Think you don't need a doula if you're taking Bradley classes? Think again…

Photo Credit Natural Light Photography and Birth Services
Doula Mary Betsellie hard at work with Mom Tara Bulin. Photo Credit Natural Light Photography and Birth Services
I will never forget the series of events on February 2nd, 2015. It was frigid outside, we were in the middle of an ice storm. I was eating dinner with my husband, when the first ‘doozy’ contraction hit me. ‘Whoa. That was serious,’ I said. It was enough to stop me in my sentence. 5 minutes later, another wave rushed over me. ‘Time it,’ I calmly said as my knuckles turned white from gripping the table.

15 minutes later and I was in full on, active labor. Even though I was a day past my estimated due date, somehow, labor was surprising. I struggled to get to my room and get into my pretty labor gown. I tried to soothe my two children along the way. In the backround, a hallway and 4 rooms away from me, I could hear…. cans clanking.

Cans clanking? That wasn’t a sound I envisioned in my planned, peaceful, calm home birth. True story, my husband… my adoring, lovable, strong coach, was doing recyclables. After all, we were about to have a baby, which meant we were about to have company. Of course, recyclables were a priority.

We laugh about it now.

The birth was the 3rd that we had planned and prepared for days and days, months and months. We had Bradley training with one of the best instructors around. My husband was crowned ‘Certified Coach’. Still, there are certain things he couldn’t do in the moment. This is where a doula comes in. Here are 4 very important reasons why you should invest in one:

  1. A doula can take care of all of the ‘hub-bub’ while your partner takes care of you. This way, your partner is with you every step of the way while your doula takes care of business, maybe even the recyclables.  Along these same lines, doulas can support your partner.  If he/she is hungry and needing a restroom break, your doula can step in as support and you won’t skip a beat.  Bottom line, doulas and dads/partners make the best team.  After your birth, you will long remember the support you had from your doula but you might be surprised that your partner felt the same way.
  2. A womanly touch. When I was younger, I remember having a belly ache and staying home from school. My mom had to work so my grandma was taking care of me. Grandma sat next to me and just gently rubbed my stomach. It was so soothing and I remember feeling better. I’m not saying your partner can’t help you relax or give you a great massage… I’m saying, sometimes, there is nothing like a gentle hand.  Even doulas who are men are trained in very specific massage techniques that are super beneficial during your labor. Doulas also always have their own special ‘bag of tricks’, sometimes including essential oils and a wrap used for a technique called ‘rebozo’,
  3. If you are birthing in a hospital, she knows everything that you need to know about it.  She knows the good rooms, the great nurses, she knows just who to talk to in order to get what you need.  If you are birthing at home, she probably knows your midwife and would be able to work closely with her to keep you feeling like a Goddess during your labor.  Oh, and she probably knows how to make a mean grilled cheese, just in case the family gets hungry.
  4. When I was planning my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section), one of the things I truly wanted was to capture ‘the moment’.  I asked my mom to take pictures and video.  Bad idea, ladies.  DO NOT ask anyone that is emotionally connected with you to take pictures. My VBAC… it was just a video of my vagina.  Not even a quick face shot to show that it was, indeed, my vagina.  I love my mom to the moon and she did get significantly better at capturing the birth with my third.  It’s not their fault.  It’s like going to see a movie and watching it through your cell phone screen.  These people are at your birth to support you, not capture moments.  Leave that to a professional…or your doula!

Think a doula isn’t in your budget?  Shop around.  You will pay for an experienced doula, rightfully so.  However, you might jive with a doula who is just starting out!  They might not have experience but they do have extensive training.  Most areas also have organizations that will help you find the right doula for you, such as the Long Island Doula Association(http://www.lidoulas.com/).

Pregnant and not sure what birth instruction you should choose?  Visit me at www.thevillagesprout.com.

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