It’s World Doula Week this week and when this time of the year comes around I can’t help but think fondly of the doula that supported me and my husband during the natural birth of my second and third child. If you don’t know what a doula is, click here to read about it from DONA. I had a rough birth with my first son. I had a very long labor and I really think I was not armed with the information that I later gained from a good childbirthing class from a childbirth educator to make it through a natural, unmedicated birth successfully. When I became pregnant with my second child, I was determined for it to be different this time. I found my doula and hired her to come to my birth. The support she provided was exactly what we needed. My husband was first to say, “Let’s get Jennifer to doula for us again” when I was pregnant with my third son. I cannot imagine being able to do a natural birth without her there to advise us. That being said, here’s a reasons you should have a doula at your birth if you birth in a hospital.
Doulas help you with a birth plan. It is great to sit down and talk about your birthing goals … and have a plan of action in place to meet those goals. She knew exactly what to put in the plan and kept it short to one page. Because she had done births at the hospital before, she knew some road blocks that could be addressed in the birth plan up front. We wanted skin-to-skin immediately after birth until the baby breastfed. We wanted no vaccinations. All these things are good to talk about and determine before the time is there because in the excitement of the baby arriving, things happen quickly.
As a professional, they usually know the doctors and nurses and what route they will take with your birth. The way my care was set up, I got whichever doctor was on call that night to deliver my baby. My regular OB has not delivered any of my children. She missed it by one day on all of my births. So to have someone that I knew I could trust as a professional to advise me and my husband was very important to me. I have even been told by my friends who homebirth that having a doula in addition to the midwife is a good idea.
A doula can help your husband know the best way to support you during birth. Let’s face it, it must really be scary for them to see the pain we go through during birth. Our doula was so good at empowering my husband to know that he is encouraging in the right way and giving him ideas on how to apply pressure on my back or support me during contractions. She was not there to take over, but to support us both. My husband and my doula worked so well together as a team, and overall it made the experience less stressful.
A doula has a great wealth of knowledge on how to overcome hang-ups in your birth. Aside from going through a tremendous amount of study to be certified, they have a lot of knowledge from attending births. With both births, my doula had this wonderful technique of pressure in just the right place on my hips to ease the pain in the contractions. This was especially helpful during active labor – wow, those contractions came so quickly. Also when I got to the hospital in labor with my third son, I was sure I was at least 9 cm … but was disappointed that I was only 6 cm. My doula was able to get me over that disappointment and had me sit on the toilet to let gravity do its job. Wow, it was not long before I felt ready to push … it was one of those tricks that she knew to help get things rolling again when things had stalled. And usually in every natural birth, there comes a point where you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. I was there and Jennifer said, “Well you know when you feel that way you are really close to holding your baby.” And that is only the beginning of what my doula did to help support me. The encouragement from someone who really knows the progression of labor and is on board with you meeting your goals is just worth their weight in gold. I don’t care how many birth books you have read about the birth process or how many times you’ve seen “the business of being born” … when you are in the midst of it there is no thinking logically. You need that voice to say, “You can do it, you are strong and you are doing great.”
I hope that if you want a natural, unmedicated birth that you will hire a doula. It is a small price to pay for support that is invaluable. Click here to go and find one at DONA. And sit down an interview a few – find one that fits your personality. I’m didn’t want a cheerleader-type doula … I needed someone who was much more mellow than that. My doula was very relaxed, very calming, and very soothing. Take some time to find a doula that will fit what you and your husband need during the birth of your baby.
So to my friend and doula, Jennifer Monroe, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my births. May you be honored this week for all the births that you have supported throughout the years. I’m sure all the other moms will agree with me when I say we could not have done it without you. You are an amazing person and I am blessed to know you. Happy World Doula Week!