I didn’t know anything about doulas and midwives before a friend of ours told us about it, and she recommended you to us, because we didn’t have information about having a baby and she thought it would help us. We didn’t know where we wanted to give birth and anything about the local choices, and she said that a doula would be a good source of information and help us figure it all out.
And how was your doula during your pregnancy?
You gave me confidence! Many friends had told us that the hospital birth was a bad experience, and that they (the doctors and nurses) would do what they wanted, not what you wanted...so we were really scared. You helped educate me with books and articles that helped me figure things out, and it was completely mind changing about birth. When we first met, I thought I’d want an epidural the second I walked into the hospital, and our conversations turned my whole way of looking at it around. You taught me how to write a birth plan and to think of it as our best intention, but told us not to worry about if our experience changed during the birth, that to just go with the situation and try to make it work for you even if it’s not exactly like you’d planned--it’s ok to have a Plan B. Now I’m even thinking that my next birth will be possibly at home!
What happened at your birth?
I was ten days “overdue” and you told us to eat spicy food and a pineapple, and go walking a lot, and we went swimming at Boulder Beach. It was around 8 pm when I started to feel little contractions, so I followed your advice about before going into the hospital to eat, and rest, and let your body take its course. I woke up at 7 in the morning and said, “I think it’s happening now!” My husband made me a steak lunch; it was really good! We waited at home as long as we could. My contractions became really strong and we called you and we thought we were far along dilated and wanted to leave. At the hospital, I wanted to walk in but they made me sit in a wheelchair. Then we got up to labor and delivery and they checked me out and let me know I was only at 2 centimeters. I remember that the nurses were really nice. They got the bathtub ready, a deep tub. I walked around the room, and sat on my birth ball, and then got in and out of the tub 3 or 4 times. My contractions got harder and harder. The baby’s heart rate was worrisome at some point, so they kept a close eye on us. I got the urge to push but the cervix wasn’t fully dilated so you had me get on all 4’s to help me resist the urge to push and coached me to breathe deeply so my cervix would open and not swell. Then when I got to 10 cm’s I got up on the bed and pushed for 17 minutes and I thought, “I just want to be done with this!” and everyone was cheering me on, saying “You can do it!” You had said when you feel the worst of the worst, that’s when the baby’s going to come and I remembered that at that moment and I realized, “The baby’s almost here!” So I felt hopeful and then the strongest force come through me and I was able to push the baby out. My darling Gabriel was born at 2:17am and weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces. My labor had lasted 19 hours.
How was a doula helpful at your birth?
Your assistant had candles (LED light candles) and you sprayed lavender, brought me coconut water, and other juices. They looked out for my husband and made sure he ate a real dinner, and helped calm his anxiety. The doulas helped me lay down at one point when I was tired of changing positions and being active, and you all laid your hands on me and gave me energy. You had me sit on the toilet a lot which was helpful. Getting into the bathtub was hard but you convinced me to keep getting in and out and that helped relax me.
How did the doulas help you after your birth?
You helped me with breastfeeding; I felt very unsure and you put me in the right mind of feeling confidence from the information and positive way you talked to me. You helped me find the information about the vaccines and the choices of alternative doctors around here. You told me not to feed Gabriel real food before 6 months of age, and I did that. You warned me about breastfeeding strikes and not to worry that he is not done nursing; sometimes he might do that and it will be ok. You encouraged us to wear him in a baby carrier and we do that all the time.
You told me about all the mother’s support groups and the mothers groups and encouraged me to go. Going to them helped me a lot. You suggested I go to yoga, and I went to prenatal yoga -- that was super helpful. Afterwards I went a couple times and got to bring the baby with me. You recommended I go to Birthing from Within classes and they were really helpful.
If someone was thinking of hiring a doula, what would you tell them?
It will be really helpful because we think we know how everything’s going to go in the birth because you see shows on tv and they tell us how it’s going to be--but we don’t know. Birth is completely different than what you see on tv! Doulas help you deal with your fears about what’s going on with your body and mind, and helps with all your feelings. A doula helps kind of normalize it all for you. She will give you confidence, be cheerful, and tell you, “You can do it!” And doulas teach that birth is a natural process and that our bodies are made to do this.
Joanna’s husband added, “Especially if it’s your first kid--she will be indispensable. If it’s your second kid, she will improve your birth also.”
What I thought this whole thing was going to be like before I had the baby was totally different than how it turned out. I thought it would be like an emergency and I was really scared about it, but then getting educated helped me see that birth is normal.
To contact this doula go to: http://doulavermont.tumblr.com/