Many times I have been asked whether doulas can help before/during/after a C section.
Of course yes, we can!
Doulas support you, your birth supporter(s) and your choices. In case a C Section needs to be performed, whether scheduled or unscheduled, a doula can help you in many ways. A doula can create a homey environment even during your surgery in the OP. She will be by your side supporting you and your partner with the birth you desire, she will be your emotional support and your coach cheering you up! If your baby needs assistance, your partner can stay with him/her while your doula will take care of you. She can explain you what is happening, making you comfortable (massage, acupressure, EOs etc) and even helping you cope with some unpleasant procedures (IV, drugs administered etc).
We must take into consideration also that with a cesarean, the baby is born in few minutes while the procedure lasts roughly one hour. Most of the time is preparation and repair after surgery. If your husband is busy with the baby or in the nursery, you would otherwise be alone during this period. Some of the moms I have worked with said having a doula was nice as they felt nurtured instead of frightened, broken and left alone.
Your doula can help with reminding the staff about your birth plan and special needs you may have.
A doula can help you making your very own informed decisions, passing onto you links, books, reading and any resource you may wish. As I always say, doulas do not make decisions on your behalf. They will support your decision no matter what, but they will help you achieving a totally informed decision.
Informed decision means that you as a "client" will get many resources, go through them carefully, ponder and ponder, perhaps ask for clarifications, ponder again and then finally write your birth plan. Yes, a birth plan. Because a birth plan is always a good thing to handover to the birth staff, even (and I would say especially) in case of a cesarean.
A cesarean is a great life saving procedure but as a surgery it is very easy to become impersonal. The medical staff has a routine to follow, a huge load of paperwork and first of all has to take care of your health and birth outcome. So much pressure, right?! A birth plan will remind everyone else, and first of all yourself and your partner, what your wishes are. Eg if you wish to have skin to skin as soon as the baby is born, write it down. Nobody knows how important that particular is for you until you make it clear. If you wish to have a vaginal swab to "seed" your baby*, state it! It is your birth. It may be a C section but it is your birth anyway. Educate people around you regarding your wishes and expectations and go through your birth plan with them. Your doula will be there making sure that your birth plan is respected and your wishes fulfilled.
A doula can help you taking care of yourself during the recovery, physically and emotionally. During the postpartum period, your doula can suggest post-operative natural comfort measures, assist you with any question you may have or special help you or your baby may require. She can even help you with older children and support the whole family in this transition. A new baby is always a huge change, no matter if it's your first or tenth time! Don't be alone!
*We will talk about "seeding" the baby in the next post. Stay tuned!