There is a misconception that doulas are only for moms looking to have a natural birth when in reality, a doula can be incredibly amazing to have no matter what kind of birth you are planning or end up having. Their only job is to support you, and you are their only boss. Having a C-section is often scary and it can be challenging to keep calm throughout. After having an unexpected C-section myself, I realized that even though a doula would be amazingly helpful for a natural birth, I needed a doula with me in the operating room even more than if I had had an unmedicated, vaginal birth.
Sometimes it is hard to know what you will want or need for birth before you go through it first-hand. Here are five moments that I desperately wish we had had a doula with us during my labor and C-section.
When my nurse told me, “I have seen natural births and you aren’t the type of person who can do that.” I was too exhausted to stand up for myself, and so was my husband. So instead, I internalized and started to believe what she said and lost confidence in myself. If a doula had been there in that moment, she would have given me the encouragement I needed to regain trust in my own body.
When my OB asked if I had any questions or requests for my C-Section. I didn’t give much thought to the possibility of having an unexpected C-section, so I didn’t know what to ask. If a doula had been there with me, she would have helped me ask good questions like, “Is a clear drape available or can you lower the drape to show Baby to Mom?”
When I was lying on the operating table as they prepped me for surgery and my husband was sitting alone in the hallway. Being separated from my husband for about twenty minutes before my major surgery was the loneliest and scariest time of our lives. It would have been so comforting to have a doula to keep us company, reassure us, and inform us about what was happening.
At the moment of our daughter’s birth. Because my providers were all busy with important medical tasks during my C-section, no one told me the moment my baby was born and no one announced her sex (which we hadn’t known at the time). It would have meant the world to me to have a doula with us and focused on just me and my husband to announce important moments.
When they delivered the placenta. I had really hoped to see the organ that had nourished my baby and the cord that linked us together throughout my pregnancy, but I had a lot of other things on my mind at the time—like meeting my firstborn—when the placenta was delivered. They carried it away before I ever had the chance to see it. If I had hired a doula, we would have discussed my wishes several days or weeks before and she would have known it was something important for me to see.
Having a C-section is hard for a lot of women. I hope that any expecting mom would consider bringing on a doula to their care team no matter what type of birth they are hoping for or what setting they have chosen.
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Photography by the author of this post :: Raisa Mnichowicz