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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Doulas and Childbirth

Our friends are expecting their third baby in July. Its such an exciting time!
They were asking about our doula and what doulas do. I began to reminisce about the whole birth experience we had when Fiora was born (our second baby). I had a c-section with our first daughter, Sicily, because she was in the breech position (feet down instead of head down). I learned later on that some feel a c-section is not necessary for this reason. Oh well...
The two experiences were very different. My friend asked which experience was better... I can go on and on about this subject; but I'll try not to ;)

Doulas are becoming more mainstream, but I don't think they are household words yet. A quick explanation of what a doula does: a woman who is trained to provide support for women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of time following the birth. I got that from dictionary.com.
I feel that having the right doula is a great thing for everyone. Who couldn't use more support during such a big life event! The reason we started the search for a doula was because I really wanted to experience a natural birth. I knew this would be my last birth. My ob/gyn (who I love and still go to now), was scheduling a c-section for 1/20...my due date was 1/21. He said this would give me the chance to do natural...if the baby came by that date. But I didn't believe the baby would come with all that pressure. He felt waiting too long after the due date may be dangerous, especially since I had a c-section last time. I respected and appreciated that he was being cautious.
However, throughout the pregnancy, it was on my mind and I really felt strongly about having a natural experience vs. another surgery.

So I began the search for a doula -to maybe help make my experience a natural one... and I discovered so much more with all my research. There was so much info everywhere! I became obsessed: reading books, websites, connecting with other moms via baby sites, etc! I became very interested in a water birth! In our area, there are not many places that have that option. But Morristown Memorial Hospital does have rooms with the tub for laboring. At Morristown, they also encourage a 'natural' approach to birth...which really means they won't bother you or intervene unless its absolutely necessary. There's also an option of birthing at your home. I didn't feel comfortable having a home birth. Maybe that's because of all the c-section fears and trying for the VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)...some still feel it's dangerous, some say it's such a low percentage. Even with all I read and learned, I'm not an expert; but I felt I was healthy and I could do it. I have to add that after I shared my desire to have the natural water birth with my doc, he was very caring and supportive. He even encouraged me to go for it and that really helped. It was a very tough decision, to say the least. Many of my family and friends thought I was crazy :) but they were all very supportive. 

After much more research, we met with the wonderful Kathleen & Britt of Hummigbird Doulas.
At this point it was December and my due date was coming quickly. I loved the fact that they were totally honest from the start. They assured me that it's not too late to make the change and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I followed my gut (my literally big belly gut ;) and switched to the great team of Midwives of NJ. The Midwives at this time were Roxy, Cindy and Lisa. The wonderful Cindy turned out to be on call when it was birth time. Our team was just right and ready for the big game: me, Danny, Kathleen and Cindy. 

My labor started a couple days before I gave birth and Kathleen was so great-- phone calls, texts,  all in the wee hours too-- very comforting (that's an understatement). Then when I wanted her to come, she came so quickly - it was 1 am Saturday. She would run over to me every time I had a contraction and help me thru it with all these incredible methods: back and hip holds, cold soda can trick, etc! My husband was right next to her- we were such a great team! The two of them were amazing! It was so good still being at home while I labored...Danny put on Three's Company in the background, I drank water if I wanted, I even took a shower which helped with the pain.

Around 7am, Sicily (who at the time was 3-years-young) woke. It was so hard on me because I didn't want her to see me in pain-- Kathleen was wonderful. Even with our dog, Beanie, she was so great! Very relaxed and calming. Soon after, my sister and brother-in-law picked up Sicily and brought her to hang with her cousins.
Then we all met at the hospital and this was about 8am Sunday. Kathleen stayed with us until after the baby was born (10:09 pm that night)-- with maybe only 2 bathroom breaks!-- she even helped my husband through the long hours. But mostly she helped me -- I could not have gotten thru the labor without this great team. She even took photos after baby was born-- she hung around for a while after too! We absolutely love her! I would definitely hire them again and I would not have a baby without them! :)
They made everything so much smoother! I have to add that everyone at Morristown hospital was great too-it was an amazing experience. If I was at any other hospital in the area, they would not have let me labor that long being a VBAC. I was able to hold the baby immediately! With my first, they said I'd have to wait since the baby's temperature was too cold :(  They had her under heat lamps while I was in recovery. I didn't get to hold her for at least 2 hours, which was very stressful for me (for any mom!).

Kathleen came by for a follow up meeting at 6wks and was wonderful again. Me and the baby ended up getting a thrush infection (long story-post about thrush coming soon!) and she suggested I call Britt, who's an expert on the subject. Britt was amazing!! She would email and call me to check on us-- I think the thrush may have been harder than the labor and birth! Britt really is an expert on thrush and helped me get through it all.
I am so grateful for these two women.
I'm absolutely a huge fan of theirs. We even feel we should have paid them more-- it didn't seem enough for all they did for us! Then they even sent me a Mothers Day card! And gave baby a cute little onesie! They are wonderful women and amazing doulas. In case you were wondering-- I Highly recommend!
What I'm trying to say is that Doulas Rock!! We absolutely Loved Kathleen and Britt. Cannot tell you enough wonderful things about them. They are even wonderful before the birth - they are always around to answer questions and they even call to check on you! To top it off, Kathleen is also a masseuse and she gives a great prenatal massage!

So to answer which birth is better: the c-section or the natural birth? I would say that for me -definitely the natural birth. With the surgery, I hated not being in control, and not being able to feel anything from the waist down-it really freaked me out. I didn't feel any pain during the surgery, but I did end up vomiting while they were putting me back together :-o yikes!  Not fun while laying flat and arms are strapped down. So, natural and painful was right for me ...of course things are just not the same down there ;) but I'd still go with my choice.
I am so happy I followed my heart and switched. As difficult and painful as it is to give birth, I still would choose the natural route if I had to do it all again...and I won't be doing it again :)

Thank You for listening to some of my birth story.
Would LOVE to hear what you think~Please share your own stories and comments!
Wishing you a wonderful pregnancy and birth xo


I highly recommend Kathleen- she was Wonderful!
She is now located in Delaware and this is her new info:
Compass Birth

If you're searching for a doula in the NJ area, Hummingbird Doula Britt is awesome!
Britt 201-317-6185
Hummingbird Doulas


If you need great midwives: Midwives of NJ,  908-509-1801 or 973-264-4307
Midwives of NJ

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