When we hear the word "doula", it often brings up images of a woman holding pressure on a laboring woman's back while she gazes into the eyes of her partner during a contraction, or the offering of a cold cloth on a laboring woman's face while she breaks in between pushes, or soft words of encouragement as a laboring woman reaches a point where she feels as if she can't go farther. What is not often envisioned, is a doula sitting patiently in the waiting room, offering encouragement and reassurance to a woman's extended family, or a doula rubbing a woman's legs and feet while in recovery even though she still can't feel the sensation, or even a cold cloth being offered to fend off the itchiness that comes with narcotic medication post-surgery. A strong doula, however, has the ability and the wisdom to arise to whatever the situation requires and to continue to offer physical, informational, and emotional support whether a birth is vaginal or cesarean.
Many couples I have come across have questioned the use of a doula when birth by cesarean is known ahead of time. (I've also come across many couples that have said they would want a doula far more if they were having a cesarean!) The continuous presence of a loving, supportive, non-judging, and informed woman during physical challenges such as labor or a cesarean can provide a sense of calm and release for the new parents. She can offer words of wisdom, encourage small gestures on the part of partners of which they may not have otherwise thought, and offer the simple reassurance of touch (that is not through gloves or assessment).
As the Philadelphia birth world blooms bigger and brighter, I think it's time I start putting some of the insightful questions I've received and information I've research into a public journal. I hope you'll find this inspiring, empowering, and totally enjoyable.