Cesarean Awareness Month
April is Cesarean Awareness Month (CAM) and this month, many perinatal organizations are focusing on the impact cesarean birth has on parents and babies. In the USA, the current cesarean rate is just under 32%. While this rate has been slowly declining, many professionals support the belief that nearly half of all cesarean surgeries in the USA are not necessary. The World Health Organization has stated for many years that a cesarean rate of approximately 10 to 15% is saving lives but not doing harm. There are places around the world that do not have adequate access to cesareans, and people die from the lack of safe and immediate surgery. In the USA and many other developed nations, people die and experience maternal and neonatal morbidity when cesareans are performed unnecessarily.
When a family welcomes a baby by cesarean, the postpartum period can be more difficult than expected. Healing from surgery while caring for a newborn can be extremely challenging. A postpartum doula can assist a family to move through the first days and weeks after a cesarean birth with support and confidence. If you are curious about how a birth doula can support the family during a cesarean, find that information in our post: Five Reasons You May Want a Birth Doula during Your Cesarean Birth.
Six ways a postpartum doula can support a cesarean birth
Recovering from surgery and establishing a good nursing relationship simultaneously with a newborn are both important, but at times difficult tasks to accomplish. A postpartum doula is skilled in supporting the nursing dyad and can assist with comfortable positions, latching and establishing nursing stations throughout the home to feed the baby comfortably. This could be especially important for feeding the baby in bed, in order to rest. This is often the most tricky place to feed a baby successfully, and a postpartum doula knows all the pro tips to make this position (and others) less challenging and comfortable.
Keep the family well supplied with meals and snacks
Often times with a new baby, it is hard to stay hydrated and nourished. Getting up and down from a seated or reclined position and moving around the house can be painful and slow during the first days and weeks of recovery. A postpartum doula can prepare and serve nourishing meals and snacks while they are on their shift and leave plenty of easy to access foods for parents to enjoy in between the doula visits. A postpartum doula can even set up a bedside supply of helpful foods to eat with one hand while nursing or while resting. Good nutrition is a critical part of a solid postpartum recovery and even more so after a cesarean birth.
Light housekeeping and laundry
A new postpartum family’s job is to rest, eat and feed the baby. Household tasks like tidying up and doing laundry are down the list of necessary tasks. A postpartum doula can keep things organized and tidy, and help get laundry clean and folded, so the new family does not need to worry about a large basket of dirty clothes. Having these simple tasks seamlessly taken care of by a postpartum professional who understands the physical and emotional stresses of giving birth by cesarean can help everyone relax and take care of the baby without these household tasks hanging over their heads.
Support rest and allow the new parents to sleep
Life with a newborn involves a lot of baby care and not a lot of sleep. Newborns require their needs to be met 24/7 with little regard to how exhausted a caregiver can be. A postpartum doula can change, comfort, and soothe a baby in between feedings so that the new parent can take a nap or sleep during the night assured that the baby is in good hands. If a baby is bottle fed, a postpartum doula can even allow for a decent night of sleep, if things are timed carefully during an overnight shift. A good night of sleep often makes everything better.
Postpartum doulas are experts on newborn care and babywearing
Many new parents lack confidence around caring for a newborn, including bathing, swaddling, babywearing and more. A postpartum doula is an expert on all these things and can help the parents gain confidence and experience in handling and taking care of their newborn. When the baby is happy and satisfied, parents can relax and be more confident that they are able to meet their baby’s needs.
Process the birth experience postpartum
During postpartum shifts, a postpartum doula can listen to the family as they process the birth experience. It is not uncommon for there to be many emotions that come up after a cesarean birth, whether planned or unplanned, especially if it was emergent. A postpartum doula can offer resources such as support groups, counselors, lactation consultant, physical therapists, massage therapists, and other birth support professionals who can assist with recovery from surgery, both emotionally and physically, in the critical first days and weeks.
Postpartum doulas are beyond helpful after a cesarean
From assuring that new parents are rested and fed to increasing confidence in meeting the needs of a newborn, a postpartum doula is truly an amazing asset to have after giving birth by cesarean. Simply having that extra professional support in the house to be able to answer all your questions and share tricks and tips goes a long way to support your physical and mental recovery. Postpartum doulas ease the transition to life with a newborn after a cesarean delivery and parenthood.
From assuring that new parents are rested and fed to increasing confidence in meeting the needs of the newborn, a postpartum doula is truly an amazing asset to have after giving birth by cesarean. Simply having that extra professional support in the house to be able to answer all your questions and share tricks and tips goes a long way to support your physical and mental recovery. Postpartum doulas ease the transition to life with a newborn after a cesarean delivery. Consider downloading a pdf of this useful infographic to share with families.