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  1. #1

    Did you have a doula at your birth?

    Ok, so I know I am only in the first trimester but I have already been thinking about the birth and how I would love it to be a positive, enriching experience. I've been wondering about using a doula. I would still have my husband with me at all times but I like the idea of an experienced, supportive woman being there too. I would particularly like a doula who could help me with relaxation and breathing techniques. I'm also thinking about taking a hypnobirthing course - I would like to combine these (i.e. use a doula who I have studied hypnobirthing with).

    I asked my friend who is training to be a midwife about hypnobirthing and also doulas. She said hypnobirthing is great for shortening labours and minimising interventions - particularly if you have experienced a previous traumatic birth. She said that ideally women wouldn't need a doula as the midwife would act in this role. However, it does depend on your midwife and many women find a doula who they know useful at the birth.

    What do you think? Have you used a doula at the birth of your child? Would you recommend this?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Hi Laura-Jane,

    I'd definitely consider having a doula. I've had 5 homebirths and had my main midwife attend each birth, BUT I also had my Sister-In-Law, Debbie there to assist me. She was a lay midwife at the time and had attended a few births.

    She acted as a Doula for me. She was actually the first person I called when I had an inkling that I might be going into labour. I suppose I didn't want to disturb my midwife until I knew I was definitely in labour. Even then Debbie would come to me and assess the situation. She could even do a vaginal check to see how much I was effaced and dilated. Once she had a good sense of what was happening, then she called the midwife for me and gave her an update.

    Often times my midwife was busy, either with another birth, or doing prenatals, or something else, so Debbie would come to me, offer suggestions for helping labour progress, and giving counter pressure on my back if baby was posterior and I had back labour.

    This is how it went with my first baby.

    Early morning (around 7AM) I lost my mucus plug (mind you I had been walking around at 80% effaced and 2 cm for about 3 weeks so I'm surprised I didn't lose any of it before the day I went into labour).

    I called Debbie and she said there was a possibility I might go into labour that day (3 days before my due date) and she suggested that I take it easy and rest "just in case". I think I decided to bake cookies that morning.

    Around 3PM I laid down to take a rest, and all of a sudden I noticed that I could time "something". They definitely didn't feel like the way I thought contractions would feel, but I was able to time them. I timed a few of them and they were sporadic, but regular. So I called Debbie again to let her know what was going on. I'm not sure when she called my midwife, but possibly at that time, just to give her a heads up that "something" might be starting for me.

    My husband arriving home at around 5:30 that evening and the contractions continued, just as they had been.

    By 10PM they were definitely picking up in intensity and I called Debbie again to let her know. She asked if I wanted her to come over, and I said "yes". So she came to our home, checked me, and things were progressing. She probably called my midwife to her ger an update at that point. My husband slept on the couch while Debbie rested in the bed next to me. Around 2AM I felt nauseous and went to the lu to throw up. Back to bed, and the Debbie went to the bathroom. When she came out, she told me that she had seen blood on the floor and asked if I wanted to be checked again.

    The blood was bloody show which was indicative of labour picking up (and the vomiting went right along with labour intensifying).

    4AM and I was now in active labour, with a posterior baby. Debbie called my midwife and asked her to come.

    5AM the midwife arrived, checked me, and turned my baby into an anterior position. I immediately went from 4cm to 6cm, simply due to baby's head being positioned better on my cervix.

    At that point I got into the warm bathtub and laboured there for about 4 hours.

    At 9AM they had me get out of the bath and sit on the lu. Baby's heart tones were a bit concerning and they wanted to see if changing my position from reclining (in the bathtub) to squatting would help her come more quickly.

    We moved to the living room, and then I had my husband support me on one side, and Debbie on the other. This is how I birthed my baby and I was so thankful to have someone support me on either side while my midwife worked to help me bring the baby down and out (I ended up needing an episiotomy so the midwife could get her hands inside to help bring baby out - thus avoiding a transfer to the hospital and likely C-Section).

    When baby was born, the midwife attended to me, while Debbie attended to the baby.

    So for me, having Debbie there, who acted in a Doula capacity was incredibly helpful and I made sure she attended all 5 of my births. She was soft spoken, and very attentive, a real jewel!

    With my 2nd baby we had moved about an hour away from Debbie and the midwife, so they both ended up arriving at about the same time. But, again, I called Debbie first when I thought something might be happening and she did some coaching over the phone.

    With every baby, Debbie was my anchor and my biggest support. The midwife was wonderful and brought the skill and experience needed, but Debbie was there for me more than the midwife was, and I appreciated that so much. Debbie also came to our home after each baby was born to check on me and baby. Oh - and she attended some of my final prenatal appointments with me so she had a good sense of what was happening going into the final days before labour.

