I'm sure we have all heard different myths about doulas -- whether it's thinking doulas catch babies like midwives, or they come together to dance beneath the full moon -- there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Becky amazes me -- not only is she a comic genius when it comes to doula humor, her graphic art choice is the perfect medium to convey her message. She addresses common myths about doulas, and leaves us full of happy feelings for the work we do.
There is often confusion over what a doula is. Many times I have talked with couples nervous about a doula possibly taking over their birth. They are afraid that a doula may guilt them into a certain type of birthing. To add a little silliness I have illustrated examples below with my subpar Window’s Paint skills. These show the differences between someone that will fight against your birth, a duel-a you could call her, and a doula, or birth support for your choices.
This may be new to you, but doulas are not just for natural birth. They are for anyone wanting more support for their birth. Doulas are helpful in cesarean births, medicated births, natural births, hospital births, home births, single parent moms, and so much more. Whether you have a plan or not, we are here for you, no light sabers involved. Note: In the odd case that you want light sabers at your birth, we can help you with that. We do not discriminate against nerds; we just won’t use them to stop your choices.
The next concern often had regarding doulas: "But I want my husband involved. I want him to intuitively know what I need.” If he helped start this baby business, then it totally makes sense to want him right there involved in the birth.
Can I tell you my secret? We LOVE it when dads are hands-on and involved. It is our biggest goal to facilitate the best connection between you and your partner. We know that dad helps get the oxytocin and birthing hormones going. Some men need a little direction along the way. They are new to this. Our job isn’t to replace dad, it’s to help him help you best. If dad isn’t there this works the same for grandmas and friends. We will not erupt in flames if someone else gives you counter-pressure.
I met with a doctor today. He was a little on-guard, and he felt the need to explain how he goes out of the way to help his patients. Sadly, too many providers have met some kind of duel-a, or have heard stories of them. All he knew was that I was a doula and he assumed that I had a negative view of him as a doctor. In reality, I have yet to meet a provider that did not want the best for mom and baby. Sometimes they have differing opinions on care, and different points of view, but they all care. Doulas are not out to defy anything medically related. We need the medical team so that we can focus on emotional support and comfort for mom and the family.
Doulas work with mom’s birth team to help her best reach her desires. Doulas will encourage you to choose a provider that you feel you can trust that you can work with together. They encourage mom to ask questions, find evidence-based information, think over benefits and risks, and if needed, help mom stand up for herself. Our job is not to have a show down with the medical staff. Our job is not to speak for you. Our job is to help you get the information you need to make choices, and to support you as you speak for yourself.
I am not a duel-a. I am not out to fight or prove anything. I am a doula -- a supporter of women, babies and families.
Becky Hartman serves as a birth, postpartum, and bereavement doula, birth and pregnancy photographer, Benkung belly binder, and energy worker. She has been shaped by her own births, and the realization that education factors into creating an empowering experience. Becky strongly believes women can follow their hearts and they will know the decisions that are right for their situations. She encourages families to learn, explore, develop ideas, and then go with the flow of their birth experience. Becky lives with her family in Clearfield, Utah.
Veronica's piece reminds me of a quote I received from a dad: "Hiring a doula was the best decision we made. It turned out to be way more important than what color we painted the nursery, what kind of crib we got, or cloth or disposable diapers. Stacie helped us so much the day Joshua was born. Whoever you are, wherever you are, unless you have had 16 kids, your mom's a midwife, and you're an obstetrician, you need a doula (and maybe even if that does describe you, you still need a doula!)." As doulas we recognize partners are in all different places, and the ability of a doula to make up the difference is her unique addition to the birth team.
This month is International Doula Month, and as such, I’ve been thinking about what I really wanted to say about doulas that I maybe haven’t said before. There have been a few interactions I’ve had lately that really got me thinking, although this is nothing I haven’t thought about before or even mentioned in classes.
We expect FAR too much from dads during birth.
