1. Some people have the kind of births they want to have in spite of their providers, and some people do it because of their providers. Choosing a provider is probably the most important decision you can make for your birth. I wish everyone took this decision seriously and interviewed multiple providers before choosing one. Midwives and doctors all approach situations in different ways, and the key is to find someone who shares your values and will help you work towards your goals. When I meet a potential client who tells me they are skeptical of their provider and they’re hiring a doula because they’re hoping that is enough to guard them from interventions and a c-section, it raises a red flag for me. While I can certainly illuminate your options, provide a platform for you to weigh decisions, and give you helpful questions to ask, you must feel supported by the medical team you’ve chosen.
2. We want to hear from you! You’re not bothering us. We want text updates that you’ve been walking a mile every day and have been feeling more crampy recently. We want to hop on the phone with you if you had a conversation with your provider and have new questions. We want to see pictures when you say you saw some bleeding in your underwear or you think you might have lost your mucus plug. We want you to call us in the middle of the night when you’re not sure if you’re in labor. Especially while you’re in early labor and we haven’t joined you yet. You don’t have to wait until your contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting one minute for one hour. Let us know when you need extra support at any time, day or night, and we will be there.
3. You do not need to ask permission or apologize for things you want during labor. This is most applicable to people who are delivering in a hospital setting. Treat your labor and delivery room like your living room. You wouldn’t ask for permission to get up and go to the bathroom, take a sip of water, or eat food at home and you don’t need to do it at the hospital. You shouldn’t hide the fact that you’re eating or drinking, in fact, it’s important that your providers know if there is food in your system. Going back to #1 of this list, if you feel like you have to hide things from your provider, that is also a red flag. Your mindset can have a huge impact on your labor and birth. Understanding that you have the final say in all things that happen to your body will give you confidence to act in a way that feels right to you.
4. Spend some time thinking about how present you want family and friends to be in the later days of pregnancy, during labor, and immediately after. Labor and birth can be intense and long. The average labor for a first time mom can be 24 hours, which means you might not want to loop in people right away. Support is amazing. Being overwhelmed by other people’s expectations, timelines, and schedules is not as amazing. It is important for the birthing person to feel unburdened. Will having family members waiting in the hospital lobby add stress while you’re in labor? Will you feel supported if your partner is tied to their phone updating family and friends while you labor? Will you wait to tell family and friends until after the baby is born? Will you want extra people in the room while you’re pushing? Or immediately after you’ve given birth? You get to decide who is allowed to visit and how long they will stay.
5. We are still your doulas postpartum — use us! We usually leave about one to two hours after your baby is born to ensure you are supported during the golden hour, throughout any repairs that need to happen, and to make sure your new family feels settled. The first few days can be intense. Everyone has a different set up for support after birth, but even while you are in the hospital, please feel free to call and text us with questions. The same way that we walked you through decisions during pregnancy, we can do the same when you are presented with different decision points in the hospital. What are the benefits of giving baby a bath? Is it necessary to supplement with formula? There’s usually a period of time that you’re home before we see you for your postpartum visit, and now the questions seem to triple — please call! If we don’t know the answer we can direct you to resources for support. Months down the road when new questions arise, we are here. And even when you don’t have a question, send us an update and a picture of your baby! We never get tired of seeing baby pictures!!
Find your doula at nycbirthvillage.com. We have doulas at all levels of experience trained in birth, postpartum and lactation!