April 19, 2021
How a Doula Supports You During Cesarean Birth
By: Sherri Wilkerson, LCCE, CD(DONA) | 0 Comments
Statistically speaking, most expectant couples will experience labor before giving birth, and increasingly, those couples are hiring a doula for labor support. Some of the births will, due to various reasons, will result in a cesarean. What does doula support look like in those situations? When you hire a doula, it's important to have conversations about the details of doula support for the many variations labor and birth can take, including c-section. The good news is, a doula can still be an invaluable support person in the event of cesarean.
How a doula will support you during an unexpected cesarean will vary somewhat based on the location of your birth. Some hospitals allow an additional support person in the OR, but most do not. If your doula is not allowed into the OR, the following are ways you can still receive helpful support from a doula through cesarean:
- During preparation for surgery (prior to leaving the birthing room for the operating room), a doula can help hold the birth space amid the chaos that often takes place during this time. If you have been laboring in a soft, ambient environment, that will need to change as staff prepares for surgery. A doula will help you maintain focus, reduce fears, and provide affirmation and encouragement.
- A doula also will help encourage you to ask questions about anything needing clarification, whether that's a play-by-play of what to expect in the OR or just the basic facts.
- During a cesarean, your doula can communicate with additional loved ones waiting on you, if that's your wish. Your doula can reassure confused or concerned loved ones by passing along any information that you allow.
- If your doula does not join you in the OR, they can transfer belongings to and help prepare your postpartum room. Many hospitals will have a postpartum room number ready prior to surgery. If that's the case, your doula can transfer bags, pillows, toiletries and other things to that room to make it more welcoming and the transition a bit easier after post-operative recovery. Your doula may even make up the guest bed (if available) with fresh linens/pillows so partner/support person can enjoy a restful space too.
- Depending on hospital policy, your doula also may join you in post-op recovery to attend to your needs, including assistance with breastfeeding, taking pictures, support with one parent while the other needs to go with baby for procedures, postpartum recovery questions, etc.
- Once the transfer from recovery to postpartum takes place, your doula can help you settle into the postpartum room. What happens here largely depends on what you want and need. Your doula can assist by providing nourishment and/or coffee; breastfeeding guidance; and answering questions. Most importantly, your doula will also know when it's time to leave so you can enjoy time alone as a new family.
It can be stressful when birth plans change drastically and unexpectedly. A good doula can help you make the transition to parenthood even, or especially, when the process doesn't happen as planned. Be sure to talk with your doula early -- well before labor -- about alternative doula care scenarios. This reassurance will help you to go into your labor and birth experience with confidence!
Sherri Wilkerson LCCE, CD(DONA) is the founder and owner of A Better Birth Doula Services in the greater Atlanta, GA area where she works as a DONA certified doula and Lamaze certified childbirth educator. She has a passion for giving people tools to navigate childbirth education, labor and birth, and the postpartum period, because childbirth is a memory experience that stays with families forever. Learn more at A Better Birth Doula Services.
TagsBirth Cesarean Unexpected Events Cesarean Awareness Month Doula Support Doula's Role Cesarean Birth C-section Change in birth plans Doulas and cesarean