So, here’s the deal:
Back in the day, like 130 years ago or more, when a woman went into labor, the local midwife would come into her home. The mom’s female friends and family would come to help– they would prepare her a birth space, soothe her, help keep her fed, hydrated, and reassure her. Birth was a normal part of life, something that most woman would be familiar with long before it came time for them to give birth as well.
I’ll say this again: Birth was a normal part of life.
The role of a birth doula is to try to bring into the picture those women who were very experienced when it came to birth. Unless you’ve been around a couple of women as they give birth before, birth is a pretty weird process that no amount of videos can ever prepare you for. So while I’m not saying we should go back to the time when it was considered “improper” for men to witness births, I’m saying that the idea of a partner having to bear the responsibility of caring for emotionally and physically supporting a mom through birth is unfair to everyone– it’s unfair to the partner, it’s unfair to the mother, and it’s unfair to the baby.
We have mounting evidence of dads (there is no info out on same-sex partners) experiencing PTSD as a result of being at the birth of their babies. Even if there aren’t ANY complications, while we should try very hard to prepare partners to be active participants at birth, there’s nothing to really prepare anyone for the twists and turns of birth. Doulas can’t predict how a birth will go, but they are prepared to walk the journey with families, no matter what that ends up looking like. Doulas provide that reassurance to EVERYONE during the process, no matter what, helping reduce trauma.
Doulas aren’t emotionally attached, nor do they have to bear the responsibility for the medical care being provided.
Hiring a doula isn’t a value judgment on the state of your relationship; in fact, having a doula can help provide the space and time for those critical moments during labor and birth that can bring couples closer together.
Hiring a doula will not take away from a partner’s role at birth; having a doula present will give him more confidence to be involved in a way that he’s comfortable with.
Hiring a doula means that the laboring mother will have what’s very biologically normal– the care and support of an experienced woman who will stay with her through the whole process.
Hiring a doula isn’t a luxury. Hiring a doula should not be a status symbol. Hiring a doula should not be political. Hiring a birth doula is a logical, critical, SMART choice that can help ensure that no matter what happens at a birth, everyone in the room was able to benefit from the professionalism and reassurance and care that a birth doula provides.
I believe in birth doula care SO MUCH that I have created a non-profit that, in addition to providing mental health services, provides doula care on a free and sliding-fee basis.
Hire a doula. It’s important.
Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE, Owner, BabyLove, Executive Director, The BabyLove Alliance, Ltd.
Veronica started with a B.A. in English and a Certificate in Asian Studies from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. After the birth of her daughter, she attended the training to become a doula in November 2006, and became a certified doula through DONA in August of 2007. Veronica was so in love with helping families with birth that she became a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in December of 2007. In April of 2008, she trained to become a Certified Lactation Counselor, and earned the designation of a CLC by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice. Veronica taught childbirth, breastfeeding, and sibling classes at a small hospital in Rochester, MN. She has also worked as a volunteer birth doula and still provides support to mothers who are experiencing a suspected miscarriage through a local hospital program.
“I take great joy in helping mothers with traumatic or disappointing birth experiences that require extra support and understanding, and I love to help every family through this wonderful journey!”
I don't know about you, but I always love a good doula review written by a dad! Thanks to Russel for sharing his thoughts about his experience with their birth doula. Incidentally, their birth doula was Julisa Lagos, of Lansing, MI.
I was all for a doula, once I realized what doulas do. While pregnant, my wife's idea of a fun night together was sitting at the library, pulling down pregnancy book, after birth book, after breast feeding book, after baby book, and telling me all the things I needed to know. My idea of a fun night together was...not this. Don't get me wrong, when it is time for me to buy a TV or a car or a grill I am all about reading up on all the specs and reviews I can possibly find. When it came to having a baby, I was content to just go along with the flow; I didn't know there was much choice out there or options to decide between. Bottom line: if a doula was an encyclopedia of all-about-babies-and-how-they-get-here, then sign me up...because I need to focus on the best carseat and crib and baby bath.
Our doula came to our house and brought information when we needed it. When my wife had a question and wanted the best information about it, bingo, best sources without having to scour the internet.
