My story is a long one. I’ve been a mom now for a little over 10 years. When I first started my journey as a parent I thought I had all the answers neatly tied up in a bow. I was planning on a “natural” birth at a no-so local birthing center. Unbeknownst to me, nature had other plans. Ultimately I went into labor 10 weeks early and delivered via cesarean at the closest hospital. I felt robbed and unsupported.
When I got pregnant with my second baby, I knew I still wanted to use midwives, but I went with a group that delivered at a traditional hospital. They suggested I hire a doula so I had round the clock support. Since I was trying for a VBAC this time, I thought it was an excellent idea.
Nature, once again threw in some tricks….but with the support of my doula, I knew the choices offered to me were valid. She helped me advocate for myself and bought us time to make informed decisions. In the end, I decided to sign off on another cesarean…but this time I felt empowered by my birth, rather than defeated.
A few days later, when breastfeeding was going poorly, my doula reminded me of the basics:
- Skin to skin and nurse round the clock!
- Turn away visitors who aren’t there to help 100%.
- Stay in bed with baby and stay hydrated.
When I got pregnant with my third I knew I would once again hire the same doula. She had become a friend and I trusted her. This time my prenatal care was through an OB office. I was trying for a VBAC2 this time, and there were only a few known doctors who supported that choice.
My labor was long and difficult. My doula was there with me through the whole thing. Her support was unwavering. She was there to talk me down off the ledge, and hold my hand when I needed to squeeze. When I decided it was all too much and asked for an epidural, she coached me through the insertion during a contraction. She had a peanut ball that kept my hips open when I couldn’t feel or move my legs myself. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth team.
When things didn’t progress, once again I delivered via cesarean. I knew my options, I was supported by my team fully, and my doula was still there to help me through it. Afterward, in recovery, she helped me get settled with my baby and begin another breastfeeding relationship.
After my last baby was born I knew that I wanted to help other pregnant people feel this kind of support. I knew my story needed to include becoming a birth doula. Birth doesn’t always turn out the way you hoped, but it doesn’t have to leave you feeling defeated. You can have support and care and love throughout the entire process. You can know that someone will be there to help you think through it all.
A birth doula helps you in ways you don’t even realize until much later. Having that continuous presence lets you relax more. Your partner can support you in ways they are most comfortable, and they can rest too! Doulas will help you set the mood of your room. They will remember to turn down the lights after a dilation check knocks you out of your zone. They will remind you of your birth plan if you get off course. They will help recenter you if you feel out of control. Most importantly, they will care for you free of judgement and expectations. Every birth is different. Every laboring person is different. Doulas know this and go into each labor with eyes and hearts wide open.