If the thought of a doula at a cesarean birth is surprising to you, you aren't alone! There are a lot of misconceptions about doulas in general, and one big one is that doulas are only for a certain kind of birth.
During Cesarean Awareness Month we're taking the opportunity to honor our clients and people all over who have had cesarean births and we are sharing with you some ways that doulas support cesarean birth, whether planned or not.
understanding options and the process
Doulas are non-medical support people with a lot of knowledge about the birthing process and the facilities in which our clients are giving birth. We're familiar with the protocols of the hospital you are giving birth at and with the policies of your care provider. We can help you think through your options, ask questions, and create a constructive, collaborative dialogue with your OB as you plan for your birth.
If you're having a scheduled cesarean, you'll know your baby's birth day... but time is another story! Most families giving birth via cesarean report to the hospital in the morning, and sometimes it's a relatively quick process to get prepped and ready to give birth. Other times, it can be a lot of waiting. And waiting. And waiting.... Non-emergent cesareans often have to be bumped if there are other situations demanding the hospital's resources. Your doula will be with you and your partner, helping you pass the time, calming your nerves, and helping to keep you comfortable while you wait to meet your baby.
If your cesarean birth is unplanned, we'll be by your side as your birth takes an uncharted course. We'll be there to continue to bring calm to what can feel chaotic and help you and your partner stay connected and in communication with your medical care providers. It may be your first time going through this, but it isn't ours. We'll be able to help you understand what's happening and what comes next and will stay by your side throughout your birth if permitted by your hospital.
assistance during your birth
Depending on your birthing location, your doula may be allowed to accompany you and your partner in the operating room. Mission Hospital is supportive of doulas in the OR, and your Doulas of Asheville doulas have been through the hospital's orientation and OR training to provide this support. We'll be right by your side, helping you and your partner understand what's going on and doing everything we can to facilitate a calm and comforting environment as your baby is born.
Of course, the decision about who is permitted in the OR and when is always up to the medical team. If the circumstances don't permit your doula to accompany you during your cesarean, we'll be waiting outside to pick up support when you get to recovery. Sometimes (rarely) partners aren't permitted in the OR either, and your doula can stay with your partner providing emotional support during your birth. (Doulas are not currently permitted in the OR at Park Ridge, but we will typically be able to join you immediately following your birth to help you during your recovery.)
extra help during recovery & bonding with your baby
Once your baby is born, your doula will remain with you and your partner to help you bond with your baby right away. We can even help facilitate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding in the OR if you're feeling up to it. It's now the standard protocol at both Park Ridge and Mission to follow "family-centered cesarean" procedures whenever possible. This can mean things like keeping the lights low and soothing music on, dropping the drape so you can see your child's birth, immediate skin-to-skin with you and your baby, delay of routine newborn care (like bathing, weight & measurement, shots), and initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth. You'll want to talk about the logistics of your cesarean birth with your medical care providers during your pregnancy so everyone is on the same page about the care you'd like to have.
One thing we know for sure about birth is that it is unpredictable.
Even the most prepared people find themselves in situations they feel totally unprepared for, whether they are planning a vaginal birth with or without the help of medication, a cesarean birth, or a cesarean becomes necessary at some point and it wasn't your plan.
As your doulas, we can promise you our unconditional, unwavering, compassionate support no matter what.