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Angela Guse and infant

Thankful for natural C-section

Uncommon child birth technique delivers joy and happiness at Buffalo Hospital

By Ed DuBois

After losing a baby during childbirth, Angela Guse and her husband, Dr. Shawn Guse, were not certain they wanted to try having another baby. But Angela came across some information about a relatively new and uncommon type of Cesarean called a natural, family-centered C-section.

She learned about it through the International Cesarean Awareness Network, and now that her new baby, Ozias, has joined the family, she is very happy.

"Once you go through losing a baby, it (natural C-section) is quite amazing," she said. "It changes everything. You appreciate it more."

She had experienced birth by Cesarean with her first two children, Beck, who is now 10, and Kai, 7.

Awareness and thanks

"In the past, it was like you were at the races. It was like, 'Let's get that baby out!'" Angela said. "A natural C-section is more like a vaginal birth."

She was grateful it is performed safely and compassionately.

Angela asked to tell her story in the newspaper so she could help make more women aware of the natural C-section option, and so she could express her very sincere thanks to the health care team and the hospital for a wonderful experience. She mentioned that close to 30 percent of all births in the U.S. are by Cesarean.

Search ended in Buffalo

Angela, who lives in Elk River, had searched for a doctor who was willing to perform a natural C-section.

"They are hard to find. Natural C-sections are not common yet, especially in rural areas. They are a little more common in big cities," she said.

Many doctors were interviewed, and then Angela met Dr. Teri McNelis at the Buffalo Hospital. McNelis was receptive to the idea of performing a natural C-section. Angela said McNelis was willing to "look outside the box."

But first, she needed to check with the OR team. They needed to be onboard, McNelis said.  A natural C-section is a team project.

She further explained that the pace of a natural C-section is slower than a more conventional C-section, and all team members needed to be OK with that.

McNelis had read about natural C-sections in OB-GYN news sources. She performed a literature search and gathered more information.

Woman-centered technique

One of the best pieces she found about natural Cesarean referred to it in the heading as a "woman-centered technique." The article stated that increasing evidence shows that women undergoing Cesareans have a less satisfactory childbirth experience than those delivered vaginally and are more prone to postnatal depression, bonding difficulties and unsuccessful breastfeeding.  The goal of developing the natural C-section technique was to emulate as closely as practicable the woman-centered aspects of natural vaginal birth.

Warm and caring

Preparations for Angela included more blankets in the operating room, which is colder than a birthing room.

Angela was awake for the birth and was given spinal anesthesia. The OR team had come to her hospital room before the operation to introduce themselves and explain the role of each team member.

"The energy in the room was so warm, calm, excited and respectful," Angela said.

Skin-to-skin contact

A key component of a natural C-section is immediate skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby.

Also, when the baby's head is out, time is allowed for breathing to begin as the pressure from the uterus helps the baby expel liquid from the lungs, mimicking what happens during a vaginal delivery. While this is taking place, the baby's trunk is still in utero and remains attached to the placental circulation.

The baby's well-being is checked while lying on Mom's chest. Clamping and cutting the cord takes place later than usual.

Angela said a clear drape between her face and her abdomen allowed her to see what was happening. Her husband and a friend who is a midwife were with her in the OR, and picture taking was allowed. Also, a video camera and a monitor helped show Angela the birth.

Joyful delivery

"The team was amazing and so very kind. Everyone's focus was on us and delivering our baby. They explained what they were doing and made me feel respected, comfortable and in good hands. They did a fantastic job of delivering Ozias," Angela said.

"We cried joyfully while saying, 'He's alive!' What an amazing feeling to have his warm body lay right up against mine! Something I will always cherish and remember," she commented.

Angela added that the experience far surpassed anything she could have imagined.

"Everyone really enjoyed it," said McNelis. "It was a cool experience. It was rewarding."

From tragedy to happiness

For the birth, which took place on Sept. 9, 2015, Angela wore her blessing way necklace from the birth of Jaeda, the baby she lost on Feb. 23, 2014.

A home birth had been planned, but the uterus ruptured during the final stages of labor. A snowstorm delayed the trip by ambulance to the hospital in Maple Grove. Jaeda died, but her body plugged the rupture in the uterus and stopped the bleeding saving Angela's life.

A surprise pregnancy that led to the birth of Ozias has turned tragedy into joy.

"It was so beautiful," Angela said.

After losing Jaeda, the very pleasant experience of delivering Ozias helped "increase the feeling of bringing a new life into the world," she explained.

Studying to help others

"This stirred a passion to help women with their births and make them good experiences. I am studying to be a doula," Angela said. (A doula is a birth companion and supporter.)

Currently working with her husband as an office manager at Guse Chiropractic in Maple Grove, Angela hopes to devote some of her time outside the office to supporting other moms.

She feels blessed by the surprise pregnancy and the opportunity to experience a natural C-section, and she would like to share it with others.