For those of you who don’t know me, I have birthed two children. I did not have a doula for either of those births. If I could go back in time and change anything about my birth experiences, hiring a doula would be the first, and probably the only, thing that I would change. I’d like to share with you why.
To do this, I need to take you back to very early on in my first pregnancy. In one of my early prenatal appointments, my midwife asked if I would be looking for a doula for this birth. At the time, I didn’t even really know what a doula was, so she gave me a brief explanation. I told her that with having my husband and my mom at the birth, I wasn’t sure that I would need a doula. She pointed out that a doula and a mom would play very different roles and cautioned me to really evaluate whether I felt that my mom would be a helpful and calming presence during my birth (for the record, she was… until the shit hit the fan, and she was terrified, because she’s my mom, not an objective birth professional… but I’ll save that for another post - “Why your mom shouldn’t be your doula… unless she’s actually a doula”. Stay tuned for that one in the near future). Hindsight really is 20/20. I now know that my mom, my husband, AND a doula would have all been very valuable parts of my support team for different reasons, but at the time I really believed that my mom and husband would be enough and sadly, I didn’t really think any more about doulas after that appointment.
I’ll save the birth story itself for another post, but to make a long story short, I will tell you this about my first birth experience…
I had an extremely long and difficult early labour. I was faced with unexpected circumstances, difficult decisions, and complications that meant changing my birth plan along the way. I ended up having a C section, which was exactly the opposite of all of the hopes and plans I had for that birth. There were moments during the whole process when I felt absolutely terrified and my two support people (two people who love me so deeply that they couldn’t help but feel every bit of pain and fear I felt) were just as terrified as I was.
And that, right there, is why I wish I had a doula on my support team.
I needed someone beside me who, when the shit hit the fan, would bring calm and clarity to the room. Someone who understood my fear and could reassure me (and my support people!) that what I was feeling was normal, and that I would make it through this experience. Someone who understood what I was going on and could help my husband and I process the information we were given so that we could make those tough decisions more confidently. Someone who would stay with us through the good and the bad moments of the experience – helping, encouraging, reassuring, providing information, making suggestions, offering tips, and being calm through it all.
Obviously there’s no way to know how things might have been different if I had chosen to have a doula with me at my first birth. I may still have had a long difficult early labour. I may still have ended up with a C section. Or maybe having that support would have changed those outcomes. I’ll never know. I do feel pretty certain though that having a doula would have helped me to feel less scared, more relaxed, more confident, and maybe even more positive about the whole experience.
Next week I'll share part 2 with you... looking at reasons I'd had a doula at my second birth.