When I was out of town for work our doula was on call, ever though it wasn't really close to my wife's duedate. For me, knowing our doula could be with my wife in case labor happened while I was gone, gave me a sense of comfort.
My wife's water broke and we called the office. When we called, the after hours answering service said they would take a message and a doctor would call us back. Panicked about what to do while we waited, we called our doula. She reminded us of the talk we had with our doctor about handling this situation. She reminded us about writing down the time, the color, the smell, and the amount of fluid (yay!), plus how our baby was moving and if labor contractions started yet, and to give all this information to our doctor. She said she was ready and waiting for our next move, and that could be waiting at home, or going to the hospital. It made me feel like a huge weight was just lifted from my shoulders!
Once my wife's labor started our doula was there helping us through the birthing contractions. She reminded me how I could help my wife. Our doula answered questions for me before I could even ask her. She knew our doctor and was very friendly with our nurses. It seemed like everyone was there for us as a team, and I think that shows she had a good relationship with the hospital.
As a nervous dad I suddenly felt like I was getting a pop quiz for a subject I never studied! But our doula made up the difference in a way that showed me I wasn't a slacker, I was just a new dad. I'm not quite ready to do this all over again since we aren't really even sleeping through the night yet. But I do know, next time, it's doula or bust.
Russel and his, Ruby, have two children now. He wrote this as a review for his doula, who they invited back to their second birth.
Day 2 brings us to a clarifying list about doulas! I will admit, just yesterday a friend from church said I was a midwife, and I had to explain the differences between the two professions.I had a great conversation with Becky, and I learned she has great taste in books and music! Fabulous to know there are doulas all around the world who believe in the importance of helping women achieve safe and satisfying births, despite the unique, local obstacles we face.
Yeah, yeah, we all know what a Doula is but there’s little information out there on what a Doula isn’t. I’m going to change that!
1. They are all Hippies who only attend natural births. Natural Birth? Let me scratch that one right away! Birth is natural. The End. If you are a human who births a human baby, that my friend, is a NATURAL BIRTH! Taadaa. We can categorise birth into vaginal, assisted, surgical ect but a human birthing a human is a natural event. Doulas attend all kinds of birth. Whether you plan on birthing at home in the water or in theatre with a surgeon, you can be assured there is a doula out there to support you and your family on the day you meet your little baby for the first time. Hippies? Yes there are some Hippie Doulas and I can hook you up with some if that’s what you need. I, however, shop at Tesco, dye my hair, wear business attire 99% of the time and occasionally feed my kids Mc Donalds!
2. They protect women from their care providers. Really, if you are attending a birth place where you feel you need protecting from your care providers then we’ve got much bigger fish to fry than simply hiring a doula. I’m very glad to publicly state that all of my clients have had a great relationship with their care providers and had amazing support on the day. I don’t believe women need protecting from care providers. I believe care providers are people who made a profession out of caring for people. I have had clients change their birth place, obstetrician or move to a more suitable model of care to suit their preferences for birth. We call it stacking the odds in your favour. I trust my clients to choose the best care providers for them, if they are happy with the team they’ve chosen then I am completely behind them and will support them 100% of the way.
3. Doulas are just like Midwives. Midwives are health care professionals. They have an impressive range of skills. Doulas also have an impressive range of skills but they are on very a different spectrum. The only similarities between doulas and midwives are that we both offer emotional and physical support for birth. Doulas do not preform any clinical tasks. We do not advise clients. We do not advocate for the woman. We are present, we offer continuity of care, we offer information, education, physical and emotional support. Support. We have a relationship with our clients that unfortunately, most midwives don’t have the opportunity to have. No, we don’t catch the baby but we will be right there cheering you on if you want to!
4. Doulas advocate for you. You are the advocate, your partner is the advocate, your midwife is the advocate. Your doula is an ever present support person. We do not advocate. See point 2. We trust you to have chosen the best possible set of circumstances for the birth you want so we trust that there is no advocating to be done on your behalf. This is YOUR birth. It isn’t ours. We don’t ever want you to feel pressured or swayed to have or continue on the path of one particular type of birth. This is where “unbiased support” comes into play. You can change your mind. That’s perfect. If we’ve done our job right at our antenatal visits, you and your partner will be ready and able to do all of the advocating on the day. We may offer gentle reminders of conversations and wishes we’ve spoken about prior to the birth but ultimately, our job is to help you find your voice and feel strong and empowered to use it!
