Being unable to witness the birth of a baby with one’s own eyes due to undergoing a cesarean section might soon be a thing of the past for moms who choose otherwise.
In 2018, doula and photographer Tracy Abney captured a c-section on camera — and the snapshots have since gone viral, likely due to the fact that the mom used a partially clear drape to witness her child being born as opposed to the typical solid one.
“The opaque drape is either clipped or Velcro-ed to the clear drape. The initials cuts are performed with the opaque drape in place,” Abney explains to Parents.com.
“Clear drapes help the mother feel like she is part of the birthing process,” she adds. “She can see her baby before it is taken to the warmer. She can see the baby when everyone else does, the moment the baby is born. She can match the sound of the baby’s cries while watching the quiver of the baby’s little chin.”
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The inclusion of the clear drape is part of a trend called the “gentle c-section,” which New Jersey-based Dr. David Garfinkel previously tells Parents.com “is still surgery” in the same way, but more so represents “a change in the attitudes toward C-sections, where the care team [the obstetrician, anesthesiologist, and nurses] aims to make the C-section experience in the operating room as similar as possible to the labor and delivery room.”
“A gentle C-section allows a woman to be almost as involved as if her birth was happening vaginally,” Dr. Garfinkel adds of the experience, which sees a mom’s medical team do what they can to involve her in immediate post-birth bonding activities like skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, assuming both mom and baby are healthy.
For moms who are worried about witnessing the more surgical parts of the procedure, Abney tells Parents.com that she encourages her clients “to imagine laying down flat on their bed” before she asks them “if they can see down to their pubic bone.”
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“Most pregnant women cannot,” she continues. “Then, add in an opaque drape that is often pooled on top of the breasts, and you really can’t see to where the incision is.”
Parents.com also spoke with Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, an OB-GYN Lead in Fountain Valley, California, who recommended moms interested in the clear drape should make that desire known to their medical team ahead of delivery day.
“[The clear drape] keeps [moms] a little more involved and engaged in the delivery process,” he says, pointing out that, considering many women aren’t expecting to have a c-section, they go in “expecting to witness a vaginal delivery where you can see everything going on.”