One question people I hear quite often is why I ended up becoming a doula and a childbirth educator. I love answering it because it encompasses my whole philosophy of birth.
It started during my pregnancy with my first child. At the time, we were living in Mexico, but being only an hour and a half from the border made it easy for us to choose to go up to San Diego to have our daughter. We chose an amazing birthing center run by midwives. I educated myself by reading various books, and we also attended birthing classes offered by the birthing center. After learning so much, we decided to have a doula attend our birth. At the time, we were clueless about what a doula did, but all the books said it was a good thing so – why not? I wrote my perfect birth plan and was ready!
And then my labor began. It was a very typical first-time labor in the beginning, nothing to write home about. As excited new parents, we went to the birth center sooner than we needed but they were amazing and allowed me to stay and helped me relax. My doula came and helped me settle and offered even more comfort. Quickly I advanced to 10 cm and was ready to push! I thought my birth journey was about to conclude, but it was only beginning.
The pushing began – one hour passed. Two hours passed. The midwives kept checking my daughter’s heartbeat and, thankfully, she was perfect the entire time. Then three hours passed. We tried different positions, and the midwives checked my ability to push. My pushes were strong, but she wasn’t descending well. Four HOURS! We started to see her head but I was exhausted, and she stopped descending. Something must have been going wrong – why wasn’t she coming out?
My midwives took the time to explain to me what they thought was happening and what could be done. For some reason, my daughter did not fit through my body. They asked me if they’d like to attempt an episiotomy (a cut in the perineum) or to be transferred to the hospital where I had a backup doctor who would be able to do more medical interventions if they were needed. Since my daughter’s heartbeat was great they had no rush and we took the time to discuss the pros and cons. My doula was by my side encouraging me and helping fill in gaps of information she thought I would appreciate. Soon it was decided to head to the hospital. So, we transferred in the back of my midwife’s van with my daughter’s head already showing.
When we arrived, the medical team did an incredible job of taking over. The doctor came in and assessed the situation. She decided to attempt the episiotomy but have the forceps ready in case they were needed. As soon as she did the episiotomy and checked around my daughter’s head she pushed her little hand out of the way and my daughter was born!
Even though my birth was not how I had planned, I felt so empowered. Every step of the way I knew what was going on because of my education and because of my doula and midwives. I felt like I had a say in my medical care. I felt in control during the most out of control time of my life. It was an incredible experience because of the midwives and doula around me.
During the same time I was pregnant, I had friends down in Mexico who were also pregnant, but we had completely different experiences. They were in the dark about what was happening to them and why. They were told by their doctor just to come in when they felt “the pains, ” and they would be taken care of. They may have even been without their partner during the birth if they couldn’t afford a private hospital and had to go to the general hospital. Even though they walked away healthy and their baby was healthy, their experience was traumatic and very difficult for them.
I saw that when a woman is educated and supported during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum it can be an empowering, incredible experience for them. On the other hand, when a woman isn’t supported or doesn’t feel like they are in the loop during their pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum it can feel almost debilitating, scary and even traumatizing. I decided I wanted to help women have the birth I experienced – one that even though it didn’t go the way I had planned I felt completely part of the process.
This is why I became a doula and childbirth educator! My goal is to educate, encourage and through that empower woman through their pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum period.