A-Z guide: All About Doulas

A-Z guide: All About Doulas

This was my first birth and I didn't know what to expect. I'm very greatful she [Meghan Marie Harlow, our doula] was there. She provided support and encouragement the whole time.
-Whitney, my wife

A is for Amazing. Our Doula knew exactly what to do at every minute. At times when I felt I had no idea what to do, Meghan was on top of it and guided me and Whitney to the next place. Before we knew it we had this little one in our arms.

B is for Breathing. It's a medical fact that a woman needs oxygen when in labor, and it's every woman's wish that they don't have to "remember" to breathe. That's one place where Meghan shined. Gently and subtly reminding Whitney to breathe in the most crucial moments.

C is for Complete. A birth consists of many things and these things add up to a specific story and journey. We started our journey off with 15 hours of education in a private class with Meghan. This was amazing, and we were as prepared as can be. In addition to the classes, we had support the entire birth & post-partum.

D is for Dance. As the nurse put it when she saw the doula moving with my wife during contractions or "Surges." Being in motion helps keep labor going well and strong, and it can look a lot like dancing.

E is for Essential Oils. A doula is a master in the healing arts. For some doulas (including ours) this includes expertise in essential oils which can help relax, can help to not tear and help do many other amazing things.

G is for Growth. I learned so much about what my wife was going through in labor with the help our our doula. I was mostly able to help, but sometimes when my wife's pain was so strong I just didn't know what to do. Meghan always knew the next step and helped me understand what my wife was going through at that moment.

H is for Helichrysum. A magical essential oil that prevents tearing. Literally people are in total shock that my wife had absolutely zero tearing with a vaginal birth. It's practically unheard of; except it's standard at almost 100% of births our doula assists with.

I is for Ideal. A birth is not the time to experiment things and be like a deer in the headlights. It goes so much better with someone who knows the ropes and isn't second guessing anything. Not only that, but we were connected up with local mother groups we would have never found otherwise. These different groups were amazing to get free hand-me-down clothing, free diapers, and even getting meals delivered to us post-partum. Now that's ideal.

J is for Joyful. Rather than reacting with panic and exasperation, seeing our doula be happy and joyous and the sign of my wife's excrutiating pain (which didn't mean trouble, it meant progress) made me so relaxed and happy. I knew that my wife was not actually dying, she was dilating.

K is for Kodak moment. The last thing on my mind was pictures during the pushing phase. However our doula took tons of photos (because at that point the midwife already took over the delivery) and even took a video of the birth! Hahaha, we didn't even notice she was recording or taking pictures because we were very involved in the pushing, but our doula made sure we had that moment recorded. Later on, my wife was able to see exactly how Luna came out.

L is for Luxury. My wife's labor lasted roughly 50 hours. I would never leave my wife all by herself during birth, luckily though, I was still able to sleep while my wife still had someone next to her awake making sure everything was going well.

M is for Massage. Look up the Double Hip Squeeze. Every husband needs to know this & our doula taught me how to do it and was also there doing it herself.

N is for Non-Judgemental. A doula knows that things do not always happen according to plan, and knows that each person has their own differences that set them apart. Our doula was totally and one-hundred percent non-judgemental. She was understanding in the fullest sense of the word. My wife did take an epidural in the end and was not judged for not doing the birth "fully natural" but instead was admired for being such a warrior in labor.

O is for Oestrogen. Look, no matter what you dad's do to comfort your wife, you have never given birth and cannot fully relate to her. Having another woman who has been through birth adds a factor of comfort that a man may never be able to give.

P is for Post-Partum. Our doula set us up big-time after birth. She had a special placenta encapsulation service which helps balance out hormones afterwards. She signed us up with a meal train so we got meals for the next 2 weeks so none of us would have to cook. She came over and gave my wife a 1-hour post-partum massage without extra cost.

Q is for Quiet. We wanted everything to be as peaceful as possible for our daughter when she arrived into this world. Our doula really understood that and did everything she could to convey that to everyone else involved in the birth.

R is for Revitalizing. In short, birth can be exhausting. It feels like a tunnel where you can't see the light at the end. But traveling a dark tunnel with someone who knows the route and tells you there is light at the end and it's so close, that's revitalizing.

S is for Smiles. In my entire life, I don't know a single person that smiles more than Meghan. It's really incredibly calming & comforting. In a stressful time like an unexpected intervention, smiles and a big heart go a long way.

T is for Trustworthy. I would trust almost nobody with my wife in labor or my newborn baby. My wife and I are fully responsible for the birth and our baby. However, because we did 15 hours of birthing classes with our doula, I had not a single doubt she knew what she was talking about. I voiced all my concerns to her and she knew how to handle every single scenario. So, during birth, I felt safe trusting Meghan. I trusted her practically as much as I would trust myself.

U is for Unanimous decision. Here is the thing, my wife and I both wanted a doula. We wanted help. I doubt that there are very many mothers out there (if there are any at all) that would oppose to having help with their first birth. You probably aren't totally sure what to expect if you've never given birth in this life. What mother wouldn't want a professional birth worker helping them? Future dads, please get your wife a doula.

V is for Vanguard. Many techniques of birth are not practiced at hospitals. We were lucky enough to have the birth at Marin General Hospital with the Midwives of Marin, where many practices are advanced beyond most hospitals. The group publishes studies about effective birth techniques including methods to have safe VBACs, with a success rate 3 times above national average. However, having a doula in any hospital setting is practically a must, because you do not know if procedures are being unecessarily being forced on you with scare tactics—or if it is really necessary (trust me, these things do happen). A great doula is always studying up on best birth practices and can be the middle woman between you and the hospital.

W is for Warmth. Our doula kept our birth experience as an adventure, putting her heart into it. When advising us on what to pack, she told Whitney to get a dress to wear during birth that is easy to take off, it would be better than the hosital gown. She would be in her chosen "Birth Goddess" attire rather than be forced into a uniform, one fits all gown. The "contractions" were no longer a symbol of CONTRACTing or shrinking, but "surges" which helped bring the baby one step closer. The deviations from our birth plan, i.e. birth complications, (which were few) would be "part of our story" rather than reasons to keep our heads down and be ashamed of. Every event was made warm and emotional.

X is for Xenophilia—Love of foreign people (strangers). After this adventure me and my wife both love Meghan Marie, our doula. She's given us far more than what we expected and gone beyond what is considered a normal professional job. I know that Meghan put her heart and soul into the birth and I am forever grateful for it.

Y is for Yessir. Yes. You can do it. You probably do know that even if only deep down inside. However, things do sometimes get rough and the doula will believe in you and help get you through any problem even in the times you don't believe in yourself.

Z is for Zest. You will need lots of energy for the birth, whether you are the father or mother. Doulas are full of much needed vigor and enthusiasm. A perfect attitude to start a new life with.

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