Clear drapes allow couples having C-section births to witness the beauty of baby ‘being lifted out of my belly’

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Proud parents Allison and Brent were given the amazing opportunity to watch their C-section birth through clear curtains, a beautiful option some couples are now choosing. Mom Allison said they were “so thankful” to be able to witness the moment their son, Bennett, was “being lifted out of my belly.” 

“We had a natural birth with our first child and hoped to do it again with Bennett. That changed at our 20 week appointment when I was diagnosed with Placenta Previa. We obviously hoped for something to change, but began to educate ourselves on how to have the most family-friendly Cesarean birth possible. Along with some of our other preferences like immediate skin-to-skin and being accompanied by our awesome doula, we found out our hospital offers clear drapes to watch the baby being born. All it took was a simple request with the nurses as we checked in at the hospital and they made sure we would have one for the birth.

Pregnant woman lies in operating room before c-section
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula

In the operating room, they set up the standard blue drapes as normal but with the clear drapes behind it. At the moment the doctors were ready to pull Bennett out, they lowered the blue drapes so we could watch our baby boy being born. For the squeamish types (like my husband) the drapes were arranged to hide the operation site and just provide a view of Bennett being lifted out of my belly.

Baby being delivered via c-section while mother watches through clear screen
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula
OBGYN's deliver baby via c-section and mother watches through clear screen
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula

We are so thankful we got to witness this moment. Just like with our first child, seeing our baby for the first time will be cherished forever. Our goal was to not miss out on any part of the beautiful birth experience just because we were scheduled to have a C-Section. And thanks to our amazing doctors, nurses, and doula, we had an amazing and beautiful birth experience.”

Husband and wife smile while wife holds newborn after c-section
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula

Their birth photographer and doula, Tracy Abney, said she could relate to her client’s desire for the clear curtains because her strongest memory from her own cesarean birth was “being the very last person in the room” to see her child. Abney told Love What Matters that clear drapes are now becoming more popular, but previously, she had clients driving more than 2 hours to deliver at a hospital that offered them.

“The very strongest memory I have from my own cesarean birth 13 years ago was being the very last person in the room to see my baby. I felt oddly detached hearing my baby cry but not being able to see her and knowing everyone else in that room knew what color hair she had and what she looked like, except me. When they finally brought her to me, she was wrapped in what seemed like a million blankets, with one even covering her head. A little burrito baby. They let me kiss her, then whisked her away with my husband to the nursery. I remember thinking, while they were stitching me back up, that I couldn’t remember who she looked like. In fact, I couldn’t remember her sweet face at all. I was alone and scared.

After years and years of countless women requesting for something different, the concept of a family-centered cesarean emerged and a clear drape appeared on the scene. For a while, none of the hospitals in our immediate area carried the clear drapes, so some women were traveling up to 2.5 hours away to another hospital to get them. Even though clear drapes are now available in our local facilities, families are still driving past their nearest hospital to head to the ones that provide families with what they need and want, including having an additional support person allowed in the OR, such as a doula.

Mother holds newborn to chest after c-section while husband stands behind looking at baby
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula

The day of Allison’s birth we met in the parking lot, walked into the hospital together, and waited in triage. They took the three of us (Allison, her husband, and myself) back to the OR, where they instructed her husband and I to garb up while they placed her spinal block in preparation for the birth. When we came in Allison was ready to go, with the blue opaque drape attached to the clear one, and they had two stools for us on either side of her head. Her husband held her hand, and I would occasionally mention what was happening and what sensations were normal. When it was time for their son’s birth, the nurse removed the blue drape and pooled it on Allison’s chest.

The clear drape allowed Allison to be an active participant in their baby’s birth. This wasn’t a birth that just ‘happened to her’ with a sense of detachment, but it was her giving birth to her son.  She  was able to see him the moment he was out of the womb. She was able to watch the moment her son was born, and the moment he took his first breath. She was able to see his features, his hair, his chubby little cheeks and legs. Able to not only hear him cry, but watch his lip quiver with the sound. She got to watch the umbilical cord being cut. (Meanwhile I was watching her husband’s eyes fill with tears as his son was placed on his wife’s chest.) That was all made possible because of this clear drape. What a beautiful, sweet, and full experience!

The nurses then took the baby, for just a second, and the blue opaque drape was reattached so the physicians could finish the cesarean. The baby was brought back to Allison, put skin-to-skin on her chest, and she and her husband were able to watch, listen, and admire their sweet baby son while still in the OR. Instead of it being a detached experience for her, it was a beautiful bonding time with her son and husband.

Mother laying in hospital bed after c-section holding hand of newborn
Tracy Abney, Birth Doula

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tracy Abney, Birth Doula, of Madison, Alabama, and her clients Allison and Brent.  Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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