When we tell people we are doulas we very often hear, "Oh, I am having a Cesarean." But believe it or not, we attend Cesarean births, too!
As April is Cesarean Awareness Month (ICAN), we wanted to give a little bit of special attention to how doulas can be of great support during Cesarean births.
So what does a doula do at a Cesarean birth?
Often times clients will need to schedule a Cesarean for the health of themselves and their baby(ies). On the day of the birth we meet the client at the hospital prior to the surgery. Many times our clients are surprised to find that their scheduled Cesarean for 9AM gets bumped later in the day due to more emergent situations.
That means there is a lot of waiting to be done.
Doulas can help maintain the environment of the room and keep things calm and comfortable. We often grab warm blankets for clients, grab snacks for partners, and even lend a listening ear when clients need to discuss concerns about the surgery or what happens afterwards. There has even been a time or two where we've played a few rounds of cards or Scattergories to keep boredom and anxiety from setting in.
When it is time for surgery, we are there for our clients while they get prepped.
We channel our college days when we tell clients to "Chug chug chug!" that chalky drink to neutralize stomach acid. When the mother is wheeled back into the OR we stay with her partner and help them ease any pre-birth nerves and figure out exactly where they can put their cell phone under their scrubs.
In the OR the doula can be by the mother's head and describe things that might be happening around the room. This can be very calming when you are in a busy OR with healthcare workers doing jobs all around you. Sometimes we get requests to recite special Scriptures or positive affirmations to our clients as they wait for surgery to begin.
Sometimes we help the clients remember to just breathe.
Once baby is born we are able to facilitate skin to skin with both mom and dad. We are also, with the hospital's permission, happy to take the first family photo with the newest family member. It is policy in some hospitals to take baby to the nursery while mom is gettting repair work done. In these instances, the partner will often go with the baby and the doula will stay by the mother's side for the remainder of the surgery and into recovery. Many of our clients are so glad that someone stays by their side during this time.
Most moms spend a couple of hours in recovery after the Cesarean.
Your doula will be there to help you with whatever you need, whether that is facilitating skin to skin care with your new little one or just grabbing you another warm blanket (have we mentioned how much we love those blankets?!). We are also there to help you begin breast or bottle feeding; we know many positions in which you can feed your baby without putting pressure on your post-op abdomen.
Sometimes babies need to be born via the sunroof, as we like to say. No matter how you birth, your birth is important and you deserve support.
Your Doulas of Raleigh doula is there to support you every step of the way during your Cesarean birth.