on having a doula

Once a week for the past eight weeks I’ve been awoken at 3:30am.
It’s the sound of the street sweeper, onerous and disruptive, passing by.

I’m delighted to hear it.

The sound of the truck passing reminds me of time spent in labour anticipating the arrival of my newborn baby.

Leading up to the introduction of my local street sweeper I had sought out a doula to be by my side those 2 months ago. I have known since I welcomed my first baby I was going to have a doula, a midwife, or a highly bribed labor & delivery nurse should I ever birth another child.

With our firstborn and twenty hours in to an induced labour, my husband and I felt lost as our nurses began to fight over whether I should be pushing.  Four additional hours of hard pushing later, my body was exhausted and my baby was still “stuck”.  The medical team went MIA as they called for a caesarian only to discover the OR was still booked.  My husband, my constant support, was fuming.  We gradually regrouped and he helped me funnel my discouragement into enough energy that our son was finally born with the aid of a funny looking bicycle horn called a vacuum. I hadn’t had a vision of an ideal birth, but I knew something had gone awry. When I inquired how many stitches I had, my doctor replied something in the manner of how easy it was to lose count.   The nurse who gave me a peri bottle used the word ‘balloon’ to describe a small area that should fit between my legs.  “Hmm, Epsom salts and stool softener twice a day”, the nurse who discharged us said with congratulations.

I booked my six-week checkup for a week later.

I’ve hung on to these vivid memories ever since.

Pregnancy is a vulnerable time to ask someone to help find what makes you comfortable and guide you through labour, delivery and post partum. Trust me, it pays off.  If you ask mothers why they chose their specific doula, they will likely say something just “clicked”. For me, I sought out a doula who could be my emotional but also objective support in labour.  I wanted a confident handholder, knowledgable resource for comfort measures and coach.  Adding in personal characteristics such as a willingness to be a teammate with my husband, a listening ear with a dash of an analytical head shrink, a great masseuse, a baker who could lend me a cup of sugar and also a woman of faith to thank God for my baby when I met him or her, I met Wanda.

What my doula brought to the table, figuratively, was a game board with all the options lain out, appreciation for the birth process, consistent care and a vote of confidence.  We discussed the fears of labour as well as any expectations before, during and after the birth I had.  We met, emailed and called several times before the birth. She reviewed my birth plan and helped me stick with it. My doula kept me informed with current literature, standard procedures and also facilitated options presented to me during labour.  She also willingly answered my call to attend my bedside as I laboured through the night.

Literally, she brought me a cup of sugar for baking banana bread at midnight while she timed my contractions. A bag of tricks to keep me comfortable from labour to delivery and a notebook were her trusty companions. After the birth she brought me a letter to my newborn that recalls the story of his birth.  Details that I will always cherish.

As my thoughts drift me back to sleep each week I have often found I rest on the support offered to me labouring through the early hours of that particular night.  There’s a heat pack around my middle, TENS machine patches on my back, a soft pat on my arm that reassures me I can relax and kind congratulatory words of confidence, so calm and soothing.

There’s nothing left to process, there’s no “what if”.  I listen to the loud whirring of the street sweeper and feel the vibration come and go like a contraction and then return around the block to pass by once again.  I hear the rise and fall of my newborn baby’s breath. I might not awake refreshed in the morning after this weekly ritual or the sleeping pattern of my newborn. I wake up grateful for the reminder the passing street sweeper brings me of my recent transition of pregnancy to mother of two. Any mental block or fear I had about labour vanished with my recent delivery. Having a doula somehow both prepares and helps a mother’s mind heal and rest from the process of birth. She sweeps away puddles of self doubt, tidies up where you can’t and offers a clean path (and a good night’s sleep).   Street sweepers optional.

Local doula resources:

Nova Scotia Doula Association
Chebucto Family Center Volunteer Program
Drop-in breastfeeding support clinic at Nurtured led by doula, Jen Hammond

(My personal thanks belongs to Graceful Beginnings!)

2 thoughts on “on having a doula

  1. Jeff

    Doulas are also great for husbands and kids. Knowing that ours (who was FANTASTIC) was in the room with my wife, I was free to head to the waiting room to update curious friends and family, to grab a quick bite to eat, or to use the washroom knowing that someone was always there for her. Taking little breaks here and there was great too, because it was just me with our son after the birth since my wife was a bit loopy and unable to hold him after an emergency c-section. We can’t wait for our number two to come along and we will be asking our doula to join us again.

    1. Jolyn Post author

      My husband would agree! Thanks for the comment! Many wishes for a healthy and happy birth for your next baby!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *