“The difference between being selfish and self care: selfish takes, and self care is unclenching your fist to receive. Knowing yourself enough to know what you need and loving yourself enough to unclench your fists to receive.”
Our doula shared this quote with me and it hit home. This pregnancy, my third, and final time around, I’m doing things differently.
Walking into the hospital to deliver our babies and then getting rolled into the OR for our first for an unplanned cesarean was one of the scariest experiences of my entire life. Our second was a planned cesarean birth. And as Jamie has reminded me, even more horrifying for himself. From our past two birthing experiences and now moving into our third and we feel just as inexperienced, scared, and anxious as before. And this is exactly why we decided to hire Stephanie from How2Mom to be our doula, even though I am going to have a planned cesarean (c-section) birth.
So today we wanted to share why we chose to hire a doula even though we’re having a c-section and why we highly recommend it for you, regardless of your delivery method. And maybe help shift the stigma and misconception like we once had, that you don’t need an extra support person when it comes to your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum.
When I first thought about the idea of having a doula this time around, my mind then immediately went to, but I’m having a “c-section.” And being that’s a pretty straightforward medical procedure, there are no choices for me to make, do I really need one?
When you are having a c-section you still have a lot of choices you get to make when it comes to your birth plan. And I’m now learning about all of these choices that had never been presented to me that I could have made for potentially a much more joyful previous experience.
One of the first things I was educated on, after saying to Stephanie, “I’m having a planned c-section, so I’m not doing a natural birth…” is that any way you give birth to your child whether that is vaginally or having a cesarean, home or in a hospital, is “natural.”
You are creating and birthing a child! There is nothing not natural about that. I quickly stopped saying I wasn’t birthing my child naturally just because I was having a c-section after that.
And now throughout this process, I have learned that having a c-section is probably even more of a better reason to hire an extra support person. This is major surgery, and you need to be mentally prepared just as much as if you were delivering vaginally.
Table of Contents
Ease Anxiety for a More Joyful Experience
Prior to now, whenever I thought of a doula, my misconception was that was for someone who was more of a hippie, doulas were more like a midwife, or maybe for those that simply needed one support person.
I thought…I am a strong independent woman, I had a doctor, a supportive husband, and I’m not the most natural person…so why would I need a doula?! And boy, has that mindset shifted.
A doula is there to lay out the options, be my advocate, a resource, someone I can call, email, or text at any day or time when the emotions, anxiety, and questions are running high, and best of all…a support person for not just for myself but my husband.
It’s almost like your personal attendant on your wedding day and having a baby is one of the most important, life-changing, and monumental days of your life. You also have no idea how the day will play out, regardless of how well you planned.
Unlike a midwife, during labor, a doula is someone that doesn’t perform any medical tasks rather is there for you for whatever you need, whether that be shifting the mindset for a whole new positive pregnancy experience, bringing you your favorite protein power balls to stay energized, oils or music to stay relaxed, or to help direct your husband on what he needs to be doing. And besides labor, they do so much more for prenatal and postpartum care that is just as important, if not, more important.
It took me a while to convince Jamie that we should have baby number three. And that is because he had some major PTSD from the boys’ births. You can read more about Beckam’s birth story HERE. And this was something I didn’t fully realize until talking about getting pregnant with baby number three, how stressful the entire experience was for Jamie.
Here he was just as inexperienced as me, and terrified as ever, with no direction on what to do, where to go before, during, and after delivery. And he was probably even more terrified postpartum and once all the hormones started running high!
I mean, I kinda get it. Us women are doing all the work here and it is our bodies that are being overtaken. However, these hubbies of ours go through a lot too with really no preparation at all.
During labor and delivery with Greyson, Jamie had no clue what to do. From watching me go through contractions and watch the doctors rush in and out, back and forth, and then frantically wheel me off to surgery and leaving him in the room. He was lost.
And then when the baby did come, he walked over to meet our little dude but wasn’t sure if he should be staying by me to be with his highly anxious wife while they stitched me back up or be meeting baby. And then they had to quickly put him under the heat lamp and had to start putting some scary things down his throat to get him breathing and not really filling him in on what’s going on. So he just paced back and forth and was on the verge of passing out.
And then round two with Beckam, we thought everything would go great being it was a planned c-section, maybe a little less stressful. And then low and behold he’s in the OR with me and then they yet again tell him he needs to leave and that I’m going to be put under and again, he’s waiting in a room all by himself with no direction or knowing what is going on.
My momma’s brain is always thinking of the worst, so it feels so good knowing that Stephanie will be there every step of the way for not only support for myself but also Jamie and helping direct him on what to do and also the two of them can divide and concur and make sure momma and baby are having the emotional support they need.
You Still Have Choices to Make
Regardless of what your birth plan is, you still have a lot of choices to make. And many of which can create a more of a special experience.
