When I was in my second trimester I decided I wanted a natural birth. I was so confident in my body that this was what it was designed to do and I was going to rock that! Well after going into labor at 20 weeks for 24 hours I felt like I paid my dues and that I was going to get my epidural – which I refer to as my happy juice and take my labor literally laying down so I decided I didn’t need a Doula *false*, I’m going to have an epidural.
I looked into doulas and realized they are expensive and may require some financial planning. Not ridiculously but enough that if you put $20 a week for every week of pregnancy – that’s 2 Starbucks a week and 1 trip to McDonald’s – that will cover the $800 fee that most in Winnipeg charge. If you are low income a few work on a sliding scale so you may need to shop around.
At 21 weeks I got a Facebook message from Carla who found me through a friend of a friend. She had recently got licensesd and was looking for a September birth and I felt like it was meant to be. We met with her at 22 weeks and I threw up all the way there and all the way home. I thought she was my birthing angel. Things I loved about her:
– She was cool I wanted an epidural: lots of doulas love to do all naturals probably because they have more to do. She supported my choice and said she would be there for me as I got my happy juice. What I didn’t know that I’m sure she did was that when transition hits at 8 or 9 cm and your body realizes what it is about to do, you are going to need an extra set of hands.
– She was my support leading up to delivery: I had what OB’s call an “irritable uterus” aka all my contractions 30 + weeks felt like real labour. I wasn’t even sure when I was really in labour because it was the same feeling I always had. Having someone who has been there, done that, and has read all the books on that saved us many trips to OB triage. She never made me feel guilty for sending her a text or a phone call asking “is this normal”.
Note: doulas do not give medical advice however they are so experienced they have a pretty general idea when you need to get your butt to you hospital or when you need to drink a litre of water because you spent the day in the sun.
35 week bump measuring 40.. she was born 10 days later
She is a mom: Carla has 3 beautiful girls and 3 very different birthing experiences. I felt confident that she had been around the birthing block and that she would guide me safely through. My mom lives 5 hours away and I knew she wouldn’t be there so having a mom like figure in the room was a nice idea.
So I was matched with my angel doula! All I had to do was wait to go into labor. Luckily my doctor at 37 weeks knew that my little baby was a big old chunk and it was a good idea to get her out. (It turned out my OB was right and baby November was in the 97% in weight at a big old weight of 8 pounds 3 oz.. 3 more weeks she would have been around 11 pounds). One aggressive sweep at 9AM, a long walk, and some castor oil we were in full out labor starting at 7pm.
The first 8 hours of labor I did at home with Rob. I didn’t believe I was in labor – dang that irritable uterus. I was having back labor so with every contraction I needed Rob to push hard on my back. I leaned on my birthing ball as much as I could and then I became very sick to my stomach. We thought we would go get a little check just in case and it turned out I was 5cm.. cue Carla joining us at 8am at the hospital. I had gotten my happy juice and all we could do was wait.
You can read my birthing story on the blog so I will save the boring details. However here in sequence is why it was wonderful to have a doula from start to finish:
Note: If you are going all natural, you and your partner need the support. I don’t think we could have done it just Rob and I. So much is needed to support a labouring woman and keeping her in the right head space to keep going.
1) I was in labour for 24 hours: At 8AM when Carla joined us both Rob and I had been awake for 24 hours. We still had 12 to go. Having Carla there meant Rob could go to the bathroom, go get food, have a nap, or go for a break and I wasn’t sitting in bed alone.
2) She helped me ask the right questions: Doulas have seen most procedures a ton of times done by a ton of doctors so they know the questions to ask. For example before the doc broke my water for me, I asked Carla all the things I needed to ask him before the procedure so that it was done as safely as possible.
3) At 4PM I entered transition: This is the 7 layers of hell that a woman’s body goes through a few hours to a few minutes before pushing. For 3 hours her and Rob did hip presses, essential oils to help the nausea, and just a whole bunch of encouragement to hold back the crazy.
4) Pushing is hard work even if you have an epidural: I was surprised the pain I felt while pushing even though I had an epidural. I gave birth on my hands and knees so Rob was there at my head for every push, giving me ice chips in between, and giving me encouragement. I remember Carla telling me exactly what I needed to hear to keep me motivated in pushing: “birthing goddess” and “get mad at the pain” were two of my favs!
5) I have some pretty beautiful photos from this: Carla also moonlights (AKA double duties) as a birthing photographer. These are photos that at the time I didn’t really care if they got done but are now highly treasured. Also hiring a birth photographer is so expensive so finding a doula who does both is a budget helper.
6) They help with breastfeeding tips and support: After 36 hours of being awake I was delirious so having someone just support me even while I did skin to skin was a major help.
7) Postpartum they are there: I ended up being diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety so our follow up didn’t happen in the normal meeting format but over texts and phone calls. I appreciated how flexible she was in meeting my post baby needs, answered questions, and encouraged me always to make sure I was taking care of myself so I could be a good mom.
If you are even considering hiring a doula I highly recommend it. The support is unbelievable and the idea of women supporting women during birth is so empowering. If you live in the Winnipeg area I recommend reaching out to Carla at Mother Birth Doula and make an appointment just to chat. I’m pretty confident you will find her amazing!