5. Doulas will work for free range eggs! Seriously, there is a misconception out there that doulas will work for little or nothing…..or eggs. I am a person just like you. I’ve got a mortgage, a car to run and kids to feed. I don’t work for eggs and frankly, I wonder about trusting a person willing to work for eggs to support you on the most important day of your life to date! Yes, hiring a doula in an investment. You are paying for your doula to be within range, without alcohol, have childcare arranged and be willing to drop everything at the ring of a phone to come at be with you during your labour. All of that for up to 5 weeks, 24 hours/ 7 days a week. That’s not counting the hours spent on the phone, texting, emailing and having access to her wealth of knowledge for your entire pregnancy and post partum period until you part. So yeah. Eggs?
6. Doulas replace the partner. One of the most memorable births I attended was jamming out to Macklemore with the Dad while the Mum was “surge twerking” to the beat. It was FUN. Serious FUN! After the birth the Dad turned to me and said “Thank you so much for being here, I was dying to pee until you came and they don’t warn you how hot these wards are. You need to drink water, then you have to pee.” Doesn’t seem like a big deal but being able to run to the bathroom while your Love is in the throes of labour is a huge deal to a partner who maybe needed to pee, maybe not, maybe just needed a breather from how completely overwhelming birth can be when you’re experiencing it for the first time. I love attending births with a life partner present. The partners also love that they can relax, breathe and off load a tonne of the pressure. It’s win win to have us both there.
Every birth is its own adventure -- but this one really had my heart racing! From giving birth in a foreign country, to asking strangers for a ride to the hospital -- even the humorous spirit the dad brings to the whole thing -- this birth adventure is inspiring and fun to read. Thanks to Amanda and Charlotte for sharing this with us.
Sariah knocked on my door at 12:10 am and said “It’s baby time!!” Her face was so hyped up. I was immediately thankful that I was feeling better. “Ok,” I said, “I’ll be right up.”
I went into the bathroom and got my ziplock bag of a mini-version of my doula kit. I had good feelings all along that it was going to be a fast birth so I didn’t feel like I had to bring very much. I went upstairs to their apartment. Charlotte greeted me with a big grin. She said “I’m having lots of contractions and I can’t talk through them.” We were all excited.
She phoned the doctor, as she was standing on the second step. She began having a contraction so she handed the phone to me. I heard a beep and I wasn’t sure if it was an answering machine so I just started talking.
“Hi, this is Amanda, Charlotte's doula. Charlotte is in labour and we are going to head to the hospital.” Then I heard a very groggy voice say “Ok, Charlotte…. right…. ok how long until you are at the hospital?”
“45 minutes,” I said.
“Ok, I’ll meet you there.”
We phoned Oscar, our taxi driver who was going to be on call for her birth. Charlotte had a few more contractions and then Oscar knocked on the door. Eric grabbed the bags and we were headed upstairs.
As we were gathering our stuff, Cora woke up. She hadn’t woken up in the night for over a year, Eric told me later. She woke up, sat up in bed and said “Baby sister is moving.” Charlotte went over to her and said “Yes, baby sister is coming.” Cora said, “Um, yes. I’d like some milk.” Sariah and Charlotte laughed. “Yes, Cora. You can have some milk.”
We went upstairs and got in the cab. Charlotte was on her hands and knees in the back seat of this huge van that Oscar brought. We all got in and Oscar tried his first attempt at the very steep driveway. The tires squealed in protest. He reversed and tried again.
Oscar’s friend who was with him hopped out. Then Eric got out too and they were trying to figure out how to get the van out of the steep driveway. Charlotte was getting anxious as she didn’t want the van to roll back and squish Eric. She was yelling at him a bit from inside the van. Then they reversed and tried going up the other side of the driveway. (The driveway was a circle.) No luck on the other side either and then Charlotte said, “Oh, my water just broke!”
