I have hired two different doulas in the past. I found both to be very knowledgable and willing to help me to have as close to my ideal birth as possible. Their role was multi-faceted, yet can be summed up in a single word: Support. During my pregnancy, they were available to meet with me or connect on the phone. They met with me a time or two prior to my going into labor. During these meetings, we talked about my previous birth experiences and what I liked and what I didn’t like. They truly wanted to understand my desires. During at least one of these meetings, they met with my husband as well. Once I was 38 weeks along, the doulas were available by phone 24/7. If I had questions (Is this ever going to end?), concerns (How will I know when it is really labor?), or frustrations (Will I be the first person to be pregnant forever?) they were there. When I wasn’t sure if it was labor or just Braxton Hicks, I called my doula and she helped me assess it. And when I was ready for her to come and be with me while I labored, there she was.
With my first doula experience, I had the doula meet us at the hospital. She got there about the same time we did. She was fantastic with counter pressure on my lower back. I remember that I really wanted to push and the doctor wanted me to wait as I wasn’t at 10 yet, my doula came around to the head of the bed and helped me to focus on breathing rather than tensing and pushing. She helped to protect my birthing space. She reminded me that I could do this and that I was doing a good job. My husband got anxious a time or two, but having someone there that knew what normal birth look like helped him to know that everything was ok. Our 3 year old son was also in the birthing room taking a nap. My husband was able to attend to our son’s needs as he knew that I was supported. He didn’t feel the need to be everything to everyone. She stayed with me the whole labor. The nurses and doctor would come and go as I was not the only laboring woman, but my doula was a constant there for me. After the birth of my daughter, my doula helped me with the initial breastfeeding. When she was a couple of hours old and we were settled and ready for some just family time. My doula left. I enjoyed the constant support from her.
With my second doula experience, I had the doula come to the place where I was staying. Again, her focus was on support. She helped me to manage my level of pain. She also used counter pressure techniques and helped me to focus on breathing through the contractions when needed. She contacted my husband when I wanted him to come be with me, as I was having to focus on the contractions and talking on the phone was beyond my ability at that time. She monitored the contractions so that we had an idea how far apart they were. She noted that they never got into a regular pattern. She was great at helping me to be in the moment. She was such a constant support!!! After my daughter was born, she helped me with breastfeeding. She left when we were settled. She stopped by several days later to check in on me. We discussed the birth. I was able to get clarification on the parts of the labor that I was fuzzy on (labor will do that to you!) I treasure the constant support she was to me.
My doulas both did a great job of supporting me and my decisions. I am grateful for these women for supporting me through some of the biggest milestones of my life: the birth of my daughters!