A Natural Cesarean | What every woman should know before birth (Also called a ‘gentle’ cesarean or a ‘mother-centered’ cesarean)

Have you thought about what type of cesarean section you’d have if your birth called for one unexpectedly?

When I was pregnant with Levi, I prepared for a natural birth through our local birthing center. I was hoping to have an unmedicated water birth (or at least labor in water), but when I showed up to the birthing center at six centimeters dilated after many hours of active labor at home, we discovered that our little boy was breech.

Not long after I was being wheeled into surgery to have him delivered by c/section.

Although I was disappointed in the change of plans, it wasn’t at all traumatic. I had a beautiful birth experience and was just so happy to have my son finally in my arms. (It also helped that I went into labor spontaneously and so I knew that both he and I were ready.)

I had considered the possibility of something happening to warrant a c/section, but I hadn’t thought through the details of what I hoped for should the possibility turn into a reality.

With this birth, I have!

Although I am planning on having an all-natural VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) using non-medical pain-coping methods, I am well-aware that things can change mid-labor! I’ve put a small section in my “birth preferences” that list a couple of requests in the event that I need a repeat c/section… and then I found this video! It perfectly describes the type of caesarean I would like if the need arises:

Dear friends, I encourage you to have a look at this video and think about your own birth preferences. Even if they are different to mine, it’s worth taking the time to decide how much of your birth experience you’d like to shape… as well as some alternatives in case things change for you along the way.

About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • Rachel
    23 September 2011 at 9:44 pm

    That’s beautiful Adriel! I’ve filed this clip away as my preferred way for a c-section to go if I ever find myself in that position. Thanks for this.

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      24 September 2011 at 8:08 am

      I know, right?! Wouldn’t it be great if this were the norm? Sounds like they’re moving toward this in the UK. Here’s to hoping the rest of us will follow…

  • Nessa
    23 September 2011 at 10:29 pm

    That is the most beautiful c-section I have ever seen! What a wonderful doctor and birth team.

  • Secret Mom Thoughts
    24 September 2011 at 2:32 am

    I had an unexpected c-section with my first. I always said it didn’t matter how the baby got here if they got here healthy.

  • Samantha
    24 September 2011 at 9:47 am

    That is awesome! Thank you so much for posting this! I had a planned c-section due to medical conditions, and I’ll have to do the same in the future. This is everything I missed! Because the labor and delivery recovery room was full, I had to recover in the general OR recovery area without my precious girl. While I’m glad that my husband got to be with our daughter in the nursery, two plus hours was just too long to wait to really get to hold her!

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      24 September 2011 at 8:05 pm

      oh, two hours – that’s tough! i know some moms don’t get to hold their babies for much longer due to medical complications with bubby… but when they’re perfectly heathy it’s such a shame!! i didn’t get to hold levi for about 1.5 hrs (for no good reason) so if i end up with another c/s i will be sure to be telling them my wishes! 🙂

  • Nicole
    24 September 2011 at 11:25 am

    AHHH! Thank you for posting this 🙂 Love how they are trying to make C-Section more personal in the UK! Hopin other countries catch on quick 😉 And hope your labour goes well Adriel! Bless you.

  • Laura
    24 September 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Dearest Ariel- Thanks so much for sharing this video clip! It was absolutely beautiful. Although I had my first baby with emergency c-section 35 yrs ago, after 18 hours of labor, I was unable to see my son for about SIX HOURS! My doctor back in my home state refused to even consider a VBAC for my second. Still I was seperated from my daughter for at least 3 hours. I know that was back in the dark ages, but it really was traumatic just the same. So blessed that things are improving! Hopefully they will do this technique in the US. Blessings~

    • Adriel
      27 September 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Wow, I can only imagine how LONG those six hours must have felt. 🙁 And then the three with your second daughter. 🙁 Thankfully more and more doctors are realizing that it’s actually safer to attempt a VBAC than it is to have an elective c/s (in most cases). Things have come a long way… but we still have a ways to go! And yeah, sometimes c/s is best, and when that’s the case, wouldn’t you just love it to look like this? I would!!!

