Tuesday, June 12, 2012

my birth partners: great natural labor companions

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

I've written before about the births of both of my daughters (here and here), but those posts were about the run-down of events, so I appreciate the chance to highlight a favorite part of my natural birth experiences to share with you today. It will be no surprise to those of you who know my recent career move (I became a birth doula this year) that I attribute most of the success of my natural births to having great birth partners. I was lucky enough to have both my mom and my husband present at my births, and in addition to their excellent support, my births were guided by intelligent midwives.

My midwives, one present at each birth, were calm, confident, encouraging, and matter-of-fact about the progression of the birth. In true "baby catcher" form, neither ever suggested any medical intervention that might interfere with my plan to have a natural birth. It was smooth sailing all the way. Unlike the admitting nurses at both of my hospitals, the midwives took me seriously when I said my labor was far along and that I thought I was ready to push (or in the case of my second labor, when I arrived at the hospital shouting "I'm pushing!!").

I also count the loving support of my husband as an integral part of my ability to labor without pain medication. He was fully confident in my ability and never questioned my desire to give birth naturally. He stayed by my side for the entire labor, and his constant presence allowed me to feel safe and well cared for.

Having given birth naturally, my mom knew just what to say and do to make me more comfortable; plus, I trusted her when she reassured me "You are doing great. You can do this!" because I felt confident in her knowhow. She was an active participant in my labors, rubbing my back, setting up pillows to make me more comfortable, and getting me warm compresses.

Had I not been able to have her by my side, I have no doubt that I would have hired a doula. A birth doula is a non-medical trained labor assistant who provides mothers-to-be with continuous physical and emotional support, knowledge, and encouragement leading up to, during, and after the birth of their family. A doula is on hand during your labor to give you as much or little assistance, feedback, and support as you desire, and they are great resources for spouses/partners who want extra guidance.

Now that I am part of the doula community, I am simply astounded by the level of intelligent and caring support offered to women who want it. With the statistics to back their positive enhancement to the labor process, it's a wonder to me that more people don't know about the excellent care they offer. If you're pregnant and considering a doula, check out Doula Match to find a doula in your area that fits your vision for the birth. Even if you think you cannot afford a doula, you will likely be able to find a low-cost student doula who is undergoing the certification process. Whether you want an active coach or a passive attendant, you can find the right person to offer you the gentle guidance you need to get the birth you want.

Editor's note: This post is part of The Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • I was Foolish Then — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings describes how foolish lack of preparation for childbirth led to a feeling of powerlessness and fear, but that in the end she had her baby in her arms, and that's one thing she can celebrate.
  • Sometimes no plan is the best plan — Tat at Mum in search contemplates that maybe she doesn't need a birth plan for her upcoming birth.
  • Disturbing the peace — Kenna at Million Tiny Things thought she would be a calm, quiet baby-haver. Ha!
  • Accepting the Unexpected During Birth — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM imagined herself laboring on a birthing ball but she never imagined where she'd really be most comfortable when the time came...
  • Sacred This Time, Too — Kimber at The Single Crunch learned enough to know that the way she birthed wasn't they way she wanted to; but she also knew to enjoy it for what it was.
  • The Birth Partner: A Great Natural Labor Companion — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger thinks that the secret to her pleasant natural labors was having a great support system.
  • the Best Thing About My Labor ExperienceCrunchy Con Mommy realizes that amidst all the things that seemed to go wrong with her labor, the love and support of her husband was the one thing she could always count on!
  • Your Birth Was My FavoriteDulce de leche describes some of the highlights from each of her four births and explains why despite the differences, they are all her favorites.
  • Birth Story: Part One - Moon on a Stick! Gentle Mama Moon tells the first part of her birth story to share some of the delight of labouring at home.
  • Embracing My Birth Experience by Sharing My Birth Story — Dionna at Code Name: Mama made peace with her first birth by sharing the story with her son.
  • Focusing on the Beauty of Birth — Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares the beautiful aspects of her birth center water birth.
  • A Joyful Induced Delivery — Amy Willa: Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work notes the meditations and perspective that helped her achieve an unmedicated birth despite being induced for medical reasons.
  • Finding Joy in an Imperfect Childbirth Experience — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells what she learned from her two very different childbirth experiences.
  • What's to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, but she also cherishes much about the c-section she had four years earlier.
  • What Story Will I Tell? — Rachael at The Variegated Life realizes that the way she tells the story of her second child's birth matters — and could be exhilarating.
  • I Quietly Put My Hopes to Rest E — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her emotional ups and downs with the highly intervened birth of her special needs daughter, Bella.
  • Tale of Six Births — Jessica at Instead of Institutions appreciates that unique challenges and joys of each of her births.
  • Labouring naturally: nature’s gift — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the most beautiful, spiritual aspect of the labour of her son, the first stages along a bumpy road to giving birth.
  • All The Woman I Am. — Lindsay at This Woman's Work shares a poem about letting go and surrendering during the thralls of labor.
  • A twin birth story: embracing the unexpected — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her twin birth experience and how she found the silver lining when faced with preterm labor, premature birth, and a two-week NICU stay.
  • Giving Birth With Eminem — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how fiery rap music contributed to an empowered homebirth with her third baby.
  • Two Different Births — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares how she learned from her first birth experience and how to trust yourself and your body.
  • Embracing Our Potential: Birth as a Metaphor — Sheila from A Living Family guest posts at Natural Parents Network and expresses how birth has served as a metaphor to help her through other experiences in life.
  • Little Sister's Birth Story: Our VBAC Adventure — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama describes the recent birth story of her baby girl, her pride in an epidural-free VBAC, and how her story isn't exactly the birth experience she had planned for.
  • A Journey in Birth Confidence — Shannon at The Artful Mama shares her experiences with labor during both of her sons' births.


