Are Doulas Allowed in Operating Rooms?


Are Doulas Allowed in Operating Rooms? The least favorite answer for the research lovers and those who love definitives; it depends. It depends on the hospital, the staff, the anesthesiologist, the doula, the policies, and many other factors. When I first began my career as a doula, I could never have imagined the growth the industry would take and that I would be participating in. I had never met a doula who had been into an operating room when a client had a cesarean. It just wasn't on my mind as an option and clients probably felt similarly.

Why were doulas not routinely permitted into operating rooms? This probably has something to do with how important and precise major surgery is. They need to keep a sterile field and be able to control all aspects of the operation to ensure safety and dedication to detail are able to be met. If the hospital staff was unfamiliar with a doula, they may not know her behavior, how could they bring her into an operating room when she may not understand the standards? Having someone unfamiliar in the room just adds a little extra element of the unknown.

In 2016, I am proud to say that I have been in the operating room, accompanying a client with her husband while she was having a cesarean birth.

This didn't happen by accident. This wasn't a coincidence. I believe this was the effect of a culmination of efforts made on my end to show respect and appreciation and professionalism at all times in the labor room prior to the cesarean.

The hospital staff saw me for 18 hours before the cesarean birth. They saw me not leave my client's side. They saw me respect every single nurse, doctor, anesthesiologist that walked in the that room. They saw my dedication to professionalism. They saw me trust my client and her providers and medical team. They saw that I was not a wild card. They knew they could trust me.

When the decision was made to have a cesarean birth, my client asked for me to come in. The nurse looked surprise for a moment, and then understood.

I am a doula for clients during vaginal or cesarean births. I am being hired for support. And that support is going to come from me if made possible. The nurse, doctor, anesthesiologist all agreed that I may accompany her into the operating room.

And I was able to sit by my clients face and hold her. I was able to take photos of her baby and show them to her while she was being warmed up. I was able to be her rock, when her husband took on the new role of father and went to go meet his child.

I am forever grateful for hospital staff that want to ensure health and safety for everyone. I am appreciative of the opportunity to be admitted into an operating room. 

So if you are wondering if your doula will be allowed into the operating room, ask your doctor and hospital their policies, and ask your doula if she would be willing to offer you that support as well, if permitted.

If you are looking for a doula who is dedicated to treating everyone in the room with respect, while offering compassionate support, I highly recommend you check out ProDoula to find a professional doula near you.