The short answer is “not usually”!
Doulas and Cesarean Birth – What is the benefit of hiring a doula who has been in the OR?
Education can only get us so far — Experience must close the rest of the gap.
Even though doctors don’t usually let doulas in the OR, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I recently supported a long birth and the mother was really fantastic. I mean she was tolerating labor so beautifully. Her husband was such a great support and the love they shared was so evident especially through the hard parts of labor. Eventually, the very conservative obstetrician called for a cesarean birth due to failure to progress. The client, with her birth team, had tried many positions and ultimately, her goal of a healthy baby and healthy mother was obtained by a cesarean birth.
After being with this couple for about 12 hours, they felt defeated because a cesarean was not their ideal birth but together, we talked about expectations, the process and they were prepped for the surgery. When the obstetrician (OB) came back into the room with the nurse, the clients asked them if I could come into the OR. I have supported many cesarean births, but I have never been allowed into the OR due to hospital or anesthesiologist’s protocols. The doctor and the nurse both agreed that since I had been with the clients offering support that aligned with their care plan, I could go into the OR as long as the anesthesiologist allowed. When the anesthesiologist visited the client one last time before going into the OR, she too agreed that I would be a great asset in the operating room.
Being in the OR offered me many different lessons. I learned how to better support my clients with that one experience. Seeing the inside of the OR allows me to better explain to a client exactly what to expect. There is just some education that you obtain in a more comprehensive way through experience.
But more than what I obtained, I was able to support them, face to face, the entire time they were in the room. I was able to take their first photos together when their daughter was born and they allowed skin to skin right there in the OR. I was able to stay with my client while the father went to see his sweet new baby in the warmer while she got checked out so that the client would not be left with the medical professionals she had met just before the surgery. I was able to offer better support to the family after we returned to recovery because we could talk about the birth in a way that I knew exactly what she was referring to as I was there to see that moment too.
I understand hospital policy. I understand that when there is an extra body in the OR, that body is in the anesthesiologist’s area and they do some tremendously important jobs! I was honored to be allowed and invited into the operating room and even more so since many doulas are not afforded this opportunity. I learned many valuable lessons and I have the utmost respect for the staff of the Labor and Delivery Deck at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital! If you are a client planning a cesarean or you are a client that may one day have a cesarean, be sure to ask the doctor, nursing staff and anesthesiologist if your doula can accompany you into the OR. We have built such tremendous relationships with providers in the area that they welcome us into the labor and delivery room and hopefully these bridges continue to be built and we are invited into the Operating Room should that be the birthing room of your baby!
Written By Melanie Binversie