Emotional Aspects of Being a Doula

The Trust Birth Conference was very interesting.  It was fun talking with other doulas there.  We had one group discussion and someone talked about how our work as Doula’s can be effected by our births. 

It made me think of my 2 cesareans I have attended as a doula. 

I always was nervous how supporting a mom with a cesarean would effect me, because of my first birth.   I had an emergency cesarean at 34 weeks.  It was scary, my baby was in the NICU, I didn’t get to hold him for 24 hours.  It was medically necessary, but still not anything I would want any mom to experience. 

So I was talking to this doula about this and came to realize how God had really helped me deal with the ability to suport moms during cesareans, while not letting my emotions from my birth get in the way.  He did this in an interesting way. 

My first cesarean was Mom B and it was not an emergency situation.   It unraveled over 24 hours.  A long induction for a first time mom.  Exhaustion was the real reason for the cesarean.  She was well supported and respected and made the best choice for the situation she was in.  It was still hard for me to accept in some ways.  It was still quite devastating, because I knew what she was losing and gaining in her choice. 

Since it happened slowly, I had time to come to grips with the situation and help support her through that.  It wasn’t really until afterwards that I broke down.  (There were many facets to that, it was the end of being away from my house for pretty much 57 hours for 2 long inductions.) But driving home I called Jenn, my good friend and all I could say was, “She got a cesarean.” and then started crying and couldn’t really stop.  Jenn is a cesarean mom too, so she understood.   I still tear up thinking about it and it was 5 months ago. 

Fast forward to 2 months ago and I am at another birth.  Mom K is on pitocin after supposed PROM.  OB checks her and she has bulging forewaters, so she goes to break that, without even planning on telling mom.  I jump in to say, “Looks like OB is going to break your water!”   

Baby doesn’t tolerate it well at all, they try changing positions, then try amnioinfusion.  I can tell things are getting dicey.  Suddenly OB is in there and without telling K anything, putting in an internal monitor.  I am calmly telling mom what is going on.  Then OB goes for second Internal Monitor, I say to K, “It looks like you might be going for a cesarean.”  OB calls Code Green, room fills with people.  No one is talking to K at all.  The room is in chaos.  I feel totally calm.  I say to K, “Go to your special place.  You and your baby will be fine.”  Mom and Dad are gone within minutes. 

I am left alone in the room.   I still feel calm.  This was the situation I was most afraid of.  Being in a situations close to Devon’s birth.  But in reality I think that first birth with B, helped prepare me for this cesarean.  It helped me deal with a lot of my emotions regarding Devon’s birth, so that I could be present and calm for K when I needed to be. 

K and baby were fine.  I loved that she was able to recover back in her room with baby in the room with her.  She was holding him skin to skin within an hour after he was born. 

It was a much easier birth for me to deal with as a doula.  It was medically necessary (though I see very clearly different interventions may have caused that necessity).   I was able to provide support before and after.  I didn’t shed any tears, though I do feel sorry for K that she joined the sisterhood of the scar.  It is something I do not wish for anyone. 

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5 Comments on “Emotional Aspects of Being a Doula

  1. I attended my first cesarean birth as a doula last month, and I was SO relieved that I was able to draw on my personal experience of my daughter’s birth to serve my client more effectively, but I was not caught up in reliving the emotions of my birth. What a strange and wonderful journey we are on!


  2. I only WISH I could say I had been to 2 c’s as a doula. I think I attended 6 in 2007. I had a very depressing year. There was a workshop in Portland about dealing with birth trauma as a doula…I only wish it would have worked out for me to go. I have had a hard time navigating my own personal feelings with what the client needs me to say to her. I have seen necessary surgeries, questionable ones, and downright ridiculous, steam-roller ones, and to tell you the truth, they all leave you feeling a bit melancholy. We all want the best experience for our clients because we know that is so important, and yet, it does not always happen.


  3. I’m considering doula training (LoL, in my free time). I think that if/when I do this, I’ll be ok attending cesarean birth. In fact, I wonder if this isn’t part of my calling . . .

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with this!
    ~ Kimberly


  4. Your post was very refreshing for me. I have had an emergency csection like you. My son was born 7 weeks early, my placenta abrupted and he went into distress during labor. It was absolutely medically necessary. I had had a vaginal birth before my csection and have had an unmedicated vbac since his birth. Your blog post was very comforting and reassuring. I definitely support mothers on choosing not to have a csection when possible but I also think that they have their place and that not all women that have or have had csections are uneducated about birth. Thanks for writing on this.


  5. Pingback: A birth that hit too close to home. « Enjoy Birth Blog

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