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This Doula Needed A Doula

by Jessica Bower, IBCLC, Certified Doula

My "baby" is 4 years old now. I get a little emotional and nostalgic when I think back on my fourth pregnancy and birth these days. I'm often asked "Since you're a doula, did you need a doula?" or "How was it being a doula while pregnant?" Let me explain why as a doula, I absolutely needed a doula -

The First Trimester...

When I found out I was pregnant, it was October 2017. I had been a doula for over a year at that point and had attended about 60 births. This baby was planned and prayed for and we were thrilled to be adding the fourth and final child to our bunch. We had a busy fall with doula work and I knew that I'd start feeling nauseous a couple of weeks after getting that positive test. As soon as I hit 6 weeks pregnant, that nausea hit me hard. I would say that my nausea in pregnancy is very normal / average. I'm pretty much miserable from nausea, have to eat small snacks every 2 hours or I'll get sick, and it's the worst in the evenings. Not getting sleep makes it awful. So... for the first time ever, I decided to take Diclegis during pregnancy and that's definitely the only way I was able to be a doula through the night and not throw up on a client. I was also very thankful that I'm a doula in a partnership model during this time! I did five births during my first trimester and none were over 12 hours, so that was nice. I never needed to call in backup, but I was thankful to have it there just in case. The moms I supported in my first trimester never even knew I was pregnant. It was a sweet time.

The Second Trimester...

During the second trimester, I found out I was having my third boy! I also realized that I had a low lying placenta (the placenta was very close to my cervix). It was helpful for me to have a doula at this point because even though I knew in my head that my placenta would move by the time I was in my third trimester, I was prone to worry and it was great to process things with my doula. As far as being a doula, the second trimester was awesome! I was able to be a doula at several births and I felt great!

The Third Trimester...

This was where things started to get complicated. In my first three births, I had unmedicated births and I wanted to have a waterbirth every time... but for various reasons birthing in the water just didn't happen. For my last baby, I had hoped to be at a birth center. But when I had to start taking insulin to manage my gestational diabetes, I knew I'd be having a hospital birth. I have nothing against hospitals - I've had all 4 of my babies at Cone Hospital in Greensboro and I don't have one complaint - I've loved my births! But I thought a birth center would be ideal because I've seen how wonderful they could be. In addition to the gestational diabetes, I had a baby who was all over the place. One day he'd be breech. The next day he'd be transverse. Then the next day he'd actually be vertex. The child was all over the place most likely because he had too much room to move around. My second baby was 11 pounds 8 ounces (that's another story for another day) and this fourth baby was a tiny 8 pounds... so he just had too much room in his hotel room of my uterus. There were so many unknowns at the end of my pregnancy and being able to process them with my doula and my midwife (Daniela Paul at Wendover OBGYN - LOVE her) was something I had to do on a weekly basis. I needed the doula support in pregnancy just as much as I needed it in my labor! This is why we always tell our clients that they can reach out to us for anything - sometimes it's just a quick text, but it can also be a phone conversation. As far as working, I worked well into my third trimester. I had planned to stop working around 35 weeks. I had a very long birth at 34 weeks where I didn't take care of myself (I didn't eat for a long period and I didn't drink near enough water). It took me a few days to recover from that birth. But at 36 weeks pregnant, a very special friend and client FINALLY went into labor at 42 weeks and I had to go be her doula. Her birth was amazing - an unmedicated vaginal birth after having 2 prior c-sections. But finally, at 36 weeks pregnant, I was finished being at births until it was time for my own. That was a wonderful feeling.

The Birth...

I decided to be induced with this fourth baby. I was a great candidate for induction and I didn't want to risk my water breaking while the baby was breech because that would be a cause for a c-section. My birth went so well. It was my dream birth and I finally had a waterbirth. You can read the whole birth story or watch it. But I'll tell you why I needed a doula. I needed a doula to remind me to eat and drink. I needed a doula to distract me from myself when I start to think about all the things that could happen. I needed a doula to take all the photos and video that I wanted because I knew this was my last baby and I wanted it all captured. I needed a doula to tell me to relax and breathe when all I wanted to do was fight it with every part of my being in the midst of transition. I needed a doula to make me get out of the tub when I wanted to stay there forever. I needed a doula to say the exact right thing at the right moment even though I can't even remember what she said. I needed a doula to be there for me - to have her whole attention on me for one day in my life. I needed a doula to be there for my husband because even though he's my rock, he gets assurance from her presence too. I needed a doula to laugh at me when I said things like "I must be lying to clients when I tell them that birth is empowering" right before I started pushing. I needed a doula for all these things and more. I couldn't doula myself. I suppose I could... but there's no way I'd want to. Because I know birth is better with a doula.

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