The role of a doula is tough to describe... even for us! Sometimes seeing is believing. Doulas are experts at support and guidance, but what exactly does that mean? In the Doulananda world, it means you will never be alone. That -- from the moment you connect with a birth doula -- you can expect information and resources appropriate for the stage of pregnancy or birth you are in. This info is delivered to your family by way of a sweet woman familiar with the birth process and environment. And on the day your beautiful babe decides to enter the world, this kind lady helps ensure your experience is calm and smooth.
Upon arrival to your birth location, you will be assessed. If the hospital or birth center decides you are progressing favorably, you will be admitted and settled into your space. For some, this can be a nerve-wracking time. Sights, sounds, and smells unlike home can cause some anxiety. Doulas can help interpret the initial assessment by medical staff then facilitate gearing up for GO-time.
For those that desire an unmedicated or natural birth, as labor progresses a large part of the doula's role will be ensuring mom's comfort. This can take many forms: hand-holding, helping mom maintain regular breathing patterns, rubbing her back, encouraging position changes, performing rebozo techniques, and more! However the responsibility for mom's comfort does not fall on doula alone. Doula's job -- and this is just as important as the rest -- is including and encouraging dad or partner and teaching them techniques to make mom comfortable. It is such an AMAZING team... really beautiful to be a part of!
For those families choosing or requiring medical interventions, the doula role changes to focus on keeping mom -- whose movements are now limited -- moving or and being a sounding board for questions about next steps. As much as medical personnel would like to, sadly they don't remain with the family the duration of labor to perform these functions (which surprises many first time moms!). The doula continues to work with the family however is needed. No shift changes for her!
On the other hand, some of the most special moments for a doula are simply stepping back and bearing witness to the magical moments in a couple's journey of becoming a new family. There are times of such joy, intimacy, and power that really all you can do is bask in it. There are no words to describe it.
Working with a doula in no way excludes dad or partner from the birth experience. It means dad has the option to breathe... to step back and live the moment without fear of doing the "wrong" thing or leaving his wife unattended. He can really press into the experience knowing he has a knowledgeable resource at his fingertips who will show him the way. Doula's presence means he can plug in as much or little as he is comfortable, giving him more confidence than he would have alone. This is no small thing.
Trying to describe this delicate exchange of knowledge and emotion that happens with a couple that is in the midst of a life-changing moment is nearly impossible. We hope this little window into the births of one of our clients has been helpful. Looking upon these images remind us of the tremendous blessing it is to do the work that we do. Thank you for the gift.
Brady Matthew was due Friday, January 3, 2013. After exactly 40 weeks, my water broke at 5 am the morning on January 3rd. I woke up, remained calm, took a warm bath and then woke my husband to tell him the exciting news, but to go back to sleep. My plan was to labor at home for as long as I could.
That day was very cold in Jacksonville, Florida, unlike a normal day for us. My husband and I went for several walks throughout the day to assist in moving my surges along. My surges were about every 15 minutes for most of the day. Into the evening, my surges were becoming stronger and more frequent. It wasn’t until close to midnight that my surges were ranging between 4-7 minutes apart. We decided to go to the hospital and arrived around 1:30 am on Saturday, January 4th.
Upon arrival to Baptist South Hospital, I was taken to triage. Unfortunately, my temperature was a 99.5, which put me and baby at risk for potential infection. And unfortunately I was only dilated 2cm…after 18 hours of what I thought was “laboring” at home! I was immediately admitted into my room. By 2 am, my doctor called me to discuss our plan. It was very clear that I wanted as much as a natural birth as possible, as directed on my birth plan. However, the doctor wanted to start an antibiotic to protect me and baby from infection and also wanted to start pitocin. After a long and debating discussion, I agreed to have my antibiotic start at 3 am and the pitocin at 4 am. The doctor said he started his rounds at the hospital around 8 am, in which he would see me then, but he said more than likely we were looking at another 8-10 hours before giving birth, based on my slow progression.
So at 4 am, the pitocin drip started. The nurse said it would take about 30 minutes to “kick in.” Well, by 4:20 am, let’s just say the pitocin was “kicking in.” My surges were coming on stronger and faster now. I turned my HypnoBirthing sessions on and labored for one hour on my left side and another hour on my right side using the peanut ball. The nurse checked me and I was now between 4-5 cm dilated. My body was responding well to the pitocin! Around 7 am, there was a staff change, so I was assigned a new nurse. At this time, I changed positions, squatting on the bedside and leaning on my husband while he applied pressure to my lower back. This lasted for about an hour. The pain was really coming on strong now.
