So we have gradually come to the decision that we are going to have a doula for this pregnancy. A friend had one years ago and had expressed how helpful it was, particularly in providing her and her husband with the ability to communicate better during labor and delivery. It was an interesting convo, but I wasn’t convinced. Then I asked my doc how to best start preparing for a med-free birth (more on reasons why later) and the word doula jumped out of her mouth instantly! I was expecting to hear various birth methods and classes or books, so that was a surprise. She gave me the card of a doula who works extensively with their clinic and hospital. She also shared some facts regarding fewer pre-term births and c-sections for those who work with doulas–none that I actually retained though. We met with her the first time the other night and I thought it’d be helpful to share the questions we asked.
First of all, there are a couple of key reasons why this feels right to us.
1. I’d prefer a med-free birth, knowing absolutely anything could happen and the most important decision is what will keep us safe. I’m not trying to be a hero or get some street cred. I just react really strongly to medication and it adds a level on unpleasantness that I’d prefer not to have when giving birth. The most severe reaction was when I had knee surgery and they started administering anti-nausea meds with the anesthesia. I woke up puking. They gave me more anti-nausea meds. I continued to puke. They gave me the max meds they could. I still spent several hours in recovery puking my guts out and continued to dry heave all the way home, with a bed pan for any additional puking. That was on an empty stomach too. So when I had the d&c in Sept, we told them about my reactions, so they only gave me 1/4 the normal dose of meds. Did I puke? Yes, yes I did. I instantly pass out when given anything that may cause drowsiness, I’ve had medical professionals tell me they have never seen anyone react so quickly to meds, etc. So a med-free birth will be incredibly tough, but I’d do just about anything to avoid all the side effects.
2. My hubby is nervous. He says he’s queasy around blood, although he hunts and guts animals. (This is especially gross considering I’m a vegetarian!) So I want someone there who can support him and, if he passes out or something, can be my support system. The doc and nurses will be doing important stuff, but will have other things to focus on, so I want someone who can be 100% dedicated to meeting our non-medical needs. I also get crabby when I’m tired and that is when hubby and I start bickering. It will be fab to have someone there to distract us and say “hey, why don’t you try this?”
Anyway, after talking to the doula, it definitely seems like the right decision for us. First, I explained our background, since there aren’t a lot of folks out there who have lost 5 babies and we tend to be a little more anxious. Here were our questions:
1. Why do you do this?
2. What is your training and what was required to complete that? How many births have you done?
3. Tell us about some of your experiences. What have been the most difficult/challenging situations and how were they handled?
4. What is your philosophy in supporting the couple? How do you involve the husband?
5. How do you prefer to interact with the doctors/medical staff?
6. What is the timing of mtgs and fees. What refund policies do you have? How many other clients will you have around our time?
7. What do you do in situations where you are unavailable and the woman goes into labor?
8. If we have questions/concerns between meetings, how is that handled? What sorts of things should we refer to you rather than doc?
9. What labor coping techniques do you feel are most effective? What experience do you have working with water during labor and delivery?
10. What do you suggest doing to prep now?
The woman we met with has done around 800 births and has worked with our clinic and hospital for ten years. It was apparent she has dealt with all sorts of situations, has a similar philosophy about how it is ultimately about selecting the safest option for mom and baby, and we love that she has an established relationship with all of our medical folks and vice versa. We’ll meet with her twice before birth for two hours each. At the first one, we are going to talk about the various methods for med-free births and figure out what will work best for us. Other things too, but that is one area I really feel the need for guidance. So we’ll probably meet in late April/early May. Then she is there for the labor and delivery and we’ll have one visit after the baby is here to discuss any issues with breastfeeding, etc.