Women spend hours imagining what their births will be like, and creating birth plans that will help them to have their best births—learning coping and breathing skills, making sure the ambiance in the room is right, choosing the best birth team—it’s all so important.

Up until recently, this has only been a prerogative of women having vaginal births. But that’s changing.

Thanks to the pioneering efforts of doctors, midwives and nurses around the country, more and more women have access to an awesome new type of birth—the gentle cesarean section.

A gentle C-section is meant to create an environment and energy that is as calm and pleasant as possible. Special attention is paid to the atmosphere in the operating room to ensure the space feels peaceful and therapeutic, like music, essential oils and low talking.

When it’s time for the baby to be born, the doctors help ease the baby out slowly—head, shoulder, abdomen, and then legs—much like what happens in a vaginal birth. Skin-to-skin bonding is often done right in the OR, and sometimes breastfeeding can even be initiated there too.

Some hospitals are even offering moms clear drapes, instead of the standard blue one that goes up just under the woman’s breasts to prevent her from seeing any of the birth. With the clear drape, the woman has the ability to look down and actually watch her baby be born (don’t worry—she won’t be able to see much of the actual surgery because her belly will be in the way).

This options isn’t always available. For example if a cesarean section needs to happen quickly for the safety of the mother or baby, it may not be possible. And certainly, some women may not want this type of birth, which, of course, is completely okay.

It’s just awesome to know it exists when possible, for the women that do want it.

Tabitha Dawes delivered her fourth baby via a gentle cesarean brith at N.C. Women's Hospital and told them, “I learned that... how you give birth—even when you need a cesarean section—can be an open conversation. As a mother, that changed how I viewed the experience..."

Gentle cesareans are a huge step in the right direction. We need to bring birth back to women. Women need options and choices, autonomy and respect. Becoming a mother is one of the most momentous events in a woman’s lifetime—she deserves to have it be her best birth.

Dr. William Camann of Brigham and Women's Hospital told NPR, “No one is trying to advocate for C-sections. We really don't want to increase the cesarean rate, we just want to make it better for those who have to have it.”