Question from Tophat: On a side note: the labor ended up being 44 hours, wonderful healthy pink little girl.
I bought your book last month and in it you really promote the use of a doula and said something on the lines where you think everyone should have a doula.
I (Unassisted Childbirth) UCed last March. I did end up calling a friend for emotional support once the labor hit somewhere around 30 hours and it was wearing on me, but had I had a labor shorter than 30 hours, I wouldn't have called her.
Because of that, I'm inclined to not get a doula in the future. If a woman is UCing, what would the advantages of a doula be? I'm interested in your thoughts.
I love your book, though. :)
Question from Tophat:
On a side note: the labor ended up being 44 hours, wonderful healthy pink little girl.
Thank you for noticing my emphasis on the benefit of having a birth doula. I know you really read carefully and with interest. This is a great question.
Yep, I pretty much think all birthing woman should have an experienced doula. I am so tired of women being in denial about the amount of effort and focus it takes to get through labor and birth. I am so tired of hearing labors gone badly and observing the emotional scars and separation. Tired of hearing women aren't researching birth. Tired of women thinking that the first birth was easy and the second (or third, etc...) will come easy, too (you never know). Tired of hearing women emphasize unimportant details like nursery themes and token ultrasounds. Tired of hearing the same women complain they can't afford a doula (but they could afford the nursery and ultrasound). Women need to be prepared and arm themselves with all the support possible in this horrendous birth climate we have. I must recognize the value of an experienced doula. I also recognize the value of a student doula or any loving, caring women who serves in this role (which is what you had).
While writing the book, I anticipated getting asked your question by an "UCer." I admit my main concern or intended audience for my statement was the uninformed mother making no decisions for herself. I want to wake that woman up.
OK- So what do I think about unassisted birth (UC) and doulas? First of all, I commend anyone who researches birth like you do, prepares themselves for complications and emergencies and how to handle them independently, and doesn't give in to hostile and anti-intuitive birth practices and wants privacy. If one has done all that research and trusts that they can have a hands-off birth, and has meticulous nutrition, I fully support them. The woman who has done all this preparation may be the exception to my "everyone should have a doula" rule.
Most women haven't done this research and most women don't know their bodies. Just look at our full maternity wards.
BUT, the fact is, you never know how your labor will be and how you will emotional respond to it. Nor do you know how helpful your partner will be if you haven't birthed together before. You did the right thing. You DID prepare and have a "doula" available to you and you called her when you needed her.
If my labor was short and easy the first time, I would not have had a doula the 2nd time. I suppose I could also say if my labor was real quick the second time, my doula may not have made it. Perhaps, I could say the same for my 3rd birth. I am certain my 2nd and 3rd labors stayed focused with the doula support I planned for. Wouldn't it be great if we could all have short, easily managed labors?
It makes me wonder, if perhaps you called your friend/doula sooner for the physical support and emotional and spiritual reassurance could it have helped your wear. That's just a rhetorical thought and it may help give another woman perspective and something to consider. I am not really directing it at you. Chances are really great your next labor won't be 2 days.
Personally, as part of the "back-up" plan for UC, it's a great idea to have a support person on-call and call if your intuition tells you too. Discuss ahead of time under what circumstances you will be calling. Discuss if you do call them, do you want physical (touch, massage) support or perhaps just verbal support, or perhaps just to pass cool rags and drinks only. Having a doula supported birth doesn't mean you failed at "medically unassisted childbirth." Having someone available in the doula role can keep your birth clinically hands-off if your labor becomes more difficult than you thought. You can even discuss ahead of time, if they should leave the room after a bit or leave the house if you regain your focus.
I would like to point out that the term "Unassisted Childbirth" is used very lightly and to mean a lot of different things. When I think of unassisted birth, I think of someone who has read, researched, found like-minded support during pregnancy, had no midwifery/obstetrical care during pregnancy and intended to have a totally hands off delivery. No pregnancy ultrasound. Knows their plan to handle (or ignore) GBS, meconium, bleeding, lacerations, etc… Relying on their partner for support.
Is that what others think UC birth means?
I have heard it used in so many other contexts:
- Precipitous delivery before getting to the hospital (and possibly transferring to hospital)
- Precipitous delivery before midwife arriving
- prenatal care and staying home without ever intending to call the provider
- midwife arriving just after the birth
- medically unassisted, but with an active involved birth doula
- medically unassisted, but with or without the partner
One recent woman in my practice planned an unassisted birth, but with "prenatal" visits to me. I've included two women in the book who had unassisted birth. One was a quick labor, unplanned(page 35). The other had left several OB groups who wouldn't agree to VBAC(page 79). By including these women it was one way to give balance to my statement "everyone needs a doula." Obviously I accepted and learned from both births (and encouraged it!). The first example actually had hired a doula, which arrived after the baby delivered. The latter tried to hire a doula. I don't know the details of how it fell through. I also helped support a unassisted home birth after cesarean, that ended up transporting and being a repeat C. Having a doula isn't a guarantee of anything. But this transfer occured on her own terms.
Since the book, I have several readers who have birthed unassisted. I am especially interested in comments and feedback on this topic.