By Heather Marr, Birth Doula at Montreal’s Rio Doula
A frequently asked question about doulas is: “I’m having a planned C-section. Can I still hire a doula?”
And the answer? Yes, indeed! And here’s how she (or can help you have a positive, empowering belly birth experience.
Here are 8 ways we birth doulas can support a client in delivering via C-section:
1- Before the big day, your doula will work with you to prepare you for the birth and will inform you all about Caesarean birth.
She can also help you determine your birth preferences. That’s right—just because your birth will be surgical, doesn’t mean you don’t have choices as to how it unfolds. For example, did you know that you can ask for the blue drape to be lowered so that you can see your baby being born? (Some hospitals even offer the option of a clear drape.) Requesting that the OR be as quiet as possible is just one of the many other requests you can make.
Your doula will support, listen to, and honour you as the goddess you are as you articulate and work through any fears, anxiety, trepidation, disappointment (if you had hoped for a vaginal birth) or other emotions you might be having.
2- Your doula can help you plan ahead for an awesome, next-level postpartum. Many doulas already spend a fair bit of time with all their clients planning for the fourth trimester; however, if you’ll be birthing by C-section, you may want more—and longer—postpartum support.
Your doula can help you set up a support network (hey hello, friends who keep asking how they can help!), figure out the best sleep/recovery configuration for you and your baby at home, discuss self-care, plan for optimum nourishment and refer you to local resources you can call.
3- At the hospital, before you go into the room where you’ll birth your baby, your doula can help you relax, acclimatize and communicate your preferences to hospital staff.
4- If accompanying you (and your partner, if you have one) in the OR, your doula will gently talk you through the procedure if you wish … or just breathe with you and hold your hand. Your doula can also remind staff of your birth preferences, snap photos and help facilitate skin-to-skin.
5- If your baby needs to be taken to the nursery, your doula can stay with you in the recovery room so you’re not left alone.
6- If not accompanying you in the OR, your doula will help transfer your belongings to your postpartum room and will make the room as warm and welcoming as possible for your and your baby’s arrival.
7- Your doula will remain with you in the hospital until you and your family are comfortable. She can help out with breastfeeding, talk through any concerns you might have … or go find food and caffeine for your partner. (You yourself might not feel like eating until later.)
8- Your doula can provide additional postpartum support in the hospital (you’ll be there at least a couple of days) or once you’re at home. Most birth doula packages include one postpartum visit. And if it turns out that your birth doula is also a postpartum doula, she can give you as much in-hospital or in-home postpartum care as you need!
A doula can be an invaluable part of your birth plan, regardless of how your baby enters this world!
Heather Marr is the certified birth doula behind Rio Doula in Montreal. She’s also a mom of two, native Californian, world traveller and lover of long runs and coffee (though not usually at the same time). She strongly believes that when it comes to pregnancy, birth, parenthood and, well, life in general, it’s about the journey AND the destination.