I didn’t have a doula, what I wish I knew

In the last few months of pregnancy, I hadn’t prepared myself for just what was about to happen much, other than talking to friends who had just had babies and reading a few blogs about it.  I was mostly visualizing everything I had seen on movies, cause those are realistic right? My birth experience was what made me realize I wanted to become a doula. Through the birth doula workshop, I took a step back and compared my labor experience with what I only vaguely had known at the time of my pregnancy about what doulas do.

  • They prepare you for what to expect in the stages of labor 
The day I hit 39 weeks in my pregnancy I began having early labor contractions. Since they were contractions I began frantically tracking them and let it take over my complete focus. When going through early labor symptoms and what to do when they hit during the doula workshop, I wanted so bad to go back in time and coach myself through it but I hadn’t known any better.
  • They prepare you for what to expect at the hospital 
After days and days of confusing early labor, it was finally time to go to the hospital, so we thought. I had progressed enough along to be admitted, which was around 11:00 pm on a Saturday night. The nurse gave me an IV, “just in case” and told my husband and me to get some rest. Did we? No, we didn’t know any better.
The following morning was a whirlwind; we followed the standard protocol for the hospital, they broke my water and gave me Pitocin. A few hours after that I got an epidural and a few hours after that pushed out a healthy baby girl. I remember before everything started when my head was spinning with everything that was happening so quickly having the thought, I can view my husband one of 2 ways right now.
1 He can be my partner, helper, and other half. Or, 2 he can be an annoyance and just be in the way. Thankfully I went with the first thought and he went above and beyond my expectations. The nurses all asked him if he worked in the medical field because they were so impressed with how helpful he was. The staff at the hospital was great but they still had other patients to tend to, my husband was all that I had with me and he was running off of God and adrenaline. It would have been nice to have someone there explaining what was being done and what was happening. In that moment of being vulnerable and only having had my husband who was very confident in himself there to coach me, it made me realize, I wanted to be that support for other mothers in labor.
  • They support you through postpartum time and through breastfeeding 
At the training workshop the question was asked concerning the postpartum home visits, “do you hold the baby?” Any family member being asked this question would say, “OF COURSE HOLD THAT BABY” but a doula is there for the mother and understands she may not want to let go of her baby as soon as someone walks in the door. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love to hold a newborn, but it’s proven that doulas can help prevent postpartum depression and what the mother may need is to hold on to her sweet little angel while someone else tidy up the kitchen. I remember being so confused on my maternity leave because all of my pregnancy I was given so much attention and then once the baby was here, I felt like old news. I was also told by so many people what to do with breastfeeding and it wasn’t until I joined an online support group of moms who were currently experiencing breastfeeding and doing research on it that I got beneficial help. Doulas are also trained on breastfeeding support and will do the research for you on the information you need including finding local support groups.
  • Can’t forget, they’re there for the dads too! 
After the doula workshop was over with I was, of course, re-telling everything to my husband that we had learned. It was so crazy to see what we had missed out on but I had only thought of it in terms of what I had missed out on. I knew for myself after having gone about 16 hours without eating anything but ice chips that the hunger I felt after the labor was over with was almost worse than the actual labor. I asked him if he felt that way too he said, “yea, I was starving! But I was too scared to leave you.” I said, “see, if we had had a doula, she could have stayed with me or gone and gotten you something to eat.” So the doulas aren’t  just there for the mothers but the dads too. They want to make everything easier for everyone involved.
Mia Evelyn, born 7/17/2016
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