I yelled at Eric that Charlotte’s water broke. It was clear the van was not getting out and the bumping and jostling was really hard on Charlotte as she barely had any time between contractions.
Finally she turned and yelled at Eric out the window, “We need to get out of here!” He said “Ok babes, I got this! I will get us out of here!”
By this time the taxi drivers were talking to this other woman at the top of the driveway. Eric walked up to her and asked “Can we get a ride to Puerto Vallarta please! My wife is in labour and her water just broke.”
The lady said “Of course. Jump in!”
The lady, who introduced herself as Georgina, and her English husband Danny owned the smallest car in existence. And in the backseat was a carseat. Georgina wedged herself into the carseat. Charlotte was in the front seat on hands and knees. I was in the middle, leaning forward, rubbing Charlotte’s shoulders and whispering encouragement into her ear. Eric was beside me in the backseat.
Danny was an excellent driver. Between he and Georgina, they knew every bump and pothole along the way. He was careful and he was very fast. Charlotte worked on keeping her moaning low pitched to allow her cervix to Open Open Open. I would count on her ear when the contractions came, to give her something to focus on. We would come up to a red light and Georgina would look and say “Ok, Danny. Just skip in. We have to keep moving!”
Outside of Bucerius, there was a police car going the same direction as us, we pulled up beside it and Georgina, sitting in the child’s car seat, yelled out the window to them, asking for a police escort.
They pulled ahead of us, lights and sirens going, and we went very very fast behind the cruiser. He pulled off as we got to Nuevo Vallarta, and waved us onward. Charlotte was doing so well through all this stress. The contractions were strong and very frequent. She concentrated on her noises and said “Open open open.” Her ability to remain as calm as she did through all this uncertainty and near-disaster impressed me to no end.
The epidural was in place and Dra Laura said “I have to move the baby’s head just slightly. I am going to stick my hand up and when I tell you to, I want you to push just a little and I can tip the baby’s head.”
Dra Laura did just that and Charlotte looked at me with wide eyes and said “I can feel the baby coming down the birth canal.”
They decided it was time to move Charlotte to the delivery room. They told Eric and I to go put our stuff in her postpartum room and then come down and get in our scrubs. He and I got into the elevator with all our stuff and were just told a room number. The doors shut as we saw Charlotte wheeled down the hall and Eric looks at me and says “And this is when we steal your baby!” And I laughed. But we both felt a bit uneasy.
We dumped the bags and headed back down. The hospital was entirely empty so we weren’t sure where to go. We saw someone and asked. They gave us scrubs and we were changing and trying to figure out a one-size-fits-a-mammoth scrubs. Eric’s head bandana looked like a nun’s hat until he tied it. Then he tilted it to the side, real gangsta’ style.
We got in the delivery room, as Charlotte’s baby was starting to crown. She said “The baby will be here any minute!”
Within 10 minutes, the baby’s head was clearly going to come out. In between contractions, Eric started telling me a pirate joke, which I honestly can’t remember a word of. Then suddenly, out came the baby! They cut Lyra’s umbilical cord and lay her on Charlotte’s belly. Charlotte cried and said “Hello, welcome baby!” Eric too was making joyful exclamations of being a dad again.
They took Lyra to the warmer, and checked her out. The pediatrician suctioned out her nose and she put her hands up to fight him. She was immediately alert and looking around. Charlotte quickly delivered the placenta so that no one but the doctor even noticed.
The staff put Lyra in an incubator and took her to the nursery with Eric following closely behind. He was clear and confident in his role of dad. I mean, he’s done this all before!
Charlotte and I stayed in a corner of a hall for more than an hour while we waited for the effects of the epidural to wear off a little. Then after a few times asking the nurse, they moved her upstairs to her room. Soon they gave her baby Lyra and Lyra latched on immediately.
Mom and baby safe and happy. After such an adventurous and fast labour, they were home from hospital that very afternoon.
