07 April 2009

The new 'natural' caesarean

Maybe I'm missing something but does the idea of a 'natural' caesarean sound a little ridiculous to anyone else?

Thanks to an enterprising OB, Professor Nicholas Fisk, some women in the UK are experiencing slower, more pleasant caesarean births with the lights dimmed low, the opportunity to see their baby emerging from the womb and immediate skin-to-skin contact. The idea is to make a caesar more like vaginal birth.

"It struck me that all the effort was going into changing normal childbirth but that Caesarean section was still steeped in old surgical rituals,” says Fisk. “In some cases I was horrified; the baby would be dragged out like a tumour and passed to several medical staff before the mother. It was ripe for reform.”

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a fabulous and timely intervention, but perhaps the word 'natural' is somewhat ill-placed in describing this updated version of a caesar. I'm all for women feeling comfortable and having every opportunity to bond with their babies during surgical birth but let's not kid ourselves here. Surgical birth is surgical. Vaginal birth is vaginal. While both types of birth can be joyous experiences, dim lights and a dropped surgical drape do not change the fact that too many women in the western world are having caesars. Making caesars a little more pretty and a little less scary is good in the short-term but I bristle at the idea that a happier, healthier caesar will only encourage more women to think that a caesar is preferable.

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