The Family Centered C-Section

There’s an old stigma floating around out there that doulas are anti-epidural, anti-intervention, and anti-anything-that-isn’t-natural-unmedicated-childbirth. While there are many doulas who certainly prefer to work with naturally minded mamas, most of us are open to whatever our clients want or ultimately need. Are there situations in which interventions become medically necessary? Absolutely. Does a baby need to be born surgically sometimes in order to keep everyone safe? Yes.

I am a doula who does not shy away from surgical births. For so many reasons, mamas who give birth via Cesarean section are the toughest, most resilient, most badass mothers on the planet. I truly love supporting these women.

That said, surgical birth can be extremely tricky for birthing couples to navigate. When you deliver in a hospital, you’re already fighting against the medicalization of the natural phenomenon of childbirth. When you end up giving birth via surgery, that fight becomes infinitely harder. Now you’re in an OR. Now there’s a sterile field that must be protected. Now you can’t move your body from the ribs down. I realize this sounds scary. I realize that many women want to avoid this at all costs. I realize that this scenario sounds like the exact opposite of most people’s birth plan.

But let’s be real. With a C-section rate of about 30% in this country, we have to see it as a possibility. I’m not saying that’s right. I’m saying it’s practical to be prepared.

Then what? How do we make surgery family centered?

  • If a C-section is predetermined, you may opt not to schedule it and discuss with your OB the idea of going into labor on your own. For some medical conditions this might not be possible, but for many women this is a great way to have the best of both worlds in a way.

  • Remind your OB that you’d like to know what’s going on during surgery and for the conversation not to deviate from the present moment. Nothing takes away from a birth like the surgeon and nursing staff discussing what went on at happy hour the previous week or who was eliminated on The Bachelor.

  • Push for the music of your choice to be played during your birth. Or, ask that everyone sing Happy Birthday in soft voices when your baby is born.

  • Ask for a clear drape if you’d like to watch your baby’s birth. Most hospitals in the metro area have them and some even have a hole cut through the middle that will allow your baby to be placed directly on your chest, just as she would be during a vaginal delivery.

  • Ask for a vaginal swab so that your baby can be exposed to all of that great bacteria that babies born vaginally get upon delivery.

  • If skin-to-skin contact and early breastfeeding was important to you for your vaginal birth plan, it can still be important to your c-section plan! As long as your baby tolerated surgery well, there’s no reason she can’t be on your chest and stay with you through the end of surgery and into the recovery room.

  • Remind your partner to take lots and lots of pictures once your baby is born!

  • Finally, and this really depends on your provider and the hospital where you birth, push for your doula to be allowed into the OR so you are still continuously supported emotionally, physically, and informationally. While my role looks different during a surgical birth, it is no less important.

Did you have a family centered C-section? Tell me about it below or send me a message!