I'm a doula-in-training. I was so moved by the homebirth of my daughter 2 winters ago and still haven't kicked that feeling that becoming a birthing doula might be the path for me. So, I'm attending my first birth at the end of June, roughly. I took the DONA weekend course and have been reading as much as I can, but I thought it would be interesting to tap into this community of doulas.
I'm curious to know...
1) How did you prepare for the first birth you attended?
2) What are you glad you knew that was especially helpful for that first birth?
3) What do you wish you had known for that first birth?
Thanks for your wisdom!
1. by watching and re-watching my CAPPA videos over and over and over...there was no way I was going to feel prepared and my midwife friend gave me no warning, she just said that if her assistant was unable to make it she would call me. She called in the middle of the night and gave me directions to the home of a couple I had never met and knew nothing about. It was their first baby/birth and I walked in as she labored on the toilet in the nude - it was sink or swim time!
2. Especially helpful to know how to help a mom breath and relax. It sounds so basic, but if breathing and relaxation go out the window and mom starts feeling isolated you have a much bigger battle on your hands. I used long and gentle light massage on her shoulders and back for many hours - we two labored as the midwife and father both slept very peacefully.
3. I wish I had known that moms really want help usually and that I was not intruding, but important. I was far too slow to offer myself because I didn't want to get in the way or to seem like I was taking charge. I was there to labor with her and I found out I was very good at it, but it took a long time to trust that and to learn to listen to the inner voice.
For a side note: I highly recommend reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, you don't have to read all of it - just the birth stories part. There is so much wisdom and insight and inspiration to be gotten from that one source.
Just be a source of hope and encouragement - you'll be wonderful and you'll have a huge high for a day or so. I called everyone and told them every detail of the first several births I attended. I now limit it to a few close friends who actually care! Is this a home or hospital or birth center birth?
It sounds like you showed up just at the same time that my doula showed up at the birth of our daughter. I was on the toilet...not yet nude. That came shorty after! ha ha!
I really appreciate your heartfelt response. It is so helpful to hear not to underestimate the power of relaxation and breathing.
I will try to just trust myself. I tell friends to read Ina May's Guide To Childbirth to prepare for their births as I really found it most helpful in preparing for the birth of my daughter. I will certainly read more birth stories from that as I prepare for the first birth I'll attend.
This birth will be at a hospital. The mother is hoping to have an unmedicated birth but she also said that she if says she wants the epidural that she means it. I'm a little nervous about not encouraging her enough or pushing her a little too much. Seems like such a fine line. How do you know when it is ok to encourage her through one more contraction and when it is time to let her have that epidural?
Also, my daughter was born at home. So I think I am a little anxious about being the first-time doula in a hospital full of professionals (docs and nurses). Any tips on how to handle that?
Thank you so much!
Still fairly "new" as a doula too :) As far as when to know if your client is serious about the epidural or not, consider going through the pain/preference scale (in your DONA binder I believe) with her to see how badly/much she is actually interested in it, make sure she is fully educated and informed on epidurals so she making an informed decision, not one she may regret later, set up a "code word" she can use so you know she means business if she really does want it during labor. Now I'll answer your other questions :)
1) Read, read, read, and ask other doula friends questions. There really is no way to feel or be completely prepared. Every birth is unique and you adapt to the way it happens.
2) I'm glad I knew that there is no timeline to when a baby and how a baby decides to be born. My first two births were both OVER 24hrs and both very complicated.
3) This goes for my first few births. I wish I had known to trust my intuition more. Sometimes it's ok not to be doing something and to just be a constant trusting presence in the room.
Married to my love , Mommy to W ('09) and Doula.
God has answered our prayers & we welcomed our baby girl earth side 11/24/13
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