Doula supported cesarean birth was rare before the pandemic, extremely rare now, and almost unheard of in Northern Michigan. Often, huge amounts of resistance by policy, staff and care providers lead to being separated from clients until recovery. This was not the case for this family, or birth setting. Read more with me about a family-centered cesarean birth!
Cesarean birth may be someone’s ideal, another’s back-up plan, and for many a big fear when it comes to birthing their baby. In the Doula and Childbirth Educator’s worlds there is a dynamic view of what is desired, safest…and for whom. Seriously folks, everyone wants a healthy baby! My focus remains on the entire family, ensuring that they are centered in the belly-birth experience. Shared with permission, the following is the beautiful birth story of a family-centered cesarean. Serving them was an honor.
This beautiful Mother contacted me very early in her pregnancy – excited to have a Doula present for the birth of her second baby. She happily reported that her first pregnancy was mostly unremarkable and enjoyable. Although she was quite happy with that vaginal birth experience, she wanted to learn new ways to labor & cope: reducing the number of interventions used this time around. Her gentle yet bright personality shimmered just like her eyes as she spoke of her family and the excitement surrounding the new baby. We talked about using a yoga ball at home, formed her birth plan, and practiced comfort techniques with her sweet Husband (such a great support to her!).
Over time it became known that belly birth would be her and her baby’s safest passage into a family of four. She found herself parenting a busy toddler from bed rest… and went through these days with the most beautiful grace. Her partner, immediate, and extended family surrounded them with the love and support that was needed – making this Doula heart sing, and her challenges soften. We shifted gears and updated her birth plan to include things such as: walking to the O.R. under her own strength to own her birth, asking staff for introductions & for her partner to discover/announce the gender of their baby, immediate skin-to-skin continued throughout the duration of her abdominal repair, as well as having their Birth Doula present the entire time. To my great surprise, each and every one of their wishes were respected, and my presence in the O.R. was accommodated by the professionals of McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital – Petoskey, Michigan. It took focused effort to place my eagle-eyed advocacy skills at the feet of her care providers; freeing my hands, heart and mind allowing me to provide expert care.
Both Mother and baby cooed under the glowing blue drape as they met for the first time. Her Husband snapped this incredible photo as my hands gently positioned and supported baby for safety. They talked over each detail of their new daughter while love poured into & filled what could’ve been a cold and frightening space. When Dad went on for baby’s routine care and check-up, Mom was comforted by the photos of her baby that I was able to capture beforehand. She breastfed her newborn, for the first time, within one-hour of her birth to improve their outcomes.
It is a dream of this Doula’s that each and every birth has the support needed and desired – belly birth is no exception. The most exquisite birth memories can happen anywhere…even in the operating room. Thank you to this family, and to each professional at this birth setting for allowing me to serve in my fullest capacity.