“I don’t need a doula, because I’m having a c-section.”
“Are doulas only for natural births?”
“I want to hire a doula, but what if I have a cesarean?”
“How can a doula help me if I have a cesarean section?”
"What should I expect with a c-section?"
We hear these things a lot and I’m here to say, doulas are absolutely for cesarean births! Having a scheduled cesarean section can be just as overwhelming as an unplanned or emergency cesarean. There is so much excitement when your baby is born, but there can be just as much anxiety and fear when you’re headed into surgery. Although cesareans are the most common surgery performed on women in the U.S., they are still major abdominal surgery and that can make learning to breastfeed and caring for a newborn challenging.
Our doulas are incredibly valuable for parents having a cesarean birth. If it’s a scheduled cesarean, they join in as soon as you get to the hospital and stay with you until a few hours after the baby is born. At some of our local hospitals, they are allowed to join you in the operating room. It can be so reassuring to have that familiar face with you in an unfamiliar operating room and to hear the same calming voice you’ve heard for months. As often as possible, your doula will help you with skin-to-skin and breastfeeding in the operating room. At hospitals where support people are limited to just your partner in the OR, your doula is usually the first person you’ll see in recovery with your nurse. That continuous support before, during and after surgery really helps us to do what we do best, instill strength and reduce your fear.
We are there to keep you comfortable, support you emotionally and keep you focused on the most important part of the day- your baby’s birth. We answer your questions, give you a hand to hold and make sure you and your partner feel taken care of every step of the way. There is usually a moment when you are taken out to the OR and your partner is left in your room to put on their scrubs, when a lot of partners can feel overwhelmed or scared. Your doula stays right there with them, so they aren’t alone and can feel more confident joining you for the cesarean in a few minutes.
After your baby is born and you’re brought to recovery, your doula will work alongside your nurse to keep you comfortable, help you hold your baby and guide you in that first feeding. We’ll talk about your baby’s birth and answer any questions you have. This time is all about making sure you’re both doing well, your pain is managed and helping you start bonding with your new little one. If your baby needs to go to the nursery or to the NICU, your doula can stay with you while your partner goes with the baby. Sometimes they can show you pictures of your baby and help keep you updated. They’ll make sure you’re completely settled in and ready to start bonding as a family before they go. Sometimes they can even hunt down that cheeseburger you’ve been craving since 5am!
Comfort measures, emotional support and easing your fears are just as important with a cesarean birth as a vaginal birth. We want to see you feeling confident, supported and taken care of no matter how you give birth to your baby.
For a step-by-step chat through exactly what you can expect when you have a scheduled cesarean, check out our video here.