Monday, July 10, 2006

Tale of the seven doulas

Monday, July 10:

Back in May after talking to some people and reading articles about doulas, I thought I'd check some out.

Then it just became another chore, and I never called any of the ones I found in my area.

After our stay in the hospital last week, though, JP has been pressing me to look into doulas again. That's right -- he's actually encouraging me to find a doula. Neither my mother nor stepmother, nor anyone else I know, is expected to be there on the Big Day. Maybe he feels having someone there with us all the time -- not like the hospital staff, who will come in when they get the chance to -- will take some pressure off him.

So today, I go back to the list I saved. I decide to contact seven of them.

Three aren't in practice anymore. One of them even tells me there wasn't any money in it for her. OK. And why are you telling me this? To make me feel guilty?

One I e-mail because I can't figure out which is her phone number. She e-mails back right away to say she might be available around my due date and gives me her phone number, but one digit is missing. Then I get a second e-mail from her right away, kind of like a PS, inviting me to a babywearing meeting. Babywearing? Do I get to try them on?

Another doula seems promising because she's apparently an RN and has done the whole baby scene for more than 30 years. On the phone, though, the phrase that comes to my mind repeatedly is "drill sergeant." (Sound off, one! two! The doula rules, three! four!) She tells me exactly how long she will stay with me and that she'll make me pee every hour on the hour. But I don't cross her off my list because maybe a drill sergeant is what I need. Hmm ....

The next doula is also a lactation consultant and has a baby who will be a year old around the time of my due date. She seems very, I don't know, mommyish on the phone and really normal. She tells me congratulations, for one thing, and seems personal and warm.

Then there is a "group practice" doula who has offices in a couple of locations. She has the best-looking Web site of all the doulas I checked out -- a plus in my book (even though I know you can't judge a book by its cover) -- and invites me to an open house party at their newest location this coming Sunday. Also, these women were recommended by one of the doulas who isn't in practice anymore.

So I'll just let my impressions of these doulas roll around in my head for a while, try to make it to the open house and see which ones I eventually want to call to talk some more.

Anyone have a good or bad experience with a doula?


Anonymous Anonymous said... wearing. This baby isn't really doing much for my hips. Do you have one in plaid?

My sister had a doula and loved her. They are either your greatest help or your worst nightmare so pick one that you like as a person. No matter what you'll be in good hands with your hospital staff.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a "birth coach." She was also a La Leche League leader, who had moved from West Virginia (where she'd actually been a lay midwife) to Colorado (where I live) in the previous year, at which time I'd been an assistant Girl Scout Leader, and had had her oldest daughter (who later babysat for us) in our troop.

I'd made good use of her extensive library of books on childbirth and breastfeeding, so she was a natural choice for me when it came to choosing someone to be our advocate in the labor/delivery/recovery room, since this experience was new to both my husband and me. The benefit to her was that she didn't have any experience in Colorado, didn't know what to expect at our hospital, so she got something out of it, as well.

And yet--and I know this is going to sound absurd--I don't remember a lot about the experience vis-a-vis the doula. I think mostly because things went just fine, and we were able to do what we'd planned (mostly). And I had a wonderful CNM, who I'd seen throughout my pregnancy (she was in joint practise with an OB-GYN, who I'd seen a few times), who was "on the same page" as far as what we wanted from the experience.

I didn't pay her, as it was more of a friend helping a friend kind of arrangement.

When my second child was born, I didn't plan on any additional help. We actually brought our 3 year old, and he was there for the entire experience (we left in the middle of the night, so he slept through a lot of it), with dad taking care of him if/when necessary, since I now felt like an old pro, and indeed, everything went just fine with no complications (assisted by another CNM who had joined the practise). We had friends we could have called on to come get our 3 year old if need be. He wasn't spooked by the goings on, and was probably more interested in what was on the LDR TV than the fact that his little brother was being born--but he was definitely excited to hold him!

The third time, the boys were 5 1/2 and 2 1/2, and yes, they both came to the hospital. A girl friend/co-worker also come for the sole purpose of looking after the boys (who had both taken a class at the hospital for older siblings), so that dad could coach. This labor was totally different, though. I had no idea I was in labor until I got the "urge to push." We like to joke that our daughter was almost born in the toilet. So once I, the "old pro" finally realized that I wasn't home from work with the flu, but was in labor, we called our friend, and headed to the hospital.

With the first two deliveries, I insisted on walking in myself ("There's nothing wrong with me; I'm just pregnant!"), this time I insisted on a wheel-chair. Things went just fine, only more quickly. In fact, my friend didn't arrive until after our daughter was born (I forget exactly how long we were there before she made her arrival, but less than two hours). And what both boys remember most distinctly was that my friend brought some zucchini bread for them.

I know many people might be aghast at the thought of siblings being present, but it isn't all that long ago that it was normal because people were born at home. If there were any cause for concern, I'm sure the medical personnel would have wheeled me off to another room, or asked that an adult whisk them away. They didn't cry or make a nuisance of themselves; they were well-behaved, and the third birth proceeded so quickly, they didn't have time to even be bored.

Good luck with the doulas. I think it is a great idea to have someone with you who knows you and your preferences, who's familiar with the birth process and all its various nuances, yet who isn't so wedded to the medical intervation aspect. Monitors and all those medical gadgets can be great inventions, but I think sometimes they impede the natural birth process. And many hospital LDR nurses come to think of all this equipment as "normal," when it's intimidating and truly un-necessary.

Sorry for getting on my soapbox--you didn't ask about families in the labor room, or all that equipment. Just tryiing to explain where we were coming from and what influenced our choices.


5:51 PM  
Blogger millicent said...

love your blog!
I would go with one of the last two! The new mom sounds like she would be great b/c her own labor experience is still fresh in her mind!
I think having a doula would be awesome!

8:14 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I used a doula and I hope to use the same one for my next labor/delivery. She was WONDERFUL and such a help. I would suggst meeting with a doula you are considering, to make sure you're a good match. I did call one other one, but could tell right away she was a little too 'granola' for me (and I'm kinda granola myself), plus I don't think she would have supported me if i did decide to ask for meds (which i didn't, but in that moment, if i'd wanted them and been denied, someone would have had to pay!). Good luck with your search!

10:32 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I am a doula and childbirth ed. Also had a great experience with a doula before I became one.

The combination of support I recieved from her and my husband was just what we needed to create a great birth experience.

I suggest interviewing all the doulas before making a decision to find the one that you feel will best fit your ideas and needs, and you will click with.

Best wishes.

9:42 PM  

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