I look back on my years of serving moms with excitement and wonder, however today I am more motivated than ever.
Before my doula days began, I remember giving birth to three beautiful children. Those three births were very different in their own ways and of course made me want to change things about the next one. I even became mad at the non-education I received feeling sad and slighted in some way. I didn't feel fulfilled or “empowered” as most doulas love to use. Actually with my most natural, handsoff labor and birth felt………. Alone.
What? Alone you say? Why in the world you use the word “alone”, when you had a marvelous, hands off, med free birth with an incredible midwife….you felt alone?
I was in the minority in those days. 23, 21, and 18 years ago, there were no babywearing groups, little breastfeeding support, and “what? You wanna go natural” remarks. This saddened me so much that I literally woke up one day wanting to educate the world on how to have a satisfying birth. Yes, world…(insert Rocky music here)...But then realized I needed to focus on my community.
I had a calling. When people asked me how I started being a doula, or why…..my first answer was always….I have a weird draw to pregnant women. Those are the only words I could find. Today, I sometimes change the sentence to….I have a calling to serve pregnant and laboring families.
I've never been able to explain the heart I have for mommies. Parenting is hard yes, but pregnancy is harder, in my opinion. The books, decisions, and opinions covered with expectations can be overwhelming and unbearable. But for my moms, the moms who invited me to their births….I wanted to make sure they had all the information, and felt free to make the decisions they needed to help them feel like they were not………. Alone.
18 years later, I am even more motivated today, to provide the education, support and comfort in freedom that my moms can most definitely reach their goals.
This may be my hobby that I so happen to make a tiny bit of money at, but business doesn't over shadow the need and heart I have to educate the world (or my little piece of it) on how they can achieve a most satisfying birth in Montgomery, AL.
It seems to me through the years of Doula work, one of the major issues when I'm helping mom plan her birth journey is fear. We go through the process of working through her goals, writing them down, and then talking through each one with education and counseling to emotionally fill in the puzzle pieces. In working through the process with many moms, I have reflected back to my own births. What did I do to work through fears, prepare for the work ahead, and succeed in reaching my goals?
The best thing I realized is to recognize what the root of the fear was/is and create boundaries.
I remember back to the birth of my second daughter. It was an incredible labor, meaning the labor progressed fast. But I do remember back labor….UGH I also remember being extremely sensitive to sound. I couldn't concentrate with the irritating mumble of the tv voices. I told my husband to please mute the TV. I set my own boundary not realizing what I was doing till years later when I was preparing for my fourth birth. I made a birth plan, created my birth team, and chose what I wanted to do.
Creating boundaries to reach your own birthing goals can be very individual. This is the process I work through with many of my clients facing fears that can be overwhelming to face alone.
Fear of the past: write down past experiences you may have gone through that keep rolling around your mind as you try to prepare for the up and coming big day. This could be birth experiences, trauma, or any past crisis
Examples: unexpected C-section, Fetal loss, Parental loss, sexual abuse etc.
Fear of the future: list what you're afraid of going into the birth. What do you think about the most. Be specific.
Examples: Pain, Failure, disappointing herself, disappointing a loved one.
Education overload: You have an issue, you go to the internet or books someone recommended. The more you read the more worried you become. You can't seem to find what you need, so you search more. Everyone you know and see is a walking expert of what's going on in your pregnancy, so out of politeness you listen to the stories and process them later.
The Family and Friend influences: Sigh…..Family is the hardest to deal with because they are the ones we love and want around yet, what if they aren't supportive of the choices we've made.
Setting boundaries among those around you whether it be things or people can provide a comforting way to plan your birth journey without fear and stress.
Once you have pin-pointed the exact fear, acknowledge the fear out loud to a trusted friend, family member or doula that is on your birthing team. Voicing the fear and allowing someone to validate that you are strong and can overcome this fear is powerful. If you're not comfortable sharing this issue on the outside write it down and commit to yourself to let it go. Cut the paper, burn it up or put it in a balloon and release it to fly away, allowing the issue to go with it.
Education is always a good thing when needed, but to surf the internet, search for answers and scan articles can be counterproductive if you are already worried and fearful. To build a boundary for yourself with the computer or phone, this might mean, staying off the internet searching for solutions, remedies, or advice that you don't need to bog down your mind with. Only educate yourself on the things you are uncertain of. Reading wonderful birthing books that line up with your goals is a good start. If you've already decided on some issues, do not continue to search, those thoughts do not need to be revisited. The internet at our fingertips can cause unnecessary worry and uncontrolled anxiety.
