Doula care for medically managed birth...is this really necessary?
Everybody knows you hire a doula if you want a natural birth. The two almost go hand in hand.
But what if you might choose to have an epidural, or know you want or need one?
What if you are planning an elective cesarean, or know you may need one?
The role of a doula extends beyond the natural birth process. Women who need medical intervention of any kind, will benefit from doula care, as equally as the woman who is delivering without medication.
Here are a few ways doula care can make a difference in a medically managed labor & birth.
- Birth planning & preparation.
This might sound unnecessary if you have a planned and medically managed pregnancy and labor. However, in any hospital you walk into, you will be seen by many different people, nurses & doctors, who do not know you. They know your chart. Having a birth plan that highlights your needs and your desires, will help them know you, and give you better care.
Do you have an underlying condition that might effect your care? You might be surprised at how often conditions that aren't usually effecting a pregnancy, can effect your care or your labor and birth. An example might be, the woman who has chronic pelvic pain, she may know she needs special treatments or physical therapy methods during her labor. This is not something your doctors will tell everyone to be aware of.
Perhaps a history of trauma. Your care provider may be very sympathetic and kind during your prenatals, but when you enter the hospital, you're met by many people who don't know you, and an on call staff of doctors and nurses you may never have met.
Does your partner have issues that might effect your care? (Fainting, fear, etc)
If you are having a cesarean, do you want your baby with you in recovery, or to have skin to skin in the OR?
Having a birth plan that highlight both your needs and your desires, will help you receive more personal care.
You can tell your provider 300 times throughout your pregnancy, what your plans and desires are. Once you walk into that hospital, its a very different, very impersonal atmosphere.
- Childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn, and postpartum mother care education.
This might also sound unnecessary, especially if you are planning, or know you may need a cesarean.
There are always things to know. Routines, evidence, procedures, newborn care, that you may not have considered.
Having a doula to offer comprehensive & personalized education, can highlight things you didn't know, new information or protocols, & even insider and behind the scenes information.
Your doula can also help your family members, or your birth team members, feel more confident and comfortable, able to support you and help you advocate better.
Your doula can also help you and your family learn and prepare for the postprtum period.
- Epidural labor and birth
While many doulas feel they really shine during natural labors, I personally feel some of my best service is done for clients who choose or need epidural support.
Not only can your doula support you through the decision to have an epidural, we support your choice. Epidurals are amazing tools, and have saved many women from a cesarean during long or difficult labors.
A doula can support you before you receive your epidural, helping you to manage your pain.
During your epidural, depending on your hospital protocol, your doula may be your support person during the procedure if you are alone, or your partner is unable. (Its a tough procedure to watch)
Once you have your epidural placed, your doula is your liaison, your servant, and your runner. We want to make you sure you and your partner or birth team, have everything they need, so the only focus is you, your baby, and your support.
We will run for food & drinks, be your doorman so everyone can sleep, call your nurse in for you if you have questions, issues or needs, we will keep your room cleaned up, & your atmosphere birth friendly (lights, sounds, interruptions..we will do our best to keep those at bay)
We will help you tweak your birth plan if necessary, & help remind the staff that you have this plan & needs. (its easy for a birth plan to fall to the wayside when you have an epidural. )
We can help you change positions to keep your labor progressing well, & baby & mom in a labor friendly & comfortable position. We'll fetch blankets, pillows, towels, ice.. & do our best to make sure you & your partner dont need to lift a finger.
When its time to push, we will help hold your legs, wipe your brow, & help the nurses help you.
Once your baby is here, we are on point, making sure your newborn care plans are honored with gentle & professional etiquette, & you get what you wanted for you and your baby, as much as medically permitted.
Your doula is your liaison, your runner, & your servant. We want to do everything we can, so you & your partner or birth team, can support you. We dont want you to lift a finger.
Doula care for an elective, planned, or unplanned cesarean, can look different for everyone.
Your doula can help your partner prep, getting their coveralls & masks in place, discussing what to expect, & preparing your room & belongings for the move to recovery & the postpartum wing.
Some hospitals will allow the woman to have 2 support persons in the OR, one to take photos, & one to support. If this is something you want to pursue, your doula can help you talk to the right people beforehand, & help you ask the right questions should this be unexpected.
Some women prefer their doula be their main support person in the OR, if their partner is unavailable, or unable.
Should your doula attend you during your surgery, she can offer emotional support, remind you of what to expect & what is coming next, she can provide acupressure & encouragement, & help you stay calm & focused. She can take photos, & be your liaison for you & your baby, reminding staff of your preferences, & staying with you or baby, should baby go to NICU, depending on where you want her. Often times one person (doula) stays with mom, & partner can go with baby to the NICU.
In recovery, your doula can help you advocate for skin to skin or immediate nursing, & help you get your first latches should you want to breastfeed.
Should your baby be in intensive care, your doula can help you begin to pump as soon as you are ready.
Your doula usually hangs around afte your birth, until you feel settled in your postpartum room, baby has been returned to mom if they have been separated, & feeding has started.
If baby is not with mom, your doula can help you create a list of questions and goals, to better communicate with the staff, & help you understand what is happening, helping everyone to best accommodate you and your baby's needs. This helps everyone stay on the same page, estimate and work towards a timeline for baby's release from NICU, and can help you visualize & achieve your goals to leave the hospital with a healthy baby.