So often we hear, “Why do I need a doula?” or “What does a doula do?”
I looked back at my last birth and found five of the most important things my doula, Christie*, did for me. This list will look different for everyone, but I think it gives some more perspective to the common answer of, “A doula provides non-judgmental emotional and physical support during labor.”
- My doula told me it was time to go to the hospital. If it wasn’t for my doula, I might have had my baby at home (on accident) or in the car on the way to the hospital! I kept waiting for the magic 4-1-1 formula to happen, but I am not sure I ever actually reached that point. Then I puked; little did I know that it was a sign to head to the hospital, but my doula did!
- My doula kept me from screaming at the hospital staff. Let me first say that I loved the care I received at the hospital I birthed at, but there was one minor incident where I almost lost my mind. I was asked approximately 1,000 times if I would consent to a blood transfusion if needed. I said yes, I signed the papers, I said yes again and again and again and again. My doula could see how frustrated I was getting and knew this was a touchy subject for me. She helped clarify that I had answered this question quite a few times. No one asked me after that!
- My doula kept me cool. I don’t think I have ever been so hot in my entire life as I was while I was in labor. We had the AC cranked all the way down and everyone else was wearing their sweatshirts. My doula was the BEST washcloth swinger ever. It was so helpful because she was helping me cool down and my husband was free to be more present and didn’t have to worry about getting washcloths ready.
- My doula helped my labor progress. Ok, this might be the most important one out there. It had been seven or eight hours since my first contraction but my water still hadn’t broken. My doula grabbed a peanut ball and asked if I was willing to move to my side. I agreed and I am pretty sure that within five minutes my water broke and I was ready to push. Who knows how long I would have been laboring if she hadn’t made that suggestion?
- My doula helped me to advocate for myself. My contractions started in the middle of the night, so I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner. Needless to say, by morning time, I was hungry. My provider was not willing to let me eat during labor, but I knew I needed something. I wanted some chicken broth at least. A quick glance at my doula and it was like she had the magic look to say “yes, do what you need to do”. The same encouraging look happened three or four times during the labor and birth process. It gave me the confidence to ask for what I needed and what I wanted during labor, delivery and beyond.
I can honestly say that because of the support my doula provided me, I had a beautiful birth experience and I wouldn’t change a thing. The big actions and the small gestures made it worth every penny to have the professional guidance by my side.
*Yes, my doula was Christie Collbran, of Buddha Belly Birth Services!