Cesarean Birth Support? Doulas Do That!
It's no secret that many people hire doulas in pursuit of an unmedicated vaginal delivery. This is so true, in fact, that most assume this is exactly what doulas are for: "natural births," as the saying often goes.
But the real secret here is that that's just not true! While research has shown that women who receive continuous labor support may be more likely to give birth 'spontaneously', i.e. vaginally, that doesn't mean that those are the only types of births that doulas support.
Doulas. Do. It. ALL.
Whether you give birth at home, a birth center, a hospital delivery room, or a hospital operating room; whether you choose no medication, nitrous oxide, an epidural, or IV pain meds; whether you birth standing, kneeling, squatting, or on your back—your doula can/will/DOES support that type of birth. Full stop.
How do doulas support cesarean births? Let me count the ways—
On-Call From The Beginning
As with any other type of birth, your doula still goes on call. Unfortunately, schedule as we may, babies don't always get the memo that their delivery date has already been chosen. You may go into labor earlier that planned, and if you do, your doula will be ready, waiting for your call to support you as you adjust your plans—whether that means going in to deliver via cesarean ahead of schedule, trying to stop labor (in the event that this occurs preterm), or changing your birth plan entirely.
Your doula will still be there for you throughout your pregnancy, throughout your cesarean prep, and as soon as possible postpartum to answer any questions that you have. They can walk you through what to expect before, during, and after your birth. If you're delivering at a hospital that allows more than one support person in the operating room, your doula will be there, too!
Maybe you weren't originally planning a cesarean. Or maybe you're just nervous now that the plans are set, or now that the day has finally arrived! However you are feeling about your birth plans, your doula has been trained to support you through those feelings.
In the event that no one is allowed to be present for the actual delivery, your doula can provide partner support, answering questions and calming nerves until the delivery is over. Or, if both your doula and your partner are allowed in the room for delivery, then that means once the baby is born, there is someone there for you AND someone there for the baby.
Comfort measures can still be practiced leading up to delivery day to help with the typical aches and pains that come with pregnancy, and if you do go into labor prior to your scheduled cesarean, your doula can still provide the same physical support they would for any other laboring person until you are prepped for birth.
Recovery from cesarean birth is similar to recovery from vaginal births in some ways, but it's also different in a lot of ways. Your doula can help you to navigate the postpartum period, from providing initial feeding support and helping with positions that may be most comfortable for nursing and holding the baby, to assisting in making a recovery plan for once you leave the hospital. A postpartum doula can also be a great asset for once you and baby arrive home.