During my first pregnancy, I spent a lot of time being scared out of my mind about giving birth. I was planning on having an unmedicated birth, but I felt genuinely insane for making that choice. In case you're wondering, these are great reasons to hire a doula. A doula — who, in case you're a little lost, is someone who provides non-medical support for laboring women — can help you get through almost anything when you're giving birth (well, aside from some obvious stuff, like the medical part of things).
My husband, bless his heart, did not have any experience with childbirth (I mean, fair), so it seemed ridiculous that I should expect him to know what to do. Sure, we went to prenatal classes together, but for him to remember all the pain management techniques and tips we learned there, he’d have to study like it was the bar exam. Lucky for me, a good friend was studying to become a doula, and needed to assist in a certain number of births before she could be certified. The bonus? She was also a registered massage therapist.
Now, I do want everyone to know that my husband did an amazing job of supporting me during the labor and delivery of both kids. But man oh man, when I was reeling from back labor that first time, my doula was a godsend. Here are a bunch of other times during labor when you'll be so, so glad you decided to have a doula as part of your birth squad:
When She Finds The Perfect Spot On Your Lower Back
Doulas. Know. Their. Sh*t. I mean, I know I kind of got lucky with a doula who happened to also be a massage therapist (score!) but there are certain trigger points that are common during labor. If you took prenatal classes, chances are you learned about those points and forgot them the next day. These ladies remember because it’s their job.
When She Suggests Trying Something You've Never Thought Of Doing, AND IT WORKS
I had such big plans for labor. I had a playlist of high energy songs and one of soulful and meditative songs, neither of which I wanted anything to do with when it actually happened. My labor was fast and furious. I packed essential oils for calming and focusing, which made me want to vomit when I smelled them during labor. But I was not going to “tone.” None of that moaning shit. I would swear. I would joke. I. Would. Not. Moan. Guess what? She had me toning and it absolutely, completely, positively helped.
When She Looks You In The Eye During A Rough Moment And Says, "You Can Do This."
OK, I was all kinds of prepared for my drug-free birth. I read Birthing From Within by Ina May Gaskin and I figured between my husband, my midwives, my doula and I, everything would be just fine. Then it all started happening, and it was way worse than I expected (remember: back labor) and I couldn’t catch my breath between contractions. I started getting really worked up because they pain was so intense and I felt completely out of control. She looked at me, told me I could do it, and in that moment, conveyed so much strength and assuredness that I felt like I really could. And I did.
When She Puts A Straw In Your Water Glass
Because she just knows. Trying to hold a glass with shaky hands is impossible. Trying to sip water at the rate you want, when someone else is holding it is freaking impossible, when you are already highly irritable and in great pain. Nobody else thinks of this, but she does.
When You're Ready To Collapse From Exhaustion And She Gives You A Spoonful Of Honey
Like I said before, it’s her job to think of these things. To say to herself, “Hey! It’s been 4 hours and this beast of a lady hasn’t had a thing to eat. Let’s give her something to energize her without filling her stomach.” And it is liquid gold on your tongue.
When She Steps In To Take Over, Just As Your Partner Is Fading
Listen, having a doula is not about replacing your partner while you’re in labor; it’s about having an extra set of hands. Or an extra brain to think of things that you can’t remember because you’re busy, y'know, having a baby. And it’s about letting your partner do as much as they’re able, and then giving them relief so that you’re not both exhausted when the baby arrives.
When You're Afraid You May Be Hurting Her, And She Assures You You're Not
It’s that moment when you realize how hard you’re squeezing her hand, as a contraction hits, so you release your grip a little. Then she squeezes it back, and you understand that she can handle it. Bless her heart.
When Your Healthcare Providers Start Talking Amongst Themselves And She Goes Over To Join In, So That You'll Know What's Going On Too
Sometimes, you just need someone to advocate for you when you're in labor. Your doula will do that for you, no matter who else is helping you give birth. And they are incredible for taking that on.