ORIGINALLY PUBLISH HERE ON 28 SEPTEMBER. REPRODUCED HERE WITH PERMISSION.
Did you know that a doula can support you before and after, and sometimes during, a planned caesarean?
A caesarean birth, or C Section, can be a daunting prospect for some women and their partners. If a natural birth was preferred, the thought of a caesarean can be devastating. For others, the news of a caesarean comes as a relief. No matter what your feelings are regarding a planned caesarean, a doula can be an invaluable support.
A doula supports you by:
1. Creating time for you to prepare practically for the surgery and your time in hospital.
This may involve helping you work out logistics, such as parking and care for any other children. It may include what to pack, what to eat, and breastfeeding after a C Section. This may involve visiting and handling of the baby. The practicalities will be dependant on your circumstances and the health of the baby/babies. Having a practical plan in place can be very reassuring.
2. Creating time for you to prepare emotionally.
Your doula will give you time and space to process your feelings leading up to the caesarean. This process helps to reduce any traumatic or upsetting outcomes, and eases any concerns in the lead up. This is an essential part of preparation, that is usually not able to be addressed fully without doula support.
3. Providing you with informational support.
It can be overwhelming AND underwhelming trying to get information to make informed decisions. This means we put out complete trust with another person (such as our primary care provider) but often have an undercurrent of uncertainty. A doula can help you fill the knowledge gaps, and to work out the specific questions you need to ask in order to feel fully informed. Being informed means our overall well being is considered and that we feel involved in our care. This is not happening to you, it is happening because of you.
4. Helping you creating an after birth plan.
This will depend on the circumstance you are expecting, and may also provide some contingencies. This will cover practical care as you recover and adjust. If you baby is home with you, you may have in place practical support from family and friends. If you do not have this readily available, a postpartum doula can be employed to support you. Some of the things you may need to consider are care for other children, housework, meals. Setting up these practicalities before the birth makes a BIG difference to how you recover.
5. Providing support during the birth.
Sometimes a doula can attend the surgery with you, holding your hand and helping with skin to skin contact. It may even be possible for photographs. Sometimes only one support person is allowed into the surgery, if this is the case, you doula will be waiting for you in recovery. If there is to be a separation of mother and baby, often people choose for the partner to accompany baby (and provide skin to skin where possible). The doula stays with the mother for comfort and support. She can also replay news about the baby,
6. Providing support in the week after the birth.
Usually you need to stay in hospital for 5 days after the caesarean. During this time, your doula may visit and debrief with you. Depending on her experience, she may also be able to offer breastfeeding support.
7. Providing support once you get home.
Usually you are instructed to rest for 6 weeks after the caesarean. Depending on your after birth plan, your doula will provide you with support on your terms. This may vary from sitting with you to give you time to talk and be heard about your feelings. It may be breastfeeding support. Or it may be practical postpartum support based on a pre arranged agreement.
With a planned caesarean, it is Your Birth, Your Way. Knowing your options will help you create a situation where you feel safe and supported.