Should I hire a doula for a c-section?
Some people have the idea that doulas are only helpful for women that want to have a natural, unmedicated or vaginal birth.
Well, that just is not true!
Doulas benefit everyone, including mothers that are having a cesarean – whether it is planned or not.
“I had a great experience with the doulas of Buddha Belly. I had an extremely difficult twin pregnancy. Anytime it was getting too hard, or overwhelming I would reach out to them through text messaging. They always had kind and well-educated responses to my questions. I felt heard and loved for months before my delivery. I unexpectedly delivered 32 week preemies. Over the course of a week in the hospital, my entire birth plan fell apart due to health risks related to the babies.
I had unwavering support through phone calls and text messages during this whole time. We were woken up at 2am by a room full of people saying it was time for a cesarean. The first words out of my mouth were, “Call the doula!” My only regret is not calling sooner so we could have her calming presence earlier. I will always admire these women for taking such good care of me for the months during my pregnancy.” – Sarah B.
What does a doula do for a woman having a c-section?
Before the c-section:
1. Your doula can discuss with you exactly how the surgery and recovery process will go. She can explain the procedure and answer questions so you feel more prepared.
2. She can inform and discuss with you the possibility of a gentle cesarean.
She will help you determine what aspects of this might be important to you. If you decide to talk about this with you care provider, your doula can help you prepare ahead of time.
3. She can stay with you while waiting to go to the operating room to help you remain calm and relaxed.
During the c-section:
4. Your doula may be admitted in the operating room to stay by your side during the cesarean.
Some hospitals will allow a partner and/or doula to be with you for support and comfort. It is reassuring to have a familiar and friendly person by your side. If your partner is squeamish or does not wish to be present during the surgery, having a doula is a great alternative. Check with your hospital in advance to find out what their policies are. If you are interested in having your doula with you in the OR, tell your care provider this is something that you want.
5. During surgery your doula can talk to you, keep you informed of what is happening, answer questions and encourage you.
She will be standing or sitting next to you by your head and upper body. She may be able to hold your hand, place her hand on your arm or shoulder or stroke your hair so you do not feel alone.
6. Your doula can reassure you that your baby is okay. She can tell you what is happening with your baby to help you feel included in the process. The doctors and nurses are occupied by the surgery so it helps to have somebody by your side who is solely focused on you and your state of mind.
7. If you are feeling nervous or overwhelmed, your doula will be a calming presence and will remind you to breathe deeply, helping you to relax.
8. Your doula will know what symptoms and physical reactions are normal during a cesarean. She can reassure you that you are doing okay when you are experiencing these.
After the c-section:
9. Once your baby is born, your doula and a nurse attendant may be able to assist you with holding your baby on your chest and even breastfeeding your baby. Meanwhile the the medical professionals will complete your surgery.
10. If your baby is taken to a warmer for tests and newborn procedures after birth, or if your baby needs to visit the NICU immediately, your partner or a family member can go with your baby. Your doula will stay by your side to listen and care for you emotionally.
11. Once the c-section is completed and you are in the recovery room, your doula will stay with you, if allowed by your hospital.
She will make sure you are comfortable, relaxed and calm. When it’s okay to drink and eat after surgery, she will help you. She may be the one that orders your first meal for you!
12. Your doula can help you with your first breastfeeding session.
She can suggest specific breastfeeding positions that are helpful after a cesarean. Many hospitals have wonderful lactation counselors and nurses that will be there for you to guide and show you how to breastfeed. Your doula can augment this and will stay by your side, working only with you until you are succeeding at nursing your baby.
13. She may also assist you the first time you stand up to go to the bathroom, take a shower or change your clothes.
She can tend to your every need while supporting you in recovery – whether it is helping you to put your hair back, giving you an extra blanket or adjusting your bed and pillows. These things, while small, are helpful when you are recovering from major abdominal surgery.
Once you are home from the hospital:
14. Your doula will stay in touch with you in the immediate postpartum period. She will come for a postpartum visit within the first week after your baby is born.
She will check on you to make sure you are healing well, provide newborn care expertise and information, breastfeeding support, household assistance and any other immediate support that you need during her 1-2 hour visit.
15. For some women, a cesarean birth may be disappointing. Your doula can provide you with information about support groups and resources. She will also be a kind, non-judgemental friend and listening ear. Having an unbiased person to lean on can help you heal and recover.
“My daughter was born via C-section due to her frank breech presentation. She came unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, at 37 weeks. I was thrilled to have a healthy baby girl, but the c-section experience left me with some negative emotions.
My doula listened to my feelings. She helped me find support groups for new moms and c-section mothers. She told me I was not alone in my feelings, and that it was okay to have them. I knew it wasn’t my fault and my daughter and I had a wonderful bond. Every birth is a unique and precious experience.
I continue to give my doula updates on me and my daughter. She has become one of the closest and most trusted women in my circle. Her wealth of knowledge, her calm spirit and her open heart make her an amazing support person to have. Any woman would be lucky to have her as her doula.” – Autumn S.
Many families that have hired us were extremely grateful to have their doula with them when they needed a c-section.
It’s not possible to predict exactly what will happen during labor and birth. But one thing you can plan is to have a doula by your side. Doulas were made for supporting cesarean birth. They roll with the punches and adapt to your needs in every scenario. Processing and recovering from a c-section can be a little more challenging. Your doula will be by your side come what may. She will do everything in her power to make the transitions easier. And that sounds like a pretty invaluable resource to have.