The process of birth has been a passion of mine from adolescence. I was infatuated in the enormity of how a woman can create, and birth another human. Seriously though, where is our superhero badge because creating a human is nothing short of a super power. Of course then I was more interested in the anatomy side of things, how something so complex can start from just a tiny egg and flourishes over a 40 week period to a living, breathing human being.
Initially my dream was to become a midwife, I wanted to be on the medical side of things, but it wasn't until becoming pregnant myself that I knew I wanted to be a Doula. When my partner and I became pregnant with our first baby, I was lost - I was entering a world of complete unknown and worry. As mom's you instantly become a worrier; am I taking the right vitamins, am I eating well enough for the baby, did I pick the right caregiver, do I know how to birth...can I really do this?
As a planner, I began looking into birth; different caregivers, different ways, natural, epidural, at home, hospital etc., and was quite overwhelmed by so many options but was amazed at how little options are initially obvious. When we become pregnant, we kind of just assume we need to find a doctor and the closest hospital, where we will give birth on our backs, and go home with a baby. There are so many choices and options out there, and we should exploring all of them to ensure we get our best experience. When we purchase a car, we usually go out and test drive a few, pick options and upgrades, and colors....why wouldn't we do the same for birth? It is such an enormous part of our lives, why wouldn't we want to seek out all options and gather all the information possible to have our most complete, and satisfying birth imaginable, something that we look back on many years to come with awe, and accomplishment.
I read books, I watched documentaries, and it was then that we decided upon a midwife, and that I wanted to try giving birth at home. My midwife was great, and the birth went quite smoothly but something was missing. Additionally, I was really struggling postpartum. My baby wasn't latching, my worrying was amplified astronomically; is my baby getting enough milk, why is breast-feeding so HARD, should she be sleeping this much, should she be pooping this much, why won't my partner help out more? The list went on. The latch didn't get better for quite some time, and I felt lost in this new role as a mother and I didn't know where to go. It took a long time for me to realize that I was suffering postpartum depression, it took 5 months to seek help and recognize the feelings I was having as largely negative and harming. From that point I just knew that I wanted to help other mothers, I wanted to help them make sure they get the support they need through pregnancy and beyond.
Both pregnancies I had amazing midwives, I felt cared for and supported but I still had questions, and sometimes you don't want to ask, you feel rushed, or you forget, or you could simply be embarrassed. A doula offer's 2 one-on-one meetings where you can ask your questions; questions your doula may not have the immediate answer to, but will take the time to find and provide you with factual information, you man even seek help in asking the right questions to your caregiver. During labor there should be a constant presence with you, to help calm you, and keep you in the zone. Our birth partners are great support but sometimes you just need that little bit more, or your partner themselves would like some support. Caregivers are fantastic, but they tend to not be there until closer to the end of labor. My partner was a great support through both of my labors, he remained with me constantly and offered help as he could, but I had terrible back pain both of my labors and if I would have had someone who knows the pain relieving techniques that I know now, my already good birth experience, could have been fantastic. Additionally postpartum; someone to further help me with breastfeeding, and reassurance of my new role in motherhood could have been the turning point for me. Our birth partners can't always understand the magnitude of what your body and mind are going through, so having someone who does understand, and is completely neutral, and non-judgmental is freeing.
In a nutshell - this is what lead me to doula-hood. The privilege of attending another woman in her most altering, wonderful, scary moment is so humbling for me. If I can help a woman achieve the best possible birth experience for her, I would be so grateful.