A post from Matt on having a doula:
Here’s one of the other benefits to being on the other side of pregnancy: we finally have something to talk about! No longer do I get asked “Are you excited” as a means of starting a conversation – there’s the entire exciting birth to share with others. So far the most common question I get is “What was it like to see Kath go through that?”
It was rough. In my previous post I described my inability to even comprehend the pain of labor. But I’d like to give huge credit to our doula Jen. I know that Kath was super appreciative of her support and probably for very different reasons than I. While I’m sure that all of the movements and positions that Jen put Kath in were helpful to properly situate the baby, I think that her greatest benefit was that she gave us something to do.
If it had just been the two of us I’m sure we would have tried some of the labor positions that we saw in the birthing books or our childbirth class, but it would have been lackluster. I can imagine it now: we would have clumsily attempted to use the ball, or play with the bed’s settings, or attempted to relax in the jacuzzi, but it all would have been done with so much uncertainty (and Kath says fear on her part). At the peak of pain (really a multiple hours-long plateau), we would have treated her like any sick patient and just laid in bed.
Jen had authority. She had knowledge and experience. And she had so much enthusiasm and confidence that we were prepared to do anything she said. I think there was only one or two times when Kath said that she wouldn’t do something Jen asked of her and that was because she was in so much pain she couldn’t! I felt very secure that Jen was continually driving us to the end of labor rather than playing a waiting game.
Jen was so in charge that a few hours in I began to wonder, “Am I doing anything here?” Sure I had been offering encouraging words, doing some massaging, and providing counter-pressure, but I felt like I was not Kath’s main supporter. This might bother some husbands and birth partners, but I was totally fine with it and actually a little relieved because it took away some of the worry of the unknown. I felt then and maintain now that what I provided in emotional support would not have been enough by itself to overcome the physical support that Jen directed to get us through.
So I will highly recommend a doula to everyone out there. It is so valuable to have someone devoted to birth and your well-being but still objective enough to make tough decisions in the face of stress. Especially if they’re as caring as Jen!