Why I Chose To Deliver Without A Doula (And Immediately Regretted It)
If you haven’t already read my brief birth story, let me fill you in. I transferred to a birthing-center during the third trimester of my pregnancy, where I planned to have a water birth with the assistance of my wonderful midwives. The birthing center I chose had a special promotion at the time, in which they provided their moms-to-be with an apprentice doula, free of charge. I knew this was an excellent opportunity to get some extra support on my birth team, but I ended up deciding against it. And I still regret that decision to this day.
I think it’s important to emphasize that I’m pretty much the most introverted introvert you’ll ever meet. I’m not necessarily shy, but it takes me a while to warm up to new people and even longer to establish a bond and sense of trust with them. Considering I had transferred to the birth-center at almost 30 weeks pregnant, I wasn’t left with much time to meet with potential doula’s and find someone I really vibed with. I did go on several “dates” with potential doulas, and they were all warm and lovely women, and yet, I still decided against it. Why? Because I’m the type of person that wants her space and privacy. I knew that during childbirth, I wouldn’t want any extra people in the room, impeding on my process. Or so I thought.
Well, it turns out that a doula would have come in handy. Like literally. We needed the extra hands. My labor was long and grueling thanks to a compound-presentation (AKA my baby came out of me with her arm up by her head- yay), leaving me frightened, exhausted, and in need of almost constant reassurance. The midwives did what they could, but at the end of the day, their job is to ensure that mama and baby are safe, so they don’t have much emotional energy to spare. There was also a nurse in attendance, but she was busy administrating IV antibiotics for my group B strep infection and inserting a catheter, a feeling I never hope to experience again. And my partner- my sweet, precious, amazing, wonderful husband… was utterly useless. Don’t get me wrong- he tried. He attended hypnobirthing with me, watched multiple birth vlogs before I went into labor, touched me when I wanted physical support, and backed off as soon as I started shrieking at him to “eff off” — sorry babe.
But what I really needed in those moments was a mother figure to hold space for me while I channeled my own maternal strength. I needed someone to dote over me, stroke my hair, rub my back, and tell me that everything was going to be okay. I know it sounds trivial and small, but in those transcendent, intense, and incredibly primal moments, that is what a woman needs most- unwavering guidance and support. Doctors and midwives have a particular job to perform, and family and friends can only do so much without proper training and experience. Doula’s play an extraordinary role in the birthing process, because a doula isn’t just a cheerleader, a doula is a coach. They’ve seen the game, and they know how to lead you to victory. And although giving birth isn’t a sporting event, there is an end-zone. And sometimes you need someone who knows the field and has the playbook to help get you there.