The Doula Difference
One mom's experience with a doula late in her second pregnancy
After giving birth to my daughter naturally and medication free, I knew that would be the plan for my son’s birth as well. Only this time I didn’t want to forget the laboring positions we learned in class or worry about whether or not the hospital staff followed the wishes of my birth plan. As my second pregnancy progressed, the desire for doula support grew. But was it too late to hire one at 34 weeks?
I read about the role of a labor doula and the type of support she provided. I asked for recommendations, but few local friends and family were familiar with them. The hospital had their own, but I wanted to find an independent one. Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes for the second time, I was already concerned about the possibility of being induced prior to my due date. I needed to feel confident that my doula-my labor support person-would also act as a liaison with the staff, if need be. I needed to trust her.
This was all new territory for me and I was completely overwhelmed. I continued to research and ponder my options. My husband said it was my choice, but I went back and forth over the cost. Our insurance wouldn’t cover it (not even the hospital ones), so it would be an out-of-pocket expense. A month before my due date, I decided I couldn’t afford not to hire one. And, as it turned out, it wasn’t too late.
I’d given birth before. I knew what to expect, but I was still scared. Being labeled high risk made me feel stressed out. It was important to me to avoid being induced if possible and to birth naturally again. It was important to me to have a knowledgeable support person at my side throughout my labor and delivery.
My husband remained an important support for my labor, but Sabrina (my doula) put our minds at ease. With my first pregnancy I was very unsure about recognizing my labor signs, went to the hospital as soon as possible, and completely forgot what I learned in class. I spent a lot of time being uncomfortable because I didn’t know where or how to move positions. One nurse suggested moving but didn’t help when I felt frozen in place. We were no longer the confident couple who completed class the month before.
I feel blessed that my daughter’s delivery went well, but it was disrupting to be hooked up to monitors, an IV, repeatedly checked, and all while staff kept changing. I don’t think there was a single nurse from my check in who saw my daughter enter this world. I only labored at the hospital for about six hours, the first six were at home.
With my second pregnancy, it was reassuring to have Sabrina checking in with me frequently as my due dated approached. When I went into false labor she helped me recognize it. And then when I went into true labor, she came to my home. It was more relaxing laboring over 12 hours at home. Sabrina was extremely knowledgeable about how I was progressing based on verbal and physical cues. I was thankful to skip numerous uncomfortable cervical checks! She reminded me to relax when I tensed up and timed my contractions. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible so she told us when to leave for the hospital. It was much different from my daughter–I arrived in time to deliver just minutes later!
At the hospital she assisted with communicating my details to the delivery team. I was in the zone, turned inward, and could barely talk. It was amazing how calm I felt. How instinctual my body was as my son started to crown. I felt good about my daughter’s birth, but I labored with fear in the back corners of my mind. But with my son? It felt as it should be.
I felt empowered.
If I could do it all over again, I would hire a doula for both of my pregnancies. Overall my pregnancies and deliveries were quite similar. The biggest difference was the addition of Sabrina to my team. If we decide to have another baby, I plan to have her at my side again. I loved being able to focus on laboring and letting her and my husband be in charge of everything else.
Have you thought about working with one? What was your experience like?
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