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The Importance of a Labor Doula at a Caesarean Birth

Posted on January 25th, 2013 by | 10 views
By Jo Kilburn, CLD, HBCE

With her baby in the breech position at 33 weeks, Jennifer’s doctor recommended that she see a local chiropractor to help turn her baby. The baby is still breech at 37 weeks and the doctor advised her to schedule a caesarean delivery. Jennifer has been having surges at 36 weeks that were intermittent. I explained that these are pre-labor warm-ups and when she is in true labor the surges will not stop. When we spoke on Sunday night, she had two more days of work left and she was anxious to be done. I suggested that she do her relaxation techniques after work on Tuesday, and to tell her body and her baby “I’m ready now; everything is taken care of and done. I’m anxious to meet you and I trust that you and my body will work perfectly together.”

On Sunday night she woke up to spotting and was having surges. She went to the doctor the next morning and learned that she was 4 cm. dilated, but her baby was still in the breech position. He suggested that she go into the hospital immediately and have her baby by caesarean delivery.  On Monday morning, at 37 weeks, Jennifer called to tell me she is checking into the hospital that afternoon at 3pm. I meet her and her husband in the lobby and take pictures of them still pregnant. We are admitted and Jennifer asks the nurse if they could still honor her birth plan for infant care after delivery and the nurse agrees. Jennifer puts on a hospital gown. As she lay in bed, we talk about the excitement of meeting their baby girl today. Jennifer shares her fear of surgery, since she has never experienced it before. Her doctor arrives and is kind, attentive and reassuring. He brings in the ultrasound machine “just to make sure the baby hasn’t turned head down overnight.” Jennifer appreciates the gesture. “Yes the baby is still breech” the doctor says, and tells them that they will be ready to take her into surgery in 15 minutes.

Jennifer, Michael and I take a minute to put on soft music. I tell her to lightly close her eyes, take deep breaths and to send her breath into my hand as I hold it lightly on her chest. I speak softly to her, saying “with every breath you breathe in relaxation, breathe out tension and fear. Send that fear all the way out your body through your feet.” I then say “as you enter the operating room, you will become deeply relaxed knowing that you are in an area of safety and you know that you are in good hands, surrounded by caring and competent medical staff. Following the surgery you will feel very comfortable and you will heal very quickly.” It only took a minute. Jennifer opens her eyes and says “thank you!” As Jennifer walks into the operating room, her husband puts on a paper suit. We talk about him meeting his daughter for the first time. He thanks me for calming his wife and putting her in a positive place for her surgery.

I sit and wait for the family to come into the recovery room. Dad comes in first with a little 6 pound bundle in his arms. The baby is a beautiful color and is sucking on her fingers. Dad proudly tells me her APCAR score was 10. Shortly after, Jennifer is wheeled back to the room. She has a smile on her face and asks me to rub her legs to help bring the feeling back. As I rub her legs, I feel so proud to have been a part of this wonderful birthing experience with this special family. Jennifer and Michael have tears of joy and loving hugs for each other. New mother Jennifer has a beautiful baby girl in her arms and a loving husband by her side. I say goodbye and leave this sweet family, feeling warm and happy.

This is another beautiful place for the labor doula to be. Your passion for the parents and the newborn comes through you and has a place even during preparation for a caesarean birth. They are all sacred births.

Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the parents.

Jo Kilburn is a DONA certified labor doula since 2006 and a certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner since 2005.  Jo loves helping her clients learn and use the meditation-like breathing and relaxation techniques that are so beneficial during labor and delivery. She has a passion and love for the process of bringing babies into our world, and joyfully attends the vaginal, caesarean and VBAC deliveries to parents at hospital, birth center and home births. She lives and practices in North County, San Diego.

Please visit for more information about Jo and her services.