25 February 2012

The Doula Experience

A few years back I had a good friend who used a doula at her birth.  She raved on & on about her doula & the experience, so when I was pregnant, I started checking out this whole doula thing.  Here's some FAQ that I get-- keep in mind, this is based off of my experience, and each doula is different to some degree.

What is a doula, anyway?
In ancient greek, doula means 'female slave.'  In today's world it means a non-medical support for the mother & family.  'Mothering the mother' is a phrase I hear often to describe it.  Basically, back in the day 100+ years ago, women knew all about childbirth, so they helped each other through it.  But today?  Not so much.  Even going through it myself I don't know enough about the ins & outs to help someone else through their labor.  So that's where a doula comes in... she's a support to the mother in labor & the entire family.

I have a husband... I don't want him to feel replaced.
It's exactly the opposite!  Josh & I were both thankful that our doula, Peggy, was there.  Before she got there, Josh would try to talk to me through contractions, which is the exact opposite of what I wanted.  Because of her skilled knowledge, Peggy was able to guide him to help me through contractions.  So instead of wanting to kill Josh, she taught us how to work together through labor.  She also did a lot of the back rubbing, etc.  While she was rubbing my back, I could look into Josh's eyes, which made me feel better.  And finally, when Josh was exhausted or needed to leave the room for a bit, he could take a break without feeling guilty because he knew I still had a great support there to help me through everything.  Otherwise I would have made him stay by my bed the whole time & it would have worn both of us out much quicker.

So she's just like a cheerleader for labor?
Yes, but there's so much more, too!  One of my biggest fears in labor was that the medical staff would push me into doing interventions that I wasn't comfortable with.  Problem was, I didn't have the slightest clue what goes on in a hospital or delivery room, so it was hard to do my research.  Peggy is at births all the time so she knows the lingo, what goes on, and is trained in knowing how to avoid unnecessary medical interventions.  So when our nurse would suggest something to me & I was clueless or wanted a 2nd opinion, I could ask the nurse to leave the room while we Josh & I discussed it.  More often than not, we'd look straight at Peggy & say, "What do you think?"  :)

How to pick a doula.
I emailed several doulas in the area to interview them.  I had a few criteria for how I wanted to choose.  I wanted it to be someone I generally liked-- someone that I could imagine hanging out with during childbirth.  I have to admit, I was also going for a certain 'look.'  I didn't want a sweet old lady type- I wanted someone younger and with a lot of character.  Someone who also had a strong personality-- Josh & I both have strong personalities & we needed someone who was kind, but that knew how to work with two strong personalities.  We got very lucky because the first person we met with was a perfect combination of all of those things!  Walking into the meeting we weren't even entirely sure if we were going to hire a doula, but by the time we got back in the car, Josh said, "So can we go ahead and pay her in full now?
The awesome thing about a doula is you have a choice.  Pick someone that you feel 100% comfortable with.  Some other fabulous traits Peggy had: she would never insert her opinion.  Her input was always based off of medical knowledge mixed with what she knew we believed.  There are many things I wonder her opinion on, but I'm thankful she put her views aside so that we always felt 100% comfortable.
Trust is also a big factor.  From the very first meeting we trusted her with anything and everything.  I knew she did her research, and if I asked her opinion on something, I didn't need to go do my own research behind her back.  I trusted her.

If you live in the Hampton Roads area, then I highly suggest using Peggy Caister as your doula.  She was absolutely amazing & helpful beyond belief.  She made my birth experience wonderful & I cringe to think of what it may have been like without her there.  It terrifies me to think about, honestly!

But most of all, find someone you are comfortable with!

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