Dionna@CodeNameMama said...

I would not have been able to make it through my first labor without my husband, mom, sister, and doula. They all took turns helping me feel comfortable and loved. And as much as I needed them for #1, I was fine laboring virtually alone for much of #2! Granted #1 took 37 hrs ,#2 less than 2 ;)

Crunchy Con Mommy said...

Great info on doulas! I want to attempt a VBAC next time I have a baby, and I think having a doula present might make things more relaxed and more likely to succeed. I'll check out that website!!

Emily Sefcik said...

Ahhh! If you lived closer I would so hire you to be my doula for our next birth! We didn't have a doula with L and I never felt like I needed one. J was with me the entire time from start to finish and our midwives really left us alone until I was ready to get in the tub and start pushing. This next time around though I'm really feeling like I want a doula. Now that we have L running around I know it might not be possible for J to focus on me 100% of the time...and generally I've been feeling more anxious and wanting more support. And since I want to be a doula too I figure I should use one at least once : ) Thanks for sharing. I'm totally going to re-read your birth stories!

Kenna Lee said...

It's always good to get the word out about w hat a difference the right support can make. Congrats on your new career!

Molly Walter said...

I don't know if I'll have a 100% natural birth next time, but I'm definitely having a doula by my side to help me acheive my VBAC dream!

Dulce de leche said...

Beautiful post! Doulas are amazing. The birth of my third daughter was my first natural birth, and we had a prolapsed cord. I honestly believe that if not for my amazing doula who was able to keep me calm and pushing, my little girl might not have made it.

Andrea said...

How true. I was also lucky enough to be married to the "world's best doula". (He loves it when I call him that.) In all seriousness, I wholeheartedly agree that having the right support is crucial to being able to relax and focus when birthing. Funny story: We actually hired a doula for our first birth. She was (and still is) an amazing advocate and made sure we were as prepared as possible. In fact, we were so prepared that when our time arrived, we didn't need her. We actually asked her not to come to the hospital. We were in the zone and we just wanted to carry on - just the two of us. She had done such a good job teaching Carl that she had essentially created the perfect birth partner. What more could anyone hope for? Doulas rock - throughout the process. Good luck with your training and thanks for sharing your story.

Nestra said...

I had a doula for the birth of my 6 week old son and would have one again if there is a next time! She helped me stay calm and relaxed as well as making my husband more confident in his ability to support me. I thought my nurses were great but there was a comfort level with our doula that really made a difference for us. Good luck in your new career!

kristen preissinger said...

i had a doula for my daughter's birth and i loved it. when i birthed my twins (one breech and one with cord prolapse...both born naturally!) i remembered things that my doula had said to me. anyway my point is a good doula positively effects not only the birth that they attend but all of the ones the mother goes through after that!

kristen preissinger said...

oh if you'de like to read my twins birth story i posted it on my blog http://crunchytwinmom.blogspot :-)

Natural Mothers said...

I too, am a great fan of natural birth. I had all three daughters delivered at hospital but with a midwife who had been with me throughout my pregnancies, with whom I had formed a friendship. All three were natural, during which I practiced labour breathing techniques. I really enjoyed all three deliveries- they were long and arduous but they were life transforming and empowering too. Hiring a doula is a fabulous idea for those who have access to them. Love this post, thank you!

Alinka @ Baby Web said...

What a great story! I also want to arrive at the hospital shouting out “I’m pushing” when I give birth to my baby daughter next month! And how wonderful that you are a Doula now :) Congratulations!

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