There are many reasons why a doctor might recommend a c-section, or why someone might choose to have one. C-sections are as valid as any other form of delivery, and require more recovery time and care. We commend all birthing people, but you c-section moms - we see you. We know how tough it can be.
It isn’t always the case, but often a birthing person can choose to have a support person in the operating room with them during the 90-minute or so cesarean surgery. Some surgeons will bend the rules to allow a second person when typically only one is allowed. It’s always worth asking.
Why have any support people in the room at all? Well, it’s nice to have a familiar face nearby throughout the surgery. Your CRNA, nurses, and surgeons will likely be helpful and available to answer questions, but at the same time, they are preoccupied. That support person can speak up for you and ask questions and state thoughts you might have difficulty voicing loud enough for others to hear. They can describe what is happening during the surgery to you if you’re comfortable knowing and they’re comfortable looking. They can tell you what is happening with baby once baby is out. At times they can hold baby or move with baby as you’re each taken to your recovery room. A second person would be able to stay with you while the first follows baby.
Sometimes support people are just as or more perplexed by the surgery as the birthing person - maybe they’re not comfortable with witnessing the surgery or the birthing person isn’t comfortable with their presence or doesn’t have any support people. A doula would be able to act as any other support person would and more. The only action a doula cannot take that any other support person would is speaking on the birthing person’s behalf. Otherwise, doulas are able to focus solely on the birthing person and their wishes and their questions and concerns.
Doulas are not trained in only natural birth - they have a deep appreciation for and understanding of cesareans too. Therefore, doulas have the knowledge to answer the questions and give explanations for things that come up about the surgery other support people might not, such as the weird pain a birthing person feels in their shoulder during the surgery. Doulas are able to suggest the birthing person ask for options, such as having a clear curtain/divider available during the portion of the cesarean when baby is emerging.
If photography or filming is allowed, doulas can do that too. And in those moments when a birthing person might want calming music or peace and quiet, their doula can play that music or help them to advocate for such an environment. They can encourage the birthing person and support people to remind staff of their wishes in terms of cord clamping, skin-to-skin contact, bathing, eye ointment, etc.
Overall, it is important to a doula to make sure the birthing person and support people they work with are as comfortable with what is happening and the decisions being made during labor and delivery. When there are deviations from a birth plan or ideal, doulas are there to make sure you know what is happening and why, and that’s just as important during c-sections as it is during any other birth.