Here I was thinking, well I’m having a c-section so everything is planned and really there aren’t any choices to make. Again, boy was I wrong.
Do you want to walk into the OR vs being rolled in?
Arms and hands tied down or not?
Music or no music to set the mood?
Oils and scents to calm the energy in the room?
Clear drape vs. solid?
How would you like the doctors to announce the gender to you?
Do you like chit chat in the room or no one talking?
Daddy cut the cord?
Who’s first to hold?
When to do skin to skin?
Feeding, measuring, and immunizations. When to do and what to give?
Would you like to meet staff prior to surgery instead of in the OR room with scary masks, hats, gowns?
Did you know you can talk with your anesthesiologists prior to provide peace of mind that they are up to date on your charts and previous labor experiences of what worked and didn’t work?
There are still so many choices that need to be made within the OR room and after delivery that all feel overwhelming at the time. And even more, overwhelming when you are going and just went through major surgery.
This is probably why it’s even more important to have a doula when going through a c-section to have someone there to know and make these very important decisions throughout this process and during this time so that you can focus on yourself and baby. Especially if like me, you have to be completely be sedated for a few hours. It’s so comforting to know that someone is there, that truly knows me, for baby and daddy while I may possibly be unconscious.
Nutrition & Exercise for Physical Comfort
Being pregnant isn’t the most comfortable experience. After all, you are carrying around an extra 30+ pounds and your body is creating a human!
You’re mentally and physically exhausted for a good 40 weeks. But there are things you can be doing and taking regularly to at least ease some of that discomfort throughout your pregnancy.
And not only with our Doula Stephanie but also our Chiro, Jesse, both have been simultaneously working and educating me on the best exercises, nutrition, and supplements I should take regularly. And best of all, they work together (something I didn’t know when I hired them) so I love how they are on the same page with it all.
Another thing we hadn’t put much thought into was thinking about Greyson and Beckam and how we should be preparing them as well. Here we were only focused on getting all of the things prepared for our business, personal, and new baby. And totally forgot about the fact that our little dudes’ lives and our family household are going to look a whole lot different.
With Greyson, neither Jamie nor I remember him feeling left out or any signs of jealousy or more affection towards one parent or the other. Not sure if it was because all of our attention was on the new baby or if he didn’t seem to mind. But we were reminded of how different Beckam and Greyson are and we’re in for a whole new ride this time around.
Stephanie reminded us that even though we may not see any signs there are things we can do to help avoid the frustration our children may act out and also the tension in our marriage. Things such as having some new fun toys that he only gets to play with when mom is nursing, which will then lead to a fun and exciting time for him and also probably won’t be asking mom for anything during these times as she’ll have her hands full and he’ll be so excited to play with this toy and knows it’s only during this time.
Postpartum is stressful! Not only for yourself but your husband and your marriage.
Stephanie has also been asking good questions of what life looks like personally post-baby and couching us on some things we can try to do and have set up ahead of time.
Have we thought about and set up a plan for when dad feeds or mom feeds during the night, who’s spending time with Greyson or Beckam when attention is on baby, who’s helping with doing drop off and pick up, feeding everyone, cleaning, etc.?
This has helped force us to have the discussions, know our individual roles, and a plan in place so these discussions aren’t happening in the heat of the moments.
I can’t count how many of my friends, including myself, have gone through a cesarean and come out on the other side deeply scarred, physically, and mentally. I mean you just went through a MAJOR SURGERY. And even though it may be planned, it might not goes as planned at all, as we discovered with Beckam.
Stephanie educated and reminded us that our body is not only healing from a scar that baby came out of but it is also healing an internal wound the size of a paper plate inside of the uterus, where the placenta once was! And now being it is our last and I’ll be getting my tubes removed, it’ll be healing from that as well.
And on top of major surgery, your body is now going through a ton of hormonal shifts and is living a new life with a new baby in tow. There are a lot of changes and healing happening all at once and it’s just as important if not more important to have a support system in place postpartum as you did for when preparing for baby.
She also is going to be working with Jamie so that he knows and sees any red flags or warnings for if and when I start spiraling. PTSD and depression are a real and big thing post-pregnancy and it feels good knowing Stephanie is going to be there not only for labor and delivery but once it’s all over and we’re figuring out life in a whole new way again.
So here are just a few of the many reasons why we’re so thankful and grateful that we hired a doula this third and final time around and why we’d encourage you to at least explore the option too. How2Mom offers free consultations to anyone considering hiring a doula to go into more detail about what they offer, can touch on their specific needs, and answer any questions about their individualized experience.
We promise you, you won’t be disappointed. And CONGRATS on your pregnancy or upcoming pregnancy. We are so darn happy for you!