A Doula For My C-Section: What’s the Point?
I’m planning a c-section so I don’t need to find a doula, right?
What’s the point of hiring a doula for a c-section?
If I find out I need a cesarean birth, should I cancel my doula services?
These are commonly asked questions. The answer to each of them is this:
Can I have a doula for my c-section? Doulas are for EVERY kind of birth.
There is not just one profile or demographic that our doula teams serve. We provide education, physical support, emotional support, and genuine care for every birthing family. Your birth will be unique no matter what, and our job is to support your birth regardless of how baby is born.
When you hire us, your doula care includes two prenatal visits, and one of those is dedicated to reviewing your birth plan, or helping you construct it if you need assistance. Some people think that if they are having a planned cesarean birth, they do not need a birth plan. But I assure you, this is still a very important document to have!
A cesarean birth no longer has to be strictly standard surgery. It certainly can be if that is your preference. But with the growing prevalence of a gentle c-section, also called a family-centered c-section, there are lots of choices you can control.
Do you want the screen lowered to see your baby’s moment of birth? Do you want someone to hold the baby skin-to-skin for you while they stitch your incision? How soon do you want to breastfeed (if you are doing so)? If baby needs to go to the NICU for some reason, does your partner stay with you or go with your baby? Which of the routine procedures for baby are you requesting and which, if any, are you skipping? Does your provider offer the choices of “walking” baby out of the womb or seeding the microbiome? These are just a few of MANY aspects of a cesarean birth that can be considered and discussed with your provider.
We will also help you prepare for your postpartum period. We will help you set realistic expectations of what that will be like for you, and help you prepare for taking care of yourself and your baby. It is true that a cesarean birth is a major surgery, and you will likely want to build a team ahead of time to help you with recovery. Our Easy Postpartum Plan Worksheet is a fantastic tool for this, and we’re happy to walk you through it.
Maybe you have questions, concerns, or fears about a cesarean birth. Your doulas are available 24/7 to help you talk through these things and give compassionate emotional support as well as evidence-based information to help you make decisions that are right for your family.
Once baby’s birth-day arrives, your doula provides valuable support during the pre-operative period. We will explain procedures as they happen, help to answer questions you and your partner might have, and provide comfort measures during things like IV placement and the epidural or spinal block administration. We will help you remain calm, focused, and confident as you prepare to meet your baby.
In some hospitals – and more are coming on board with this – you get to choose who comes in the OR with you. In hospitals that do not yet allow your doula to enter into the OR, you can ask to have us scrub up and be ready to trade places if your partner needs to accompany baby elsewhere such as the NICU so that you are not left alone.
Having your doula present in the operating room is a definite asset. While your partner sticks close to you, providing comfort and support, your doula can describe what’s going on step by step or take photos of your birth. Or maybe you feel sick or shaky and your partner isn’t sure what to do to make you more comfortable so your doula can provide ideas and techniques to help. Perhaps your partner is taking pictures of baby for you to see, so your doula is keeping you calm and attending to your personal needs. However you want it to work, your doula is there to serve you and your partner, just as she would during a vaginal birth. We can help make sure that your wishes and desires from your birth plan are met whenever possible, and in cases where they cannot be, we help you understand your options and make confident decisions.
Once baby is born, there is a substantial period of time for post-operative procedures (stitching, etc.). During this time, your partner is often attending to baby, so I can stay with you and answer any questions, explain what the team is doing, describe baby, wipe tears (of joy, of course!) away, etc.
Your doulas also provide immediate postpartum care. We stay with you for a period of time immediately after the birth until you are settled into recovery and are feeling confident, typically 1-3 hours. During this time, we can help you initiate breastfeeding or a successful first bottle, help you find ways to hold baby that are not painful to your incision, answer any questions you have about self-care and baby care, etc.
Additional postpartum care is included, too. We check in with you over the next few days via phone and text, and set some times to visit with you while you’re still at the hospital and/or once you are home. And with every labor doula package at Phoenix Family Birth, you receive three hours of complimentary postpartum doula care that can be used in whatever ways best benefit your family. This care can be especially valuable during a cesarean recovery.
All of these things apply in the case of an unplanned cesarean as well.
So, really, the question becomes why in the world wouldn’t you hire a doula for your c-section?
If you’re planning a cesarean birth and would like more information about our doulas serving Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Maricopa, Ahwatukee, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, or Paradise Valley, please contact us today to schedule your free consultation!