Let me tell you part of the story of why I became a Doula, but before I do that we have to dive a little bit further into my personal story.
It was the end of July 2016. Another beautiful morning in our household, the sun was shining and i took our foster dog Huntress out for a walk in the nature of the Yukon. I had no worries besides maybe running into a bear on my morning walk before work – but then again, it would’ve made a pretty good excuse not to go in at all.
Suddenly I was thinking of the possibility of being pregnant, this thought had bothered me for the past couple of days (most ladies know the pregnancy scare moment). My husband and I had decided to start trying for a baby but still I felt unprepared. Lately, I felt a lot more tired and worse, my breast were constantly sore (like, don’t even look at them! Let alone touch…ouch!). I decided to get a pregnancy test during my lunch break that day.
Sure enough, when i took the test I found out that I was pregnant. Somewhat in shock and excited at the same time I realized that our whole life was about to change forever. I knew I was going to grow a baby inside my body and grow a tiny person of my own.
But then the horror was striking – I was terrified of giving birth. I somewhat remembered the biology lessons in school about the whole process. Oh boy, I was scared and terrified. Why was this the second thought coming to my mind knowing I was pregnant?!
Meanwhile my husband was having tears of joy and couldn’t be more excited that we were going to have a baby. Immediately he wanted to share this news with the whole family and so we did. Me still trying not to freak out at the thought of childbirth! How was I still hung up on this?! This put a serious damper on my excitement.
So my entire pregnancy I seemed to avoid or block out the part about me birthing our child and bringing the little miracle into our world. In every pregnancy book that I read, I simply did not even touch the part about labour and giving birth or the aftermath. I know now what a mistake that was!
Now here I was, 40 weeks and 2 days later, impatient for my baby to arrive. At this point impatience trumped the scare of childbirth but nonetheless I still haven’t done my homework. I missed all possible prenatal classes due to moving to another province and still have not read a single chapter about labour and birth. And even worse – I did not have any friends and only little family to support me here.
Finally, the moment was there! It was the weirdest thing happening to me. I had gone to the washroom because I felt the need to pee, only to find myself dripping and dripping and dripping. Holy smokes, why didn’t it stop?! Oddly enough I ended up checking out my “pee”, no odour and clear/white cloudy instead of yellow- not at all pee but amniotic fluid! There it was, my realization that my water broke!
I got excited about the arrival of my little bundle of joy and didn’t so much think of the birthing part that had scared me SO much the months’ before. I told my husband that it was time to head to the hospital and his reaction was disbelieve. “Are you sure?” he asked me, “Yes I am sure hun” I had said. I saw him scrambling, trying to figure out where the hospital bag was that I only packed 2 weeks ago. He surely was nervous but excited.
Arriving at the hospital I left a HUGE gush in the parking lot and when they wheeled me into the maternity ward I left a dripping tail across the whole hospital. I was leaking for hours…. why did no one warn me about this?!
After being put into a bed it took hours for the hospital to decided if I should go home or stay as I didn’t show any signs of active labour (no contractions and still not dilated, nope not even 1 cm.) but because the OB/GYN on call was currently in a c-section no decision was made. I believe it was 4 or 5 hours later that my contractions started and boy, they got strong fast. I had no possible idea of how to handle them and the only suggestion my husband came up with was walking around – so I did walk the hall up and down.
This helped me for a little while but my contractions got stronger and my husband had no idea of how to help me but holding my hand through each wave that came up until I had no breaks at all. I begged for that epidural they kept offering me and I had no idea of what it could or couldn’t do. No one informed me of possible risks or other coping techniques. And then I went down the spiral of medical interventions, needing pitocin for induction and forceps for my daughters extraction – almost needing a c-section in the doctors eyes if she wouldn’t have come out then.
I will spare you much more of the details of me giving birth to my baby girl L but what I ended up feeling was absolutely lost and out of control in my experience of childbirth. Same with my husband, he was absolutely helpless and terrified in the corner of the room waiting for things to be done and over with.
I had no idea on how to cope with the pain and I never once was informed of risks of procedures they were doing. Partially because I didn’t ask ( as I was incredibly overwhelmed and honestly drugged up) and partially because the hospital never mentioned them.
About 6 month’s postpartum I started learning about doulas. I am not sure if I had heard the term when I was pregnant and simply didn’t clue in about their job or if in fact I never heard about them. But here is what I think a doula could’ve done for me:
- Ease my mind and inform me about childbirth
- Help me create birth preferences – it is not so much about having the plan itself but learning about the options a women has during labour and childbirth
- Suggestions on what to try to help progress labour
- Comfort measures!!!
- Knowledge about procedures and reminders to ask questions for risks etc.
- Including my husband in the labour and birth experience, as well as give him well deserved breaks
- Provide first breastfeeding support
- Help with the aftermath – processing my experience and trauma
Even after birth, I had struggles with breastfeeding which I partially blame on the medical interventions as well as on myself because I had no idea how to. I thought you just stick your baby on the breast and they’ll eat but again, I was SO wrong. But this is a story for another day…
Overall what I’ve learned in my own experience that you don’t have to be afraid! Try to open yourself up and learn as much as you can before hand about labour and childbirth. If you can, hire yourself a doula. She can amazingly guide you through the process and make sure both you and your husband are taken care of in this overwhelming process!
This is what made me choose to become a Doula, to better other mothers experiences and not ending up like me traumatized and scared. Showing how magical childbirth can be and that you can be empowered by it. Because during this event there is not only a baby born, but also a mother.
Not only can a Doula help with your birth experience but also in your postpartum period, in which I dive deeper in a different blog.