An average of 30% of all hospital births in the United States are cesarean births. In 2019, that equated to more than 1.1 million cesarean births. Research shows that people who have continuous support from a doula throughout birth are approximately 39% less likely to have a cesarean birth and are more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth. However, doulas do not just help prevent cesareans, they also support their clients when they do have a cesarean birth (planned or unplanned).
Urgent & Emergency C-Sections
For parents who are planning a vaginal birth, hearing the provider recommend a c-section can be emotional. There is a wide array of reasons that providers often recommend a cesarean that may or may not be evidence-based. These reasons range from failure to progress to cord prolapse. The doctor, of course, is most concerned with the physical health of their patients (mom and baby), but a doula can support the physical and emotional comfort of the mother and partner.
Under certain circumstances (such as a transverse baby or unresolved placenta previa), parents may opt to schedule a planned cesarean section. A common misconception about doulas is that they are not necessary or beneficial for cesareans, so families who have a planned cesarean may forego one. However – much like hypnobirthing – doulas are beneficial for every type of birth, including cesarean births.
10 Ways a Doula Can Support Cesarean Births
Doulas can support urgent and emergency c-sections by:
- Helping create a cesarean birth plan
- Encouraging discussions with the provider prior to the birth regarding when they would recommend a cesarean and what to expect
- Providing reassurance and affirmations to help parents feel confident and comfortable in their decision to birth their baby surgically
- Reminding parents to use their B.R.A.I.N.S. when deciding whether or not to accept a cesarean birth
- Creating and maintaining a tone of calm and confidence in the birth space
- Providing physical and emotional support before, during, and after the birth
- Create the desired ambiance in the birth space (some hospitals will allow essential oils and music in the OR).
- Encouraging bonding between the birthing person, baby, and partner even while in the OR
- Encouraging and support early breastfeeding
- Helping parents settle into their postpartum room
Benefits of a Postpartum Doula Following a Surgical Birth
Following a cesarean birth, movement is limited and the incision site is going to feel sore for some time. Extra care will need to be taken when the mother holds their new baby or even tries to move out of the bed. A postpartum doula can help with post-operative comfort measures and assist with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can take patience for any new mom, but a postpartum doula can help provide extra reassurance through the extra challenges that a surgical birth can bring. Postpartum doulas also help by preparing nutritious postpartum meals, cleaning & laundry, pampering the new mom, and so much more!
If you are considering a birth or postpartum doula who is familiar with HypnoBirthing and will support you no matter what unique turn your birthing takes, ask your HypnoBirthing Educator for recommendations.