Who's Your Doula?

When we were preparing for our first baby--3 1/2 years ago--I spent a significant amount of time reading and researching information on pregnancy, labor, birth, and post partum. I learned that I didn't know much at all about the process and that there was a large divide between medicated birth experiences and natural birth choices.

Because I had experienced a rare blood disease just 2 years prior, I was aware that there was a possibility of my platelet levels being low. If that were to be the case, I would not be a candidate for an epidural during labor/delivery. This spurred my initial interest into studying and pursuing a non-medicated birthing environment and experience.

We were living in western Kentucky--the birthing "environment" wasn't very progressive, and I think home birthing midwives were illegal (?). I didn't have many options for doctors or hospitals that were very interested in encouraging someone to have a completely natural birthing experience (aka--no meds, no IVs, moving around during labor for maximum pain management, limited/no monitoring, etc)...but I did the research to prepare myself and my Mr., we made our birth plan accordingly, and arranged for the only doula in the area to be part of our 'birth team.'

This post could go on forever if I discussed the details of each birth experience, why I ended up with two c-sections, and the emotions that are connected to all of it.

I will spare you (for now).

Let's just talk doulas!

Do you know what a doula is?

The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.   According to DONA International

My first doula was also a massage therapist and aromatherapist--which was very helpful during my laboring hours. She provided us with guidance and information that helped us make informed decisions (as much as we were able, given the hospital policies).  She was also the only one who took the time to tell me exactly what would be happening when we were prepping for the c-section and was the one in the recovery room with me afterwards (Daddy goes with baby).

My second doula was brilliant with her positive affirmations, quick thinking of ideas for pain management, and focusing on keeping me moving during the unmedicated hours of my labor experience. She was encouraging of our VBAC plans (vaginal birth after Caesarian) and helped Mr. H know what he needed to do to help me help my body do the work of labor. She took photos, kept notes of the 24 hour experience, and kept me focused. Again, she was the one who was with me when I was alone in post-op recovery, and helped me work through my frustration when I wasn't able to see N for those first hours.

I am now on round three of doula-ing...third times a charm, right? I met with my doula on Monday. Make that doulaS. 
I've got two this time. Bring on the labor! Mwa ha ha ha.

I found an awesome doula trainer and trainee (the Twin Cities is a very pro natural birthing area of the country...lots of support, lots of home birthers, lots of midwives, & lots of doulas!) who will be on my birth team. They came to our home, we became friends over hot apple cider and chatted BIRTH. They asked me questions and I asked them questions. We will be in touch over these next days/weeks and when it is time, they will join me for some laboring fun! I'm excited to have these two ladies on my team--with our goal of VBA2C--and ultimate goal of healthy baby & Mama.

I saw an adorable onesie yesterday at the place where I enjoyed a relaxing prenatal massage. It said:

Who's Your Doula?

I also have an amazing OB (who thinks like a midwife), and met with the hospital L&D nurses yesterday--they are also pro-vbac and very non-invasive. I might just have this baby in a tub!


It's Me - Jen E! said...

Sounds like you have a great birthing team! Best of luck with everything...

Kristyn said...

That's so cool! I've totally thought about doing that too - that's awesome you love doulas!!

Kendra said...

That's so great! I really hope things go better for you this time. And I've been thinking lately that doulas sound so awesome I may need to get one for myself next time. :)

Emily said...

SO excited you found a great place that will encourage your birth hopes. I am so grateful for doulas - our Bradley Method teacher was also our doula for Jane's birth, so we were very comfortable with her and she really helped me get through that non-medicated labor and birth. We are still looking for one here (hopefully Doug can swap chiropractic care for doula services with one of his patients), but we are so grateful that one of the local hospitals is very low-intervention and that we have been able to work with midwives for this pregnancy. Crossing our fingers for the perfect birth too!

Kristin said...

I'm so glad you found some awesome doulas and an awesome ob! We LOVED our doula and she really made this last birth a very positive experience for both of us. I will be keeping you in my prayers when you go into labor. Text me when you go to the hospital!

Love that onesie--might just need to get one for our little miss.