Who’s in Your Delivery Room?
Comfort of a Doula
As professional, one-to-one labor supporters, doulas can provide gentle, reassuring assistance for a couple through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period.
Deahdra-Lynn and her husband chose a doula mainly to provide emotional support for their young son during a homebirth, but the couple found their doula was a great birth attendant as well. “After 30-some hours of labor … I was getting a little grumpy and [the doula] said maybe she could come to the house and show me some different things to help me,” says Deahdra-Lynn, who appreciated learning an effective position that helped her lengthy labor progress. “My doula gave me words of encouragement. We’re very glad we had her.”
Because a doula is familiar with all aspects of labor and delivery, she can offer a constant nurturing presence and serve as an advocate for the mom with the medical staff during a hospital birth, if need be. Deahdra-Lynn’s husband was concerned that the doula would assume his primary role as coach during the birth, but the couple found that didn’t happen. Instead, she was a welcome presence during labor.
Making Your List, Checking It Twice
Childbirth is undoubtedly a highly emotional and physical experience. It’s crucial that a couple give thoughtful consideration to who will share this time with them, as women tend to carry their birth experience with them for the rest of their lives. There is no guarantee of how a woman will feel or act during labor. Does she want an audience if she’s moaning in pain, throwing up, or baring herself to everyone in the room? If her relationship with her mother-in-law is tense, will having her there make the experience more or less comfortable? Is the thought of laboring without the nurturing support of her mom unthinkable? Will having her dad there fulfill a dream of hers?
Kim had her mom and sister with her during labor and asked her father-in-law, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law to come into the room at the very end as the baby was being born—but things didn’t turn out as she planned. “They came in beforehand while I was in labor and I didn’t realize it,” she says. “I found out later and I was crushed. I felt very disrespected. I cried for hours that night—it was supposed to be a happy time and I felt very violated and upset about it.”
Women must be selective and clear about who can be in the room at what time. “It can really matter to you how you feel about the people [in the room],” says Kim. “If you have any negative feelings about them at all, you don’t want them in there. Your hormones and emotions are going whacko, and when you’re in labor those feelings will be multiplied.”
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