I’m very late to the party with this World Doula Week post. It’s the last day and I’m up after midnight, trying to get this finished before anyone wakes up looking for me because that will be the end of it!
I didn’t want to let the week pass without thanking my doula for being here for the birth of my third child. I hadn’t had a doula before – it wasn’t until I became a doula myself and attended births that I realised this was something I wanted, and deserved, for myself.
A doula plays a different role to your partner or midwife. Many partners are afraid of being supplanted by the doula but the doula doesn’t come between you. The doula fills in the gaps, she supports your partner to support you, she holds knowledge so your partner doesn’t have to remember it all. What a doula can, or will do for you, depends on many factors – what sort of birth you want, what sort of labour you have, who else is present, the birth setting. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted my doula to do but I knew that I wanted someone there who would do exactly what I asked of them. As a doula, you don’t have other duties, other than what the birthing woman asks of you.
So here are 8 things my doula did for me:
She threw me a ‘Mother Rising’
This was something I’d always wanted. Think of it as a hippy baby shower, where you get the gift of positive energy and thoughts to take into labour with you, rather than nappy cakes and baby clothes. Lucky for me, my doula is a pretty talented artist, so she did the most amazing belly painting on me and my daughter. It was a very special day.
She helped decorate my birthing space
I hadn’t expected it, but she made bunting from birth images and hung them around the room for my Mother Rising. I loved them and left them up for the birth itself. My sitting room was like one giant vision board!
She was close by
One of the most important things for me was that my doula lived close to me as my husband was studying in a college at least a 45 minute journey from home. If I had a labour as fast as my friend Tricia from NurturingMamas.ie, he wouldn’t make it home in time! It gave me comfort knowing that my doula would be there, no matter what.
She came right away
In the end, my husband was there, but my doula came within 15 minutes of getting the call. My midwife was still a bit away. I was so glad of the company because my husband was frantically filling the pool. And I really needed someone to bring me a drink of water!
She held my straw
She took photos
I decided I didn’t want a photographer at the birth because the room is really small and there were already going to be quite a few people. So my doula took some shots. She got some amazing ones, including one of the baby’s head being born into my hand and another of my baby as I saw her for the first time. So precious to have.
She squeezed my hips
The double hip squeeze is an amazing comfort measure (we cover it in my GentleBirth workshops) and my doula got stuck in once things got intense.
She did whatever I wanted her to do
Doula comes from a greek word meaning ‘servant’ and that’s what a doula is – someone to order around during your labour! Ok, so that’s tongue-in-cheek, but it is pretty amazing to have someone around during labour whose only concern is your physical and emotional well-being. There’s so much focus on the baby during pregnancy that it is nice to have someone whose job is just to look after you!
I knew that if there was anything I needed or if an extra pair of hands was required for something, then I could ask my doula and she would do it. A doula doesn’t need to jump in and take over a bunch of tasks in order to justify her presence. She’ll wait quietly and unobtrusively until she sees she is needed. She’ll be there for you, but she’ll also fade into the background if that’s what’s warranted. She’ll be a calming presence.
She was the other me
I’m not the average doula client, I suppose, because I don’t look for emotional support during labour. I look inward. What I wanted was someone to do all the little things that I couldn’t do for myself because I had to focus on birthing. I wanted another me in the room!
Thank you, Rita, for being there with us on the beautiful night that brought us our beautiful girl. And for being the other me.