My husband, who was doing so good reminding me to breathe and relax, suggested I sit on the rocking chair in the room. My surges were extreme at this point and all I could do was breathe to get through the pain. What I did not know was that while on the rocking chair, I was in the “transition phase” for delivery. I have never experienced that kind of pain before and had to move back to the bed. The nurse checked me and I was now between 8-9 cm dilated. Baby was almost here!
The nurse asked if I wanted to try some guided pushes and I responded with “whatever would get baby out the quickest.” So, we did two guided pushes, which involved three 10-second pushes. This worked well. She said, “your doctor is right outside and I am going to call him in…you are going to birth your baby!” The doctor came in and did another two rounds of guided pushes and our son arrived.
He was immediately placed skin to skin on my chest. He was so very alert with his eyes wide open and staring right at me. The doctor continued to prepare my cord blood. Within minutes I delivered my placenta and the doctor started stitching me up.
Here is the cool part…the doctor, who is the lead physician of the practice was so impressed with my naturally delivery. He asked, “so what is this HypnoBirthing thing all about?” I told him all about it. I later found out that he told all the nurses on the floor about me and how good I did!
One thing I want to add to this whole experience is the importance of your spouse or loved one attending the HypnoBirthing classes. I could not have done it without my Husband. At times when I thought he wasn’t paying attention in class, he remembered every detail and ensured I used all techniques during my delivery. He truly was the best fill-in Doula!
HypnoBirthing has taught me the fundamentals of using your breathing to control extreme situations. This technique can truly be used on a daily basis for the rest of your life, even for simple relaxation.
~ Alicia Zoya
There aren't nearly enough words in the English dictionary to describe the appreciation my family has for Danae Bunso. She is an amazing doula! Supportive, knowledgeable, personable, flexible, lovable, honest, and downright amazing :) Our experience was phenomenal!
This was my husband and my first child and we started off terrified and unsure if we were even going to want a natural birth. After a short meeting with Danae, we were still afraid of a natural birth but felt more encouraged and ready to work. Danae also offered us her Bradley courses for natural childbirth and we felt much more equipped and prepared after the class.
Everything she said she would do (especially the day of!) she did. She was there for us for support even at times when it did not have to do with the baby! During the birth (she was pregnant at the time as well and STILL woke up 2:00 in the morning for us!) she was supportive, calm, reassuring, comforting, and overall a joy to have at my birth. If you are looking for someone to really be there for you, your baby and your partner... Danae is your lady! Thanks so much, you are awesome :) :)
~ Shanny Jones
Danae is a wonderful person and a wonderful doula. I'm glad we picked her! My wife and I were unsure about the birth, but she made everything great. Thanks to Danae, we were able to have a 7 hour labor...Oh yeah! Thanks Danae!
~ Chris Jones
Since the moment we found out we were pregnant we knew that we wanted a home birth. The thought of having our baby in our own home was something we considered special. We decided that we wanted a doula and we were blessed to have met Nikomi Peltz. Unfortunately, our birth plan did not go as expected and after hours and hours of grueling labor, we had to go the hospital due to complications. Thankfully, after an exhaustive 30 hours, our son was born healthy and my wife was recovering. The previous 30 hours were very emotional and tiresome, and I can’t imagine what it would have been like without Nikomi.
First off, the night started with Nikomi showing up to our house at 1:00 am in the morning. She was so sweet and understanding of our excitement. During the coarse of labor, Nikomi spent hours and hours comforting my wife (and me). She consistently enhanced our birth experience by paying attention to the little things, she even offered to be a photographer for a while. When the labor got really intense, Nikomi was right by our side reminding my wife of her relaxation techniques and offering subtle suggestions such as birthing positions.
Overall Nikomi was with us the whole night, and most of the next day. Although I know she was tired, she never showed it. She was so sweet, caring, and helpful through the whole birth process. We plan on having another child in the next couple of years and hopefully Nikomi will be our doula. Thanks again Nikomi!
~ Chris Sabourin
I will be the first to admit that when my wife brought the idea of taking HypnoBirthing childbirth classes to my attention, I pushed it off and thought it would be a waste of time. My profession has me in the Operating Room and Surgical Suites on a daily basis, with multiple touch points and close relations with OBGYN Surgeons. Having close connections and interactions with surgeons, specifically, OB’s, I never thought anything different than having our children in hospitals. I figured, since I worked at all of them, I knew enough people and my way around, that it would be a great experience. Reality was it was a completely different story…
My wife and I attended your HypnoBirthing class, and this was a huge game changer when it came time to deliver our child. This class brought peace of mind to the birthing process, as well as ensured that we had prepared a plan for our child’s birth. Even though we took the class once, we plan on taking it again before the births of our next children. This was an exceptional class with calming and relaxation methods that truly work. I am an extremely busy person, and for you to be able to bring my mind at ease was a huge success and for that I am extremely grateful!
