The following italicized information comes directly from the DONA website: The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Support From Someone With Experience
Kimberly had attended over 200 births in the valley when I interviewed her. Most of these births were unmedicated, but she had the ability to support whatever kind of birth we wanted. She had supported moms through C-sections, VBACs, hospital and home births. With being a RN and attending so many births, she knew a LOT about what to expect with birth. I felt confident that she knew what was normal, and what wasn’t. So while I made sure to educate myself in childbirth, it was nice to have another educated person on our team. Kimberly also knew different ways to support moms through their labor. She was familiar with all the tools available to use during birth. Kimberly had lots of experience using birth balls, heat packs, counter pressure, birth pools, massage, and changing positions. Knowing that I would have someone so experienced on my birth team gave me confidence that I would be successful.
Our doula was a RN/ Labor & Delivery nurse so she was very knowledgeable when it came to hospital procedures. She had clients who used different hospitals in the valley, so she was familiar with the different doctors and midwives as well as the hospital staff. Kimberly could predict what could be potential roadblocks to my plan because she was familiar with the environment that I would give birth in. At my request, she sent me several birth plans from previous clients, to help me form my own birth plan. She answered any questions via phone, email, and during in-home visits. Once I had a rough draft of my birth plan she went over it with me in our home and helped to solidify it. Kimberly kept a copy so that she could bring one to the hospital just in case we forgot to bring ours.
Kimberly is also a licensed massage therapist, which I thought was a major perk:) She included a one-hour prenatal massage with her doula package and it could be given whenever it was wanted. She told me that giving her clients a massage gave them the opportunity to become more comfortable with her before the birth. Once I felt in need of a good massage (towards the end of my pregnancy) I set up an appointment. She came to my house with a massage table that had a drop out specifically for the belly. The massage was wonderful and relaxing. It was also nice to know that she would be there to massage my back or feet when I was in labor if needed.
Doulas usually have their own library stocked with birth resources. At our first visit, Kimberly offered several birth books and DVDs for me to borrow and I took advantage of it. She also had a birth ball and a birth pool that I could use. Going out and buying these items would have cost me a LOT, so being able to borrow them was a blessing.
One of the reasons I hired Kimberly, is because she had a knowledge of Hypnobirthing, which is similar to the Hypnobabies class I was taking. It was so helpful to have someone who had already used hypnosis techniques with her clients, and had done so with success. She would follow up with me, and ask me about the different classes I was taking. Kimberly offered to do the scripts with me if I wanted, and gave suggestions when I was having issues in certain areas. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I hit a rough spot and began to let the fears of my last birth effect me. Kimberly came to my house (per my request) and took me through a hypnobirthing fear release that helped me immensely.
When Kevin and I had our first meeting with Kimberly, we talked about our last birth, our fears, hopes, and what we were planning for this birth. She asked us lots of questions about what we wanted and why so that she could know how to best support us throughout the process. Another reason why I hired Kimberly is because she was a VBAC mom herself. She had experienced a C-Section, a medicated VBAC, and two unmedicated VBACs. I felt it was beneficial to have someone who had been there done that, and could understand where I was coming from. She continuously gave us support and encouraged us. She was available by phone or email to answer any questions, and would check up on me ever so often to see how I was doing. When it came to the actual birthing time, Kimberly was there to offer any support that I wanted/needed. She was my saving grace as I had back labor the ENTIRE 40 hours I was in labor and kept me comfortable by applying counter pressure on my lower back. While Kevin did this as well, it was nice to have someone to take turns with, because doing counter pressure that often can get tiring. Our doula also did a great job of keeping me focused when my contractions were very intense. When she noticed that I was tensing up, she would talk to me with a calming voice, and remind me to relax which helped so much. In the raw footage of my birth video, I saw first hand how she was able to get me from being tense to relaxed, just by using her voice. It was neat to go back and see that. When I was going through transition (which I didn’t realize at the time) and I was getting tired and discouraged, she was there to tell me to keep going. She was there every step of the way offering the support that I needed. (I should add that Kevin was too, but since this is about my doula I’ll keep it about my doula)
Doulas don’t do medical procedures, but a monitrice can offer to monitor the baby’s heart rate and do cervical checks as wanted. This was really important to me as I wanted to be able to stay at home for as long as possible when I was in labor. It was reassuring for me to have someone there to make sure Dallin was doing well, and to tell me how far I was dilated if I wanted (although that never ended up happening).
Whether it was helping fill up the birth pool, applying counter pressure on my back, keeping me hydrated with sips of water, walking me through the front of the hospital, or taking photos/video of the birth, Kimberly was always busy doing something for us. This allowed Kevin to not be as stressed about doing EVERYTHING the entire time, and it made it possible for him to focus on me and not taking pictures when Dallin was being born.
Kimberly offered to help with breastfeeding when Dallin was born which I appreciated. Even though I had nursed twins, it was like I was a new mom all over again, and each baby is different. She also offered to encapsulate my placenta for me which was something I wanted and was grateful for. On our final visit (postpartum) she came to our home and gave us a copy of Dallin’s birth story (written from her perspective). We discussed the birth, and how Dallin was doing.
this is such great information, thanks for sharing! i know a couple people that have done the placenta capsules – is there any particular reason you chose to do that? i know one friend specifically who really benefited from doing that, ppd-wise.
Thanks Danielle:) I did placenta pills for the same reason as your friend pretty much. 80% of women experience PPD, and so I wanted to prevent it if possible. I am also not a fan of taking prescription drugs if I don't have to, and so having a natural alternative available (if I did get PPD) seemed like a good idea to me.