It was such a privilege to be a part of a whirlwind Mexican birth experience. Charlotte, I am extremely proud of you at what you accomplished. Eric, you were a fantastic and assertive father in exactly the role you needed to play. You together make a great team and I am nothing but grateful to be included in such a momentous day.
Amanda Seguin CD(DONA) LCCE, gave birth to her baby December 2010. She had doula support and loved what that brought to the birth. This experience led Amanda to pursue becoming a doula herself in 2011 -- Amanda has completely enjoyed the journey, also becoming a certified childbirth educator. Every birth is unique, and Amanda learns something every time. She has a special passion for helping families who face parenting a baby with compromised health, as she has navigated this potentially confusing and unfamiliar medical world when her daughter was born with a congenital heart defect, requiring multiple surgeries. Amanda lives on the West Coast of Canada, and serves families in the Victoria/Sidney/Gulf Islands area. To learn more about her, visit her website.
Melissa is another fabulous doula in the Modesto Doula Group. She brings up some great points about doula work, including potential awkwardness when the mom you are supporting is older than you are, and the many reasons why doulas burn out.
I am currently 24. I started "Doula-ing" when I was 21, right after the birth of my first child. I had always been fascinated with the biological mysteries that surrounded birth. It was always my most anticipated subject in science. I was a birth junky from the start and I didn’t even know it. I first started out like most young doulas, volunteering free services just for a chance at some experience. I attended the birth of a friend; other than that though, business was fairly dry for me in the beginning. It was slightly discouraging as I was so eager, but at the same time I had a 6 week premature infant to care for so I wasn't exactly striving to be extremely busy with births.
I got the opportunity about 6 months after my first DONA training and birth to come and sit in the Bradley class I had taken while pregnant, by my old teacher. It was potential for a birth and I felt fairly confident. I was hired by two couples in the class, both women about 6-7 years older than myself. I felt the twinge of hesitation from the both of them when I told them my age. I wasn't surprised. Standing at 5'2 and only about 114 lbs soaking wet, I looked more like 16. The teacher assured them of my skill set, and I was officially on call.
When I was called into the first birth I was slightly nervous, not knowing if I was going to have to work harder to gain trust from someone older than me. I was taught to "Mother the Mother." How do you "mother" someone older than you without sounding slightly patronizing? All in all it worked out fantastically and we found our footing together. When I really think back through the births I have been hired for, I have noticed that almost all the women I have served were older by quite a few years, and it makes me wonder if the younger doula's out there question age gap between themselves and their clients.
I did a very informal, and simple, one-question survey (thank you, Facebook): "How old were you when you started Doula-ing"? Out of 100 answers that I got, I averaged it out to the age of 27. The number seemed fairly accurate to me since by this age most people have had a childbirth experience (whether personal or a family member) that has led them to the path of birth work. But when I started to dig deeper, I started realizing how high the burnout rate of birth support professionals really is.
Most women who train to be a doula only average 2 years in the field. The worst part about this is that I am not the least bit surprised. The idea of birth work is largely romanticized in my opinion. It's easy to think of being with birthing families and babies during one of the most important and transformative times of their lives, and look right over the not-so-nice things, like the long hours -- and I'm not talking 2-hours overtime type hours. I'm talking about the births that last 22-57 hours from start to finish.
The exhaustion after long births is felt on a cellular level. Emotionally you are too tired to care about anything but the next step you are taking, and physically, well let's just put it this way, along with your arms being sore from the double hip squeeze that you did for 17 hours, and your legs being sore from standing and supporting another human for that long, even your teeth and your hair hurt. But it's even more than that, it's the expectations of an ideal birth that fall just a bit short for whatever reason. It's the looks from resentful hospital staff. It's watching a family's entire world fall apart in front of them. This is what I think causes a large number of doula burn-out -- we are not prepared to handle the true exhaustion of body and spirit. I don't want to take away that magic of birth work, because I wouldn't trade this job for anything, but it's anything but easy. And when you start out in this field without anyone to help guide you, it can be impossible to continue going without feeling disheartened along the way.
