Before I’d had my first baby I hadn’t even heard of the word ‘doula’. When I did hear of it for the first time it sounded unnecessary. I had midwives and a capable husband. I didn’t ‘need’ anyone else.
So why, second time around did I book a doula the minute I’d had my twelve week scan?
What is a doula?
‘A doula is a woman who gives support, help and advice during pregnancy, birth and beyond’.
Here are my reasons for choosing a doula;
- I wanted emotional support during the late stages of pregnancy. I wanted someone who would sit and listen to my concerns and not be ‘bored’ because this was baby number 2. I wanted someone for whom nothing was a silly question. Yes, I’d had one baby but every pregnancy is different and I wanted to ask every questions again…and again….and again…I wanted to cry and laugh and open up freely with someone who I felt on the same page as, to share this journey with another woman who cared. My doula did.
- I wanted someone who would listen with a judgement free ear to what I wanted in labour. Who wouldn’t be coloured by any previous experience. Who would just help me see my options and let me choose what I felt comfortable with. My doula did.
- I wanted continuity of care. I wanted to know who was going to be in that birthing room with me. My doula provided this.
- I had seen the birth outcome statistics and how in favour they were of women who used doulas in having the birth outcome they wanted. I wanted to do everything possible to ensure a positive birth experience.
- I didn’t want my husband in the birthing room because we didn’t feel he was best placed to be my birthing parter. My husband had no experience of birthing a baby, what it would feel like or how to help, my husband is also not naturally empathetic, my doula was all of this.
- As silly as it may sound to some, I didn’t want my sexual partner in my room whilst I birthed. I didn’t want him seeing me so vulnerable and raw and strong. I didn’t know how that would impact our relationship and I’m very sensitive.
- At a time when I am at most vulnerable (in labour), I did not want to be negotiating or discussing practicalities with a midwife, in terms of mine or babies care. I wanted a doula on hand therefore to be able to communicate my wishes and have no ones interest but my own at the root of their actions. My doula provided this.
- I wanted the expertise of a doula in birth. Someone who knows what helps and what hinders a labouring woman. I wanted someone to do their best to read my mind and not be offended when it’s not what I wanted or when I want more. I want them to run the bath to the perfect temperature and offer me water and snacks. I want them to hug and massage me. To tell me I’m doing an amazing job, all without me asking. I don’t want to worry about them, I don’t want to think ‘they must be tired’. I want them to take responsibility for themselves so that I don’t have to think of anything other than my labouring body. My doula did.
- I wanted someone in the birthing room who enjoys witnessing birth. I think it’s a sacred moment and I want people there who respect this, my doula did.
- I wanted someone to visit me after the birth, someone whom I respected and trusted, at a time when I was going to be tired, vulnerable and needy. Someone to come in and check I was ok and to give me breastfeeding advice if needs be. I wanted the reassurance that someone who cared and was an expert in this post natal business, was at the end of the phone to help me if I needed. My doula did all of this.
Did my experience of having a doula live up to my expectation?
Absolutely! Having a doula was the best money I spent. My doula supported me beautifully right up to the birth. My first baby came at 37 weeks and so I had an almost 5 week wait for the second one to come and I found I needed the emotional support. I remember calling my doula in tears and instantly she calmed me down and made me feel heard and supported. It meant I really enjoyed those last few weeks of pregnancy. When I saw my doula’s face in the hospital car park I was so reassured and happy to see her smiley face (at 4am!). She was there, she was ready, she was there entirely for me. She sat opposite me through those first contractions and once I was finally examined and told I was already 8cm she gave me a hi five! She ran my bath with warn water and offered me water, she helped the baby latch immediately after birth, she was there but she was unobtrusively and always calm and positive. After the birth she visited and helped me with my breastfeeding and once again reassured me everything was going great and I was doing a good job. It meant a lot. I’ll never forget her support. She’s one of a kind. They all are.
There are also post natal doulas available to help you for the post natal period alone. They can come in for a few hours or over the course of a week/ weeks to help you however you need help. Here is the definition from Doula UK which I LOVE..
‘The actual tasks a postnatal doulas provide varies enormously, and one of the big benefits of having a postnatal doula is that they are there to support the family, not carry out a specific task, so they do what is needed (within reason!). This can be help around the house, looking after baby while mum (and her partner) nap, helping with older siblings, making meals, helping with dinner time or the school run, helping overnight so the parents get more sleep…even walking dogs or wrapping Christmas presents. Whatever is needed to help a family relax and have a positive experience of life with a baby.’
How wonderful does that sound? I had no idea they existed first time around and could certainly have done with one.
I’m really excited to be sponsoring an event called Bumps, Birth and Babies in Godalming on Saturday the 12th May. This is an event for all new mums or mums to be, and dads to be to attend. There will be all sorts of interesting people there to talk to, have a look at the list below. This is really an amazing opportunity as typically these events are only available in London. Learn about whats available right on your doorstep. There are so many wonderful services on offer and it’s a real treat to be able to explore them under one roof. Come and join us!