Good Doula, Bad Doula, Part One.
When I was pregnant with my fourth baby, I knew I was going to be alone again. We were living in a new area. We had no friends in Southern California. I had no doctor here. I wasn’t supposed to get pregnant! I printed the entire list of doctors my health insurance would cover and started researching each one The one I picked, I’ll call her Dr. Toni, went to Johns Hopkins and her partner taught at UCLA. Figured I was going to get the best educated doctor I could in case there were complications. I also wanted the best Doula. Dr. Toni tried to talk me out of a Doula, but I was insistent. I KNEW I needed one. Even with the Doula who drove me crazy, I needed her. So I started researching Doulas, and then Dr. Toni gave me the name of one she recommended. So I called her (not sure if I should say her name in the blog).
I met with Tracy. She was great. We talked about my birth feelings, and what I want, and that I have breastfed all of my children, and how long, and that I co-sleep. I told her I had two drug free births and really wanted a third. I told her about my gestational diabetes and that I had to use insulin to control it. She explained to me how to postpone an inducement without offending the doctor. She told me how she can sneak food to me like yogurt and bananas if the hospital bans it, and in the end, I think we were pleased with each other.
I couldn’t afford her full rate, so we knocked off a few services to get the rate down (no post-partum birth visits, no pre-birth meetings). I kept her posted via email. I ended up taking my doctors advice and being induced. I should have been stronger, but my insulin doses were getting higher each week, and I was genuinely concerned about the health of the little one. We are so easily swayed by doctors, aren’t we.
So I told Tracy and she asked if she could bring an apprentice and I told her sure. I found out later, that most of her clients said, No, but I’m sooo glad I said Yes!
I was induced and labor started fairly quickly unlike previous inductions. With Tracy and Ashley, I moved around the room (the nurses had such a high respect for Tracy, that they were letting me go off monitor and gave me a lot more freedom than any other hospital had allowed). I used the birth ball, slow dancing, rocking. They distracted me with stories and laughter, massages, focusing. When the labor was weird, they confirmed that the contraction pattern was different than the norm (due to being induced a week early!). When I broke down and asked for an epidural, they did their job to support me and remind me that I wanted drug free and that kept me going longer, then when I finally said I needed it, they supported that decision and told me it was a great decision. Tracy assured me the anesthesiologist was the best in the hospital and he was great.
When it came time to push, they helped me change positions, use the squat bar, everything. Then after almost 2 hours of pushing, when Dr. Toni said the baby was not budging, and decided to do a C-Section because she didn’t know why he was “stuck,” Tracy and Ashley went to surgery with me. Ashley held him when I couldn’t. She tried to encourage his suck reflex by letting him suck her finger. She took pictures as he came out to show me immediately my baby boy. They took care of him when I couldn’t, and I will always be grateful. He didn’t need to be sent to a nursery while I came out of it (I had a huge blood loss, so surgery took longer than usual). They didn’t leave until my Father in Law arrived to help me.
Throughout the labor, Ashley kept my husband posted on the entire process. She called him to let him know we were getting a C-Section. The “Bad Doula” was annoyed when he called for information and was rude to him. Ashley called him when the C-Section was over to let him know it was all okay.
Tracey and Ashley were EXACTLY what I wanted in a doula. Compassionate, Personable, Excellent.
If you hire a doula, I highly recommend you talk with her for at least a half an hour. More if you can. You need to make sure your personalities mesh. You’re going to spend a lot of time together, and that time is very stressful. If your Doula annoys you at all, she will make you miserable during labor.
What do you think makes a good Doula?