doula

A while back I was researching places to promote my blog and/or partner with and I came across a site called blogher.com, a community for women who blog.

I discovered many women there discussing important issues and sharing their voices.  I have contributed to these conversations on several occasions and was looking through my posts there the other day.  I found an old comment I left on a thread about doulas and felt like this may be an important story to share here.

This is my birth story.  Giving birth is one of the most rewarding and empowering things we can do as women.  But this story also reminded me how important it is to remember that it is our inner power that gives us the strength to complete such a wonderful and trying journey.  

We must always remember to nourish this inner strength  so that we remain these incredibly powerful women throughout the rest of our lives.  Raising great kids is going to take all the energy, courage and fortitude we can get our hands on.

Please excuse any spelling or grammer errors in the story below.  It was written in haste and without editing.

With and Without a Doula

I have had two completely different birthing experiences, one with a doula and one without.

The birth of my daughter was one of the most tramatic experiences of my life. For my entire prenatal period, I had a doctor that I loved and we had a very detailed plan that we had worked out together for months. Unfortunately, nothing would go as planned.

This is a good lesson in itself. No matter how well you plan, be just as prepared for nothing to go the way you think it will.

The thing is, when you go to a doctor that is part of a group, the chances that that doctor will deliver your baby is very low, unless you go into labor during office hours. I’m sure this has worked out fine for many women but for me, it was the middle of the night both times.

The doctor that was on call when I went into labor with my daughter was really unfortunate. My water had broke and labor was slow to start. I had had my appendix out six weeks earlier (yeah, 34 weeks pregnant and a totally different story) and she basically told me that I was high risk and would be treated as such, even though my doctor had told me as long as I had gone six weeks past surgery, I would be considered normal.

What this meant is that I was monitored the whole time and she only gave me a short period for labor to begin before she gave me pitocin. I just felt rushed and unsupported by her for my entire labor. I felt like she was just chomping at the bit to cut me open, not the most nurturing birthing environment.

My doula was very good at keeping me as calm as possible through this whole thing and keeping me informed of what was going on and why certain decisions were being made, but my anxiety level was very high and the pitocin contractions were extremely painful.

The short version of the story is that eventually, during pushing, my daughter started to dcell and then they lost her heartbeat. Then there was panic and rushing around and throwing of scrubs and I was screaming, it was terrible. When we got to the operating room, they hooked her up to the monitor and she was totally fine, but the doctor insisted on continuing with the c-section. While they were upping my epidural to the correct levels, I continued to push (as you can’t stop), with the help of my nurse and eventually, I took control and demanded that she let me try to push her out before she proceeds with the c-section as she was fully crowning and her heartrate was fine. She gave me three pushes and I was luckily able to push her out. The whole operating room broke out in cheers.

Although having a doula was a nice additive to my experience, she was not allowed in the operating room and was able to do little to prevent my bad experience. I am in no way saying that doulas can’t be a great help and I felt like my doula did a great job given the circumstances, but when it comes down to it, it is all about your own sense of power and peace and the relationship with your doctor.

I also give a ton of credit to my nurse. She was amazing and stayed with me through the end, even though her shift had ended. She empowered me and from working with that doctor (who it was pretty clear that most of the nurses didn’t like working with) many times before, she was knowledgable about how to deal with this doctor and helped me to get what I needed in spite of her.

In the end, my daughters birth was very empowering and she was healthy and beautiful and that is all the really matters.

When I got pregnant with my son, I took a totally different approach. I was determined that if I had anything to say about it, that doctor was never going to come anywhere near me again. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to leave my doctor, who I totally loved.

Having several experiences in the maternity ward at my hospital (my daughter’s birth and I spent a week there after my apendix operation), I was confident with the nursing care and quality of the facility.

For me, it really came down to finding the right practice. All the doctors in the practice must be on the same page as you when it comes to your needs during labor. With a group of doctors who share on call duties, you will never be sure of what doctor will be there to deliver your baby.

I was fortunate that I found a doctor I trusted and who would for sure deliver my baby the second time around. He has an individual practice and delivers 97% of his own babies. He goes on vacation once a year and as long as you aren’t due during that time, you can almost be certain he will be there with you.

My first birth was so dramatic and stressful that the second time, I just wanted calm. I wanted to enjoy the birthing experience and embrace motherhood in a way that I was denied the last time. I did end up choosing an epidural, but was not pressured or deterred in any way. This time around the decisions were mine, with the understanding that if things got really bad, he would have to take over. That I could live with.

I am very narrow through my pelvis and my babies are big and therefore, they have a little trauma coming through the birth canal. My son’s birth was no different in this matter, but I didn’t even really know anything was wrong. My doctor was calm and cool through the whole thing and found the perfect balance of telling me this was serious and I had to push with no resting, without making me feel scared at all.

My son was born healthy, happy, huge and in a hurry.

I am so glad that I have that experience as the freshest and most prominent in my mind.

I agree that birth done the wrong way can be increadibly tramatic and with lasting effects. I was so jumpy and scared going into it the second time.

But, I am glad that I took charge of my pregnancy and birthing experience and did what I needed to make sure I wasn’t in the same situation again.

My advice, find a doctor you trust in a practice that as a whole gels with your belief system and what you desire from your delivery. Take every opportunity you can to meet with as many of the doctors in the practice as you can and also make sure that the hospital you are going to has practices and rules that you agree with and a top notch nursing staff. If having your plan followed through on and your doctor there with you, then do your best to choose someone who delivers a very high percentage of their babies.

Ask questions, be up front with what you need and don’t be afraid to change course if necessary.

As far as doula’s go, after having one with me the first time, I didn’t feel it was necessary the second time. But, my husband was amazing during labor and I was confident enough the second time to be my own advocate and I trusted my doctor implicitly.

I think every birth and every individual is completely unique and doula’s can be an excellent resourse and a great help.

The Redesigned Mom

A Stay at Home Mom’s Journey to Self Fulfillment

Submitted by redesignedmom on Sat, 10/04/2008 – 14:40