Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Doulas are Essential to the Birthing Process

Have you checked out my Sweepstakes for a free entry to a trail race?  Go enter here!

As per a request from a very wonderful pregnant lady, today I thought we would take a pause from running to talk pregnancy and babies - sorry if this is boring to some please feel free not to read, but I am guessing others may find it of use...maybe.  Btw, if you are so inclined here is my birth story.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was sure that I would have an epidural.  No question about it.  I remember talking with a friend about it and she mentioned there was no need to be a hero when I told her I was having drugs.  At the time, I could not have agreed more.  However, I also knew I wanted to take child birth classes.  My sister-in-law suggested Bradley classes.  I liked the idea of Bradley because it was a series of 12 classes, two hours each, one time a week.  Some people might just want to go for a one time three hour class, and that is totally fine, but I am a student at heart and wanted more!  The only problem I had with Bradley was that is was all based on natural child birth - something that I did not think was for me.  Yet, since it was the only decently long class that would satisfy my inner student, we enrolled.  At the very least, I figured we would make a friend.  Luckily, the best thing Bradley gave us was a friendship with another couple who are near and dear to our hearts.

It has now come to my attention that I only have pictures of Lee with my friends' twins and not of us, so yea there is that - picture to follow....

Anyway, long story short because this post is supposed to be about doulas (I can review Bradley another day if anyone is interested),  I started to really drink the Kool-Aid about natural childbirth and decided I wanted to try it. I actually stopped telling people this except some of my closer friends because a lot of people laughed at me.  I get it, I cry really easily, I don't like pain, but I also run marathons.  When I am willing to endure the hurt, I am willing.

Can you compare the pain of running to the pain of childbirth - a post for another day?

So at 36 weeks pregnant, we made the commitment to this whole natural child birth thing including staying at home during labor as long as possible.  And at 36 weeks pregnant we switched to a midwife, a hospital that seemed more natural childbirth friendly, and embarked on a journey to find a doula. I knew we needed a doula. Bradley is all about husband based coaching, which is totally awesome, except for the fact that neither my husband nor myself had ever been through a birth before and it seemed like a coach should be someone with some type of experience. Luckily I found quite an amazing lady.

This is actually like 37/38 weeks but its what I got so we are going with it.

The Run Down on Doulas (from my experience)
(1)  They can be really pricey like over $1000.  You can find a more reasonable one by using a student  or a newly licensed doula; the downside to this is they have no lived experience.  Our doula was a student but had many years experienced and was actually reasonably priced.  But we had to search through some "bad eggs" to find her including one who did not believe in getting any type of vaccinations ever (sorry but you are not coming into my birthing room).

(2)  They are there for you and your partner and that can be whatever that means to you both.  They come and meet with you once or twice prior to labor and discuss your birthing plan and how they can help you accomplish that. Maybe your partner is out of town, they can be the person to stand in for him or her.  Maybe your partner needs a break during labor (it can be long), they can provide that.  Maybe you both need some coaching, they are good at that too.

(3)  They are on call for you 24/7 for the two weeks leading up (it might be more like four) to your due date and after if you have not given birth yet.  You can text, email, call, whenever for whatever. They are not doctors, although some are midwives, but they can answer your questions and help you determine what to do.  When I thought I was in labor, I texted my doula and we were in constant communication.  She knew right away that this was the "real thing" and told me what to do and that she would be there soon.

The morning I knew things were going to happen, I made Aaron snap a quick photo.  Yes this was after my 40 minute elliptical workout - just a little warm up jog before the marathon.

(4)  They are there throughout your labor.  I wanted to labor in the comfort of my own home.  If you want the doula to come to your home, she will.  If you do not, she can meet you at the hospital.    I was like "GET THIS DOULA OVER HERE NOW."  While I look to Aaron for comfort and support in every area of my life, for some reason while giving birth, the doula was the one who I needed.  Do not get me wrong, Aaron helped a ton!  But Leanne, my doula, new exactly how to touch my back to lessen the pain of back labor; when to tell me that it was time to pee, again; to make sure I was drinking; and finally when to go to the hospital. As an aside, Lee is named after my mother who passed away over a year ago, but when I met Leanne, it just felt so right that her name was also my mother's name, Lee Ann.

Notice the lack of picture - yea this was not a photo kind of event

(5) When you are at the hospital the doula may be really engaged or a bit more mellow.  I literally was hanging on to my doula as we entered the hospital.  Aaron had to park the car so she was with me.  She helped me change and go to the bathroom and was there for comfort.  At which point, my midwife began to run the show.  My doula took her cues from my midwife. I think she could sense that I needed the midwife at that point, but she was still a huge help in all the work we had left to do.  And of course in the end took photos for us!  How I do not have one with her is beyond me.

I have no clue how people have perfect pictures right after birth.  Who is going to have makeup on and look great after having a baby.

(6)  She does a postpartum visit  the purpose of which is to check in and see how you are doing and if all is going well.  Honestly, I loved this because this woman was awesome. I was like "can we please be friends in real life, you rock."  

(7)  What I loved about my doula was she was also a personal trainer, specifically, working with postpartum women and had awesome deals for her doula services and postpartum services.

Ultimately, I think everyone can benefit from having a doula.  I never thought I would be saying this but they make the world of difference whether you are planning a natural child birth, a vaginal birth, or a cesarian.  They are someone who knows the drill, can get you through the tough moments, and be a shoulder to lean on.  To me, they are essential!!

I realize this blog post is long enough.  I have more to say on what to look for in a doula, if people are interested I am happy to write more, if not we will leave it at that.

Ending with this because why not

Did you have a doula? Do you have anything to add?  Do you want to hear about Bradley classes and tips on finding a doula?

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