My daughter was a footling breech, which resulted in a semi-planned C-section. There was so much about that birth that didn’t go as I would have hoped and over which I was not in control. When I became pregnant with my son, I knew I should hire a doula in order to get more of the birth experience I really wanted.
Even before going into labor, working with my doula and being able to ask questions and make a plan empowered me far more than I was with my first birth.
No labor or birth is perfect, and there are always unknowns that we have to adapt to, but feeling like I had a “team” this time put me in a very relaxed state of mind going into my labor.
I was due on July 3, and contractions started on July 2. I texted my doula to let her know that I would probably give birth that weekend. The contractions were low intensity and 10-15 minutes apart. They continued to be sporadic on the 3rd and I did a lot of walking and bouncing in order to encourage them. Because I was attempting a VBAC, my doctor had asked that I come in sooner than the normal 5-1-1 that is recommended. My contractions had been about 10 minutes apart all day and some lasted a minute or more, but I was still walking and talking through them. That evening they dropped to 8 minutes apart and increased in intensity. The whole day I had been chatting with my doula and keeping her informed so that she could also track my progress. When a few contractions were suddenly 3 minutes apart and I was shaking from adrenaline, we decided to head to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital about 11:30pm July 3 and the cervical check said I was only 1 cm, but about 75% effaced. I continued to labor for another 2 hours, after which they rechecked the cervix and I was 3 cm, with baby at a -1 station, so I was admitted. During this time, I was feeling a lot of nausea during contractions, but my doula was prepared with scented oils and soothing music. It was so calming to have someone else take charge – I didn’t have to make many decisions, or even make requests.
While my husband is a great partner in all things, he doesn’t have the experience with labor to help make confident choices, or to give me useful options.
With our doula there, she was able to make suggestions on food, laboring positions, movements, and so on.
I labored for several hours and changed positions on the bed, used the ball, and walked around. The contractions continued to be longer and stronger. By 9:30 am, contractions were strong and about 3 minutes apart. Another cervical check put me at about 4-5 cms. At this point, my water still hadn’t broken, nor had I lost my mucus plug. Around I was very tired and becoming discouraged with the slow progress. As always, our doula had several gentle suggestions for changes in position, and words of encouragement. I labored for several more hours, during which I had a bloody show and we tried “dancing” a bit to encourage baby to shift even lower. By 4:45 I was about 8 cm, my water broke, and baby was at a 0 position.
At this point, I was tired. I’d been in the hospital for 17 or so hours and the contractions had been very strong for awhile. At that time, I knew why women chose medicated births; I just wanted someone to pull the baby out. I felt like I was at the end of my reserves.
But, again, gentle encouragement and support from our doula got me through and helped me hold my ground for the birth I wanted.
Had it been just me and my husband, he would have supported whatever I said I wanted, and at that moment it felt like I was done and I wanted a fully medicated birth. But I knew (and my doula knew) that that wasn’t truly my desire, and I would have regretted not being able to labor through on my own.
Having that calm voice of experience by my side made all the difference.
My son was born at 7:29 on July 4th, after about 2 hours of pushing. We were given immediate skin-to-skin, and he seemed to latch and begin feeding right away. He and I were not separated until it was time to move to a recovery room. That was the result I wanted, and I feel confident that I would not have gotten there without the support of a doula. Throughout the entire labor, I was barely aware of other staff in the room.