Doulas are most frequently associated with all-natural, birthing-tub, moaning-and-groaning-and-screaming home births. Do they even have a place in the super sterile, hyper-medical cesarean operation room? I believe doulas are useful for all births, even C-sections. Here’s why:
1) To help you prepare for birth. This is a doula’s job regardless of what kind of birth you want. They help you plan, consider options, mentally prepare, etc. The options are fewer with C-sections (laying on a table numb from the chest down), but some are still there. If your C-section is an unwanted surprise (like mine), they can also help you through the emotional side of needed major abdominal surgery you can’t opt out of doing.
2) Another person. The more support, the better. If baby has to go to NICU or your husband just plain passes out (haha!), there is another supporter there for you. You won’t be left all alone staring at the ceiling. My anesthesiologist was very helpful while I was being prepped for surgery, he talked to me and helped me as I threw up, but as kind as he was, there is nothing like having someone you know and love next to you.
3) Nursing. Some moms and babies can nurse right way with no problems. That’s great! I think more often than not though, babies and mamas have no idea what they are doing. If you want to breastfeed, having a doula there is extremely helpful. Nurses try, they really do, but they all have different methods, different advice, and are all in a hurry to do something else (which is understandable, they are busy people!) It made all the difference for me to have someone I trusted, and could feel totally immodest in front of, calmly and patiently helping Tzeitel and I figure it out.
4) They are there as needed, or as not needed. Most doulas truly care about helping mamas and their new babies. You can beckon them as needed in and out of the hospital. You can ask them questions, vent to them, tell them your struggles/successes. Or, if all is going well, they won’t bug you.
5) Post-birth support. After being discharged from the hospital, your doula is still there for you. She can visit you at home and can additionally help with nursing and/or adjusting to home with a new baby.
Birthing is hard work, C-sections are no exceptions. Even though you don’t physically birth your baby, and sometimes you don’t even labor, they are equally hard (if not harder) in their own way. Doula’s can help make your cesarean birth a more successful and a happier one.