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Why I became a doula

When I first said, "I want to be a doula." my husband gave me one of those, "Okaaay." responses that really meant, I have no idea what that is but I love you anyways. It seems to be the general consensus when the word doula comes up in conversations.

Many years ago, well 8 to be exact, I was young, pregnant, and uneducated about childbirth. I thought I was prepared after reading all I could on those popular baby sites. I thought I was well supported since I had invited everyone I knew to witness my birth. Once I was actually in labor I realized I was wrong. I had no idea I could decline Pitocin. I had no idea I could insist on laboring on my hands and knees since my baby was not at risk. I went with the flow of the nurses' instructions and labored through back pain on my back. I accepted the Pitocin when it seemed I was dilating slowly. I had my heart set on a natural childbirth. My labor progressed very much according to text book. My water broke at 5 a.m. I had Pitocin around 3 p.m. I developed a fever around 6 pm. I was administered antibiotics. I was told to sign for a cesarean section at 11:30 p.m. with a deadline for delivery at midnight. I was scared and stuck in a whirlwind of strategies to keep my baby and me safe, so I accepted all of the interventions that were presented to me.

I was truly terrified of the cesarean. I had a lovely nurse at shift change who told me she traveled all over the country teaching nurses about labor and childbirth. I now realize she must've either done doula work before or possibly training as a midwife. Unfortunately her specific details completely escape me. She gently coached me on how to focus, on how to breathe, and how to envision having my baby before that deadline. When I felt like giving up and wanted to lay back and cry, she grabbed me by my shoulders, looked right in my face, and gave me a little shake and said, "YES YOU CAN DO THIS AND YES YOU ARE." She was exactly what I needed. My beautiful daughter was born at 11:55 p.m., five minutes before my "deadline".

I don't want to relay my story to scare anyone away from medical interventions that can be lifesaving. I mention my story because I feel that if i were more prepared, more supported, and more educated I would have had the natural birth I dreamed about. If I even knew what a doula was back then I could have had one that gave me other options about how to increase dilation, get my baby to drop, how to confidently decline interventions, and most of all how to find my own voice in my labor. If I can play the role of helping even just one woman find her own voice and empower her to take charge of her own birth, I will be satisfied.

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