Hi! I'm new here!
I am in the midst of my first birth experience as a Doula. I have a client who is 1-1/2 weeks post due date and experiencing a lot of contractions. They lasted the past 24 hours or more 4-5 min apart lasting 1 min in length. But now contractions have stopped all together. It's all good signs she's tuning up....but how do you really know the difference between practice labor, pre-labor, early labor? I guess that's not an easy questions. Does anyone ever feel guilty that they couldn't help the mom anymore than they did?
Congratulations on your first birth!
As you do more births you will find that it gets easier to tell the difference. I ask lots of questions like "how are you feeling during a contraction" or "Are these contractions stronger and longer than the contractions you were having an hour ago" and The answers are helpful in figuring out where your client is mentally and physically.
After I attend a birth I always do some reflection on what I did well and what I wish I had done differently. I learn from every birth and I try to take what I learn and apply it to my future births. I don't think that beating your self up does anyone any good! Just do your best, learn what you can, and find joy in every birth!
I've found that "real" contractions tend to be felt lower, while the bhx tend to be felt high. If she still has not started labor you might want to look at spinningbabies.com for ideas - might be a hand slowing things down or something? You will feel very bad about not being able to fix things as a doula - please don't take on the idea that it is your job to save or rescue them from anything...your job is to lovingly support them as they labor and birth. I beat myself up over cesareans and the likes - but the reality is you will mess up, there will be days that don't go all the way you hope, and at the end of the day - you're still going to be vital to the majority of women you work with. I had a mom last year who had what I would catagorize as a traumatic birth - I went to the postpartum meeting nervous about it. You would have thought her birth was IDEAL by the way she acted, she couldn't have been happier!!! I had taken all that trauma on me and she was free to enjoy her baby...so, it is an ongoing process. This country needs doulas...so keep at it even when it gets scary!
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