In most circles, a doula is almost synonymous with an all-natural, vaginal birth. It’s true, doulas do help tremendously with vaginal births and you may even see doulas use the following statistic to sell their services (guilty!): "Women who hired a doula saw a decrease in cesarean births*." BUT, did you know that a doula can be just as beneficial for a cesarean birth?
It’s true! And I’m living proof – I had a doula with each of mine. One of my cesareans was planned and the other wasn’t and both doulas were equally as important.
Here are 5 (plus a bonus!) reasons a doula is necessary for a cesarean birth:
1. Doulas know the ins and outs of birth – every form of birth.
Doulas are trained on all birth outcomes, therefore, they’re trained on cesarean birth as well. Although the doula won’t be “talking shop” with the nurses and OBs (she didn’t go to a million years of school), she can absolutely explain to you and your partner what is going on. Many dads don’t want to see what’s on the other side of the curtain so the couple is typically waiting on the nurse or doctor to tell them what’s happening. Your doula can lead commentary. “They’re making the incision. It’s almost time to meet baby!” “I see Baby’s head!” “Looks like they’re wrapping up; not too much longer now.” She can tell you all of this without fainting like Dad might.
Even if she’s not allowed on that side of the curtain, she can still commentate since she’s not flooded with nerves.
2. Two (or more) people need support in the OR.
You need support through the surgery. Baby needs support while they’re getting the once over. Having a doula allows Dad to be by baby’s side and not feel guilty about leaving Mom to fend for herself on the operating table. Or vice versa, if you please. Yes, there are nurses for this but it may make you more comfortable to have someone you knew prior to that day by your or your baby’s side. Your doula can keep mom company and ease any of her fears or worries. Also, to piggy back on #1, your doula can tell you what’s going on with baby even if she is by your side. She can see them measuring the head, weighing, etc. some things Dad or partner may not know to call out.
And don’t forget about Dad! He may need support too.
3. Your doula can ensure your wishes are granted.
Who says you don’t need or can’t have a birth plan for a cesarean? You absolutely can and absolutely should! Having a doula at your birth can help your wishes be granted. Want to keep your placenta? The doula can make sure it’s put aside. Want the drape lowered as baby is birthed? The doula can kindly remind the OB when the time comes.
Her job is to remember those things, your job is to birth a baby, and Dad’s job is to enjoy the moment.
4. She can take pictures or document special moments.
Not all doulas are birth photographers so you’re more than likely not getting a two-for-one deal – let’s just make that clear. But, your doula can take photos on your phone, or hers, throughout the birth. You will not be able to take them yourself and Dad may be too wrapped up in worry or with Baby to remember to snap some photos. Just remember to ask if your doula is willing to do this for you before you hire her and, remember, they may not be professional grade but you’ll have the memories to look back on.
Another way your doula can help is to document special moments. Even if you’d prefer not to have photos, she can write down unbiased details of what happened. Did Baby stop crying the moment they placed him or her in Dad’s arms? She can write special moments like this down so that you can remember your special day.
5. An extra set of eyes on your mental health.
Whether you’ve scheduled the cesarean due to preference or because it’s your only option, you may have some blues associated with the birth. Sometimes the partner doesn’t notice small signs of postpartum depression that a doula may be able to pick up on and get help for Mom. You’ll also typically see or talk to your doula a lot more than you will your OB. She’ll check in prior to and post birth to make sure everyone is comfortable with what is going on and to answer any questions or listen to any worries.
She probably also has connections in the community and, should you need professional help, she can point you in the right direction.
BONUS. Someone for each twin.
Obviously this is only for twin moms but, as what happened for my twin birth, your partner and your doula can each tend to a twin while you are being stitched up. Stitching up takes a bit longer than having the babies checked (if all is well) so your doula and partner can bring them to you and keep you company.
This way, your partner won’t have to decide who to hold and who to leave on the warmer!
Photo credit and shoutout to my awesome doula, Hannah, at Mothering Memories.
Allesanda received her Bachelors in Behavioral Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in December 2013. She now lives in North Texas with her husband and children. As a doula and educator of infant sleep and eco-friendly living, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.