Reflections on a couples journey from pregnancy to parenting.
1. What are you proud of with regards to your birth preparation and birth experience?
I’m proud of myself for taking the initiative to do the work for a natural birth. I had not even considered that trying for a natural birth was right for me until about six weeks before I was due. When I started to explore it as an option, I wavered a little before committing because I had some internal conflict and fears. Meeting with Erika was a turning point: she acknowledged where I was in my exploration of natural birth and did not try to push any agenda. I worked through the fears (with lots of encouragement and support from my partner) and embraced the preparation with Erika as my doula.
I’m proud of the focus I was able to achieve during my labour and the strength I was able to draw on, mentally and physically. I’m very proud and grateful for the team that I had around me – they enabled me to achieve these things. I felt loved, respected and empowered.
2. During this process what new skills/aspects about yourself have you learnt?
I discovered a strength and stamina I didn’t know I had.
3. Is there anything you would change for next time you are pregnant/give birth/parent?
If I am lucky enough to have a ‘next time’, I hope to trust my body more throughout the pregnancy and continue to learn how to use this trust in labour and parenting. I know that the second time around, I will have a greater trust and confidence in my instincts.
4. What were the benefits in having doula support? For example:
a) In preparing for birth
It was like having private tutorials on birth! The hospital education was great, but I always came away with lots more questions. With Erika, we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted, and the answers were supported with demonstrations, videos and lots of other really good resources. I particularly liked the meditation / hypnosis resources in preparing for the birth. These were also really useful in just getting through the last bit of pregnancy – especially the two weeks beyond my due date!
I appreciated being guided towards reliable online resources like Lamaze and Evidence-based Birth, because all the information out there is very overwhelming. I used these websites, along with Erika’s advice, to help make decisions about having an induction.
b) At the birth
I had been listening to Erika’s voice in the guided meditations every day for about three weeks leading up to my birth. When she arrived at my labour, I had my eyes closed, as I was trying to focus through the contractions. I didn’t see her come in, I just heard her voice beside me and it triggered the feelings of calmness and trust that I had been practicing in the meditations. I kept my eyes closed for most of the labour, just focusing and letting the voices around me guide me through.
Erika encouraged me to change positions throughout the labour, which was very challenging but which I believe enabled the whole process to be as quick as it was. She also did some manipulations to open up my pelvis and relieve the pressure during contractions. It was amazing!
c) In knowing my options and making informed choices
Having the extra education in the lead up to the birth was very empowering. Also, having access to reliable resources provided by Erika, was incredibly useful as we needed to make some decisions around inducing my labour. We felt informed in doing this. During the birth, Erika supported us in requesting to wait before an intervention was introduced – this ultimately led to us having a drug-free labour, which was our plan.
d) For my partner
Initially, I had worried that my partner might feel redundant or that he was being replaced by the doula, or that I didn’t have confidence in him to support me….in actual fact, Erika made us realise the full extent to which a partner can be not just supportive but fundamental throughout labour; their role in helping to get the oxytocin flowing is so important! I believe it made my partner more confident going into the labour. He was the one who got Erika on the phone when they were prepping me for the sentocinon drip – after speaking to her, he rushed back into the room to say, “You don’t have to do this right now if you don’t want to” which ultimately gave me the confidence to insist on waiting…and the labour came on by itself!