Thought your options were limited to a normal delivery or, failing that, a C-section? Guess again. It’s 2017, and “Natural C-sections” are on the horizon.
Conventional C-sections have been under the scanner for a long time; their growing number a cause for concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), C-sections should not be performed unless necessary.
In India, Caesarean deliveries constitute about 45 percent of all births in urban private hospitals and about 20 percent of those in public hospitals, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for 2015-16.
In certain situations, C-sections are a necessary surgical procedure to save the life of the mother and the baby. However, they have the following disadvantages:
- Skin-to-skin contact (where the naked new-born baby is placed on the mother’s bare chest) rarely happens in a C-section.
- Mothers who have undergone a C-section typically find it challenging to breastfeed.
- It is, at the end of the day, a surgery. The approach is very clinical and full of protocols. It is quite different from the experience of a natural childbirth many parents yearn for.
Practices common to regular C-sections delay mother-infant bonding, delay start of breastfeeding and add up to a lower breastfeeding rate overall. There is also a higher risk of post-natal depression in the mother. 
Enter the Natural C-Section
“Natural C-section” is a newer, alternative approach to traditional, highly clinical C-sections. At the heart of Natural C-sections lies the desire to enable precious early bonding between mother and infant and to make those crucial early interactions happen, despite the atmosphere and formality of surgery. It makes it possible for parents to experience some measure of natural childbirth, such as:
- being able to witness the baby’s birth
- holding the baby (skin-to-skin contact)
- breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, and
- keeping the baby with the mother for the maximum amount of time possible.
The Natural C-section approach can be applied to both:
- scheduled C-sections/those that are part of the birth plan and
- C-sections that happen when normal delivery is not a possibility.
What’s different in a Natural C-Section?
- Anaesthesia formulations and administration procedures are adapted towards skin-to-skin contact and facilitating early breastfeeding
- Minimally invasive surgical techniques are employed to reduce post-operative pain and bring about a faster recovery
- Maintaining the visual: allowing the mother and her birth partner to watch the baby being born, by using clear drapes, adjusting surgical drapes, or the angle of the surgical table.
- The baby is immediately placed on the mother’s chest for skin-to-skin contact.
- The baby’s mouth is brought to the mother’s nipple to kick-start the process of breastfeeding within the first hour after birth. Other routine care of the infant is temporarily delayed.
The practice of Natural C-sections is not yet established, or even known to all obstetricians and gynaecologists. Till then, you, the mother-to-be, have to bring up the conversation and advocate for it. Though currently a patient-driven option, Natural C-section is achievable with prior planning and co-ordination of care among the surgical team. 
Did you find the concept of Natural C-sections interesting? Will you champion Natural C-sections and skin-to-skin contact? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and be featured on our website!
- WHO media release: Caesarian sections should only be performed when medically necessary
- National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 2015-16.
- Smith J, Plaat F, Fisk N. The natural caesarean: a woman-centred technique. BJOG 2008;115:1037–1042