By Judy Eastman PCD BA
Your pregnancy came off with out a hitch! You felt great, were able to continue exercising, and accomplished your goals prior to going into labor. Your OB sent you off with your baby in good position, you were rested, with no foreseeable complications. You had your birth plan, you stuck to it, and you still ended up having a Cesarean Section!
You understand that some times this is simply how it happens. You and your baby are doing well. I know when I had my C-Section I was grateful. My nearly 9 lb baby was butt breach. He would have never been able to make it through the birth canal. After 20 hours of induced labor I had a C Section. I was exhausted, sore, and emotionally spent. Yet, we were both healthy and alive!
I had not even considered the possibility of surgery. This was my fifth delivery, all previous had been natural and easy. Now I was faced with four little ones running around the house, a newborn, and my recovery from major surgery. It was overwhelming!!!
Those at the hospital are trained to serve you through your labor and delivery. They are not in the mindset of helping you make decisions about after you leave their care. There is an entire industry prepared to serve you now. Postpartum Doulas are trained in individual needs and care. They will spend time talking with you about the importance of healing, what services you will need during this time, nutrition, breastfeeding and a myriad of other issues.
More than anything, a postpartum doula will walk you through this unplanned situation with experience and grace. It is important to realize where you are. You just finished nine months of building a little person. You are experiencing the overwhelming wash of hormones and physical changes involved. You have a new baby who needs you for everything. Your body is preparing to feed this little one. On top of all this you have just experienced major surgery. You were under general or local anesthesia; your body is trying to stabilize, you may be having problems doing so.
1. Getting your head right:
At this point it is important to assess your situation. What is the best path for your health, healing, self care, and long term success? Taking stock will help you put together a plan. Someone who has worked with mothers in your situation will have valuable information for you. She will share her thoughts and suggestions. She will come to understand where you are in all this. She will assist you in gaining a vision of what the next few months will require. Her goal will be to help you choose your best route to success. There are many things you will want to discuss with your doula. If you are experiencing emotional trauma due to your unexpected delivery she will help you process your feelings. If necessary, she will refer you to professional assistance. If she feels you are experiencing postpartum depression she will help you find the help you need. Finding an experienced well trained postpartum doula will relieve you of having to walk this path on your own. This will provide you wonderful peace.
2. Selecting what help you will need in your process:
What are the best services available to you? There a many different options. Your doula will offer suggestions helping you decide what you believe will be of use. She will provide referrals, and more. Certified doulas have created their own referral resources. This will be very helpful to you as you evaluate your needs. Will you want someone to come in and clean your home while you recover? Will you need help with grocery shopping and meal preparation? Do you have family and friends who would like to help?
3. Physical services provided by doulas:
A doula is trained on how to facilitate your recover. She will talk over your diet, water intake, and sleep. She will make suggestions for you in each of these areas, helping you come up with a plan that best meets your needs. She will discuss any issues you foresee and provide referrals when necessary. Doulas are trained to educate you in the best way to care for your baby. She will assist in breastfeeding, infant care of all kinds, bathing, dressing, soothing, nursery organization, pacifiers, diapering, and more.
4. Assisting you with baby care:
A night doula will stay in your home with the express purpose of caring for your baby and allowing you to sleep. She will bring baby to you when it is time to breastfeed, taking care of diaper changes, burping, and settling. This will allow you to heal more quickly and return to feeling normally. She will assist with specific tasks you request. These will be decided when you interview her.
5. Your doula will pay specific attention to your self care:
Are you hydrating, resting, recuperating? Does your diet support healing and encourage your milk supply? Are you taking time each day to enjoy a bit of ‘me time’? Are you recovering physically as well as emotionally and psychologically? I encourage my clients to spend time each day doing something they truly enjoy. Maybe enjoying a good book, a walk around the block, a phone call with a good friend…. This helps make since of life. It provides something to look forward to each day when breastfeeding and exhaustion are the norm. A little something to look forward to feeds the soul and enables hope.
6. Be sure you are communicating with postpartum doulas:
Postpartum doulas are trained to evaluate your situation and help you find answers to the million and one questions running through your mind. Be sure you are communicating with postpartum doulas. Birth doulas understand pregnancy and birth. Personally, I highly recommend having a birth doula present at your birth whether you deliver at home or in a hospital. Her expertise as your advocate will be an invaluable asset during your labor and delivery. Postpartum doulas are educated specifically to help you after the birth of your baby. There are doulas certified in both areas, but they are few and far between. DONA, the Doula Organization of North America, provides referrals for doulas specializing in each field.
Best wishes to you as the delivery of your precious baby arrives. You are entering the greatest adventure in life: becoming a Mother! Whether you are doing this in the traditional way, through adoption or surrogacy, your life will never be the same. No one can explain to you what you will feel and think. It is a road you must travel to understand. Congratulations!!! Have so much fun!