Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I needed a doula.

First, I described Liza's labor in terms of the emotional signposts.  Then, I wrote a post rethinking the 3rd emotional signpost of self-doubt.  This is the promised continuation.
So yeah, I needed a doula.  All those websites and forums were right.  A woman in labor needs physical and emotional support by other women experienced in childbirth.  Not sure why I thought I didn't need a doula but I was quite sure Taylor would suffice.  I was wrong.  Don't misunderstand me, Taylor was good.  He knew the stages of labor and I had lectured for months all about natural childbirth but he isn't a woman and he had never seen a woman experience childbirth before.  Remember that Henry's labor was spent with me knocked out asleep flat on my back while he watched the 2008 Summer Olympics......this was a different ballgame.  He was supportive and sweet but he just didn't know what to say or do .  My doula would have known what to say to reign my emotions in and get me focused on my task at hand.

What is a doula?  According to DONA International, "the word "doula" comes from 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."  According to me, a doula is a woman trained and experienced with childbirth who acts as part of the laboring woman's support team during childbirth.

While my midwife was busy doing her midwife thing and being hands-off as possible per my request and Taylor was pretty sketched out with the unfolding scene of me bringing a new life into this world, my non-existent doula would have been busy:
- making sure the water was the right temperature in the birth tub
- recognizing the signs I needed help centering my emotions 
- helping me with controlled pushing in hopes of not tearing (again)
- reminding me the pain is for a purpose and a brief period during the amazing miracle of childbirth
I didn't need help physically managing my labor but had I needed a back massage to aid back labor or a cool washcloth across my forehead, my non-existent doula would have been on top of that too.

Yep.  I needed a doula.  My medical care was well taken care of by my midwife.  The supportive husband role was played out nicely by my very own supportive husband.  But, I needed a woman there whose sole job was to tend to me and make sure I was in the proper mindset for giving birth.

I needed a doula.

But do you need a doula?

Whether you are planning a natural childbirth or a medicated childbirth, a homebirth or a hospital birth, if you are fearful of labor or beyond prepared to push that baby out, a first-time mama or a mama to many, if you've had a previous traumatic birth experience or if you have love everything about giving birth.......women throughout the ages have been supported during labor by knowledgeable and caring women and you deserve that loving support too!

Get a doula.  I know I will next time.

Did you have a doula?
Did you need a doula?


childsplay said...

I was actually thinking about this the other day and how a doula was what I needed when at home for the nearly 24 hours before my med birth at hospital. I had lots of people in the house with me includIng a certain momma who slept next to me in the middle of the night for some of the time but if I had a doula would she have been able to tell me - nope it's not time to go and if you do they will just send you home because you aren't ready....

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Love the new look! And I LOVED my doula!

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

I completely agree. I've had 4 homebirths (one was unassisted because it was too fast) The 3 that I've had a doula there for, I was very grateful to have her. She helped me stay fully present and be supported in just the roles you describe. My midwife had her role and dh had his. My doula had hers.

Every woman deserves a doula

Mandi S. said...

I didn't have a doula per se, but my midwife *team* was there and one of the main reasons I love that they work as a team is because 1 (at both of my births, it worked this way) takes on that role of doula. At each of my births, I gave permissions for their apprentice to attend as well, so in a sense I had 3 midwives and doulas. Each of my midwives has served as a doula at some point in her life as well, so they well know the role. I truly heart my midwives...they are the whole package.

That's why I can't get pregnant unless they can attend :)

p.s. WoW! love the new look!

Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Lizbeth, I've thought about Martha's labor too in that sense. You had such a loooong early stage of labor that a doula would have been helpful in encouraging you to rest while you could still relax and helping decide the right time to leave for the hospital.

Kaitlin, thanks! I thought about you and your doula as I wrote this :)

Zoie, You hit the nail on the head with the "fully present" aspect.

Mandi, thanks! I really like the idea of a team of midwives for lots of different reason -- more hands and brains if there is a problem, ability to have a support person, etc.

Frank said...

First of all, Lizbeth only had David. By the time you and I got to Tallahassee, she had already gone to the hospital and then sent home. We "douladed" her to some extent.
Secondly, you figured you didn't need a doula because your midwife started out as a doula. I guess the roles are mutually exclusive!!!


Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Mama, I don't think the roles are necessarily mutually exclusive, although they were with my midwife. She *did* encourage me to get a doula though...

Tricia said...

The new blog style looks great! (sorry... no comments about childbirth... but love the blog)

joyfilled said...

My hubby's aunt flew up to be with me during my first birth. She is a L&D RN turned doula/midwife and actually educated me on natural childbirth even though I went with an epidural in the hospital. But she acted as my doula then.

With my unassisted homebirths it was just me, and sometimes hubby helped. Quite honestly, I can say for certain that I labor better WITHOUT someone there. I retreat into my own little world and it devastates my progress to have anyone try to help me.

I do think that if more people had someone like a doula to assist them, we'd see a LOT more natural childbirth in the US!