The excitement sets in and you might need a moment to process that this is actually happening. You're pregnant. There are so many emotions, so many people to share the news with and then the questions. Boy or girl? What car seat and stroller to buy? What diapers are the best? And the list goes on.
You might read a book about what this pregnancy thing is all about and you'll get advice from your mom, aunts, friends and even strangers......most of it will go in one ear and out the other because let's face it, until you're actually in the moment of labour, you're not really going to know what it's going to feel like.
Like most first time pregnancies, you'll take the words of your doctor and mother feeling somewhat confident that they have your best interest in mind and will provide everything you need because they have the experience.
But what if they don't? What if their previous experience is not what YOU want?
According to a wedding industry survey company, the average couple spends 14 months planning their big day yet there is little to no evidence available as to the average hours spent planning the arrival of the biggest day......birth of your child!
This was me. I felt pretty confident in the process of pregnancy and birth, not much knowledge and trusted my family and care providers. I went to my hospital appointments, followed the standard procedures and yet still felt unprepared. The fear of the unknown, the questions that I hadn't asked and never had answered. For me, it was when I had my hospital appointment prepping me for my 'birth plan' and met with a nurse. She handed me multiple sheets of paper with a lot of information and asking me a whole bunch of questions that I really hadn't thought about until that moment. Did I want to use a tub? Did I want use of a birth ball? Did I want an epidural? Who was going to be in the room with me?
There isn't much time at this point to ask all of the questions I obviously should have asked much earlier in the process so I just went with what I thought was best. I knew that I didn't want an epidural because the thought of not being in control of my body and the fear of the risks of having the procedure was enough for me to turn it down. With my previous cancer surgery, I was told that I was a high-risk pregnancy so a hospital birth was my only option, I just assumed that the staff would keep me informed during my labour as to what was happening and support me through the process.
My birth was 12 hours from start to finish. My water broke while taking a pee one morning (lucky me), and I then headed to the hospital because that's what I was told to do. Upon arrival and being checked in, I was given a few hours to progress which was slow by their standards so pitocin was administered to speed things along. I was coping with the contractions fine on my own until the drug was administered and then the contractions grew stronger and more painful. A nurse asked me if I had wanted an epidural as I had to decide at that moment or it wouldn't be available later. I panicked. What if it the pain would become too intense? So I chose to have the epidural.
With a few family members in and out of the room during my labour, the process was not the most calming for me. I felt like I had to keep it all together for the sake of others. It can be busy and lonely all at the same time with the staff and the commotion, conversation and your own internal thoughts happening. Overwhelming, right?
In a future post I will share my entire birth experience but the point of this story is that I could've done better for myself. My birth experience was not terrible but I know now that I would've done it differently. I would have taken the time to research and read about my options during labour, the support and value of a doula and what to expect with postpartum transition. Knowing what I know now, I would've hired a doula to be apart of my birth team.
Fast forward a decade and now I've chosen to support others during this amazing life experience. As a doula, I offer education and support to the pregnant, labouring and postnatal mother and partner alike. As we are all individuals, it is important that you choose the experience that is right for you and not for your partner, mother or doctor.
Having a doula is like having your best friend by your side. Through pregnancy, labour and at home as you heal and adapt to a new routine, I'm there. It helps to have someone there to answer your questions, give you the confidence and support that you can do this and know that you are not alone.
As a doula, I can provide prenatal education which empowers you with knowledge about the birth process, your body and what to expect. You will discover what you want your birth to look like, deal with fears, expectations and how your partner can best support you. The support continues after baby with home visits including self-care, infant care, nutrition and anything else that you may need.
If you take anything away from this story, take this. You at least owe it to yourself and your future child to be prepared. Research, ask questions and chat with a doula to see if it's a good fit.
It's an honour to be apart of your amazing life experience and an honour to support another women through this journey.