cesarean birth

The Best Outcome Possible: How I Learned To Love My Cesarean Birth

Just moments after meeting our baby girl, via c-section 

Just moments after meeting our baby girl, via c-section 

When I gave birth, to my now 6 year old daughter, I had already been a doula for over 10 years and I was truly excited to finally have this powerful experience for myself.  In my prenatal planning I had decided to not have a birth plan at all. After all the births I had been to, I knew that I would rather roll with the punches and gracefully accept the events as they would unfold in front of me; with one caveat: I did not want a c-section.  I told my midwife that as long as I don’t end up with a c-section I would be happy.  I wanted to experience the full gamut of birthing, every contraction, every emotion, every high, and every low and then to have it end with me pushing my child into the world and into my awaiting arms. I wanted to feel all the power of the many women that I had supported in birth.  Almost 2 weeks after my estimated due date, I began having contractions, but they would suddenly stop and then start up again. This cycle, also known as prodromal labour, went on for days.  I won’t go into all the nitty gritty of the details, but I will say I certainly did have the full experience of birthing, just not in the way I had envisioned.  It was decided after a very long time of being in labour, I would need a cesarean.

It took me quite a while and a lot of reflecting to really realize the true value in my experience with the way my daughter was born.  The impact that the birth of our daughter had on her father was actually quite beautiful, and in many ways this was because she was born by cesarean.  Throughout my pregnancy, I had the experience of this life growing within me, while my partner was somewhat detached from it all. He went to the ultrasound appointments, felt the baby kicking and even talked to my belly, but he admits that he didn’t really grasp how his life would change once he became a father.  In the OR , my viewpoint was basically limited to what I could see within a few feet in front of me, with a curtain wall hiding anything from the chest down from my sight; I was relying on my partner to be my eyes. He watched as our daughter was brought into the world by a scalpel and firm, yet careful, hands. He got the experience of being the first to see her; something that he felt was just for him. He later explained to me that all of the stuff I got to experience during my pregnancy was not anything he could ever have, so this was his moment for him to cherish. I never expected to look up at him and see tears in his eyes, but sure enough they were there, and even though the surgical hat and mask hid most of his expression, his eyes said it all, he was beaming with pride. My daughter was placed beside my face so we could meet and she briefly sucked on my nose, but then daddy got his turn with his new little girl and was proud to show her off to awaiting family.

 

I will never know if he would have had the same experience had I had a vaginal delivery, with my mom and best friend also there, but to speculate does not matter, because how it turned out was beautiful and the bond between a girl and her daddy is stronger than ever.

 

When we as doulas talk about our many benefits, we sometimes speak to the studies which show how doulas assist in lowering cesarean rates.  We often pride ourselves in how our support contributes to ‘better’ birth outcomes.  While this is true and studies do back this, it leaves me wondering what message this portrays to our clients that give birth the cesarean way, whether by choice, planned or unplanned. Does it mean they did not successfully birth their babies?  Why did I feel that this would be the worst case scenario for myself?   I spent a lot of time pondering and wondering what I could have done differently to have prevented the cesarean, I was a doula afterall.  I am now at peace with my birth story and I feel like it has brought me to a new place as a doula.  In recent years I have had the opportunity to support clients in their own cesarean births and I feel so much better equipped to know how I can best support them in feeling that their birth is just as it should be.  Cesarean brings about different elements to birth, but really and truly every birth I have ever been witness to has been different, no vaginal birth is the same as another and does not come without its own challenges to overcome.  

 

My wish going forward as a doula is for all of my clients to feel supported and empowered in the choices they make and how the events of their experience unfolds , no matter how they birth their babies.

 

Having to accept that I had a cesarean and even learning to appreciate that this was my birth story, is an invaluable lesson as a mother.  As parents we set a lot of expectations of how we want to raise our kids, how we think they ought to be and become.  Just as quick as we set those expectations they are just as quick to knock them down.  We can have wishes and desires for how we want things to be, but we don’t get to control them. We can take a deep breath and accept the challenges that we are thrown at us in birth, parenting and in life, and it will all become the story of us.

Talk to any woman about their birth story and you will see how impactful it is on her life; the birth of my own daughter is now at the core of my being.  As a doula I look forward to supporting many of you through your story. It is my hope that the story you will tell is not  defined by vaginal vs. cesarean, medicated vs. unmedicated, but rather one of being supported, empowered and just the way it should have been.

 

-Jody 

Is A Doula Like A Midwife? ...and other FAQ's

I'll never forget my introduction to the word doula...

I went to visit a friend in the hospital after her long a difficult labour, and she introduced me to her doula. 

Her what???

She raved about this woman standing next to her, telling me all about the massages she gave in labour and the way she'd supported her through a very challenging birth. 

I left that day thinking a doula was a woman trained to give great massages in birth, and while that's certainly something that we do, there are so many other unanswered questions that have left many people a bit confused as to what it is we do. Allow us to clear up some of those wonderings by answering some of the most frequently asked questions:

 

Is a doula like a midwife?

