with 2 Comments

Doula Cesarean Support?

Many women who use doulas are looking to have a natural birth without medications.  Occasionally, though, emergencies happen, plans change, and a c-section is neccesary.


I often get questioned on what doula cesarean support to help looks like.  Here’s a list of possible actions a doula can take to help support and comfort a woman who is in need of a cesarean section.

Doula cesarean support

“For decades, plenty of women hoping to have a natural birth have used doulas, but now women having C-sections have begun to use them, too”- Sara Stub, Washington Post

Doula cesarean support

Before the Cesarean Section

Make sure that the mother has planned to be rested and fed.  Most planned c-sections will require the mother fasts for a certain length of time, but nurishing meals can be given before that time.

If anxiety is an issue, I try to talk to hospital administrators about having a doula in the OR.  Often, this is still not allowed, so I try to do what I can beforehand to make sure they have what they need.

doulas for cesarean sections

“Even if doulas cannot be with women during the surgical procedure itself — most hospitals allow only one companion, who is usually the birthing mother’s partner, into the operating room — [Dr. Julie] Chor says that the presence of a doula before and after the procedure can be emotionally beneficial.” –Washington Post

doulas for cesarean sections


I will call L&D managers to see what they may be able to offer my client and what we can do to make this birth better for them. I try to make sure they have nurses and anesthetists that are willing to work with my client’s anxieties or fears. This all takes some preliminary work, but it is worth it.

I make sure I understand any and all restrictions that a hospital or doctor’s group may have. I discuss what my client would like weeks before the surgery even takes place so that there are no false expectations. I make sure my clients understand what may happen and what medications she may be taking.

Right before the surgery, I try and make the atmosphere as calming as possible.  I will usually do reflexology or touch right before hand, or diffuse lavender oil as long as everyone is ok with that.

During the Surgery

I make sure the mother has someone with her as much as possible. If my client wanted to use essential oils or music, I make sure that it goes with her to the OR. I make sure a copy of the birth plan goes with my client to the OR and that everyone has read it. While my client is being prepped, I sit with the dad and make sure he has all his questions answered. I also try to see if they can make accommodations for skin to skin right afterwards, and help them plan what they want for their baby afterwards(ie meds or immunizations etc.).  If parents would like more information on a natural cesaren, a doula can also help provide them with this and help facilitate communication involving this technique.

After the Surgery

I keep track of what is going on with the baby if they are not with mom so that she is always aware of what is going on. I am with her as much as possible afterwards to help her digest her birth and be at peace. Many moms feel abandoned after a surgery and everyone is gone.

I make sure they are comfortable, and get scheduled meds if they desire. I either give them space to rest(ie keep distractions to a minimun), or make sure their social needs are met if they feel the need to talk to others. I help with breastfeeding afterwards. I make sure both parents have questions answered and are informed and understand what is going on.

A woman who has a c-section needs just as much support as a vaginal delivery.  Doulas offer a great resource for meeting those needs.  For more information on how a doula can help you using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, check out this free handout you can give to clients. Here’s an infographic with the same concept.



Follow Rachel Leavitt:

Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

2 Responses

  1. Cassie
    | Reply

    How long after a C-section do you stay with a client in recovery, or if you cannot be with then until after they go to their room (after recovery)? My client went in for a C-Section and I could not go with her or be in the initial recovery because she has her partner (only 1 support person allowed). I’m just wondering how long I stick around the hospital for. I could be waiting 1-2hrs before I’m able to even see her and find out how everyone is doing, then I will have to wait another hour or so before she’s moved to a room.

    • Rachel Leavitt
      | Reply

      It really just depends on what your client needs. In your case, I would probably do a follow up visit at the hospital after she is back in her room. She may need help digesting what happened or just feel like someone is there just for her. It’s something I would work out with my client. Yes, you may be waiting for a few hours for sure. I have found that many women are appreciative that I have stayed, though, when situations like this have arisen.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.