I have been extremely fortunate -- I was taken in by a fantastically wonderful circle of experienced doulas and together we created a (totally kick-ass) Doula Group. Being the youngest in the group, it’s a bit different for me sometimes, in the sense that my birth approach is different. I learned after those first initial births that instead of "Mothering the Mother" I "Sister the Mother." I try hard to get on a sister/friend level -- someone that is along for the ride with them no matter how many bumps there are in the road. More peer, less authority. I have been told on more than one occasion that I am an assuring presence in birth because, "seeing someone so young and knowing that you have done and accomplished what I am trying to accomplish is comforting." I have gotten out of the nervous mindset of working with a clientele that is older than I, because it doesn't help anything.I go in confident in not only myself, but also the laboring mama and the process of birth, and this is what helps.
I have come to realize that there are definitely some up-sides to being on the young end of the doula age-spectrum, at least for me. Before getting pregnant with baby number two, I was actively training for my black belt in Kung Fu. To say that I have the physical stamina for this job is an understatement! Not only that, but I love the physical demand of birth work. If I don't feel sore after a birth I wonder if I didn't do enough.
Another thing that was brought to my attention by my favorite midwife in conversation about this particular topic of age was: "The earlier you start, the more years of service we can get out of you, and the longer period of time you can commit to the long-term vision of radically changing our maternity care system. There is no end to the benefit of young women going to births. Of course all women at whatever age they start get my vote and I'm excited about it, but I look at young women like, great! So we can get close to 50 years out of you!" And its true! The younger doulas start, the more of a difference they can make. The more experience they can gain. The more knowledge they can spread.
The fact is that no matter what your age, if you are a dedicated doula, you will find a way to practice that works for you and your mamas. You're always the right age to help provide evidence-based care and support.
Melissa is Birth Doula certified through Still Birth Day. She is one of the doulas in the Modesto Doula Group. She is an experienced Bradley Childbirth practitioner and assistant instructor. Melissa has a background in Child Development, Education and Psychology, and an interest in special-needs and high-needs children. Melissa brings to her clients her personal experience and expertise with premature labor and birth, the challenges of parenting in the NICU, and breastfeeding a premature baby. She has excellent skills in communication and listening, massage, visualization and meditation practices to help during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.
In honor of our men and women who have served in our military, today's post shares the story of one family's birth experience when Dad couldn't make it home from his Air Force assignment. Using technology, Dad was able to participate via Skype, and he still had his leave 2 weeks later so this new family did have time together before Dad had to return to service.
When Lloyd got his orders and was leaving for the middle east, I was newly, newly pregnant. We knew this might happen. We made the decision to start a family anyway. This was Lloyd's second tour to the middle east. He had good expectations of what to expect, and so did I.
I have been used to being home while he is away. We were engaged shortly before his basic training. As I said, he had been gone before. We had good ways of communicating. We would email and we tried to Skype once a week if not more than that. A friend on base suggested a doula. She said there was something military moms found helpful called Operation Special Delivery where trained women would help military families, especially if the father was away. I got a list of doulas from the Beale Pediatric Clinic and started calling around. I found my doula and she was about an hour from base, but it seemed like it would work. After all, my husband was due to have some R&R around my due date, and the plan was he would come home then. My doctor was open to inducing us so Lloyd could be there at the birthing.
My doula and I would meet so she could give me childbirth classes and help me with things I wanted to know. Once we even Skyped with Lloyd so it was almost like a a regular visit with mom and dad and doula, lol. I was feeling ready. I had things mostly ready at home. I was excited to have my baby and have Lloyd home!
Lloyd was schedule to come near my due date on June 17th. I woke up the morning of June 4th thinking I had wet the bed. I realized my water had broken. It was about 4:30 am and I wasn't sure what to do! This was not supposed to be! I got calm and quickly called my doula. She said sit tight, call your doctor, and I'm on my way. I did all that, and then I waited.