    I also have a friend who used a Doula and their Doula was very, very helpful to them as well. I think you're definitley on the right track and I hope you find a Doula who you can rely on as I relied on my Sister-In-Law.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

  3. #3
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    Hi Laura-Jane, I had a doula at 2 of my 3 births and then went on to complete the training to be one myself. I definitely recommend the use of one! Not only did I benefit immensely from having my doula there, but my husband did also. I also completed the hypnobirthing course and found it really useful also. A doula won't replace your partner, or do what the midwives do but will be a constant support to you throughout your labour and birth and do all of those little bits and pieces that make labour so much more comfortable for you

  4. #4
    Thank you both for your comments and experience. I am now starting to look at the available doulas in my area!

    Thank you so much Kate for sharing the story of your first child's birth. It sounds like your doula was a wonderful support - how lucky you are to have such a lady as a sister-in-law! I would like a doula like Debbie - who provides support but respects your birth wishes. Who is a rock during the birth but doesn't take over. It must have made you feel in control too - what a gift! Thank you again.

    LJ

  5. #5
    Laura-Jane, Debbie is a very special woman and now works as a Doula. After raising her children she has gone back to school to become a midwife.

    I hope you're able to find someone as special as her as well. I've never heard a story of someone who used a Doula and didn't have a good experience. I'm guessing that if there's a woman who wants to become a Doula, she probably is very intuitive, supportive, and loves helping women bring their babies into the world (very similar to midwives in this regard).

    My sister-in-law is located in the East Bay Area in California, but I know that Briony's a Doula in Australia (see post above) for anyone in her area.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

  6. #6
    Thank you.

    Yes - I guess doulas must love what they do and feel they want to help support women through childbirth. Such an important role!

    I think am going to meet with a couple of doulas in my area and talk through my experiences and hopes and see how they feel we could work together during the birth.

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
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    i had a doula for my 8th birth. for my previous 7 labours i had only my hubby for support & bless him, he was a bit lost. i had 4 outcomes we hadn't planned on. after recounting my birth experiences, i decided that lack of support in labour was a major issue for me. i came across a fabulous doula for my 8th bub & she helped enable me to have a vaginal birth after 4 c/sections. if i'd used a doula for some of my earlier births i truly believe i could have avoided my c/sections.

  8. #8
    Dear gez15673 - thank you very much for sharing your birth experiences with me - that's really encouraging to hear about your doula. LJ

  9. #9
    Hi,

    Just an update on this. I have found a Hypnobirthing course which I am going to book onto as it looks excellent. The lady who runs the course is also a doula and she sounds like a great support (plus I like her 'birthing philosophy' if I can call it that). The only problem is she lives an hour away from me. So I have 2 choices: I could either book this lady as my doula (and do the Hypnobirthing course with her) or just do this Hypnobirthing course and book another (nearer) doula - but she won't be specially trained in Hypnobirthing.

    What do you think? I know second births are generally quicker than first births - and I really hope this is the case for me. Do you think an hour is enough time for the doula to get to me?

    Many thanks in advance,

    LJ

  10. #10
    Hi Laura-Jane,

    I think an hour and a half is plenty of time for your doula to get to you.

    With my first 3 births, my midwife was an hour away, and with my last two, my midwife was 2 hours away. My sister-in-law (doula) was an hour away from all of my births.

    I am willing to travel an hour for prenatal visits and when it comes to the actual birth, I always have plenty of notice - if I have bloody show, I let my midwife know - put her on "standby", if I lose part of my mucus plug, I let her know. If I am having a lot of braxton hicks, I let her know and if I'm having prodromal labour, I let her know. There was one time when I called her and her assistant out to the house because I thought I might be in labour. False alarm.

    I have a dear friend who used a midwife that was 2 hours away, with her 7th baby, and she was 44 years old at that time. She called the midwife out 3 times - all false alarms. On the fourth call, the midwife came out in plenty of time.

    The nice thing about having a doula is that you can call her when you think you might be in early labour, and even if it takes her an hour and a half to get there, you'll still have plenty of time for her to help you through labour and birth. The majority of babies don't come that fast. But some do. I remember being told that my mum had fast labours, and when she went to the hospital to give birth to her second child, she stopped to chat with the nurse, and the doctor came out and said, "Don't talk to her - get her in the delivery room because she goes quick!" And as soon as they got her in, she delivered.

