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There are a few things that make this method more “natural” or “gentle.” According to Anne Carlon, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City, one of the key factors is allowing the baby to deliver somewhat slowly from the uterus, imitating the “squeeze” of the baby’s thorax that occurs in a vaginal delivery, which helps remove fluid from the baby’s lungs. In “natural” c-sections, physicians also delay the clamping of the umbilical cord so the baby can receive extra blood. Lastly, they place the baby directly on the mother’s skin immediately after delivery, which promotes bonding.
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A video of a similar procedure circulated in 2016 showing what looked like a baby wriggling out of his mother’s womb while bystanders screamed “The baby is delivering himself!”
But Kevin Jovanovic, M.D., ob-gyn and cosmetic surgery specialist in New York City, says that either the doctors are slowly pushing on the upper part of the abdomen or they are using a hand to guide the head up into the incision and then waiting for the uterus to contract the baby out. “If you have never seen it, it looks amazing. But if you are used to it, it is normal,” he says.
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Marilyn Loh Collado, M.D., an ob-gyn based in New Jersey, says that despite this method being defined as more “natural,” the mother still isn’t pushing, as many believe.
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According to Collado, the practice of using a smaller horizontal incision lower on the mother’s abdomen is safe for both the mother and baby.
“Depending on where you are in the United States, some patients get to see more than others depending on their conversations with their doctors and what you do in the case of a Cesarean section,” she says.
Women are choosing this “natural” option in order to mimic the experience of a vaginal delivery, accoring to research published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Potential risks always exist in childbirth, though, and “natural” c-sections are not immune to complications. Carlon explains that while this practice is generally safe, there are circumstances when it wouldn’t be the best option for mom and baby, like if there was a placental abruption or if the umbilical cord gets compressed or ends up wrapping around the baby’s neck (which happens in more traditional birthing methods as well). Jovanovic adds that there is also an increased risk of excess bleeding in the mother as well as infection due to the longer surgery time.