In early pregnancy, I didn’t have any idea as to what type of birth I envisioned for myself. When people asked me if I would get an epidural, I said I didn’t really care either way, thinking I would just see how it goes. Eventually, my mama’s intuition kicked in and my preferences began to take shape. After reading several informative books on childbirth, I have decided that my preference (not to be confused with plan, since births are unpredictable) is to have a non-medicated, non-induced (if possible) natural birth experience with a doula present.
A doula is a trained professional who specializes in supporting the mother and her partner during the labor and delivery process. A doula is present during the entire process to help the mother through labor by giving physical support, such as massage, and suggesting different laboring positions. A doula also provides emotional support, and can be a great asset during natural birth by reminding you of the reasons why you wanted a natural birth, even during the most challenging of labors.
I met with two doulas and researched many others before making my decision. When the doula we ultimately chose came over for an interview last week, I liked her right away. She was warm and friendly and patiently answered all of my questions. Her experience of attending close to 60 births didn’t hurt, either. The point during the interview when I knew she was the one was her answer to my question about how she will interact with Dan in the delivery room. She described the three of us as a team, and she explained to Dan that “It’s hard to know how to coach a game you’ve never seen played.”
Essentially, she will help Dan help me. Our doula explained that she “reads the room” and sees what would best help me. For example, if she sees that I’m connecting really well with the support from Dan, she will work to foster that connection while she takes a step back (and goes on an “ice chip run,” as she said). Alternately, there will be times when Dan needs to step away from the chaos of labor, and her presence will allow him to go get a snack or call his family or just take five minutes to himself. This helps take the pressure off of Dan to feel like he has to be a trained birth coach, and while he will be my number one supporter, the doula provides an additional layer of support through the labor process.
The main reason I wanted to hire a doula was that in a hospital-based birth, having a doula present can help your chances of having a natural birth, barring any necessary medical interventions. I’m so excited about the doula we have selected! I know that birth is completely unpredictable, but no matter what happens, I know that she is going to be a huge asset to have at the birth of our daughter. For more information on what a doula is and how to select a doula, or to find certified doulas in your area, I highly recommend www.dona.org for further reading!