When I became pregnant, I thought I had a leg up when it came to birth. I had been studying midwifery for 4 years and knew quite a bit about the physiology of birth and what to expect. A good chunk of my time then was devoted to scouring evidence-based research, plus I was a nanny, so I figured I had the know-how and experience to deal with whatever came my way the next few years. I knew what I wanted out of my birth and how to achieve it (hooray for being informed!) I was so ready.
I got to my 3rd Trimester and started really getting down and dirty: I started finalizing plans for my home birth. Got the birthing tub, got the midwives on speed dial, got all the old towels and yes, the placenta bucket ready. I had been chatting with my doula every few days and I was feeling incredibly confident. 19 days past the due date, I finally went into labor at 3am. My poor partner had insomnia that night and hadn’t fallen asleep until 1am. So there we were. In labor, on no sleep.
My friend had been staying with us (we planned on a postpartum visitor for a little extra help, but baby stayed in really, really long. Like, really long.) so she started helping with stuff, getting the tub blown up and taking pictures of my radiant early-labor glee. But I needed someone for ME. My partner was incredible, doing everything he could to help me feel comforted, but I could tell he was exhausted. My awesome, helpful friend was great, but she didn’t know a thing about labor and birth. I needed someone who knew what they were doing! Someone who cared! Enter: the doula.
I tell you what, that woman made my labor glorious. While my partner rested, she was there to give deep-tissue massage on my legs (with aromatherapy lotion!) She handled all the physical work of comforting me so my mom could focus on doing calming, sweet things like brushing my hair and telling me stories. My doula knew just where to push on my back to take the pressure off, and when I told her to squeeze my hand she knew that I meant “as hard as you possibly can, please.”
It’s hard to say how things would have gone if we hadn’t had a doula there. It would have been fine, of course. We would have made it through. But instead of just making it through, we thrived. We had a beautiful, calm, empowered birth, thanks in part to our doula. My partner got to start his new life as “Daddy” fairly rested instead of exhausted. He didn’t have to feel guilty for leaving me to take care of himself, because I had someone else to provide excellent support while he was resting. And even now, she loves talking about that day with me and re-living the beautiful and hard moments. And that’s pretty wonderful.