It’s a question that I’ve been asking myself for a little while now. In fact, I started wondering about this shortly after giving birth to Charles.
You see, though his birth went well, there are a few things that bugged me about the whole process and now that I’m pregnant again, I would like for Peanut’s birth to be different in some regards. I know I don’t have control over everything that goes on, but I would like to keep what control I do have when I’m going to go into labour.
For instance, with Charles, I had initially thought of going for a home water birth with a midwife. After discussing this option with my partner though, we ended up deciding upon a hospital birth. Since this was our first experience with birth and so had no idea what to expect exactly, we ended up concluding that we’d be safer in a hospital environment in case anything went awry.
I had also filled out a birth plan in which I had decided that I wanted the least amount of interventions. I was gunning for a med-free birth. However, when my water broke during the night at 40 weeks, I followed hospital procedure, gave the labour and delivery wing a call and we made our way there at 3am. I started to have very weak contractions for the first time in my pregnancy (no Braxton Hicks for me, it seems) on the way there. Upon arrival, I was checked (I was 1/2 a cm dilated!), strapped to monitors and told to try to get some sleep until 8am when the first ob/gyn would start their shift.
I listened to the nurse and managed to squeeze in a few more hours of shut-eye that night. Then, at 8am, when the nurse realized that my contractions had become weaker and more spaced out, I was started on the hell that is Pitocin.
Had I known that I’d be leaving the comfort of my bed to go to a hospital bed, I probably would have stayed home. In fact, had I known that moving about was likely to get my contractions going naturally, I probably would have stayed away from my bed and done just that: move (cleaning the house or even going out for a walk).
I pretty much stayed strapped to my hospital bed during labour as I tried to work through the pain of the contractions. By 1pm, I was going into shock from the pain and was given an epidural (poor anesthetist who had to get his job done through my uncontrollable back muscle spasms). After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing until I delivered at 6:26pm.
Now this time around, I can’t have a midwife. You see, out here in Quebec, there are only 15 midwifes that graduate annually. Here is a great article about the reality of natural birth with a midwife here.
Anyway, that got me thinking about having a doula this time around. A doula, or labour coach, can be hired to help a mother/family before, during and after delivery. Befor labour, they can help with a birth plan and preparing older children to the arrival or a new sibling. During labour, they can provide physical assistance by the means of massage or just suggesting different birthing positions and emotional support.
I’ve actually started researching doulas and have found a few that have experience, references, a doula certification and other types of training (massage, rebozo…). Now, I just have to call to see how much a doula costs.
I still haven’t made up my mind yet though, because I *did* enjoy having just my partner (and medical staff that kept popping in and out) with me during my son’s birth.
Did you consider a doula for one of your births? Did you ever consider hiring one?