Family is the most difficult boundary for most expectant moms and couples preparing for birth. Families love you, and are waiting for that special moment. They mean well, and often don't think about the worry of the mom. Friends love to share those horror stories without understanding the lasting affect on the moms mind. Working with mom through family issues is very empowering. A mom realizing it is ok to chose who is invited in her room while she labors is the beginning of validating many of her first parenting choices. This will give her a strong confidence and easier postpartum recovery period.
Setting boundaries with family members and friends early on in the pregnancy is a freeing feeling. Having a heart to heart conversation about what you need will set a wonderful standard for the relationship. There is no need to apologize for how you feel. This is your birth. You may need to limit texts, phone calls or visits to help with these boundaries.
All in all, be completely honest with yourself. You know your personality better than anyone. Do not be sorry for preparing for the birth that you want. Your goals, Your way by cutting out the fear factors.
It makes me very sad to hear a mom ask her friends what they think about natural birth and she gets these responses:
"I could never do it natural" Or "don't, they've come along way through the years with epidurals"
Now, of course anything can happen in birth and sometimes interventions are needed, but to start out with a "bottom of the rung" comment to someone that obviously wants to "try" a non medicated birth is so very heartbreaking.
As women, are we so afraid of what our bodies are capable of doing that we tend to skip over education, and being proactive in our research journey?
God made our bodies to birth. If we weren't made to let a little human pass through there would be more deaths in the early days of man. Eve did a fantastic job giving birth to who knows who many children, as well as generations to come.
Women of the Bible were supported by other women that had gone before them, giving them education they needed and encouragement when the waves on contractions were almost unbearable.
Over the years, has fear set in enough in this present day and time that we have given up what we have been created to do?
Ladies, you are chosen to give birth for a reason. The male gender has his place, but WE......We were chosen to do this great thing that only WE can do. Don't let fear of the unknown discourage you. Don't let insecurity beat you down, thinking there's no place for natural birth in today's time.
Education, Support and Preparation will calm those fears and empower you to achieve whatever it is your birthing goals are.
We were made for this!! Go to it!!!
A Pregnant Dad's Question
When I begin my doula relationship with the family, or if I'm teaching a class, I note 'Dad'. Dad sometimes sits with a blank stare, and when I ask, "How do you feel about all this?" His reply some times is the.......Ive got this, John wayne.....attitude...and some dads have this look of "what?? I have a say?"
Of course you have a say, Dad. You helped make Jr.....so you are on this team to help get him out. I know, it's foreign for some to think they have a place or find it hard to figure out just what that place is. You're a fixer. You dont want to see your wife in pain, and that brings the worry of how to support her. (Especailly when you know what she's like mad)
Communicating with the doula
You can't fix anything in birth
You are her husband/partner. She leans on you for support, security, and love through life. It's the same through pregnancy and birth. She needs your love, security in her decisions and support through them.
She is looking for you to be 'ok'. Your are her strength. Find how to hold her up during this time. If you dont know......ask your doula.
One of my favorite births ever was mom on the birth ball and dad sitting behind her. He wasnt touching her because she was sensitive to touch, but the words from his heart after every contraction made all the difference in moms labor. He would say......I love how labor, you are beautiful...... I love you.......you are the strongest woman I know.
She needed to hear that in the end Dad knew he couldnt do what she was experiencing.
All dad/mom relationships are different. Open communication will help with preparing for the big day.
Dad, it's ok to be unsure, nervous, or foggy about the whole thing. Your doula will guide you through the process fitting in pieces and reducing fears. You are going to do a great job!!
After all, you are The Dad.
Who needs a Doula anyway?
I have my sister, my mom, my husband, my mother in law.
All of these loved ones have amazing roles in the life of an expecting mom, but will they "hold your space", be your rock, stay the course and not give up on you?
A doula's role is so much more than 'just' physical support. Her role is to channel into that power deep inside you and help you rise to the top with a confidence that is a high you will always remember. The feeling of..... Wow I "did" do it.
Every Doula is different in practice, but this Doula hopes to help each mom find her power she is created to use. She hopes to reduce fear with education, caring compassion and choice validation.
Who needs a Doula? Anyone who wants one.
The one that may or may not want an epidural.
The one that isn't quite sure she's comfortable with the idea of pushing.
The one who needs extra support for a partner.
One who needs support during a needed csection.
You are taking responsibility for your birth. Sometimes birth education can be overwhelming. Find a Doula. She'll help you through it.
I love the quote by a dad who wrote the blog "I challenge you to a Doula"
"Doulas do not stumble into their profession accidentally like, say, air traffic controllers. Their greatest passion is healthy childbirth. They have wisdom, and they have stories, (some of which you don’t want to hear)"