MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly one out of three American mothers experience giving birth via C-section. For some parents, however, the surgical procedure can seem impersonal. That was the fear of Jenn Krajacic, who has been through hundreds of these surgeries.

“I had been watching C-sections and providing anesthesia for C-sections for seven years,” she said.

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A nurse anesthetist, she knew when she got pregnant that, because of a medical condition, she’d have to have a C-section. And she knew enough to be weary.

“I’ve always felt like they were a kind of an impersonal bystander experience for the mom,” she said.

So, Krajacic started doing research and found a hospital in Boston taking a family-centered approach to the surgery.

“At the time, it didn’t seem like anyone was doing it,” she said.

So she approached her University of Minnesota Medical Center colleague and personal doctor, OBGYN Dr. Amanda Olson.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Olson said. “It’s kind of been like, ‘Why weren’t we doing this all along?'”

Krajacic was one of the first to test out the technique.

One of the biggest differences is that blue drape. Mothers won’t see it, but what they will see a completely clear plastic one. It allows the support partner and mother to watch that special moment.

“The mom can touch the baby through the drape and everything stays sterile,” Olson said.

Touch is the biggest difference with this technique. While in traditional C-sections, it may take up to 12 minutes before the mom gets to touch the baby, with this method, if there are no complications, skin-to-skin contact can happen in just a couple of minutes or less.

“I always felt bad because I got to stand there and see the baby and hold the baby, but the mother and her family couldn’t do that,” Olson said.

Nurses also place IVs and electrodes in strategic places so the mom can more easily hold and more quickly nurse.

“I don’t remember the operation because I was so engrossed in holding my daughter on my skin,” Krajacic said.

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In just one year, family-centered C-sections have become common practice in this hospital.

“I don’t know anybody else who would have referred to their C-section as magical, but mine was magical,” Krajacic said.

The technique is being offered at The Birthplace – University of Minnesota Medical Center. All Fairview hospital birth centers hope to offer the technique within the year. You can talk with your doctor to find out more or click here.

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Allina Health sent WCCO this statement on their approach:

All the Allina Health birth centers are moving in the direction of “family-centered” c-sections, with Minneapolis leading the way:
We have had a family-centered approach for a while. We do not have the clear drapes (there were concerns about patients/significant others who do not want to see the entire surgical procedure) but we do skin to skin in the OR right after birth as long as the baby and mom are stable and we keep the baby with the parents the entire time in the OR and recovery. We don’t separate them unless it’s medically necessary. We allow the patient to have someone of her choice in for delivery and if she has a doula we also allow that person into the OR,”
– Michelle Smith, manager of The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern and Children’s in Minneapolis.

And HealthEast Communications Consultant Lynn Sadoff sent us this about their birthing centers:

For families’ ease, comfort and bonding, all three of HealthEast’s acute care hospitals (St. John’s, St. Joseph’s and Woodwinds Health Campus) offer a family-centered model of care for childbirth. Moms stay in one room throughout labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (if you are not having a waterbirth or Cesarean section).
For C-section deliveries, all three sites offer clear drapes for family to “see” the delivery as well as skin-to-skin in the operating room.
We believe that baby and mother should stay together throughout recovery in the patient’s room with no separation unless medically necessary.
HealthEast has earned Baby-Friendly designation from the World Health Organization. It means that all three of our acute care hospitals adhere to the highest standards of breastfeeding and mother/baby bonding.
St. Joseph’s Hospital is proud to share that it has one of the lowest C-section rates in the state.

Lesa Bader sent this statement on behalf of North Memorial and Maple Grove:

Our priority is and always has been patient centered care aimed at the highest patient satisfaction while always promoting family bonding. We have recently embarked on the Baby Friendly Journey that will award us Designation as a Baby Friendly Hospital once our journey is complete. We are currently working on that path and changing work flows to provide skin to skin following delivery via C-section, along with many other initiatives to support breast feeding. We currently provide skin to skin immediately upon vaginal delivery, attempt to keep the infant in the Operating Room (OR) with the mom following her c-section and soon will be able to provide the clear drapes and skin to skin in the OR as well.

Lisa Steinbauer sent this statement on behalf of Ridgeview Medical Center:

Ridgeview Medical Center offers family-centered cesarean (natural cesarean) as a safe option for elective cesarean births.  Honoring childbirth and respecting choice, this option aligns with Ridgeview’s mission to deliver the highest quality of patient and family-centered care ­— with kindness and compassion — creating a positive birth experience.

Family-centered cesareans promote mother-baby bonding and incorporate important aspects of the birthing process, including parent participation and immediate skin-to-skin, enhancing the physical and emotional aspects of giving birth.

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Patients who have chosen family-centered cesareans at Ridgeview’s Birthing Center have been pleased with their choice and, more important, their overall experience.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield