Before I became pregnant I had never heard the word “doula,” but once I was expecting I was frequently asked if I’d be hiring one.
DOULA: a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born. (Thanks, Google)
My friends with kids sung the praises of the doulas they had and touted the amazing support they provided during labor and birth. Having another person in the room during labor? Taking the opportunity away from my husband to step up and meet all my needs while I was laboring? No, thank you! No doula for me.
After talking with some mom friends about their labor and birth experiences, we found ourselves sitting in a circle on a pile of cushions surrounded by hanging wall tapestries in a San Diego Hypnobirthing class. My husband and I had some concerns about the timing of when the baby would come and if he’d have to be away for work. Turns out, the solution was having a doula. Through San Diego Hypnobirthing we met Elizabeth of Bellies to Babies and it was a match made in birthing heaven. Instant peace of mind set in.
At our first meeting Elizabeth explained her role as a doula. She would be providing emotional (would I really need it? Yes!) and physical (can’t my husband do that? No, not alone if it’s going to be effective and he needs breaks too) support through labor and birth. In my mind, I had convinced myself my labor would be short, and since my pregnancy was uneventful, all would go smooth for the birth too. Well, we ended up facing some challenges. Having Elizabeth present kept us calm, relaxed and ready to take on each new obstacle as it arose. She provided all sorts of tricks and tips to make the “surges” less “intense” which kept my labor relaxed and calm for as long as possible. Once our baby made it out, Elizabeth provided help with breastfeeding, and in our postpartum visit she gave some solid advice for how to deal with the breastfeeding struggles that came up in the first few weeks.
As someone who was in the “no doula for me” camp, I am a complete convert and now one of those moms that sing doula praises. My husband agrees that without Elizabeth on our team, we wouldn’t have been able to have the type of birth we were hoping for. And we just love her sweet southern accent. She feels more like a friend now than anything else. A true friend who has seen me at my worst and loved me through it all.
So what’s the deal with a doula? A woman who dedicates herself to helping women in labor so they can experience more comfort and peace of mind is priceless during one of the most physically and mentally challenging experiences of life. A doula is the real deal and I’m forever thankful Elizabeth was ours.