Looking back, after our daughter’s birth, there are some things we plan to do different for the next child. We are truly blessed with our daughter and we feel that she came into this world as was intended for our paths at that time. However, now knowing what the hospital experience is like, we plan to ensure we have a doula lined up and are going to try to deliver at a birthing center. These are our plans for now and will post a review after the happenings.
In conclusion, if you are thinking about taking a Hypnobirthing Class, I highly encourage it!! I was extremely skeptical at first, but am now so thankful that I took the class. Secondly, from my experience in the hospital situation, we will definitely be hiring a doula for the next birth. Even with knowing the hospital staff and knowing the ins-and-outs of a hospital, the birth of a child is very special, and having a doula present will allow me the opportunity to just be with my wife, and the doula will be able to handle all of the other challenging questions and happenings.
Thank you for your services and all that you do to educate on how to create a peaceful, memorable and joyous birthing experience!
John L., BSME
Guest Contributor: Melissa Johnson, CD(DONA), HBCE
I recently read a blog that explained why men were ill-equipped to attend births and suggested that they should be “removed from the birth plan.” Wow! I wholeheartedly disagree. Do I think that some men/partners are better at supporting moms during labor than others? Sure! But let’s not discount our spouses altogether!
Partners play an important role in pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy is good practice but seeing mom in labor adds a totally different element. It is important to know the birth process, but all that reading and knowledge does very little if you have never seen a birth.
“I’ve seen a man pull a line of boxcars with his teeth. I’ve watched a friend light his chest on fire and let another friend hop over his flaming torso on a skateboard. I’ve seen an actor on ”Deadwood” very convincingly pretend to pass kidney stones. None of this even comes close to the awesome experience of seeing my wife, Nicole, give birth.” ~ Josh Tyson: The Performance | Dads in the Delivery Room (Great read for dads!)
Dad, so here goes... here are some tips to keep in mind during labor that will act as a guide and help prepare you for this wonderful birth day.
Truly trust in your partners body’s ability to birth your baby. This is HUGE! If you don't have faith that your partner will successfully birth this baby, you may shake her confidence. Part of your homework may be releasing YOUR fears before entering the birth room. (HypnoBirthing offers a great fear-release exercise.)
Educate yourself. Attend a childbirth class with mom -- especially a class that highlights the role of an active partner -- and read about the birth and the hallmarks of labor. The Birth Partner is a GREAT book!
Connect with other fathers. Seek out others who have attended births and talk to them about their experience. Hearing your feelings echoed back to you by your friends will give you comfort.
Consider a birth doula. Contrary to what some believe, a doula's role is to ENHANCE (not get in the way of) the connection you have with your partner. She will support mom AND you during labor. Remember, this is an experience for you too and you may need support... show you where to apply pressure, to reassure you things are normal, to relive you during a bathroom break. Sometimes we are there as much or more for dads as moms! Let us be your safety net.
Be familiar with your birth plan and be prepared to step-up and speak-up when needed. Mom will be very focused on her job of bringing baby to the world, so she will look to you to communicate with those around you. Be ready.
Be responsible for the energy you bring into the room, and protect the birth space from others. Mom is very sensitive to what is happening around her, so it is your role to filter any bad mojo or unnecessary activity. Choose your words wisely and speak softly. Too many people in the room? Ask them to leave. Intense conversations happening around mom? Take them outside the room. Is the nurse unsupportive? Ask for another.
Ask questions. If a situation or special circumstance arises, ask "Is this an emergency? Do we have time to discuss this?" Ask for time alone to talk through what your desires are. It is difficult to make a decision with a doctor or nurse staring your down. No pressure there!
Maintain calm. If you have never seen your partner in labor before, it is quite different. It's the most focused and purposeful you will ever see her. There will be moments of intense concentration and others of just quiet. (Believe it or not, birth can be quite uneventful!) She may want you; she may not. Either way, just give her space to be where she is and stay calm. If you start to feel anxious or concerned, simply check in with the nurse or your doula. In most cases, they will just reassure you that what you are seeing is normal.
Be flexible. Try not to judge if your partner changes her mind about the birth plan. I say a lot in my classes, “you don’t know what you don’t know” and things change. The entire birth team must remain flexible because only SHE knows what she is feeling. She has the right to make an empowered decision of change – and that’s okay.
Take care of yourself. We see dads get excited in early labor and not take care of themselves then become exhausted near the end. Rest and eat during the early stages of labor. (This goes for mom AND dad.) You will need your energy later. Don't be that guy!
Final note... your partner is all in. She is doing this baby thing whether she wants to or not, so let this guide help you share in the load. Mom will be so grateful and the experience will be that much smoother when you are prepared. Congratulations and good luck!