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Reuters Examines New C-Section Procedure That Incorporates Aspects of Vaginal Births

National Partnership for Women & Families
September 2, 2008

Reuters on Thursday examined a caesarean-section procedure developed in the United Kingdom by a group of physicians from Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital and Imperial College London that incorporates aspects of vaginal births. The procedure was detailed in a recent study published in the journal BJOG. The c-section procedure takes a more "woman-centered" approach by modifying midwifery, obstetric and anesthetic practices of a traditional c-section "to emulate as closely as practicable" a vaginal birth, the BJOG study said. According to Reuters, surgical drapes block the incision area from the parents' view until delivery of the infant's head, at which point the field is cleaned and the woman's partner can view the birth. The delivery is slowed by the ob/gyn so uterine contractions can help clear the infant's lungs and the shoulders can be eased out, allowing the woman to watch the remaining half of the birth. The infant is placed on the mother's chest for bonding purposes immediately after delivery.

The new procedure allows parents to "actively participate in and observe" the birth, Nicholas Fisk -- a co-author of the report and director of the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research in Brisbane, Australia -- said. He added that during the last 20 years, vaginal births have begun to emphasize the "experience of the parents and ... early bonding," but that c-sections still emphasize "speed and resuscitation, even though these are not necessary in straightforward" deliveries. Fisk said that the set up of the new procedure maintains the option of an immediate traditional c-section if complications occur. The editor of BJOG noted in the journal that evaluation of the procedure in clinical trials is necessary because the study did not include safety data or outcomes "to justify the widespread utilization of this technique" (Hendry, Reuters, 8/28).

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