When I contacted a doula for the first time at 16 weeks, I didn’t even really know what they did. Somewhere over the course of my 34 years I’d heard that they helped new moms ‘figure it out’ and I was already sold .
Turns out Doulas do much more than support you post-partum. They essentially become one of your most trusted pregnancy and birthing companions. Checking in on you in the weeks leading up to birth, showing you pain relief techniques, that they may use during your labour, and become an emotional and physical support during your entire journey.
Its been 21 months since the birth of our son and a while since I looked back on my pregnancy days. Recently though, people have been asking me, what is a doula? You can find this answer easily on google, so I thought I’d make it a bit more personal and share what our Doula helped us with on our journey to birth and into parenthood. A lot is the answer, so feel free to scan read for any bits that are more relevant to you!
First off, doula support covers more than just birth guidance. I remember the first significant issue that arose during my pregnancy was switching providers at 20 weeks. My doula was an experienced birth partner whose discussions played a key role in this. She helped me discover my birth preferences, and assured me that switching providers was ok, and the right thing to do if I wasn’t feeling 100% comfortable with where I was.
After this hurdle, she also provided me with countless resources on childbirth education, lactation consultants, new born care, and at one point she was even trying to find a Shaman-esque character in NYC that would preform a pregnancy blessing. We came up short there.
For me, one of the most important aspects of the pre-birth support was that she was someone who listened. She never criticised the ‘vision’ I had for my birth. She didn’t laugh when I asked to pack fairly lights in my hospital bag, and she believed in me. Countless times, she told me to follow my gut when I was wavering and pulled me through to the other side.
On my due date, when the baby hadn’t come yet and I was in the land of the ‘ in between’, not knowing what to do with myself. She sent me an article that again, guided me through my thoughts and feelings. In that moment she knew exactly what I needed.
Birth was slightly different. I had imagined her role to be more hands on in my labour. Using her Robozo techniques, or squeezing my hips to alleviate pain but by the time we called her ( she heard my contractions and started her way over even though we thought we had more time) my husband and I were already in the deep throws of labour. Of course we didn’t know it.
Mark and I had already found our rhythm, ritual, and relaxation techniques, and there was no way in the world I was going to switch it up then. But she did what she could. Straws with coconut water on the other end, would appear out of nowhere, cold compresses were placed on my head, and at a certain point Mark couldn’t even leave my side to call the midwife so she did it. She worked with me on my breathing, she called out birthing affirmations, and when I said I couldn’t do it anymore she said ‘ you are doing it!’.
She took some photos of us working together, helped clean up what she could, moved me to and from the bathroom, and when it was time to leave got me dressed and gathered all of our things.
She calmly yelled from the front seat of the cab to pull down my shorts, when I said the baby was coming. She stopped traffic and negotiated with truck drivers to stop honking. She was by my side just after I had pulled my baby up to my chest and reassured me I was ok until the paramedics arrived, she ran into emergency to get the midwife, and she held my hand as I was waiting in pre and post op, as I had to have my placenta surgically removed. She left me an apple and an orange, the only food I’d have for hours, and parted with the words ‘you have a very strong uterus!’. Which to this day makes me laugh.
After we where home and settled, and panicking about Josef’s latch, she raced over on a Sunday, bringing us soup and showed me various breastfeeding positions. Talking to me about all things newborn care that we’d forgotten to ask at the hospital. And then just as fast as she entered our lives, like Mary Poppins, her time with us came to an end and she was away to be someone else’s birth guide.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten or was unaware of many of the roles she played in my birth. And until I wrote this article I don’t even know if the thanks we sent afterwards were worthy of the support she gave. So I will say it again. Thank you Taylor, for all of your support, love, energy, and encouragement. I don’t know where my journey would have led without you by my side.
Birth Doula’s are definitely an incredible breed of women. Ones that truly support their sisters in arms, ready and willing to help, encourage, defend, and sometimes suffer along side women in their journey to motherhood. If you are on the fence about working with one, I encourage you to take the leap.