To "Do"ula or Not...Do!ula
To “Do”ula or not? Do!ula for sure.
How I found out about this incredible support?
Many years back, in secondary school, my family studies teacher brought in a Doula and midwife to explain their roles during pregnancy. At the time I wanted to make sure I committed this word to memory, repeat after me, Doula. Fast forward many years later, Brian and I had decided to start trying to have a baby.
Why I decided to chose a doctor vs. midwife
About three years ago when the birth control I was on stopped working, I decided I was done taking it and wanted to give my body a break. I figured the typical few months of an inconsistent cycle would be the norm, but my body wasn’t acting the ‘norm’. I had been referred to a gynecologist as I was having issues with having a period. She had run a series of tests and could not find the issue. It had been just over a year without a period in sight. Most women would love it, but when you’re thinking babies, it’s concerning, extremely concerning. She ran one final test, implanting a syringe into my cervix to push dye into my fallopian tubes to see if they were blocked for any reason. It was the most invasive, painful and frightening test I had taken to date. Sure, at the time of all these tests we weren’t seriously trying for a child. But when the worry you may not conceive a child, after it’s all you’ve thought about growing up (being a mom), is seriously upsetting. While writing this blog post, after having had Robbie and spent a year with him, I’m sick to my stomach with grief at the thought that the possibility of this not happening was even there. During this test, she pushed one large syringe of dye and it revealed that one tube was partially blocked, but she asked if she could try to push one more (I think because it is super painful she wanted to make sure I really wanted her too?) syringe to try and open up the second completely. She said sometimes it works, so I agreed.
The fertility God must have been watching over me and helped this process, my fallopian tubes were fully open and ready for action. As we didn’t know that this could be the actual cause of my lack of period or not, she was still concerned. Sure enough, I began to ovulate and have a pretty consistent cycle. However, my OBGYN was still concerned and wanted to see me within six months of beginning to try for a baby. After having these concerns prior to conception, using a midwife was not really a consideration for Brian and I. Sure I would love to have the experience and imagine it would be fantastic, but at this point I had found the most amazing OBGYN whom I had a good relationship with and loved how comfortable she made me feel.
And then it happened.
Brian and I decided to, as he would put it “pull the goalie”, and our first month of trying was all it took. I had been feeling a bit nauseous here and there and my period was due any day, so I figured I would take a test. I can remember exactly what I was doing that day. Heather and I had planned to head to the pumpkin patch @LeisureFarms in Sturgeon Falls with her daughter Brooklynn, this has since become an annual tradition. That morning I had another bout of nausea and decided might as well take a test, and sure enough it came back positive! I couldn’t believe it, I called Brian who was working in Collingwood that weekend (of course it was the only weekend he worked without coming home) and told him the news. We were both ecstatic! For those of you who don’t know me, I am a “type A” all the way. I need to plan, make lists, etc.. I knew that the first 12 weeks were still a time with greater risk of miscarriage so we were careful to only tell a few people until we had the 12 week ultrasound and pass that threshold. Once that date passed, we told our parents and extended family and friends. It was so great to finally share this incredible secret and it was at that time I started talking to Brian about having a Doula.
Sure, pregnancy is filled with joy and excitement, but it is also filled with fear and question. I’m not sure whether baby number two will be less scary, but I doubt it. So many questions and worries that both Brian and I had. Of course we have a great support system of family and friends, but we didn’t have someone to answer all these additional concerns you wouldn’t necessarily ask your doctor/midwife. That’s when I explained to Brian about a Doula, a birthing coach. He was skeptical at first until I explained how significant of a role they play in making both mom and dad feel safe, informed and supported in a non-judgmental and unbiased way during birth. He could tell how important this was to me and knew it would help in my comfort level throughout the pregnancy and birth, so he was in.
I want to note here that we only told some close friends and family about our choice. Some were supportive, and others were not. I think there were many reasons behind their lack of support, many were skeptical, some were envious that she was going to be there instead of them, and others simply believed the doctor would be enough. There’s something about when you are pregnant that people believe they can give their opinion’s and expect you to listen more than normal. The only opinion or advice I would give to all/any of you pregnant “mama to be’s” out there, I strongly encourage you to listen to your heart, your partner and your doctor/midwife, and in the case of those who have decided, your Doula.
I started researching Doula’s in Sudbury. At the time, I contacted a Doula Service that had actually closed. However, she provided me with a list of Doulas in the area I could contact, and forwarded my e-mail to them as well. How do you decide who would be your second support at one of the most intimate moments of your life? I feel like she secretly chose me (not actually, but you know what I mean). I received a few emails, and decided to meet with Megan Kant from @TheBlissfulDoula. I remember feeling so nervous as Brian and I drove to @Starbucks for our meeting. After waving us down and two minutes of conversation, I was sure that Meg would be our choice. Meg made us feel so comfortable already. The conversation ranged from what our professions were, to interests of ours, to mild discussion on birthing preferences. I’m not sure if it was how sweet and genuine Meg is, or if it was her contagious laugh, or her completely non-biased, non-judmental attitude throughout the entire meeting, we were in love. It was pretty cute, as we pulled out the parking lot, Brian asked me “So, what do you think? Are we still going to meet the other one?” and I said “no way, she’s awesome” he responded with “yeah, I agree”.
I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, we signed the contract and sent our deposit. At the time we chose the largest package she offered, it included: phone/text support throughout pregnancy, two prenatal appointments, creating a birth plan, support during the birth, first family and newborn photos, breastfeeding support immediately afterwards as well as one 4 hour post-partum visit.
In hindsight, I could have asked Meg so many questions that Google provided me uncertain answers too, but I only wanted to bug her with more important questions. Either way, when I sent her a text, I received a response within less than half an hour. For both of our prenatal appointments she was incredibly informative and provided us with a copy of all of the information we were covering. That way we could refer back to it afterwards. After both visits, we felt even more comfortable and knowledgeable in birthing 101 haha. I think because I’m a Type A, I even registered Brian and I for a birthing and Yoga class she offers in conjunction with @ArcClimbingYogaFitness. The class was super informative and fun. A nice way to meet other soon-to-be parents as well. If you want to read more on how my pregnancy went, check out the blog post I wrote for Meg @TheBlissfulDoula.
The day was finally upon us, after going 12 days past-due I was being induced at the hospital. Meg arrived shortly after the induction took place, updated herself on everything that had taken place thus far, and settled in for an evening of labour and delivery. Throughout contractions she provide the ultimate support, offered suggestions, and was constantly by my and Brian’s side. After several hours, it was time to push. Meg stepped in with Brian and helped out in all possible ways. After Robbie was born, she took some amazing first photos of our newest addition and our new little family. She also provided support with helping Robbie latch for the first time and ensured I felt comfortable with nursing.
It’s such a crazy whirlwind, you go to the hospital as two, come home as three, and all of a sudden your life has been filled with the most love! Along with the love comes the healing and learning. Meg came for her postpartum visit where she meal-prepped for us, cleaned and let both Brian and I have a nap and rest. Although Meg had fulfilled everything laid out in the package we chose, she still provided support via text for many concerns I had afterwards. It was phenomenal! Did I mention she also sent me a gift on Mother’s Day? SO sweet! We have since also managed to get together and visit with our kiddos and I can’t wait for her to be by our side for baby number two (whenever that will be). Please feel free to ask any questions about my experience, or contact @TheBlissfulDoula and speak to Meg directly!