In October I was honored to be a doula at two births. Both of these women were friends of mine and I had offered my services to them. I will first post about the first birth.
I met with M and her husband once or twice to discuss what they wanted from me as a doula and what their birth plans were. M's husband wanted to be the main support person (which I fully support) but they wanted my help mainly at home in early labor as their 1st child's labor was 20 hours long. They wanted to stay at home as long as they could and hoped I would help them there. Well, the weeks leading up to her due date, we just kept in contact since I had to know as far in advance as I could to set up babysitters and just coordinate stuff like that. The week of her due date, she had contractions almost every night but they would slow down or stop when she took a bath or rested. On the morning of her due date, M calls me at about 7:30am and asks what my plans were for the day. I knew what she was saying was that she was in labor. I asked how long it had been going on and noticed that she did not speak during them but was not having to breathe heavy or vocalize yet. I told her I would be right there. I was so excited to go to a birth not in the middle of the night..especially since I was still in the early months of my pregnancy. I got my stuff together, had breakfast and headed out. My car was of course on empty so I stopped for gas. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, there were colors in the sky and Vivaldi was playing on my radio. I got to her house at about 8:15am and no one came to the door. Then I saw the husband running down the street from where he had dropped their older child off. When we went in, he told me she was taking a shower but that things had really progressed since I had talked to her 45 minutes before. e said she was ready to go to the hospital especially since she needed to get antibiotics for group B strep. I asked him for his keys and loaded up their car as he helped her get ready. She came down and had to stop about every 3 minutes to get on her hands and knees for a contraction. Now she was vocalizing through them. She had another on the way to the car. I am sure that car ride was annoying for her as she couldn't get in the position she liked during the contraction and we hit basiclaly every red light. We got to the hospital at 8:50am and they put her in triage. (So funny to me tha tthey have to follow procedure to see if she is far enough along to admit...uh..duh she is contracting every 2-3 minutes and is shaking a bit = transition) After asking her a bazillion questions, they finally get the CNM in there to check her and voila, she is at 8.5cm. I just wanted her to be able to get to the room she was going to be in. She got on the bed but on her hands and knees as this was the most comfortable for her. They got her strapped on to the monitors adn the nurse started her antibiotics. For being so far into labor, I thought she was doing so beautifully. She was able to truly relax between contractions to save her strength. We had only been in the room for about 5 minutes when I noticed that at the end of vocalizing, he added a bit of a grunt. I locked eyes with the nurse and asked if she heard that. She did and called the CNM in again to check M. I think at this point she was 9.5 cm or something. They told her they wanted to wait till the rest of her cervix was gone before she started really pushing. The CNM asked if this(hands and knees) was how she wanted to deliver her baby and M said yes. I was pretty impressed because the only hospital births I had been to the mom was on her back. I was still able to have acces to her back which I had been massaging during each contraction so it seemed to be okay. After about 2 contractions however, the CNM told her it didn't seem to be "working" so she told her to get on her side. I could tell my friend did not really want to change position but did as the CNM told her. Then after switching from left to right to left, she was going to switch again. In the middle of us rolling her, the CNM said,"just stop there" there being on her back. Ahh...I see now. Was this the plan all along? Shortly after that, while doing excellent grunty pushes, the CNm and nurse told her to hold her breath while pushing. I knew that this is not optimal for the baby so I just told M in her ear softly, "you are doing perfect, just push however comes naturally". The other medical personel noticed that she was not listening to them and kept telling her over and over to hold her breath longer. One nurse even said in between pushes for her not to make any noise(grrr). Eventually she was just ready to have her baby out so she started doing as they said. Not surprisingly, the baby's heart began to do little dips after the contractions which are mostly normal but holding ones breath for a long time, does not help baby out in the oxygen department. They put an oxygen mask on her. She still doing so beautifully and looked way better than I did during pushing. I looked at her as told her husband how beautiful she looked having their baby. H looked at her and with tears in his eyes, said she was indeed beautiful and gave her a few kisses. These are the moments I feel so honored to see. So intimate and you could just see the love he had for her.
So , she kept up at the pushing and at about 10:45am, their baby was born. It was fun that they did not know the gender till the birth. Since she was on her back and this baby came out posterior, I got to see his little face first just looking at us. He came out with his hand by his ear and a funny moment was when he was only out to his chest, he was already wailing. He was a very healthy baby boy. I knew she wanted him put directly on her skin so I told the nurse who was preparing the warmer that the baby would be staying on mom. She kept saying she would need to clean him off and I just said that mom was nice and warm and that they can clean him later. As he was coming out, I noticed her gown was still covering her stomach so I pulled it up so her skin would be in contact with her baby. Of course I cried as he came out like I always do. I went to their things and took a couple pictures of them looking at their baby for the first time and then took pictures of the baby when he was at the blasted warmer getting cleaned off. I stayed till breastfeeding was established and then left my friends to bond with their new baby.
I love helping women in labor. They are so vulnerable but really they are their stongest as well. I have a hard time seeing women get pushed around during those intense but vulnerable moments. I feel like women in hospitals can benefit so much from a doula just because of all of the routines that moms may want to avoid but as a doula, it is hard to see those habitual routines done. I am glad I was able to attend my friend though and it is always great to get more experience. M was happy with her birth that makes me feel like I did my job for her.