. I had a great csection, but am now 6 months along with a new baby and an going for my VBAC!

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polly May 27, 2013 at 8:53 am

We’re so lucky here in the UK. As part of the Royal College of Midwives’ campaign for normal birth they’re encouraging women to birth breech babies vaginally. ‘a breech presentation is normal, just not typical’ (RCM 2012). I work in a hospital in London and we have a vaginal breech every other week. Women are offered a section or vaginal birth. All student midwives, midwives and doctors are trained to catch breech babies. it’s hands off.

Skin-to-skin is offered to all women who have sections. As part of the UK’s baby friendly initiative mothers and babies should never be separated unless medically necessary (baby is special care etc).

Our section rate is high (its about 25%) but we have a lot of ‘high risk’ women (obesity, high blood pressure, IUGR babies, diabetics, heart or kidney problems etc). We have barely any epidurals, they’re available but most people don’t want them. Anybody can use water The USA maternity care seems so strange to me. So medicalised, i can’t really understand it.

I’m so glad you enjoyed your experience and you were given the chance to have skin-to-skin. A friend of mine ended up with a section under a general anaesthetic for anhydramnious and fetal distress. She had used hypnobirthing techniques and was convinced she coped so well afterwards because of all of her antenatal preparation and use of hypnobirthing! it’s excellent even during a section x

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Lori May 27, 2013 at 11:20 am

Loved your story. My baby too was breech and I had to have a c-section. (22yrs ago) I especially loved this sentence, “the idea that I would meet my baby soon regardless of the delivery method elated me! “

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Deborah May 27, 2013 at 11:26 am

My midwife once said any birth that ends with a beautiful baby is a successful one. Thank you for sharing your birth story, and pictures of your daughter.

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erica May 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Beautiful story! And Congratulations! We are expecting our 2nd, our baby boy, this July and have a scheduled c-section. With our daughter we had not planned to have a c-section and due to a late in the game epidural that unfortunately didn’t take I was put under during the surgery and didn’t meet her until nearly 2 hours after she was born. Her temperature was not high enough after birth and she was placed under the warming lamps nearly the entire time while I was still asleep. I love to think she was waiting for me, knowing that her momma wasn’t awake yet to hold her. With our son I would LOVE and agree in the importance of intimidate skin to skin contact after birth as well as breast feeding within 30 minutes of birth if able of course, did you have to provide any research to support this with your doctors?

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Brittany June 18, 2013 at 2:53 am

Thank you for sharing this amazing story! I am deeply touched by your message and your positive outlook on what could have been disappointing. I too had to deliver via c section after a 2 day, 2 cm progression in labor, and felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I am now pregnant with baby #2 and am faced with deciding whether or not to try vbac or cbac. Your birth has really opened up my eyes & realizing that any birth can be beautiful even if it’s not the birth you imagined.
-Brittany

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Maria June 27, 2013 at 3:26 am

Such a beautiful mom, baby and story. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It helped me a lot. I´m in a similar situation. I`m 35 weeks pregnant and planed since I knew I`m expecting a baby a natrual homebirth and now found out my baby is breech. But you are so right! It doesn`t matter in the end how as long as everyone is healthy and happy. I hope my baby will turn and if not I hope I´m able to birth natualy in an hospital. If necessary I will fight as a lion for skin to skin. Sory for my mistakes…. I´m from germany.

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Marie-Eve June 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is also very similar to mine which happened 4 months ago. My baby was breech with his ombilical cord around his neck and leg. I too prepared like anyone I know for a natural birth (which was supposed to be at home), so I tried absolutely everything I could to get him in the right position without any luck. Just like you, I then hoped that the contractions would make him turn. My water broke and I went into labor for a few hours, but my little baby didn’t move.

Even though I had a very humanized C-section which I am thankful for, it is still very painful for me to remember this experience. Even though I know there was nothing I could do about it, I always have this feeling of failure. So reading your story and seeing that other people also share the same experience helped me feel better about it and move one step further in my grief (because that’s what it is for me, a grief!).
Beautiful story! Thank you.

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Shanna October 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Krystal,
I am two weeks from the same scenario you faced. My baby is breech, and although I’m hoping and praying she will turn, I’ve scheduled a c-section at full term just in case. If you could please share a few more details so I know what’s possible, I would so appreciate it… how long did your skin-to-skin last?Did they remove her while you were being stitched up? Were you strapped to the bed with your arms restrained or could you embrace her? Did you need assistance from a nurse or your partner to hold the baby against your body? I plan to fight for as much skin-to-skin as I can get immediately following her arrival and any details you can share are much, much appreciated. Thank you!

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