Midwives are medically trained professionals who provide prenatal, birth, and postpartum care to women. Midwives often have hospital privileges, and like doulas offer care for both home and hospital birth. I don't know a midwife who hasn't gone into the profession with a passion and empathy for caring for women through pregnant and labour, but their primary role in birth is to ensure the safety of mother and baby, and this often requires a lot of their attention. 

A doula differs from a midwife in that she is not medically trained, but rather trained and experienced to provide physical and emotional support, with a knowledge of comfort techniques and the sole focus of attuning to your needs in labor.  Her priority is to hold the space for an environment that supports you in a way that the medical professionals caring for you often can't. While nurses, midwives and GP's care about their patients, the job they are doing is important and your safety is their number one priority. While a doula understands and can help you navigate the unfolding of your birth, she doesn't carry the responsibility of the medical components of birth; her eyes are on you as she intuitively responds to your needs, making you as comfortable and cared for as possible.

 

Are doulas trained to offer prenatal or childbirth advice?

A doula can and certainly does share information regarding pregnancy and birth. It’s important that any information she gives you or suggestions that may be made throughout your pregnancy, are reviewed and considered by your primary caregiver – your doctor, OBGYN or midwife. Doulas are not medically trained and do not (should not) claim to have the expertise to offer any sort of medical advice or perform any medical procedures including using a doppler for fetal monitoring, vaginal exams, or external palpitation to suggest babies positioning.  

 

What kind of training or certification is required for doulas?

The doula industry is not currently a government regulated industry, but there are definitely standards of professionalism that most doulas adhere to. Our doulas have taken a minimum of a  20 hour, in person workshop, and while pursuing certification, are required to complete a comprehensive exam, hands-on labour support, numerous client evaluations, and continual professional development to maintain certification. 

 

Can I access a doula for free? 

We believe that your doula holds immense value. While this work is extremely rewarding and it is an incredible honor to be welcomed as a support into a birth space, it is a line of work that requires huge commitment to being on call for weeks or months on end, meeting and conversing prenatally and postpartum, and providing continuous labour support, and our rates reflect that value. Maintaining certification usually requires annual fees and attending workshops and seminars. It is essential in this profession to continually keep up to date on new information and we want to give our clients our best through a personal commitment to learning and expanding our knowledge every day. We make payment plans available for our clients, and have a limited bursary fund for those who qualify for a reduced-fee for support. 

 

Won't a doula replace the role of my partner?

Not at all! Doula’s love birth partners and our priority is to help you both have the birth you imagine. We are there to support both the mother and her partner, because let’s face it, birth can leave you both exhausted, perplexed and out of sorts. We are experts in supporting women in labour and your partner is the expert on you; together we join forces and make a team that brings out the best in everyone. For the hands on partner, we can offer up suggestions for him to give you comfort and support while we meet your needs from another angle. Some partners will find birth emotionally overwhelming, physically exhausting, and others may lean on the side of squeamish. Having another trained support person there means the partner can be as involved as they can or want to be, while resting assured that your needs will be met to the fullest. We get to make sure you’re both fed and hydrated, that you find your voice to express your needs and desires in birth, and that you both feel confident and cared for going from start to finish.

 

Are doulas just for homebirth and unmedicated birth?

Doulas believe that birth is deeply personal. We have no preference for your birth place, nor do we hold any opinion on way you choose to bring life into this world. It is our greatest goal to offer support for all families, compassionately, without judgement or bias. We attend homebirths, hospital births and water births. We support women with epidurals and women who choose to manage their pain without intervention. While we believe information is essential to any decision through pregnancy and birth, we support you in every choice along the way because we believe that you know yourself better than anyone else!

 

Still wondering about what we do? Email us your questions or book a free consultation; we love to get to know new families to share about the work we do and how we could make your birth experience brighter. 

Why Your Doula Doesn't Care

 

So, perhaps it feels as though this post isn’t off to a good start, but I assure you it gets better.

Your doula doesn’t care. You heard it here first: She. Does. Not. Care.

And if she does, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

Let me explain myself…

Doula support is a no-strings attached business that supports women, giving them our absolute confidence in the choices they make through their pregnancy and birth. It’s not a conditional service; there’s no list of criteria that we expect or hope the women we care for fit, that’s not the business we are in.

Your doula knows that birth plays out in all different ways and that women come to the table with completely different ideals, hopes and fears.  Your doula doesn’t care if you find relief with an epidural or in the shower. She doesn’t care if you cry, swear, sing, or howl like the wolves pining for the moon. She doesn’t care if you choose a doctor or a midwife, if you give birth in the hospital or at home, in water or on land. There’s nothing that can stand in the way of your doulas support. No bias, no judgment, no feelings or personal preferences get to have a place in your birth except your own, because this is about you.  

Your doula does care that you are known and you are heard; that the details of what matters to you most are given the attention and respect they deserve. She cares that you are given information and choices in order to feel safe and supported. She cares that you are nurtured and loved through every moment of this journey. Her desire is to give you the absolute assurance that above all, she believes in YOU, the mother of this birth. 

No matter what you choose, regardless of how the wonder of your birth unfolds, we don’t care. To the doula who is supporting your birth, there is no right or wrong, there is no care, there is only you.