During my pregnancy with my first born, I was extremely passionate about having a magical, low intervention, vaginal birth. I went from being terrified of birth to excited and looking forward to it. But something was still missing... My husband kind of learned stuff with me, but didn't totally "get it". Everyone else in my circle told me how crazy I was for not wanting an epidural.... I felt as if I had VERY little support. Additionally, being a nurse myself and knowing how hospitals work, I was nervous they'd bully me an push me around... So at about 32 weeks pregnant, I finally learned about doulas and decided it was an investment worth making. My biggest reason for finding a doula was so that I could have support from someone who was well versed in the birth industry and experience. I also wanted someone that could help my husband understand how to support me since this was his first rodeo too. I found my doula, Olivia, and it was the beginning of a great relationship, professionally and personally.
Newborn, Fresh 48, Little Bear Photography, New Jersey
Unfortunately, my son was breech, and I ended up with a scheduled cesarean. I thought having a doula was pointless then.. but she was still able to bring her expertise to help me prepare for the birth, and to help me reflect on, what ultimately turned into a quite traumatic experience. But her support didn't stop there. She was able to come help me late at night with breastfeeding. I was struggling, my baby was struggling and the pediatricians were not helpful. My doula was the one who pointed out, and educated me on oral restrictions and how they can impact breastfeeding. Thanks to her support, I was able to reach and exceed my breastfeeding goals.
When it was time for my second child to be born, I knew I needed her by my side. I was planning a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) in a hospital that had only ONE practice supportive of VBAC. The hospital's reputation wasn't great, and I was cornered with no other options for care. My husband and I worked the entire pregnancy to build a stellar birth team. I had my doula, Olivia, and my birth photographer, Jennifer, providing AMAZING support, along with my husband and midwife. Even the OB assigned to me provided outstanding support, which is nearly unheard of in that town.
My doula came to my house as labor started getting intense and helped me get through until I was ready to go to the hospital. Her support ranged from emotional support, chatting and companionship, and physical support. She applied counter pressure on my hips, comforted me and reminded me to breathe, and just really made sure that I felt empowered and was an active participant in my birth experience.
I went on to have a successful VBAC (after thirty six hours of labor!) and my life was forever changed. I was able to believe in myself again. I am fully confident that I would not have survived my birth experiences (mentally or emotionally) without the support of my doula. My passion for birth, lactation, and supporting women was sparked by her passion. She inspired me to pursue doula training as well.
Newborn in Nursery, Postpartum, Welcome Home Baby, Little Bear Photography, New Jersey
Why, though, should anyone hire a doula? Are they only for people who want unmedicated deliveries? You need a doula because you need woman to woman support during one of the most life changing events you will ever experience.
Many people are hesitant to welcome a stranger into their birthing space. And believe me, I understand. But doulas are birth professionals just like any other member of the birth team. They know that birth isn't always pretty or modest, and they have seen it all! In fact, a doula is more unique than other members of the birth team... because she's handpicked by you! You get to choose a doula who will support you, and respect your opinion, instead of pushing her own agenda on you and your experience. She will educate and inform you, and ensure that your decisions are always made from a place of information and confidence. And as you can tell by my story above, doulas are NOT just for medication free vaginal deliveries. My first was a cesarean, and my second was vaginal with an epidural placed around 30 some hours in... My doula was still supportive, informative, and the best emotional support I could have asked for. Most doulas will provide some degree of postpartum support, or offer postpartum support package add ons. This is because a doula knows that her job is to support a new mother not *just* through birth, because birth is only the beginning... but thought the transition to parenthood. Support in the postpartum period is so critical for healthy families, but so rare in our modern American society. I see this magnified within my community of mothers because we are military families, typically far away from any of our normal support, and alone and afraid with no resources... or at least not resources we're always comfortable utilizing.
Newborn Feet; Fresh 48 Session, Little Bear Photography, New Jersey
5 reasons to hire a doula
1. Because you want knowledgable support to prepare you for labor, support you through labor and after baby's arrival
2. Because your partner feels lost and confused and has no idea how to support you.
3. Because you have the right to have someone on your side ensuring you are making decisions with all of the information presented to you.
4. Because having labor support increases the likelihood of positive birth outcomes for mom and baby.
5. Because someone who you are comfortable around is essential to accepting postpartum support.
If you are in the New Jersey/Ft. Dix/McGuire Air Force Base area, and looking for a doula, please feel free to contact me! I look forward to supporting my local families during this special phase of life.