According to a CDC report from 2016, about one-third of babies are delivered through cesarean section. When people mention “C-section” what usually comes to mind is an operation where the mother is cut open at the abdomen and uterus and the baby hastily pulled out. But a viral Instagram video shows pretty much the opposite, with a baby crawling out of the surgical incision under its own power.
The clip shows what is called a gentle C-section (also termed “natural cesarean). The baby needs little help from the doctor as it crawls out and the mother is watching the whole time.
Christine Greves, MD, an Orlando, Florida-based ob-gyn, explains the gentle C-section in more detail and why it’s increasingly becoming the preferred method over traditional C-section.
Dr. Greves says that the doctor starts out by making an incision, just like in a traditional C-section. But that’s where the similarity ends because the doctor will take a “momentary pause and let the baby try to wiggle its way out of the womb.” In a traditional C-section, it’s the doctor who pulls the baby out of the uterus.
With gentle c-sections, a baby can clear out amniotic fluid out of its lungs faster than with a traditional C-section. “The lungs are compressed a little more as they are during vaginal birth, and that helps get the amniotic fluid out of the lungs,” says Dr. Greves. “It helps the baby breathe better.”
Furthermore, clear drapes are used during gentle C-sections so that the mother can see her baby being born, just as she would have if it was a vaginal birth. “[It’s] just so she can remember what it’s like, to lift her head and see the baby’s head come out and see it being brought to her,” Dr. Greves explains.
If you’re a mother about to give birth, should you then opt for a gentle C-section? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that vaginal delivery should always be prioritized over any type of cesarean. However, if conditions warrant a C-section or the mother insists on one, then she and her ob-gyn can discuss if a traditional or gentle C-section will be used.
Both mother and baby will be evaluated first which includes the baby’s placenta location and heart rate. If both are in good health, then the procedure can push through.
But Dr. Greves adds that if either the baby’s or mother’s vital signs drop, the attending physician may proceed with a traditional C-section instead. “If the NICU needs to evaluate a baby right away, we need to help get the baby out of the womb quickly,” she says.