Friday March 22nd, 2013
Today is the World Doula Day – that marks the beginning of the World Doula Week that will last until 28 March. I’d like to use this opportunity to celebrate and thank all the wonderful doulas out there, especially Inna, our doula who helped with our second birth.
This week I will post several doula stories written by local moms. You will read wonderful birth stories, but will also learn that the doulas in CH face resistance for their presence from many medical personnel (midwives, doctors) especially the ones in bigger hospitals. It’s a shame, really. Many use the rule that there is only one other person allowed in the room, so that if you have your partner there, your doula cannot come. But having our doula for our beautiful and “easy” second birth (more story here), had helped my labor and dilation to progress well (not stalled like our first), which lead to a no-needle-no-drug birth. I really wish they will get the well-deserved acceptance soon at all hospitals and birth houses — and more mothers can have a non (or less) medicated birth.
Happy Doula Day and Week!
My son was delivered by ventouse in a UK hospital after a 27 hour labour. I spent most of my labouring time in hospital flat on my back, after induction with a static epidural.
When I fell pregnant in Switzerland, I knew that I wanted things to be different. I felt more empowered anyway as I knew better how to exert my opinion, but I still had some concerns.
My husband doesn’t speak French. Would I be able to make myself heard in the throes of labour in my second language? How exactly does it work here? I’d never had a gynaecologist and no doctors were involved in my first pregnancy and birth apart from at the very end. Did I even want to give birth in a hospital?
I cannot remember how I found out about doulas, or indeed how I found our doula, Monica, although it was probably by that good old fall-back, Google.
Monica is an American, married to a Swiss, and her French is very good. That ticked the main box for me. But meeting with her for the first time I realised that she was so much more. Not once did we feel pressured into doing anything we didn’t want to do, or making decisions that we didn’t agree with. She spoke with us about the pain-fear cycle, which was extremely interesting, and helped me to face some fears I still held from my first labour.
She also showed us techniques to cope with labour, and I think this is where she was worth her weight in gold. My husband had been a bit of a bystander at our son’s birth, mainly I think because he wasn’t sure what to do, he didn’t want to get in the way and to be honest all the drips and monitors were a bit scary. What Monica showed us was how he could be involved, how he could actively help me and what to look out for at every stage of labour.
When the day came (well actually my waters broke on the Wednesday evening and our daughter was born on Saturday lunchtime) although she was there, Monica was unobtrusive. She took over soothing and massaging me when required, she made simple suggestions of alternatives and kept our spirits up when we were flagging (and believe me, that did happen!).
We had originally planned that I would go to the birthing centre in Lully, with our midwife, Alice, but as the days passed, and my labour was not progressing, we realised that this was not going to happen. The decision to go to Morges hospital was the darkest point for me. I felt that I had failed and that my labour, which was following a similar pattern to my first, albeit a bit longer, would end up the same. Again Monica helped me.
I went to the hospital on Friday morning. Having Monica there (as well as my husband, obviously!) really helped. Alice wasn’t allowed to come with us as she doesn’t work at the hospital, so Monica offered a continuity of care.
On Saturday morning I was induced for failure to progress. This was just like my first birth. But this time it was different. One difference was Morges hospital. My induction drip was mobile allowing me to move around, as was any monitoring equipment.
The other difference was Monica. On Saturday we met Sandrine the midwife. I explained that Monica was arriving soon (she had gone home during Friday as nothing was happening apart from waiting as my contractions had stopped). She said that she had no problems with a doula, but the big boss might not like it. I started to cry, explaining that I couldn’t do it without Monica, although I knew I couldn’t stop the birth happening even if Monica wasn’t allowed in. I felt vulnerable. We agreed that if the doctors came in the room, Monica would melt into the background.
After the induction was started, and I finally dilated a bit, I was allowed in the birthing pool. I remained in the pool until our daughter was born. All the time Monica was there reassuring us. I remember at different points thinking “she told us about this stage, she explained it to us” and it was such a comfort and such a calming thing to have that knowledge.
Just after lunchtime on the Saturday our daughter was born in the water, after a labour with no pain relief (my Tens machine was redundant!), just with soothing massages from my husband and Monica and hot compresses on my back.
Not long after our daughter was born, and we’d all shared a lunch of bread, butter, cheese and jam, Monica went home. We met up afterwards to talk about what had happened and our epic journey together, and even now, we still see each other occasionally. She was part of something very special and she helped to make it so.
Having a doula was the best decision we made when I fell pregnant the second time. If I was to do it again, I would not hesitate to hire a doula once more. But I’m probably not, so what I will do is recommend hiring a doula to anyone who is pregnant.
*Photograph of Morges Lakefront taken from Wikimedia Commons