  • Debi
    26 September 2011 at 12:39 am

    WOW! Thanks for posting this! I love passion the medical team has for the bond between baby and mother! It should be what is the norm…I agree! And like the doctor put it, that there is no reason it shouldn’t become the norm it is just a matter of a change of mindset! the more it is known I agree with what the doctor said…it will be more of a demand once more women are informed about “Natural Csections”.

    • Adriel
      27 September 2011 at 1:16 pm

      Ah, knowledge is power, that’s for sure! 🙂

  • Lindsey Whitney
    27 September 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful alternative!

  • Bracie
    8 November 2012 at 7:51 am

    I’ve had a natural birth, emergency section, VBAC, & scheduled section due to complete previa. I’m now due with my 5th child in May. The doctor I’m seeing is the ONLY one in three towns that will see me. I already do not like him. He has terrible bedside manners and I’m terribly uncomfortable with him. I wanted to try a home birth but that seems too risky considering I’ve had 2 sections already. My ultimate choice is a VBAC. My options of that are NONE. If i MUST have a section i definitely would want one like this. My first section was an emergency so you can imagine how traumatic that was both for me and baby. I’m terrified of another section. TERRIFIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Adriel Booker
      3 January 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Oh dear, Bracie! I hope that you can take some of the things in this video and make suggestions to your doctor for how to make the section more gentle for you and bubby. I’m sorry that his bedside manners aren’t good. That really is terrible and does nothing to help a mother’s confidence in this vulnerable time! I really do hope that things will improve for you before your little darling is born.

      Congrats on your 5th child. That is just wonderful. 🙂
      Adriel Booker recently posted..With love & cheerMy Profile

  • Jaime
    29 December 2012 at 7:18 am

    With my first son, I labored at home, wanting a natural birth but he was born by emergency c-section after 32 hours of labor, because the cord was around his neck. My second son was a scheduled c-section because the doctors told me that he was going to be too large to attempt a VBAC. Ten years later, I am pregnant with my third baby, a daughter, and I am planning a c-section. I didn’t get to even see my first son until he was three days old. I didn’t get to hold my second son for six hours after he was born because of “hospital protocol”. I have been dreading the time and precious bonding time I am going to miss out on with this baby and I never dreamed that family centered cesareans existed. Thank you so much for posting this video. I don’t know if this is something I will be able to do here in the US but it has given me hope for a more natural birth with my child. Thank you for that hope.

    • Adriel Booker
      3 January 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Oh, you’re welcome Jaime! I was so pleased to find this video as well! We will never know if some of these options exist unless we ask (and possibly persist a little!).

      I so hope you get a more natural birth for your daughter, even if you do end up with another c-section. Congrats on your pregnancy and I hope it all goes very smoothly for you! xx

  • Bracie
    4 January 2013 at 12:35 am

    Thank you Adriel. I found a VBAC friendly dr!!!! Hopefully I will at least get a trial of labor.

  • […] Have some understanding about c-sections and recovery… just case. (Ever heard of a “gentle […]

  • Kelly
    17 January 2014 at 5:45 pm

    What a beautiful new mom with her baby. I enjoyed that. Thanks for posting!

  • Rebecca
    22 January 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Wonderful share. I absolutely loved watching this video.

  • Julie
    29 January 2014 at 12:39 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I have one question and please do not get me wrong since I mean no disrespect. I have been reading a lot of birth stories lately and some have a common element: the parents did not know the baby was breech.
    May I ask how come? I mean, doesn’t your obgyn or midwife tell you the baby’s position? They can see it when you go for the scans. With my first pregnancy I knew the baby’s position since week 28. When I saw the doctor at 34-36-38 weeks, every time she checked the baby’s position. So I am just curious…

    I apologize if I have offended you in any way and thank you again for sharing this with us.

