Some of the questions that we receive most often during consultations involve doulas and an upcoming planned cesarean birth: Can a doula actually help me if I am planning a cesarean birth? Will I benefit from doula support when my birth is so straightforward? Is it really worth it to have my doula there?
The short answer: We sure think so! We believe that no matter which way your baby arrives into this world, you deserve compassionate support, full bodily autonomy, and informed consent -- even when there are a few more “knowns” in terms of the actual birth plan.
Here are three reasons why doulas can be vitally helpful in the event of a planned cesarean birth:
1. Sometimes cesarean wasn’t always the plan.
Some folks have always known that they would need to birth a baby by cesarean due to a pre-existing medical condition, or simply a preference to birth by this method. For folks who have been planning a vaginal birth, it can be a huge change of plans during pregnancy when a cesarean birth becomes medically necessary. Whether you've always known, or this is the new plan, cesarean birth can bring up a lot of feelings like fear, anxiety and shame, as well as joy, excitement and anticipation. As doulas, one of our most important jobs is to walk through that emotional journey with you. We are here to listen to your fears, we are here to comfort you and validate you, and we are here to make sure that you have as much information as you need to make the decisions that are right for you, your body, and your baby.
2. You still have options.
Did you know that you can still create a birth “plan” for your planned cesarean birth? Depending on where you live and at which hospital you are birthing, you can still make decisions about how you want your birth to be. Many hospitals offer Gentle or Family-Centered cesarean birth, which can sometimes include delayed cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin and initiation of breastfeeding while you are still in the OR. Would you like to watch the birth of your baby? You may ask if the surgeon uses a clear drape, a drape with a window in it, or if they are able to lower the drape so you may see your baby be born. You may also request that they angle a mirror so you can watch! You may be able to bring your doula and/or birth photographer into the OR with the permission of the team administering your care. These are all questions and considerations that you may discuss with your doctor and your hospital before the birth of your baby. Check out your options! Luna Doulas offers a prenatal planning session that can be tailored to exploring these questions and choices.
3. Postpartum recovery and healing can be challenging after cesarean.
One of the most significant challenges to cesarean birth is the postpartum recovery and healing period. There are many physical and mental needs to be considered at this time, including the healing if your incision site, the limit on how much weight you can lift or carry, an extended hospital stay, managing pain and discomfort as you heal from the surgery, finding a comfortable position for feeding, and ensuring that you rest as much as possible. This can be very challenging alongside caring for your newborn. With Luna Doulas, not only will we be there, at the hospital, before the birth of your child by cesarean, but we can stay as long as you need us after the birth so as to address these questions and concerns. We also offer comprehensive in-home postpartum support as you transition back home after the birth. We act as another set of hands to help around the house, and as an open set of ears to provide you with compassionate, considerate postpartum support.
Luna Doulas believes that cesarean birth is birth, after all! Just because you are planning a cesarean birth does not mean that you automatically lose your rights to informed consent and a happy, satisfying experience. We will be with you every step of the way, no matter what type of birth you are planning!