4 stories: Doula care is Essential care

Rachel with a client’s baby minutes after birth!

When my oldest sister’s first baby was born it was my first experience of labor and delivery. She chose to labor at home for a significant portion of her birth, and I was lucky enough to support her during that experience. Her birth experience ended up not unfolding at all the way she planned because babies have their own plan for coming into this world. As I watched her path to motherhood unfold, I was amazed by how many people it took to support a woman in labor and I felt drawn to the web of love and knowledge that surrounded her.

Fast forward a dozen short months and I learned even more about pregnancy, labor, and delivery with my own first baby. As part of my web of support, I was blessed to have a Doula help me through Jack’s birth. Having her with me allowed me to labor comfortably at home for my entire labor. She supported me with massage, moving labor positions, and relaxation techniques, all while being excellent moral support during the 10 hours she was with me at home. At the hospital she stayed beside me, keeping me on track with all of these things as I was transferred into the care of the doctors and nurses on duty.

My beautiful nephew, moments after birth

My doula and my labor partner (the same sister who inadvertently introduced me to the birth process!) were my voice at the hospital. While I was deeply focused on processing my contractions, keeping my breathing steady, and finding my inner strength, I was not able to communicate any of my needs or wants, let alone answer any questions that came my way. Instead, it was Sarah and Jennifer who listened to all the medical information, relayed it to me in ways I could process, and helped steer my birth experience as close to my birth plan as possible.

Even though I knew what to expect from birthing babies by my third pregnancy, I still chose to have a Doula with me. As someone who really doesn’t like needles or medical procedures, I really wanted to have a natural delivery of my second set of twins, just as I had done with the first. But, as I said before, babies have their own plans for coming into this world. These babies were no different and one of my twins was breech, so it was medically necessary that I have a c-section. It was my Doula who offered me calming techniques and reassurance as I went into a surgery I was not emotionally prepared for. My husband and I also asked her to be with us during that experience in case there was an emergency with me or with one of the babies. Because she was present, it would have given me continued support regardless of what my husband needed to do for our new babies. It was the continual support that really made me feel as though I had a rich birth experience with my last babies, even though their birth was so different from my others.

A few years ago, my sister-in-law asked me to be with her during her labor as a support person. Being part of her birth story by supporting her through labor and delivery was both humbling and so fulfilling! My deep appreciation of the birth support web grew, even more, when I was so central to it. It was at this point that I knew I wanted to train as a Doula and support more women through their journeys. In April 2018, I completed the BigBelly DONA training and am now a certified Doula. I am working towards completing my hours needed for full certification so that I can incorporate birth experiences into my practice. I’ve already supported mothers beyond my family and I’ve loved every moment of it! If you or someone you love is on a birth journey, I’d be honored to offer them Doula support!