    Julie recently posted..Exercising During PregnancyMy Profile

    • Shannon
      12 February 2014 at 1:00 pm


      That is a great question. My little girl was breech up to 30 weeks and then was head down right until my water broke. She flipped when I went into labor (I had an ultrasound just two weeks prior that confirmed head down). I was shocked when I got to the hospital and found out she was breech. I wish I had handled myself with more poise and grace, but I was truly scared and grieved the water birth I had hoped to have with the major surgery I was facing. I am hoping that when we have another I will be able to have a VBAC. I know however that I might not have that option for any number of reasons and would truly love to be able to have a more natural cesarean such as the one shown here.


    • Adriel
      13 February 2014 at 10:22 am

      Hi Julie, great question – and not offensive at all. 🙂

      In Australia you only generally get two scans – a dating scan and the 20 week morphology scan. I did have a couple extra scans after 20 weeks due to some soft markers on my first, but none toward the end of pregnancy. All positioning is felt externally by the providers – ultra sounds aren’t used.

      My midwife (who was one of the most senior midwives at my birthing center) had delivered hundreds and hundreds of babies in her career and had never missed a breach baby like this before. There was some question when she felt my son’s “bum was bony” (really the head) during exams and the head (really the bum) was moving as it should have (side to side). She had three other midwives check my positioning at various appointments because of that, but they all said the same thing – that they felt his bum up high and his head down low. Well, they were all wrong. In retrospect, I think she learned that if she had that shred of doubt to order a scan, but it’s not common practice here to scan for things like positioning. Doctors don’t have their own machine in the office like you see in America in order to whip it out and do a quick check. It’s something you have to order to have done and go to a separate appointment. Anyway, it wasn’t until 12 hours into labor that I went in to the birthing center (I waited to go in until active labor was established) and when my midwife did an internal, that’s when she discovered that that head was not a head, but a little bony bum fully engaged and not going anywhere!! I didn’t even unpack my bags before being transferred for a c/s as my hospital only has one doctor willing to perform breech deliveries and he wasn’t on duty at the time. I only wish I had seen this video before I had him! There are definitely things I would have asked to be done differently!!

      With my second I was so afraid of something like this happening again! We had several scans with him because it was thought he had Down syndrome (he didn’t), and those scans continued into the third trimester. Close to the end I had one last scan, but that last one was mostly due to my insistence that I wanted to be sure of his positioning since I was going to try for a VBAC!

      In the end, both births were successful, and for that I’m grateful.
      Adriel recently posted..Are You a Leader or a Manager? | How Leadership Changes Our ParentingMy Profile

  • Sarah
    31 January 2015 at 3:50 am

    Thank you so much! This has put my fears of having an unplanned C-Section at rest. I will definitely demand it happen this way if necessary!

  • Lisa
    21 October 2015 at 11:37 am

    Hi Adriel, This video is beautiful and exactly what I wish for after a traumatic emergency c-section delivery with bub #1. Im not sure where you live in Oz, but do you know of any hospitals/practitioners that are using this gentle method of c-section birthing? I would love to have this option with bub #2 (sadly unable to have VBAC) and have been told by my OB that it’s not really possible and I can only have baby with me in recovery if there is no other patient in there 🙁 So basically no guarantees and my guess is that it will be a routine c-section. It would be great to find out if any hospitals around my area are shifting to this way of c-section deliveries.

    • Adriel Booker
      5 November 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Honestly Lisa, I’m not sure. I was living in Townsville when I posted this and we now live in Sydney. At the time I had never heard of these methods and felt so sad that I missed out on the possibility of a c/s that looked more like this. I’ve not yet heard of births in Australia going this direction but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hospitals/doctors willing to if we ask! I certainly hope there are!! Perhaps you can bring your phone in and ask your doctor to watch the video? Or see if you can email it to him/her?


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