A couple of days ago, I was my friend's doula for her unassisted birth. She had her husband, her MIL, and her FIL there....but FIL was watching t.v. in the other room and MIL was there mainly for my friend's son. Well, there were times in the labor and birth she says she was glad I was there for support like when she was in transition and telling her husband and I to call 911 for the pain, and I asked her something that helped her realize that it wasn't what she really wanted. She had told me in advance that she wanted me to question her if she asked for something like going to the hospital. I think she was glad I was there to help protect her environment like turning off certain lights that she wanted or helping clean up afterwards or helping her husband maneuver her the way she wanted when she wanted to be moved but was having a hard time getting there. Plus, there were times that her husband looked at me with a lost look when she didn't like what he was doing, and I would whisper something or hand him something else to try. It usually worked for her and then they just would continue doing their thing. I'm sure all of those things would have been taken care of anyway, but it did make me feel glad I was having a doula friend to support my husband even in the tiniest way. I'd like to enjoy having him WITH me the entire time this time, since with the last one having it be JUST us made him unable to truly labor with me. He was an errand boy for me the whole time because I wanted drink and food and hot and cold and etc etc.
I made sure (since I'm planning unassisted also) that I didn't do anything more than what was asked of me. I made sure to question if anything I was thinking of doing would be a blessing or perhaps just my observation of the situation which wasn't what she would have wanted since she chose unassisted in the first place. At the same time, her MIL was very concerned about certain things, and to keep peace and keep her MIL from freaking out at what was taking place that was so different from what is commonplace in a hospital, I did humor her. There are three things that were completely pointless that MIL was nervous about...and had she not been there, I think my friend would have COMPLETELY been 'allowed' to trust and follow her OWN inner voice. One was cord clamps. We braided embroidery floss during labor because MIL was voicing concern about clamping. (still no big deal and not an intrusion but instead gave us somethign to do during some early labor.) Then after transition, when my friend was resting in a kneeling postion leaning over her husband with her butt elevated higher than her head, MIL insisted that she needed to get out of that position and move to a semi-sitting. But when she saw that my friend wasn't doing that, she left. But my friend heard her and moved shortly there after. She was just resting before pushing, and it helped her to have the baby's pressure off her for a while, you know? Then, when she went to the bathroom for a pee break, her husband and her were alone. I was outside the bathroom door. So when I heard her say 'she's coming', I stayed put. This is her unassisted birth. I am a doula. I helped her as much as she wanted, and if she wanted me, she would have called. MIL heard her say 'I have her head in my hands' and stormed the door saying 'she can't have that baby on the toilet!!' So she was lifted off the toilet and her MIL caught the baby. She then proceeded to get totally freaked out when the baby didn't start wailing immediately. She didn't hand her through to my friend for awhile because of this. She got a bulb syringe and suctioned baby....but baby was breathing and cooing. She got cord clamps and scissors immediately which I just took and held until my friend told me she wanted them..... The only reason she even used her embroidery floss was to satisfy MIL. She also took the baby to get 'checked' when she felt there was nothign wrong with the baby, to satisfy MIL because she knew that was somethign that would be an issue.
All in all, the birth was AWESOME!!!!! and a total turn around from her hospital birth with her first child. And there were so many wonderful things about it. I was honored to have been invited. I'm still all flushed with excitement!! But at the same time, I learned something about making sure that the people that are invited know their place in an unassisted birth and allow you to totally do your own business without intervening with their own comments. Sometimes you don't know until labor is started. I have taken this lesson to make sure I am having talks with my husband, mom, and friend about things to let them know ahead of time to leave me alone if I'm sitting on the toilet catching the baby...and DO NOT RAISE ME OFF....rest assured, I will move if I think the baby will fall in the toilet and etc etc on other things that they may or may not be aware that is okay with me.
VERRRRY long but I had to tell some of her story because I feel like it explains very well how 'well meaning' support can be UNHELPFUL or helpful. My friend and I were on the same page ahead of time on birth philosophies, and so I do believe that she didn't lie to me when she told me she was so glad I was there even though I did only a few things. But it was probably because I ONLY did a few things, and they weren't interfering things. I really want to read The Red Tent....my friend recommended it to me. I'm sure there is somethign to be said for womanly support, otherwise, why would I want to be a doula? But I also think there was something empowering and peaceful about miscarrying completely alone...and it did feel similar to a birth (without the 8lbs of baby crowning). And I also think that there is something so romantic about my dh and I conceiving the baby, I carry him/her, labor with dh, and deliver him/her into dh's hands...like everything comes full circle. Even though my husband was unable to really be there with me the whole time I had dd, the fact that it was just me and him the entire time was so strengthening in our relationship. We were able to really see each other in a new way.
sorry for the length....just had a lot to say.