I still remember the day Brooke called me. As I was sitting in my car chatting with her, I felt an immediate connection and knew that I was meant to be her doula (I hoped that she felt it, too). During our conversation, she told me about her first birth story and how she wanted something different for her second birth. Being part of her journey to a healing and empowering experience was quite an honor. I will never forget the moment she took her baby from the midwife into her hands and brought her up to her chest. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed, and I knew how much it meant to her. I left the hospital that night feeling so at peace for her and so thankful that she, too, knew I was her doula. Here is her story in her own words.
For my first birth, I did not use a doula. As part of my birth plan, I had hoped for an unmedicated delivery but was open to using medication if needed. After 18 hours of labor, I opted for an epidural (which, for me, was a great decision). I was in labor for 36 hours, including 4 hours of pushing, before finally having a vacuum-assisted birth. My son was face-up and wasn’t descending. While I’m grateful that my doctor didn’t push me to have a C-section after that long labor – which has happened to MANY of my friends. Nevertheless, this birth was traumatic for me in so many ways.
When I got pregnant with my daughter two and a half years later, I knew right away that I wanted to do things differently. I had read that babies being born face-up – which makes it much harder for them to descend and for mom to push them out – is almost always caused by pelvic position. During my second pregnancy, I saw my chiropractor regularly and did postural alignment exercises every day throughout the pregnancy. In addition, after reading that doula assisted births resulted in reduced labor time, fewer instances of epidurals or emergency C-sections, and reported greater feelings of well-being for moms, I decided to hire a doula.
Choosing a Doula
After talking with a few doulas on the phone, I knew I wanted to hire Ashley right away. As soon as she said, “I like to text with my clients all the time. I want to be your pregnancy and labor BFF”, I knew she was perfect for me. Just like that, she became exactly that for me.
During our early meetings, Ashley talked to my husband and me about our birth plan, goals, and dreams for our daughter’s birth. My main goal was to avoid a vacuum-assisted delivery and to have an unmedicated birth, if possible. I also wanted to shorten my time in labor significantly! One of the doctors in my practice told me that a second birth often takes about half the time of the first birth. I remember thinking, this birth better NOT take 18 hours!
Our doula, Ashley, taught us exercises my husband could help me with, and we did those several times a week for the last few weeks of my pregnancy. She also suggested I walk every day, and because I was determined to do everything I could to create the labor and birth I wanted, I made time to walk every day in my last trimester.
My second birth was a beautiful, empowering experience. However, eight days before my due date, I was feeling run down and miserable all day and started having contractions on and off. Ashley suggested a few positions that could help spur the contractions along.
Using What Ashley Taught Me
Around 5 pm, I knew I was definitely in labor, and I started using all the tools Ashley had taught me to cope with the contractions, which were quickly increasing in intensity and frequency. At one point, she called and coached me through a few contractions, and her coaching allowed me to stay home for two more hours when I was ready to go to the hospital.
At 8 pm, my husband and I left for the hospital. When my midwife checked my cervix, I was 8 centimeters dilated. Our doula arrived soon after we did and immediately set to work, making me as comfortable as possible and helping me find positions that made my contractions as productive as possible. When it was time to start pushing, my husband held one hand, and Ashley held the other. Ashley and my midwife, Amanda, both coached me, and my daughter was born after just five or six pushes.
The moment Amanda laid her on my chest was one of the absolute sweetest moments of my entire life. Jacqueline was born at 9:58 pm – about 90 minutes after arriving at the hospital
A Perfect End
Our doula knew that the hour or so after the birth was very important to me, and she unobtrusively created the scenario I had dreamed of – a quiet, darkened room and time with just my husband, my baby, and me.
Then, she supported us for that first breastfeeding latch, making the process feel effortless and low-pressure. Ashley continued to support us after the birth with a postpartum visit at home the week after Jacqueline was born and over text throughout my fourth trimester.
I am so grateful to her for supporting me so I could have the birth I dreamed of.