We got to the hospital at about 8:00. I wasn't really feeling contractions yet but my doctor wanted me to come in. I got an IV and they started a little bit of pitocin. I had trying to get in touch with Lloyd. I was sending him emails and I just hoped maybe he would check before he went to bed. With luck he did. He was able to Skype in and I had my laptop. We had set up the computer in the room so Lloyd could see me and I could see him.
Lloyd was about 11 hours ahead of us and he had a full day already. He was excited though. It took about 8 hours before I was feeling ready to have our baby. I was excited. But suddenly I was feeling something else. I was afraid and nervous. The doctor said I was ready to push, go ahead! But I felt frozen. I really felt I needed Lloyd right there with me. I felt like I was going to panic and I started to cry. My doula hugged me. She asked if I could have a few minutes alone to talk to Lloyd on the computer. It was a funny thing for her to do, but my doctor understood. My doula was going to leave the room, but I asked her to stay at the door while I talked to Lloyd. He just told me we were so close now! He said he was sorry it happened this way but he would be with us soon. He told me he loved me and was so proud of me. After I had a little crying spree, and my doula came back to hold my hand, the nurses and doctors returned. Lloyd was on my little table on the computer screen. My doula was next to me. I started to push.
We moved the table a bit so Lloyd could see our baby be born. My doula ended up behind me on the bed, supporting me as I sat up to push. Our baby came fast once I went through my emotional sadness and fear. We named her Evelyn and she weighed 7 pounds even. It was incredible, and even though my husband wasn't there physically, our doula helped us figure out how to manage things to still have great birth memories and experience. I am so grateful to Operation Special Delivery and to our doula and what they do for military families.
Lloyd, Marin, Evelyn and (new baby!) Jake currently reside in Idaho. Lloyd and Marin had a doula for their second baby, and Lloyd was there for the whole thing. Marin plans to train as a doula to help others in the future.
Today, a dad and former client shares his feelings on hiring a doula. Enjoy!
My wide (oops! wife!) is the one suggesting doula in our house. I am the one who scoffs at this idea. Women and men have been having babies forever and I am obviously capable to be there to support her (like all the dads before me right?). When we have disagreements we have a system where we each right down 5 reasons for our point of view and we share these with each other. . . sometimes it ends up fixing our issue and sometimes it ends up a way for me to sleep on the couch. We tried it. I had some good ones.
1. Money factor when we would have lots of bills and expenses
2. Stranger at the most (almost most) intimate time of our life
3. Doctor P. said he wouldn't recommend it
4. Hurt our moms' feelings since they both want to come and we told them no
5. I really think I will feel bad if you have someone else taking care of you. I am sure I don't need a doula to help me take care of you.
Well my wife decided to hit each of my points with her own points (she even used a red pen and underlined things twice. Did I mention she is a teacher?):
1. Money factor when we would have lots of bills and expenses
YOU AREN'T HAVING THE BABY. SO WE CUT BACK ON EATING OUT.
2. Stranger at the most (almost most) intimate time of our life
WE WILL MET HER AND HIRE HER, WE GET TO CHOOSE HER. YOU AREN'T HAVING THE BABY.
3. Doctor P. said he wouldn't recommend it
DR P. ALSO SAID HE DID HIS OWN VASECTOMY. HE IS NOT HAVING THE BABY EITHER.
4. Hurt our moms' feelings since they both want to come and we told them no
REMEMBER HOW MY MOM ACTED AT OUR WEDDING? AND HOW YOUR MOM ACTED AT YOUR NEPHEW'S CHRISTENING? WE DON'T WANT THAT CRAZY IN OUR HOSPITAL ROOM. AND THEY AREN'T HAVING THE BABY EITHER.
5. I really think I will feel bad if you have someone else taking care of you. I am sure I don't need a doula to help me take care of you.
I AM SCARED TO HAVE A BABY. I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. I WANT A DOULA. I AGREE YOU DON'T NEED A DOULA. YOU ARE NOT HAVING THE BABY.
So in the interest of sleeping in my bed I agreed to meet some doulas. And guess what? I was right that I didn't need a doula. But my wife did. And I admit she knew what she as doing.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)