By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
April is Cesarean Awareness Month (CAM) and if you are a doula, odds are you will have a birth or postpartum client who has given birth by cesarean at some point (or many times?) during your professional career. Doulas can be a great help before a cesarean, during a cesarean and during the postpartum period. Many families also look forward to working with a birth doula when they are planning to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC). DONA International recognizes the importance of helping families to navigate the birth journey so that they do not experience a cesarean that was not necessary. We also recognize that families who are able to make decisions that feel good to them are more satisfied with their birth experience. Doulas can help families regardless of how they give birth. This month we honor those people who have birthed by cesarean and who are hoping and planning for a VBAC or hoping to have a family centered cesarean when they birth. We are glad to walk this journey with them.
Consider changing your Facebook profile picture using Twibbon to one that honors Cesarean Awareness Month and DONA International’s support to let everyone know that doulas support families who are having cesareans and VBACs before, during and after their births. You can also change your Twitter profile picture as well. Everything should be set up for you to make the change quickly and easily using this Twibbon link.
.I would like to share some of my favorite resources for both birth and postpartum doulas on the topic of cesareans and VBACs. These resources are current, evidenced-based and useful both for you professionally and for your birth and postpartum clients.
Favorite Cesarean and VBAC Resources for Doulas and Families
VBACFacts.com – this comprehensive website is jammed packed with resources, information, blog posts and more for both professionals and families. Additionally, owner, Jen Kamel offers online and in-person courses that people (both parents and professionals) can attend to take a deeper dive on some topics. VBACFacts.com is one of my first go to websites on this topic hands down.
The VBAC Education Project – a project of the International Childbirth Education Association and Nicette Jukelevics, MA, ICCE, this comprehensive site is a teaching tool for both birth professionals and parents. Developed to empower people to make their own decisions about how they want to give birth after a cesarean and to provide VBAC-friendly birth professionals and caregivers with the tools and resources to support them. Explore and discover how valuable this information can be for you and your clients!
International Cesarean Awareness Network – a valuable online and in-person network of peer to peer support whose mission is to s to improve maternal-child health by preventing, unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean. They have a very useful monthly newsletter, a bi-annual conference, a thorough website, a strong and active Facebook page and local chapters and chapter leaders around the world that offer on the ground support in the form of local meetings and support groups for families who are impacted by a cesarean birth. Consider becoming a member to support their efforts. ICAN is the organization behind Cesarean Awareness Month.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Resource Overview – ACOG is the professional organization for obstetricians in the United States. I think it is important to be aware of the resources and viewpoints of this organization so that you can help your clients to understand what are common practices and recommendations from the professional obstetrician’s point of view.
Power to Push Campaign VBAC Information – this useful website out of British Columbia has a multitude of very handy, consumer-friendly resources for both the doula and their clients. I particularly like their patient information booklet on VBAC and planned cesareans, which lays out the information, risks, and benefits in very simple, consumer-friendly format. You may want to print these and give them to your clients.
Breastfeeding after a Cesarean – The well-known breastfeeding website KellyMom.com offers resources that support breastfeeding in people who have given birth after a cesarean. For cesarean parents, breastfeeding sometimes goes perfectly and other times there are challenges, just like after any birth. Having some resources for your families who will be breastfeeding after birthing by cesarean can be a useful aid for success.
Making Your Cesarean Parent-Baby Friendly – I wrote this blog post for Lamaze International’s Giving Birth with Confidence blog a few years ago, and like to share with clients who are having a planned cesarean. Often they don’t realize that they have choices too! Having some options can help the experience to be very positive for all involved.
Test your Cesarean and VBAC Knowledge and Be Entered to Win
Test your knowledge on the topics of cesareans and VBACs with this simple and quick ten question quiz. Choose to submit your name and email before you take the quiz and be entered into a drawing for some DONA International promotional swag after Cesarean Awareness Month closes April 30th, 2017. Good luck!
What are your favorite cesarean and VBAC resources that you utilize as well as share with your birth and postpartum clients? Drop them in the comments section below so we can all access them and learn together. Remember, Cesarean Awareness Month and DONA International are better together!