All kinds of women, birthing people and families choose to have a doula support them, for all kinds of reasons. Here is a selection of their stories.
By Jacqueline Merlini
The births of my first two babies had been far from ideal. The first was an emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic, and the second a long painful demoralising labour ending in an epidural and forceps delivery. In both cases I was disappointed with the level of support from the midwifes – and yet I didn’t feel this was a role my poor long-suffering husband could fulfil. So third time around, I decided to hire professional help in the shape of a doula.
Those of us having perinatal care divided between caregivers in Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and Watford will understand the need for better continuity. You and your doula will get to know each other during the months before the birth and she will come to you at home in the early stages of labour, and stay until the fat lady sings. Her familiarity with you and your wishes for the birth will help her to help you stick up for yourself if under pressure from medical staff to undergo unwelcome interventions.
Kicki (Hansard) was helpful from the outset. We had three meetings towards the end of my pregnancy when we discussed my birth plan in detail, practised positions, breathing, massage and other techniques. We talked about natural remedies, meditation and relaxation techniques, and how to handle medical staff and the hospital environment. In between visits Kicki phoned and emailed regularly to see how I was feeling and to pass on information she had got for me.
My labour began during the night. Everything started off ok – I managed fine on my own while my husband took a shower and pottered around finishing off a few little jobs. Then my toddler woke and refused to go back to sleep and as the intensity of the contractions increased my husband was preoccupied with her and packing a few last things in my labour bag. We called Kicki and when she arrived the contractions where beginning to get on top of me.
The relief when Kicki came was palpable. She gave me a big hug and immediately the pain level dropped. I felt I had a comrade in arms and some undivided attention and company at last. Kicki’s encouragement, praise, empathy helped me relax and get back on top of the contractions. She instinctively knew exactly how to touch me without irritating. Her messages of reassurance were not once I would have accepted or believed coming from my husband – after all, what would HE know? In any case, he was too busy with other stuff to spend much time at my side.
After a horrendous care journey to Watford in the rush hour it made a huge difference to how I was coping to see Kicki again at the hospital. Once in the delivery suite there was no time for anything much – I was shocked and overjoyed to be told I had already reached full dilation – and the baby was born within the hour. As I screamed her out, Kicki gave me the reassurance that it was ok to make such a huge hullabaloo!
So finally I got the complete birth experience with no drugs. I couldn’t have done it without my doula. I was so elated and proud of myself as so in love with my beautiful new daughter. Amazing, fantastic, totally fulfilling – without doubt the best day of my life.