5 Things Your Doula Wishes You Knew

Today, we present to you a post by our friends over at nycbirthvillage.com, a local doula collective run by 2 doulas whom we recommend all the time to Birth Matters students — Narchi & Karla.

  1. Some people have the kind of births they want to have in spite of their providers, and some people do it because of their providers. Choosing a provider is probably the most important decision you can make for your birth. I wish everyone took this decision seriously and interviewed multiple providers before choosing one. Midwives and doctors all approach situations in different ways, and the key is to find someone who shares your values and will help you work towards your goals. When I meet a potential client who tells me they are skeptical of their provider and they’re hiring a doula because they’re hoping that is enough to guard them from interventions and a c-section, it raises a red flag for me. While I can certainly illuminate your options, provide a platform for you to weigh decisions, and give you helpful questions to ask, you must feel supported by the medical team you’ve chosen.

  2. We want to hear from you! You’re not bothering us. We want text updates that you’ve been walking a mile every day and have been feeling more crampy recently. We want to hop on the phone with you if you had a conversation with your provider and have new questions. We want to see pictures when you say you saw some bleeding in your underwear or you think you might have lost your mucus plug. We want you to call us in the middle of the night when you’re not sure if you’re in labor. Especially while you’re in early labor and we haven’t joined you yet. You don’t have to wait until your contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting one minute for one hour. Let us know when you need extra support at any time, day or night, and we will be there.

  3. You do not need to ask permission or apologize for things you want during labor. This is most applicable to people who are delivering in a hospital setting. Treat your labor and delivery room like your living room. You wouldn’t ask for permission to get up and go to the bathroom, take a sip of water, or eat food at home and you don’t need to do it at the hospital. You shouldn’t hide the fact that you’re eating or drinking, in fact, it’s important that your providers know if there is food in your system. Going back to #1 of this list, if you feel like you have to hide things from your provider, that is also a red flag. Your mindset can have a huge impact on your labor and birth. Understanding that you have the final say in all things that happen to your body will give you confidence to act in a way that feels right to you.

  4. Spend some time thinking about how present you want family and friends to be in the later days of pregnancy, during labor, and immediately after. Labor and birth can be intense and long. The average labor for a first time mom can be 24 hours, which means you might not want to loop in people right away. Support is amazing. Being overwhelmed by other people’s expectations, timelines, and schedules is not as amazing. It is important for the birthing person to feel unburdened. Will having family members waiting in the hospital lobby add stress while you’re in labor? Will you feel supported if your partner is tied to their phone updating family and friends while you labor? Will you wait to tell family and friends until after the baby is born? Will you want extra people in the room while you’re pushing? Or immediately after you’ve given birth? You get to decide who is allowed to visit and how long they will stay.

  5. We are still your doulas postpartum — use us! We usually leave about one to two hours after your baby is born to ensure you are supported during the golden hour, throughout any repairs that need to happen, and to make sure your new family feels settled. The first few days can be intense. Everyone has a different set up for support after birth, but even while you are in the hospital, please feel free to call and text us with questions. The same way that we walked you through decisions during pregnancy, we can do the same when you are presented with different decision points in the hospital. What are the benefits of giving baby a bath? Is it necessary to supplement with formula? There’s usually a period of time that you’re home before we see you for your postpartum visit, and now the questions seem to triple — please call! If we don’t know the answer we can direct you to resources for support. Months down the road when new questions arise, we are here. And even when you don’t have a question, send us an update and a picture of your baby! We never get tired of seeing baby pictures!!

Find your doula at nycbirthvillage.com. We have doulas at all levels of experience trained in birth, postpartum and lactation!

Julian's Birth Story (told by Mama Mari)

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Lisa's note: It's my daughter's 10th birthday today (eek, wild how you hit a time warp when you become a parent!). Since I've shared her birth story in the past, I thought it would be a good day to instead share another client birth story...

I woke up at 5:30 am with a contraction. Since the doctor had told me there would be many false alarms, I didn't think much of it, and proceeded to get back to sleep....but about ten minutes later I got another, so I decided to download a contractions counting app that was recommended to us by our doula called "full term." I also decided not to wake up James since [Lisa] had mentioned in class, as did the doctor in our previous visit, to let your partner rest. So I proceeded to count and by 7:00 am it was clear that the contractions were regular, so I decided to wake up James. He soon woke up and started prepping our bags and making sure I was hydrated. I called our doula (who was at another birth) and our doctor at 11 am, they both told me to relax and call if needed. I proceeded to do so...

As [Lisa] suggested we do in class, I decided to put on a series on Netflix and just watch while going through contractions. I used the breathing and visualization exercises we did in class. With each contraction I thought of the ice cube on my wrist [an interactive activity we do in class] and I held James' hand.

By 2:30 pm the doula came (she was a substitute from the original doula we hired, but ended up being an amazing fit....we love her!) Anyhow, she observed my contractions and by 3:45pm determined that I was in active labor, so we called a car to go to the hospital.. 

We arrived at the hospital at 4:15pm...Julian was born at 5:16pm!!! He was in a rush; everything went quickly and swiftly.

My whole plug came out at triage (while getting them a urine sample...can't believe they asked me to do that!!) and minutes after my water broke!! I was sent into delivery room and after 40 minutes of pushing he was born! Holy Moly!! Anna, our 'new' doula was crucial in coaching me and at the same time making sure the nurses and doctors took seriously how far along I was. It seemed as though they did not believe me, and she made sure that I was tended to and taken care of! Amazing!

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The experience was all so surreal, but what I remember the most is James' support and love throughout the process, and I am sure he was able to be so level-headed and supportive thanks to [Lisa's] class! 

Anyhow, I never thought it was possible, to have such an efficient and swift birth story. At points it felt so fast!! But even though I always thought of a natural vaginal birth would be ideal, I never though I would be capable of it! Soon after birth I kept repeating in my head "No epidural, no nothing! Wow!" It was on loop! I don't know if it was the oxytocin speaking but I felt really good about it! (The next few days after birth I was more in shock about the whole process!)

Having baby Julian in my arms felt more unreal than ever; an amazing feeling!

TIP: I think that what helped me prepare for labor was acupuncture. It was suggested by my doctor, so I proceeded to start sessions at week 35 with Anna at Sky + Earth in LIC (I found her on Lisa's list of recs!)

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