    If your baby comes that fast, you won't really need your doula anyway - you'll just have a lovely baby in your arms in maybe 2 hours time My first labour was 19 hours, from the time I felt my first contraction. My 2nd birth was 11 1/2 hours from the time I felt the first contraction. My 3rd birth was 9 hours from the start of contractions that woke me up (had had 3 days of prodromal labour before that) 4th birth was 11 hours from the start of regular contractions, and the 5th was 7 hours from the start of stronger contractions that kept me from going to sleep. I had had 2 weeks of fairly strong braxton hicks with her. She was overdue and I kept asking my husband to make love because the semen acts as a prostaglandin on the cervix, and it had worked well to get labour started in other pregnancies. But he declined each time I asked, saying that he wanted me to go into labour on "Labour Day" (in the USA). Well the day before Labour Day he finally said, "yes", and I went into labour that night and definitely did most of my labouring on "Labour Day", giving birth to a precious 7 1/2 pound baby girl in the water. I'm sure all of those fairly strong braxton hicks helped to prepare my body (plus regular Chiropractic visits at the end to help baby be in good position for birth). But I sure wish my husband had said "yes" earlier because I may have been ready to "go" earlier.

    How long was your first labour?

    Here's a great video showing a mum in labour only 20 minutes before birth, during transition. She is using hypnobirthing, and you can see her midwife or doula coaching her through the pressure waves.



    Here's a video showing how hypnobirthing makes the pain/pressure much more bearable. This is at the very end, where mom is pushing. This video is dark and it's a little hard to see in places, but what I like about this is how you see a very normal, natural waterbirth. At one point you'll hear the midwife say that babies born in the water take a little longer to breath on their own (I didn't know that even though I had 2 waterbirths).



    Warm regards,

    Kate

  11. #11
    Hi Kate,

    Thank you so much for your super response! This is so helpful.

    That's interesting to know the distances away your midwife and doula was for your births. My first labour was 31 hours from the first painful contraction with 13 hours of active labour (from 4/5cm dilated). It is because of the length, intensity and trauma of this labour that I want to go down the hypnobirthing and doula route with my next baby.

    The videos you posted are very inspiring - I really hope I can feel in control during my labour like these ladies evidently were. I've been thinking a lot how I want this birth to be and I would like to feel empowered whilst being fully supported and in control of my body and what is going on.

    Many thanks again,

    LJ

  12. #12
    Laura-Jane,


    I think this birth experience will be much better for you. You are being so proactive in making the best choices this time around (according to new things you have learned). Did you do any of the following before and during your first birth?

    - Have Chiropractic or Cranio-Sacral Adjustments in the last month before birth.
    - Have acupuncture or acupressure treatments in the last month before birth.
    - Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea at least 3 times a day in the last month before birth.
    - Have a midwife who gave you suggestions for positions to labour in.
    - Labour in the water

    I'm curious as to what you did last time, that you want to change this time.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

  13. #13
    I am a doula and I've had births both with doulas and without. I have to say my doula births were the most positive. I did know more about what I wanted at that time, which helped, but I don't think I would ever plan to give birth again without my doula being present.

    For the record with my first birth, I was in labor for twelve hours with four hours of pushing. With my last, labor and midwife attended doula I had no painful contractions until 6+ centimeters. I was not even sure I was in labor. Once I did start to feel anything remotely painful it was mild and about three hours from start to finish. It was two pushes and a beautiful baby girl, who was two pounds larger than the first.

  14. #14
    I hope my labour is like your last labour mom2many - sounds very positive.

    Thanks for your reply Kate. I did use a pool for some of my labour with my first, but had to get out during the pushing stage as the midwives said it was going too slowly. I didn't really feel I had much coaching from the midwives in terms of positions or breathing techniques. No I didn't try Raspberry leaf tea, acupuncture or chiropractic adjustments with my last pregnancy. It turned out my baby was almost in a posterior position - another reason why I think this labour was difficult.

    Thank you both for your support,

    LJ

  15. #15
    I'd agree that baby's position probably played a big part in why the labour was so long and difficult. When baby's head is positioned properly on the cervix, it helps it to dilate faster and everything just works that much more efficiently.

    Here's a great little animation that shows how baby should be positioned in the womb, and how his head should be positioned on the cervix for better effacement/dilation.



    I've had two midwives, and my second one (who caught my last 2 babies) was much more pro-active about labouring in different positions in order to help baby get into the best position. I even attended the birth of a friend who had the same midwife, and when I walked in, she was doing lunges and then they had her on her hands and knees with a sack of frozen vegetables on her back, to try to get baby to move into a better position.

    Red Raspberry Leaf tea will help with preparing your uterus for more effective contractions if you start drinking that during your last trimester (or even the last month) and chiropractic adjustments will definitely help with getting baby into a good position, along with helping you, structurally, so you have less aches and pains in the last month of pregnancy.

    Seems you'll have lots of good things going for you this time around - I actually seemed to do much more in the way of preparing for birth with my last 2 babies (thanks to a change in midwives) and had the best births with them (as compared to the first three with the other midwife). I had the same "doula" (my sister-in-law) with all 5, but it was the midwife who made the difference for me. In your case, it might be the doula that makes the difference for you if she is good at taking control and suggesting different positions to labour in, etc.

    Wishing you all the best with this new little one you're expecting!

    Kate

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