In the case of an emergency cesarean birth any or all of these feelings may be intensified. You may feel relief in knowing that it will soon be over and your baby will be here, or you may feel terrified and upset that this is happening to you.
No matter how you are feeling, it is important to know that your feelings are valid! Every woman needing a cesarean deals with this news differently, and every woman is right in the way she feels. It is important to remember that it doesn’t matter if your child enters the world vaginally, via cesarean or while you are doing a handstand (this position is not advised ;) ), it is still your incredible birth story. It is your day to celebrate the gift that you have been so patiently waiting for, and as such YOU deserve to be honoured on your journey.
SO...here are 5 reasons you should still hire a doula for your cesarean birth!
1) Help With Preparation: I have had the privilege of being hired for multiple cesarean births over the years. Some ended up in an emergency cesarean, while others were scheduled. Regardless of your situation, a birth doula’s job is to help you prepare for your birth experience.
In the event of a scheduled cesarean a doula can still help you create a birth plan. This allows you to ask questions, talk about your fears and have some say over your birth experience. Being prepared can help you embrace this beautiful birth experience!
In the event of an emergency cesarean your birth doula may have discussed your “backup plan” with you during a prenatal visit. If not, or if you didn’t put much thought into it, your doula will be right there beside you to offer a listening ear, a comforting presence, and reassurance.
2) "Attend" Your Birth: While many hospitals allow a doula to attend a cesarean birth, this is not currently an option in our community. However, that does not mean we serve no purpose on the big day.
Your doula will be available to meet you at the hospital that morning to offer you comfort and reassurance during that last period of waiting. It is not uncommon for an expectant mother to feel anxious before she gives birth. This is a great time to talk with your doula about any lingering fears or uncertainties. Your doula may also offer comfort during any procedures you receive ahead of time (ex: IV or catheter).
In this situation your doula should have been contacted at the beginning of your labour. She will provide all of the support that is given in a scheduled cesarean, but she will also have provided labour support until it was determined that mom needed to go to the operating room.
3) Remain in the Hospital During/After Surgery: Depending on your hospital policies a number of things might happen after your cesarean birth. Ideally, mom, dad and the baby would remain together after the birth to enjoy skin-to-skin and share in the miracle that just happened. However, depending on hospital policy and the health of mom and baby it is possible that a separation may occur. In the event of a separation a doula is there to offer support to whoever needs it. If dad is separated from mom and his new baby he might be worried, confused or feel useless. A doula can offer him company and support during this difficult time. If mom is separated from dad and baby, a doula can help dad initiate skin-to-skin and answer any questions dad may have while he waits.
4) Document Your Birth Details: Regardless of if there is a separation or not, there are so many little details that mom and dad will not want to miss or forget! Your doula can help you document all of those tiny moments through notes and pictures which you will cherish forever!
5) Postpartum Support: Not only is your doula there immediately after the birth to help with breastfeeding support or any other questions/concerns mom and dad might have, but your doula will typically offer at least one home visit as well (we often offer an additional postpartum visit to caesarean moms free of charge -contact us for exact details-)! It is important to remember that your body has just undergone major surgery and that can greatly impact your day to day life. A doula can offer the specific support your family needs when returning home from the hospital. This might include light housework, cooking a meal or helping mom tend the baby and/or older siblings.
Remember, a birth doula performs many tasks! No matter how you give birth a doula is a valuable part of your birth team!
Quite simply, the answer is NO! Although attending your actual birth is a HUGE part of our job, there is a lot of heart and soul that goes into our work before and after the big day. Every doula offers slightly different packages depending on their qualifications, size of the package and if they offer additional services. In my area a typical Birth Doula package tends to look like this:
Wow! Right? Once you have hired a Birth Doula you will have access to so much incredible information and support! Remember, when you are paying for a Certified Birth Doula you are not just paying for any joe blow to show up to your birth!
You are paying to have up-to-date, evidence based information at your fingertips throughout the duration of your contract so that you don’t have to go scouring the internet trying to figure out what is fact and what is fiction.
You are paying for someone to help you prepare for your birth. Sometimes this means prenatal education, it might mean preparing a birth plan together, it might be talking about your fears and how to move through them. For each family their prenatal needs are different and it is our job to help make sure you have all of your bases covered!
You are paying for 2-3 weeks of on-call support! This means your doula could literally have to leave at the drop of a hat, putting their own family life on hold to share in your special day. It also means no drinking, early nights, eating well and exercising so that your doula is in peak condition whenever that call comes in!
You are paying for someone to attend your labour & birth whether it is 2 hours or 40 hours in length! Check out this great image on what a doula does during labour & birth!
PHOTO: National Partnership for Women and Families
You are paying for support in the early postpartum period (which new families often feel are the most challenging). Your doula can help with breastfeeding, light housework, meal prep or offering reassurance when you feel like “She never sleeps!” or “He is feeding ALL of the time!”
Families often underestimate the importance of support in the postpartum period, when in fact, there is a completely separate type of doula that ONLY offers support after the baby is born. A Postpartum Doula realizes the significance of your transition into parenthood or your journey from a parent with one child to multiple children.
But I digress! Back to Labour & Birth Doulas, you can clearly see that while your birth is a large part of the job, there is also a relationship that is formed along the way between client & doula. This relationship is different from any other relationship in your birth team and most will agree, a Birth Doula is NOT an investment you will regret, and NO, it is not just about the birth!
First, let’s do a mental backflip! Many professionals in the birth world like to refer to it as a birth wishlist instead of a birth “plan”. Why? Because birth is unpredictable! A plan implies you have a level of control, when in truth, birth is all about letting go.
So if you have no control, why do you need a birth plan?
First, there are many scenarios that may present themselves during your labour and birth. By coming up with a “plan”, you are forcing yourself to sit down and review your options. You might be surprised by what you learn about birth and yourself in the process!
Second, there might be aspects of your birth experience that are very important to you. By bringing a printed copy of your birthing goals to your primary care provider you are opening the doors for communication. Most care providers have a way that they like to do things. Sometimes this is because of a policy or safety concern, and other times it is simply a habit. If you bring in a list of the things you desire most during your labour and birth this will give you an opportunity to discuss your options with your care provider and sometimes promote change!
Third, how can you expect anyone else to know what you want from your birth if you don’t know, or haven’t told anyone? How will your care provider know you would like a mirror to watch your baby being born if you never knew it was an option? How will your nurse know you really don’t want any narcotics offered if they have not been told? Creating a birth plan is about creating transparency.
So now that you know WHY you need one, WHAT should you include?
When deciding WHAT to include in your birth plan it is important to figure out what is most important to you. In order to this you will need to explore the many options that might be available to you! Here are just a few examples of things you might wish to include in your birth plan.
Now that you know WHAT to include, HOW do you make it?
Visuals, visuals, VISUALS! I personally prefer a visual birth plan because it allows your birth team to see your wishes at a glance! Once you know what you want your birth plan to say, you can write out your options or make a visual plan like the one below (the icons I have used were originally made by Seanna and can be found here http://imgur.com/a/PAFkn#0). As well as your eye catching visuals you should also include a little blurb about who you are and your general goals for your birth experience. This is also a great place for you to share your alternative wishes should things not go as hoped.
And there you have it! Your very own birth plan!! It doesn’t have to be beautiful (although that never hurts!) but it should be to the point, easy to read and cover everything that is important to you regarding your birth experience!
Doula, Childbirth Educator and lover of everything pregnancy, birth and babies!
Mom of 3, Birth Doula , CBE , Breastfeeding Educator, CIMI, and Photographer!