When Tara Martinez gave birth to her second child, she was able to watch the birth and have immediate skin-to-skin contact with her son, even though she had a cesarean section.
“You're carrying this baby for nine months and the first thing you want to be able to do with this baby is hold them and that's what you're able to do,” Martinez told ABC News. “It definitely felt more of a childbirth then just having a surgery.”
Martinez, of Fishkill, New York, was able to have a “gentle” C-section at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York, in August after undergoing what she described as a “traumatic” emergency C-section with her first son.
“It was amazing,” Martinez said of delivering her second son, Landon, via a "gentle" C-section. “With my first, I don't really remember being able to meet him the first time so this was totally different.”
Dr. Angelo Cumello, a physician at Northern Westchester, described the difference between a traditional C-section and a “gentle” C-section as a “state of mind.”
“We try to incorporate mom into the entire process,” he told ABC News.
Options for women undergoing a “gentle” C-section include using music and aromatherapy during the surgery and minimizing conversations in the operating room so parents can hear their newborn’s first cries. Monitors are placed away from the woman’s chest in order to allow almost immediate skin-to-skin contact.
The experts ABC News spoke with said women who opt for a “gentle” C-section do not incur additional charges because the changes are so simple. The goal of the “gentle” C-section is to give women who must have a C-section an experience that more closely mirrors a vaginal birth.
Boston's Brigham and Women’s Hospital has been at the forefront of offering women a more mindful approach to C-sections.
“The requests for this type of concept have absolutely increased over the years,” Dr. William Camann, director emeritus of Obstetric Anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s, told ABC News.
Brigham and Women’s pioneered the practice of using a see-through drape instead of the traditional blue drape to allow for greater visibility.
Thirty-two percent of all deliveries in 2015 were by C-section, with around more than 1.3 million C-sections performed that year according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A C-section is the “delivery of a baby through surgical cuts in a woman’s abdomen and uterus,” according to the National Institutes of Health. A cesarean delivery may be necessary if the pregnancy includes multiple fetuses, the baby is breech or too large, or the baby’s or mother’s health is in danger, among other factors.
Doctors at Northern Westchester Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital said a "gentle" C-section is meant as an alternative for women who must have a C-section, and that traditional birth is always recommended when possible.
Martinez said opting for a "gentle" C-section gave her the chance to bond more immediately with her son, which doctors say can make a difference when it comes to breastfeeding and regulating a baby's body temperature.