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Cesareans & Doulas

Photo credit: Lorien Zahava Behrle

April is Cesarean Birth and VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) Awareness Month!

Cesarean Birth is a topic that can be controversial among parents and professionals. Recently, an infographic released in a DONA International blog regarding how Doulas can decrease the risk of Cesarean Birth made some waves and has created some great conversations.  Some feel it highlights the important role Doulas have in supporting Physiological Birth.  Birth is a physically taxing event, sometimes compared to a triathlon, and recovery from vaginal Birth can be very quick to months long.  While everyone knows that Cesarean Birth can and does save lives, it’s recovery typically takes longer and has some of its own unique challenges when it comes to healing from a surgery while caring for a newborn.

The other side to consider, however, is how people FEEL about Cesarean Birth. Locally, nationally, and internationally we have a rate of more than 1 in 4 births ending in a Cesarean.  That means more than 25% of newborns come into this world through a “Belly Birth” and the same number of newly Postpartum parents have experienced surgically assisted Birth.  For those newborns and parents, their Birth story is as real and normal as any other way to Birth. Validation of this is an important part of Postpartum recovery for many, and Doulas are in the front lines of those who are listening to the need and advocating for Cesarean Birth to be held in the same regard as Phisiological Birth.

So can Doulas who identify with the information on this DONA graphic also support planned and unplanned Cesarean Birth? Absolutely!!  We are trained to to support Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum, and ALL birth begins with pregnancy and ends with a newborn emerging from a womb, however much assistance is needed.  Many of the ways Professional Doulas can help lower the risk of Cesarean Birth applies to how they actually SUPPORT families during a Cesarean Birth!

Which leads me to this month’s question from our local community, this time from Courtney Badger-Mack who asks: “Have you helped support anyone with/during a planned c section?” 

Great question! 

While I have not been hired for a planned Cesarean Birth, I have supported unplanned ones.  The care I provided included Pregnancy support, Labor support, and Postpartum support, although I was not able to attend the actual Births because of local hospital policies on how many people can be in the operating room.  As a Professional Doula, I assisted with preparing for the Births prenatally.  During early and active Labor, I helped with comfort measure, coping techniques, and informed decision making.  And during the actual Birth and early Postpartum, I remained close and available to support the wishes and needs of the parents I was working with.

Planned Cesarean Births will be supported by Professional Doulas in many of the ways explained in the infographic.  Prenatally,  I “help you think through your choice of provider and Birth location.”  It is always important to pick a provider you feel completely comfortable with and with whom can develop a strong, trusting relationship.  It is also important to learn about the policies and procedures of the place you will be giving Birth.

Evidence has shown that experiencing even a short amount of Labor is healthy for the newborn. Because of this, it may be optimal to prepare with your provider to allow Labor to start on it’s own before a planned Cesarean Birth.  With this plan, I can and will assist with any early Labor support, including “creating an environment that supports the hormones of Birth” and remaining at home.

However you give Birth, my primary focus is “helping you find your voice to advocate for the best care” for you and your growing family.  Planning a Cesarean Birth? Give me a call and let’s talk about how I can support you <3


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