Watch this baby practically push itself into the world—and find out more about this trending type of delivery.
Roughly a third of pregnant women give birth via cesarean section, according to a 2016 report from the CDC. But the type of C-section that probably comes to mind—an operation in which the mother's abdomen and uterus are cut open and the baby is pulled out hastily—isn't anything like the one in this viral video, which shows a newborn pretty much crawling out of the surgical cut on his own.
The Instagram clip, which has racked up 39,500 views, shows a so-called gentle C-section (also referred to as a "natural cesarean"). At first, the newborn wriggles and cries, but then with a little help from the doctor, pulls itself out. The entire time, the mother is conscious and watching. Crazy, right?
To learn more about this trending type of C-section, we reached out to Christine Greves, MD, an Orlando, Florida–based ob-gyn, to find out how it is performed, what benefits it has, and why more moms are opting for it over a traditional C-section.
To perform the procedure, the doctor will start the same way she would with a traditional C-section, making an incision and bringing the baby's head out first, says Dr. Greves. Then, the doctor will take a "momentary pause and let the baby try to wiggle its way out of the womb," just as the baby in the viral video did, she explains. During a traditional C-section, it's the physician who brings the baby entirely out of the uterus.
Gentle C-sections can also help a baby clear its lungs of amniotic fluid more quickly than during a traditional C-section. "The lungs are compressed a little more as they are during a vaginal birth, and that helps get the amniotic fluid out of the lungs," says Dr. Greves. "It helps the baby breath better."
Another difference between a natural C-section and a gentle one is the type of drapes used to separate the mother and baby. Dr. Greves says a clear drape is used during a gentle Cesarean so that the mother can witness her baby being born, just as she would during 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.
So who should deliver using a gentle C-section? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that doctors should always promote a vaginal delivery over any kind of cesarean. But if conditions aren't safe for mom and infant, or if a mother insists on a C-section, she and her ob-gyn can decide on whether delivery can be traditional or gentle. If the mother and baby are both in good health after an evaluation (the baby's heart rate and placenta location will be checked, as will the mother's vitals), then they can move forward with the more hands-off Cesarean.
However, if the baby's or mother's vital signs drop, Dr. Greves says a traditional C-section may be required. "If the NICU needs to evaluate a baby right away, we need to help get the baby out of the womb quickly," she says. Otherwise, the little one can take its own sweet time being hatched.