Abel Hance was the first child born through “gentle” C-section at TCMH. He is pictured his mother, Jasmine Atkinson, and River Hance. Behind them are part of the obstetrics and surgery team, from left: Angela Watkins, obstetrics department director; Heather Lobough, CRNA; Dr. Christopher Baldwin, delivering physician; and Brittany Shepherd, obstetrics RN. 

Abel Hance is the first baby born with a new surgical procedure at Texas County Memorial Hospital.

The baby was delivered by “gentle” Ceasarean section, a new family-centered experience available for some surgical births at TCMH. Among the benefits are a clear drape for the mother to see the delivery and the ability to hold her baby for immediate skin-to-skin contact in the operating room.

“I saw Abel’s birth. I could hear him, and I could see my surroundings,” said the baby’s mother, Jasmine Atkinson of Licking. “It was awesome.

Atkinson and her partner, River, agreed to be part of the first gentle C-section performed by the hospital’s obstetrics and surgical teams. She had a traditional C-section for the birth of her first child due to medical complications during delivery, and said she was not prepared for the first surgical delivery experience which she called rushed.

“I knew I was having a C-section this time, and although I was nervous, everyone did a great job making me feel comfortable and part of the birth experience,” Atkinson said.

Dr. Christopher Baldwin, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston, was Atkinson’s delivering physician. Atkinson said Baldwin’s lighthearted demeanor, provided reassurance for her.

Jim Spantgos, certified registered nurse anesthetist for the procedure, offered to play Beatles music during the delivery.

“I didn’t bring any music to listen to, and the music was very calming,” Atkinson said.

Baby Hance did not have any complications at birth, so he was able to be placed on his mother’s chest in the operating room. His first breastfeeding experience was also successful, lasting 40 minutes.

Atkinson said with her first surgical delivery it was over two hours before she was able to see her baby.

“The gentle C-section was above my expectations,” she said. “Everyone worked together in a timely manner. It was amazing.”

River Hance was in the operating room with his partner for her delivery. He was able to cut the umbilical cord for his son and have skin-to-skin contact with the baby shortly after birth, too.

“I was able to see everything,” Hance said, describing the experience as one that “blew me away.”

Angela Watkins, obstetrics director at TCMH, said that the delivering physicians at TCMH were very supportive of adopting the gentle C-section whenever possible for surgical deliveries at TCMH.

“In cases where the C-section is planned and there are no medical emergencies requiring a quick surgical delivery, we have the tools and team to provide the family-centered C-section experience,” Watkins said.

Watkins noted that the immediate skin-to-skin contact in the operating room helps regulate the baby’s temperature after a surgical delivery. Breastfeeding shortly after birth also increases the likelihood of breastfeeding success after the mother and child are discharged from the hospital.

The number of births by Ceasarean section fall below the national average at TCMH, but, according to Watkins, TCMH wanted those births to be just as centered on the family experience as a traditional birth.

“Many women have found a C-section to be disappointing because they can’t see the birth, they don’t see the baby for a long time after giving birth, they can’t hold the baby after birth and they may not even remember the birth,” Watkins said.

Originating in Europe, the gentle C-section has been adopted by some large women’s hospitals in the country the past couple of years.

“At TCMH we pride ourselves in providing excellent one-on-one patient-centered obstetrical care,” Watkins said. “We got some clear, surgical drapes, and I worked with our surgery and labor and delivery teams to set up the protocols to do gentle C-sections whenever possible.”

Watkins complimented the surgery and obstetrics teams for working together for an amazing first gentle C-section.

“The gentle C-section is a new approach to a surgical procedure that hasn’t been changed in many years,” Watkins said. “It is a new way to provide a better patient experience, which is always important to TCMH.”

For additional information about the gentle C-section or other delivery options at TCMH, contact Watkins at 417-967-1260.

“I saw Abel’s birth. I could hear him, and I could see my surroundings. It was awesome.”


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