I didn’t have a doula with H, and I truly wish I had. I had no idea how invaluable one could be to my overall birth experience. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the long list of pre-baby to-do’s and frankly was so invested in worrying about our baby that I didn’t think much about myself. When I mention that I’ll have a doula during labor this time, most people are genuinely curious as to why I’ve made the decision given that I’ve been through the process before.
Well, it’s exactly for that reason.
I’ve been through the process before and am more aware of what I truly want from a birth experience. Not to say that my experience with H wasn’t a good one, but it wasn’t quite what I envisioned… and I’m taking steps this time around to have a labor and delivery that’s a bit more about my preferences. It also doesn’t hurt that from the very first conversation I had with Alison from Frederick Moms and Doulas, I knew that she was someone I wanted alongside me – and someone I’d want to hang out and drink a glass of wine with when this is all said and done.
I didn’t really have a ‘birth plan’ per say with H. I heard time and time again not to get your mind too set on a plan, because plans change. Instead, I mentioned a few key things I wanted to my OB but never created an official document. I told her I didn’t want constant fetal monitoring, nor did I want IV fluids unless they were needed. You see, once I have an IV in me, I’m one of those people who feels they can’t move that arm freely – not to mention my entire body. However, in the moment, I didn’t think to question it when the nurse hooked me up to IV fluids almost immediately after checking in. And no one else thought to ask either. You just assume they have your best interest in mind. The hospital I delivered at had some old-school rules where they don’t allow any liquids (not even ice chips) during labor. So they really pushed those fluid IV’s (unnecessarily, in my case). Logan snuck me (which is just crazy to say) sips of Gatorade we had packed just to keep me going and my mouth from completely drying out. Honestly, I didn’t think much of the whole thing at the time.
I will actually deliver this baby at a different hospital. My OB switched practices, which is great because both her office and the hospital are also closer to home. I know that I will be allowed clear liquids, jello, popsicles, etc if needed. I was also probably a bit overly nervous/anxious and immediately called my doctor and was sent to the hospital for monitoring. This time around, I’ll know to hang out a bit longer at home and wait for things to really pick up before leaving. Being closer to the hospital will help with that aspect, as well. I was in labor for 23 hours total with H, and probably spent about 18 of those hours at the hospital. However, I also know I won’t necessarily be in the mental state to think all the timing through – and Logan will do whatever it is I’d like in the moment…
Which brings me to why I really wanted a doula this time around…
I had hoped for an unmedicated birth with H. Yes, no epidural. And yes, I know there is no medal for laboring without meds. Whether you labor with or without meds, have a cesarean, or a home birth – your experience is no better or worse in my opinion. Simply put, I have always been hesitant to take pain medications – even after major surgeries. I was also the kid who totally wanted to grow up to be the “doctor who delivered babies”. Clearly, my career path took a different turn, but I’ve never lost my fascination for the human body and just what it’s capable of – especially during pregnancy/childbirth. All that being said – the birthing process doesn’t scare me. I truly think it’s a really cool process. Painful, but cool. I like to think I have a fairly decent pain tolerance. I labored the majority of my labor med-free with H. However, at 9+ centimeters, I asked for the epidural. Honestly, I was probably in transition, but not thinking clearly about what I had learned in birth class. After I asked for it, no one in the room with me asked “are you sure?” or offered another coping method (and I was pretty happy to not get out of the bed at that point). The nurses were helpful, but were not there to be my birth coach. It’s also one thing for you and your husband to practice all those coping methods during birth class, but a whole other thing to remember and actually do them when the time comes. Plus, I’m pretty sure Logan seeing me in that much pain was enough to ensure that the anesthesiologist was on his way ASAP.
I have discussed this in detail with my doula, and strongly believe with her support – and her helping Logan and I resort to coping methods first, I *may* be able to avoid the epidural again. Honestly, I hated the feeling of being numb and not in control of my body. However, I didn’t mind that I was able to take a nap during active labor. Pluses and minuses to everything!
So back to the birth plan…
Apparently I didn’t realize there was a plan for after birth. Alison recently asked me questions like “do you want baby with you immediately after?” Umm… yes? I wanted H with me after as well. However, I think she was laid on my chest for maybe a minute before they whisked her away for testing. We’ll put this in my birth plan, and assuming smooth delivery, I should be able to have baby boy with me for about an hour before they do any testing. I didn’t even know this was an option, or something I could/should advocate for. It’s crazy what you don’t know until you know – or when someone asks you about personal preferences (versus medical decisions).
I’m hoping that with the combined support of my hubs and doula, I will be able to have an experience that is much more about me and what I want/need. I feel I lost a bit of that with H, and it saddens me from time to time. BUT, then I remember that she is here, is perfectly healthy, and at the end of that day that was the outcome I hoped for. Whether it was about me, not about me, with pain meds, or no pain meds – everyone is here and healthy. In the end, we all want the same thing – a safe experience and healthy baby. However you get there is your choice. Hopefully you have a support team that supports YOU and YOUR choices.
Have any of you had a doula before? I’d love to hear how it went. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have if you are considering one. Especially in about 3-4ish weeks 😉