I get questions all the time about why we (my husband and I) decided to hire a doula to attend the birth of Nattie. Its a fair question, living in rural Nebraska (where homebirth with a CNM is illegal... such nonsense... another blog post for another day :) ) there is not very much knowledge about what a Doula is, what they do, or how to find one.
Let me just start off by saying that if you didn't read my previous post on natural birth, it would be good to glance at before continuing to read this post. I explain that my first hospital birth with my oldest did not go well, and all the reasons why. It was a typical 12 hour birth, with typical interventions... But not at all what I wanted and I knew there could be more to it. There had to be some magical part to birth that we were missing! A new LIFE is being brought into the world, what could be more magical than that, right?!
What is a doula? A doula is birth coach. (Well, there are two kinds actually, but I'm only going to be talking about birth doulas in this post. There are also postpartum doulas, but that's a whole different post!) They give a cushion between you and the hospital staff and assist you in the late portion of pregnancy as well as the birth. They make sure you are heard and receive what you want in your birthing experience.
I will now tell you how YOUR birth could be amazing, SHORTER, less painful, more focused, give you CONTROL, and really make the most of this once in a lifetime moment between you and your child.
*SHORTER. Having a doula reduces stress on you and your family members (if there are any in the room assisting you) by taking the role as coach. You don't have to remember all those things you thought were embedded in your brain during Lamaze class. She will help you breath, change positions, massage, go to the bathroom 1,000 times, give messages to the nurses, and over all give you a much more pleasant (pleasant?!) birth. When the body relaxes, it is much easier for the cervix and pelvis to open up and baby to come out smoothly.
*LESS PAINFUL. Yes, I truly believe this. Biblically speaking, when Adam and Eve were being cast out of the garden of Eden, God said "women will experience pain during child birth..." When you go back and see the actual translation of that, it does not translate to PAIN but HARD WORK. Tell yourself this. Over, and over and over. It is going to be like running a marathon. You have to train to run a marathon, it doesn't just happen... right?! So train your body. Do your kegels, relax, DRINK WATER, eat healthy, take your vitamins, get some exercise. Train your body for the marathon. I literally told myself this my whole 3rd trimester. Don't scare yourself thinking about the pain, it will do nothing but stress you out more. Think about the process and hard work you can and will do for your child.
After you have gotten into this mind set, the doula can work wonders with helping with the pain. Breathing, hypnosis, massage, walking, showers, baths, and birthing balls are all amazing sources of pain or discomfort relief. Your doula can help with getting to to any of these. Breathing was the biggest aid for me, and she will know how to help you. She will be filled with knowledge and understanding!
*MORE FOCUSED. You have a job to do. Its time to do it, and get that baby out! My doula always reminded me of the point in the labor when every woman starts to doubt herself and say she can't do it. She told me this before I started active labor, while we were walking the halls of the hospital. "Just remember that when you think you can't, you can. And you will. God has started a good work in you and He will complete it. You can do this." BELIEVE HER when you get to that point and she tells you that you can do this. Hopefully, you will get a doula like mine, (I call her my angel, because she is!) and she will quote scripture to you while you are laboring and make you cry during every contraction... Happy tears! :) She will make you believe that you are capable of completing the task at hand and are ready to finish it.
*GIVE YOU CONTROL. The worst thing about my first birth was that I felt out of control with my own body. I felt like scare tactics, medical terminology I didn't understand, and my age were taken advantage of and I was left in pain and confused about what was happening. I was not letting this happen again. She will make you feel like you are the boss of your birth. You decide when you get checked for dilation, you decide when you want to walk around and take a break. You decide if you need some water. You decide if you need pain intervention (but you CAN get through it without it, and she will help you!) and you decide what happens to your sweet baby after they are born. You are in control when there is a great doula by your side.
How do you find a doula? Ask your nurses, get on Facebook, Google, and ask your friends. Get in touch with a local Le Leche League, they might know! The information is out there if you look in the right places. My daughter is over 4 months old, and I still talk to my angel on a semi-regular basis... She will be in my heart forever! There is NOTHING like an amazing birth to completely make you fall in love with helping people make this connection. The birth with my daughter lasted five hours TOTAL. The actual birth was less than ten minutes, and I guarantee you that those numbers wouldn't have been possible without a doula.
Pregnant? Find a doula. Interview her (or them). Hire one. Experience the best birth you can. :) Its your body and your birth! TAKE CONTROL!