My experiences in the O.R. – as a mother & as a doula

Having a cesarean birth is too common in this country, about 1 in 3 births are surgical. I’ve blogged about my births before, mainly my vbacs. I want to talk about what it’s like to be the one on the operating table and what it’s like to be supporting the mother going through the operation.

When I gave birth to my second daughter via cesarean, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been in an operating room before. I knew it would be bright, cold and busy. No one really talked to me during the surgery, I remember not even being told they had started. After a few minutes I hear the words ‘uterine incision’, well if I had any question about what was going on, that sure answered it. I tried to find out what was going on from the anesthesiologist since he was the closest to me, but he didn’t seem interested in answering me or my questions. Soon I heard those great words every parent loves to hear “It’s a Girl!” Then my daughter started to cry. She was here and it was over. Or not. I saw her briefly and then she was taken to the nursery, taking my only support person with her. I started to feel weird, I wasn’t sure if I was even breathing. I tried to look down at my chest to see if it was rising because I couldn’t feel anything besides my head and arms. I started to shake a lot. I asked the anesthesiologist if it was normal for me to be shivering and shaking so much. He said he would give me a little something to help. Then as they were cleaning everything up the nurse sees that my legs are broken out in hives, and so is the rest of my body.

Whatever it was that was put in my IV to help with the shakes, I was having an allergic reaction to it. This caused me to have a longer time in the recovery room and be separated from my baby for even longer.

It was rough. But it taught me things. It has given me insight on how to best support women during a cesarean birth because I know what it’s like, I’ve been there before.

I was able to support a client in the O.R. recently, this wasn’t my first client to have a cesarean birth but it was the first time the medical staff allowed a second support person into the operating room. So this was new for me. Once I was able to enter the O.R. I immediately checked on my client. How was she feeling? Did she need her spouse to hold her hand? She requested pictures as soon as baby was born and I happily obliged. While Dad was across the room meeting his new baby, I made sure my client never felt alone. There isn’t much I can do physically during a cesarean but emotionally; that can mean everything to a woman. My client got everything she wanted: skin to skin in the O.R., baby never left her sight, kept her placenta for encapsulation. I assisted her with breastfeeding and making sure she was comfortable, took more pictures and made sure dad was involved too. After getting her settled into her postpartum room I left to encapsulate her placenta. She was so happy and so was I. It was very different seeing the O.R. from this point of view, how the medical staff flowed and worked together to bring this new life into the world.

A cesarean birth may not be ideal for some, and for others it may be just what they want. It doesn’t have to be traumatic or scary. It can be beautiful and healing too.  No matter what your perfect birth looks like Trinity Doula Services is here to support you.


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