A Melbourne woman who helped deliver her baby in a maternal assisted caesarean birth at Epworth Freemasons has described it as “one of the best experiences” of her life.
In a maternal assisted caesarean, the obstetrician partially lifts up the baby, allowing the mother to then lift the baby out of her own womb and onto her chest.
For Stacey Allison, son Harvey was her fourth baby, but her first maternal assisted caesarean delivery.
Stacey’s first son Bailey was born by an emergency C-section 14 years ago. Her daughter Ruby, now aged five, and second son Toby, now aged two and a half, were also C-section births.
Stacey said she heard about maternal assisted caesarean births from a friend.
“For someone who hasn’t been able to experience a vaginal birth, a maternal assisted caesarean section birth was the closest I would get, so that’s why I opted for one if we could and it was pretty amazing.”
“While you still have nerves going into the operating theatre as with any operation, it felt a lot different compared with the other very clinical C-sections where you don’t get to hold your baby, you only get to have a quick look before they whisk them away for checks.”
“It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. Every birth is special, but just that moment when I lifted him up and put him on my chest, and the connection and the love and outpouring of emotion, it was just magical.”
Stacey said those first moments together were wonderful.
“That whole experience from reaching down to pick up the baby to put them on your chest was quite healing. He was on my chest for so long and I definitely felt more of a bond straight away. I felt it made my post partum experience more positive.”
Obstetrician Dr Stephen Cole introduced maternal assisted caesarean births at Epworth Freemasons in 2020.
Dr Stephen Cole said many women feel somewhat removed from their birth experience with traditional caesarean sections.
“Maternal assisted caesareans are a way of trying to help mothers feel much more engaged in their birth experience and give them an opportunity to experience that immediate bond with their baby, that is often lacking from the way we have traditionally done caesareans,” Dr Cole said.
”Not all women will feel comfortable with a maternal assisted caesarean, but every woman I have looked after who has chosen a maternal assisted delivery has found it to be an incredibly positive and emotional experience. I’m proud that I have been able to introduce this technique at Epworth, and opened up this opportunity for women”.
Stacey said Dr Cole was incredibly reassuring.
“He was so lovely and nurturing and comforting. I got nervous in theatre and he said Stacey, come on, you’ve nearly delivered more babies than I have. He just put me at ease.”
A maternal assisted caesarean may not be suitable for every patient and to ensure the safety of the mother and the baby, medical criteria applies. Women considering this kind of birth should discuss their individual situation with their obstetrician.
More than 200 women have helped deliver their babies through a maternal assisted caesarean at Epworth Freemasons Maternity between 2020 and 2023.