Labor doulas are typically hired by people planning to have a vaginal birth. A doula’s knowledge of normal physiological birth, the constant support through labor, and the skilled hands-on care are all reasons doulas are growing in popularity.
But what if you suddenly need a surgical birth or are planning a cesarean delivery from the onset? Are labor doulas helpful then?
When it becomes necessary to decide to have a non-emergency cesarean, after long hours of hard labor, the flood of emotions is intense and overwhelming for many. The medical team will be focused on getting you prepared physically for unexpected surgery.
Your doula will be focused on your mental and emotional preparedness.
Having all your questions answered, understanding the risks, helping you wade through the options all happen before the choice is made. And once made, your doula can help you to prepare for what will happen next.
- Your doula will outline what you can expect to see, smell, and experience in the operating room.
- Your doula will outline what the next few hours will look like, and when you see her next (if doulas are not allowed in the operating room), and keeping you and your partner tuned into each other while getting ready to meet your baby.
- Your doula can help your partner know how they can support you through surgery if she is not able to attend.
Help During Recovery
After surgery, you are going to need immediate help from both the medical team and support team for the first hours after you deliver. Having a cesarean birth is major abdominal surgery, and nurses will monitor your vital signs and postpartum bleeding.
Usually, in those first hours, parents are eager to have skin-to-skin or start breastfeeding. Families now have time together that may have felt stolen because of the limitations a surgery places on movement and autonomy. All of these activities require more care and attention because of the strain they apply to the new surgical wound on the lower abdomen, and a doula is a skilled set of extra hands and knowledge to help families reconnect.
A doula can help with positioning, answer questions about breastfeeding, and be available to keep baby in a safe position. At the same time, the birthing parent continues to come fully aware after the anesthesia wears off.
Planned Cesarean Delivery
For those people who know they are going to deliver by cesarean, having doula support through pregnancy can offer some unique advantages. Having a doula can lead to better home planning for your post-operative abilities, combined with the needs of your new baby. A doula’s experience can help you understand what will and won’t be possible after surgery and help you identify any ways you may need to adapt.
It’s a complicated world post-surgery of understanding your body’s new abilities, caring for your baby, and the intense emotions that come with being a new parent. Having a doula helps make all of the big questions seem smaller, and the unknowns easier to adjust.
Doulas are not only for an unmedicated vaginal birth. Doulas are for any person who wants one-on-one personal support through an experience that can be intense and overwhelming.