Updated: Jan 10
If you’ve been following along a while, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about what doulas are.. that they support women in birth, that they provide emotional, physical, and informational support...
But instead of rehashing the formal definition of the word, here’s what a doula looks like in action (PART 1)
‘Contractions have started. They’re beginning to grow in intensity. They’re closer together and are harder to breathe through. They’re harder to manage and your beginning to fully rely on your partner for support. As things intensify, you know it’s time to call the doula and head to the hospital. The doula meets your family there as your checking in.
She helps you breathe through the contractions and make it through the check in process. She sends your partner to take a quick break and grab some coffee and promises to stay with you. Once your checked in, she helps you get settled into the room. She dims the bright sterile lights and transforms your room into a sanctuary you feel more comfortable in. She hangs birth affirmations. She puts some fake candles around the room. She organizes the bags so everything is easily in reach while the partner is busy supporting you. She starts up the calming playlist you’ve selected to play during labor and asks if it’s okay to massage your lower back.
You agree gratefully, as ur back labor has been pretty intense and you’re eager for some relief. She rubs your back with some diluted essential oils. The scent and counter pressure gives you something to focus on during the peak of the contractions. Your partner is holding your hands and helping you breathe. Soon the contractions become harder to handle.
The doula suggests using the shower to help manage the intensity. She starts the water and turns it to the correct temperature. She helps you to the shower and shows your partner a good place to apply some counter pressure and massage on her lower back. As you transition through the most intense part of labor, you exclaim that you cannot do this...
The doula knows you’ve reached your wall and that your tired and have nothing left to give. She’s seen it and she knows that this is the precipice. The moment that truly transforms you into a new mother. This is a labor of love, and she reminds you that you will meet the love of your life very very soon. She affirms how well you’re doing, and counters your “I can’t do it” with you ARE doing it, and doing it beautifully.” She reminds you to breathe. She encourages your partner to support your weight as you lean into him, letting gravity help your baby rotate down into the birth canal.
A nurse enters the room and introduces herself and begins to fidget with the monitor and expresses concern that it keeps getting bumped off. Your frustration shows as you’re forced to move into an uncomfortable position in order to keep it perfectly in place. Despite your efforts, nothing is keeping it steady, as the contractions take over, your body is in full birthing mode.
The doula senses this. She waits for the surge to pass and gets down in front of you, eye to eye. She says, “if you want, we can ask if the nurse will monitor baby intermittently every 15 minutes or so instead of having this uncomfortable monitor on constantly. You have no drugs in your system, baby’s doing well, and it seems this is messing with your groove.” You nod, you didn’t know you could ask this. You turn to the nurse and request to monitor the baby intermittently instead. Soon, the monitor is off and you are free to roam as you please.
Before you know it, you feel an urge to use the bathroom. You need to push. A cervical check by the nurse confirms you are fully dilated and can proceed. A million people rush in. They ask you to lay on the bed. But don’t want to move, your position feels perfect and moving seems impossible. With your doula and partner by your side, you advocate to stay in your upright position. After some back and forth, the OBs agree. Instead of being directed to push for 10 seconds straight, you listen to your body.
You push when you body tells you to push. You move with the contractions. Your doula supports you from one side while your partner supports the other. You feel safe. Confident and empowered with this safety net of support. Despite the chaos in the room, you focus and in just a few pushes, your baby arrives.
He’s finally here. Safe and sound.
You shuffle to the bed, and lie down. They place him on your chest. The cord still bringing nutrients and blood from the placenta. But you’re still contracting. Confused, you turn to the doula. She looks at you with reassuring eyes and reminds you that have to push out the placenta and that everything is fine and normal and will be over soon. She holds your hand as the life-giving organ is delivered, and praises you when it’s over. She stays until the Dr. finishes checking you for any physical trauma and helps as breastfeeding is established.
After tending to any other needs, she smiles, gathers her things, and leaves the family to bond and enjoy their new baby. After promising a postpartum visit within the week, she shuts their door and makes her way out of the hospital and to her car, feeling honored and overjoyed to have supported this family the whole way home. '
This fictional 3 art short story was a realistic depiction of how a doula could potentially support a birth. The positivity and encouragement and pure motherly support a doula offers a birthing person and their whole family is just such an amazing asset. It’s the reason I fell in love with this work.
Birth CAN be like this. And it can bring so much empowerment and realness and beauty with it. It all starts with support💗💪🏻