My experience with a doula
Are you having a child in the near future? Are you wondering about your options for child birth? I can tell you all about my experience with my doula! According to dictionary.com, a doula is a woman who provides support during labor and child birth.
I don’t think I can say enough good things about my doula. She was AMAZING. I don’t know how I would have delivered my beautiful baby without her support. (And if you live in the Minneapolis area, I’d be happy to give you her info! Leave a comment!)
Why did I look for a doula?
I first started looking for a doula because my husband and I live 1,500 miles from any relatives. Trying to get any of my supportive family or friends to the delivery room in time for my delivery would have been next to impossible.
My husband was a bit skeptical at first when I mentioned hiring a doula. He thought we didn’t really need one. He thought he could be the support team I was looking for, but after everything was said and done, he thinks as highly of her as I do.
What did she help with?
Every doula is different, but with mine, I had 5 sessions (1 session including the labor and delivery). The first two were before labor, and session 4 and 5 were after. In the first two sessions she helped my husband and I with any possible question we had. As first time parents, we had a million questions and she comfortably answered them all. She also went over some at home labor techniques so I could labor as long as I could at home.
She let us know about expectations and what we could and couldn’t do at the hospital. For example, I had no idea that once you reach a certain point in labor, you are limited to only ice chips. (Which is terrible, btw.) She also resolved any fears that I had about labor. I had never done it before, so understandably I had some fear of the unknown.
Session 4 and 5 were check-ins and she helped me with any questions about breastfeeding I had. My doula was also a lactation specialist so she was able to guide me with latch and she gave me some great tips. Breastfeeding is HARD and I was thankful I had her pop in to my home a few times to check-in.
Help during labor
At my OBGYN office, they have a rotating 12 or so doctors on call for delivery, so I expected that I wouldn’t see my normal doctor, but my doctor actually had a really early delivery of her own baby unexpectedly so I didn’t get to see her for my last few weeks. She was supposed to deliver her own baby in the middle of May and she delivered her baby in February. Both her and the baby were healthy! But since I wasn’t seeing my regular OBGYN, I saw 4 different doctors between appointments and delivery, so I was extra relieved to have my doula, a familiar face, for delivery.
My doula helped me work through my contractions before needing pain medicine. Before she showed up, the nurses were about to set up a bag of fluids so I could be given an epidural. My doula came at the perfect time and she helped me go another 10 hours before needing any pain medication. (Read our birth story!)
She also helped massage or guide my husband in massaging techniques to help me work through early labor. Though sometimes I didn’t want to, she made sure I switched positions using a peanut ball, or did laps around the hospital to help move things along. It was hard for me in the moment to want to sit in an uncomfortable position or to want to walk around, but it’s really import in labor to switch things up. Without her there, I might have sat and stayed miserable the whole time.
When it was finally time to push, she offered other positions that we had talked about previously in our sessions to help me push better. Since I had the epidural, I was limited to what I could do, but she recommended the squat bar and she had brought a tight scarf that I could use. Once the squat bar was up, I remained on my back, and used the scarf as if I was trying to climb a rope. I used that position for the majority of the pushing.
She helped me during active labor, and also guided my husband too. The nurse was able to monitor me in other ways since I had the doula there. It also took off some of the pressure for my husband, he was able to stand by me more, and the doula did a little more of the chores. At one point during pushing, I was incredibly hot, so she ran and got some wet towels to help and I was able to stay holding my husband’s hand. She was with us at the hospital for a solid 18 hours, and she stayed positive and cheery the entire time. My doula was made for this. (Read our birth story!)
What does a doula NOT do?
My doula knows a lot about labor and delivery, but she will not replace a nurse or doctor. The nurses and doctors still perform all necessary medical decisions/procedures and the doula takes a place like a pep-coach. If the doctor suggested a next-step, my doula was there to give me the information to make a decision even if I disagreed with the doctor (within reason of course). For example, if the doctor wanted to break my water, she’d remind me of pros and cons of waiting or going ahead with it so I could make an informed and empowered decision.
I would highly recommend looking into a doula for yourself! If you have any fears or questions, it was great having her as a resource.
Have more questions about doulas? Comment below! Happy to help.