Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Heart of a Doula

When either Amy Jo or I mention the word "doula" to an expecting parent, more often than not, we are met with a sideways stare and the question, "what on earth is a doula?" There are so many ways to describe her role, and they are almost all correct.

I like the two word summary, "birth coach," but in reality my role as a doula is so much more.

Having a doula isn't always about a non-medicated birth, but more about educating women on the options they have for their baby's delivery, providing hands-on support of their birth plan, and having a non hospital staffer present throughout their birth experience to assist and encourage.

I have taken some time away from doula work for a few reasons, but the main one being that I have a good paying, full time, non-flexible office job, and I can't get away for mid week deliveries...

But, I love being in the delivery room with laboring parents. Every time I step through the door I feel humbled and honored to be invited to assist in one of the most intimate life experiences each couple may ever have. I loved the birth experience, even before I had experienced it for myself.

And then I delivered Brooks...without a drop of drugs. I could not and would not have done it without my incredible team. Bryant and our doula, Amy Jo were irreplaceable. As with nearly all deliveries, there came a point when I looked up at them with exhaustion in my eyes and begged for pain medicine, but they believed in me. They knew our birth plan, and most of all, they knew I could do it...and they were right.

Amy Jo, who has been a doula for nearly 13 years has been encouraging me to get back into the delivery room, and my midwife has asked me several times when I will start practicing again, but in truth I needed some time to heal. I was not physically or emotionally wounded from my birth experience, but I needed time to process it, to understand it better.

Last night I had the opportunity to assist in a close friend's delivery. I was a little nervous before going in because I was afraid I would have forgotten all of my techniques, and this was the first time I had been back in a delivery room since Brooks' delivery over six months ago.

However, as I stepped through the door, and watched an incredible woman through her first contraction, it came pouring back, but with a greater enthusiasm and knowledge. I had been in her position. I knew what the "wave" of a contraction felt like, I knew how to relax and let the contraction work with your body. I knew what it meant to take a cleansing breath and let each contraction go. I was able to coach her through it all, and I loved every second of it.

As soon as I got into my car to leave the hospital I called Amy Jo to debrief. She almost immediately asked me if I am ready to get back into it and work with her...and without hesitation, I knew that I was.

1 comment:

SarahD said...

That is so awesome. My doula was an angel! I have seriously contemplated the idea of becoming one myself as I love the empowering and supportive environment they provide. So amazing that you've taken that step and are getting back into it!