Thursday, February 9, 2012

And so...I hired a Doula

Don't know what a Doula is? Doula is Greek for "a woman who serves." Doulas these days provide a support system to mothers during pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. She provides physical comforts, emotional support, and much more to the birthing mother.

And so you may be thinking that a husband, mother, or other partner could do all that. After all, there are birth classes, correct? Doulas are trained professionals. They know things your mother can't remember. They understand things your husband cannot possibly in a million years understand. They have the experience of being a part of the birthing process.

But I've done this before, so why the Doula this time?

I can't remember if I ever actually shared my labor story here. And I won't now. I'll just give some quick highlight.
  • I was induced at just under 41 weeks. I went in at midnight and was given a cervical insert to get things going. I was 70% effaced and only 1 cm dilated. Baby had not dropped a bit. 
  • By around 12 noon, I was only 2 cm dilated, but my contractions were such that they were holding off on pitocin. 
  • The nurse continually asked me if I wanted an epidural consult even though my birth plan explicitly said, no epidural. 
  • By around 2, they said the contractions had backed off. Still at a 2. They would start Pitocin. Clint pushed me to get the epidural. The nurse pushed me. I asked, "Could I still be doing this in the morning?" The nurse replied "Yes." I succumbed to the pressure and received an epidural. After all, when you're induced, all moving around the room options are stripped from you. You're stuck in the bed hooked up to monitors. 
  • Around 3, they started the Pitocin. I didn't feel a thing for about 4.5 hours. 
  • Around 8 pm, the pain started. Bone crushing pain. They upped the Epidural. To no avail. And so, they stopped it. 
  • At around 10:15 to 10:30, I felt the need to push. Apparently, my doctor had decided to go home. She lived 30 minutes away. Another doctor came in. 
  • I delivered Ethan at 11:41. They had to use a vacuum to get him out because his heartbeat was erratic. I was on oxygen.
  • My birth plan also stated I wanted instant skin-to-skin contact. And I wanted it before the Vitamin K shot or the eye gel. Guess what? They didn't abide by that. I vaguely remember them questioning me, but I was so out of it, I went along.
  • I received a shot in my leg immediately. Turns out I was bleeding out because my uterus was not contracting. I then got sick several times and had no idea why. An hour later, they told me it was a side effect of the shot. 
  • I tried to feed Ethan. He wouldn't latch. 
  • The next day, I tried to feed Ethan all day, to no avail. He wouldn't latch; he was very sleepy.
  • He became jaundiced and got sent home with a biliblanket.
What went wrong?
  • Side effects of Pitocin include heavy or continued bleeding after birth. 
  • For the fetus, Pitocin can cause irregular heartbeat and jaundice.
  • Epidural may cause the uterus to relax and not contract properly....causing hemorrhaging.
  • Epidural can cause baby's heartrate to become irregular.
  • Epidural leads to increased interventions, including forceps, vacuums, and c-sections.
  • Babies exposed to epidurals can have trouble suckling after birth. 
How many of these things did I experience? Well, I was on Pitocin for 24 hours following the birth because of my uterus, a side effect of both Pitocin and Epidural. I was on oxygen because Ethan wasn't getting enough, a vacuum was used to get Ethan out, Ethan had trouble suckling, and Ethan was jaundiced....see any correlations here? 

So when taking all that into consideration, why in the world would I want to go through it again? I wouldn't.

And so, I hired a Doula. Studies show that when a Doula is present
  • Labors are shorter by 25%
  • C-sections are less frequent by a whopping 50%
  • Use of Pitocin or another Oxytocin drug is reduced by 40%
  • Epirdural request is reduced by 60%
Doulas use methods such as touch and massage to help women get through labor. But why can't Clint do that? Well, let me tell you....

While Clint can give a mean back rub when he's so inclined, he's not trained in the arts of hitting the right pressure points that help the body release natural pain relievers. AND, men often have a difficult time seeing their lovely wives going through so much they should since they caused the condition! (JK).

Now, I'll say that a Doula can very well compliment a husband. She can teach him/show him what to do for his wife, enhancing the experience. And that, well, that's sort of what I'm looking for.

Here's the thing. I know more this time around. That's obvious...I've been through it once. And while I had a birth plan the first time, I was easily talked out of what I knew I wanted. And so, I have very strong, solid, immoveable opinions this time.
  • I will not be induced until 42 weeks unless there is a strong medical reason
  • I will not receive Pitocin  if they feel my labor is going too long
  • I will not be confined to a bed and I will request for forego an IV
  • I will not submit to a c-section just because things aren't going quickly enough
  • I will not have an Epidural
  • I will have skin-to-skin contact immediately. This means before a Vitamin K shot or eye gel application
  • I will breastfeed my child immediately. 
The other great thing about a Doula is that while things are going crazy and you're sighing a huge sigh of relief for having just pushed out a child, your Doula can/will make sure your wishes are carried out. And that is a relief to me!

And so, I hired a Doula. We meet with her in a couple weeks. I am excited!


  1. Given how many of your wishes weren't carried out with round one, I can't blame you a bit!

  2. you are becoming a hippy. just kidding. i hope that it's everything you want. going through labor is stressful enough without the extra worries.

  3. You know I fully support you 100% and I don't care what anyone says its not hippie to want to have your baby natural - ITS NORMAL.

    Drugs and Fear are the enemy here.

    XO, Rach

  4. It sounds like a great plan. If I knew 33 years ago what I know today things may have been different. Of course today the knowledge is better and easy to research. It was a long labor and I never went past 8. Had an emergency c-section. I did have an epidural with my second child and it was fine but it was a repeat c-section. At least when we have some grandbabies someday I know things that will help. I have also heard that you should wait awhile before the cord is cut because there are things that happen after birth that help the baby. You may want to check that out. Sounds like you will be very prepared for this birth.

  5. Katie, I don't know if you've seen it but The Business of Being Born in amazing! SO eye opening. Very pro-homebirth and midwife, but the model of care recommended is right in line with what you want. The book that (kind of) goes along with the film is Your Best Birth, by Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake. Equally amazing, and goes into a lot of facts about your options that you may or may not think about. I HIGHLY recommend them both. Also, Ina Mae Gaskin's books are supposed to be really good.

  6. I had a terrible labor and delivery with Bree, so bad that it's one of the reasons why I'm done with having kids. I almost died, Bree though, stayed healthy as a horse which I'm grateful for. Epidural stopped working, and then I had to have an emergency c-section because Bree's head couldn't get through. When they gave me the spinal block for the c-section, it moved up instead of down therefore paralyzing me. I couldn't breathe, nor could I move or talk to tell anyone that I couldn't breathe. They ended up putting me on oxygen, giving me and shot and knocking me out. Bree was born at 11:21 pm and I didn't come out of my coma until two that morning. Which means Bree got to see everyone and their mother before she saw or heard me. I can imagine it was pretty terrifying for Bree, and it was equally as terrifying for me. I would have gone natural had I know that the epidural wasn't going to work in the first place, but the c-section would have not have been avoided. My tail bone was pushed forward, keeping Bree getting her head past, plus she was head up instead of down. It was pretty bad though, and I wouldn't go through it again...I hope the second one goes much, much better for you.

  7. I know a ton of ladies who have used doulas they're super common in the military community since so many women deliver without a spouse.