When I was pregnant with Luke, I received so much advice on what I needed as a newly pregnant mama. From belly bands to nursing bras to prenatal massages, everyone told me what I needed. The best advice, though, came from my mom, who said, "Are you going to get a doula?"
I did, and it was honestly the best money spent while pregnant. Although I had a weird situation where I hired one doula, yet had another at Luke's birth, due to the doula I hired being with another laboring mom (my babies like to come at inconvenient times, what can I say?), the prenatal support alone was worth it. Before I was pregnant with Luke, I had never seen a birth, not even on video. Our doula, Robin, showed up videos of moms in labor, moms giving birth, and so, Shane and I both knew what to expect. Shane said that it helped him understand that the noises I made while laboring were normal, and it helped him feel better about the pain I was experiencing. When I went into labor and Robin couldn't make it, she arranged for Louise to be there.
In my family, many women have had c-sections. I had a long, hard labor with Luke. I had back labor, my labor stalled at 8cm, and his head wasn't at all engaged until I was 9cm. Simply put, he was not in the right position. My doula and midwife both had me contorting into different positions to help Luke turn the right way, and it worked. Without a doubt, I would've had a c-section without their help. Even with their help, I still came very close to that, and while the end result would have still been the same, I know the recovery would've been much harder. Do you see how I'm totally leaning closer to Louise than Shane? It's because she gave better back rubs while I was in labor, but don't tell him.
This time around, I hired Louise from the start, simply because I felt connected to the woman who was there when Luke was born. I was so excited to have her at this birth, but as we know, Tommy had other plans. Still, having her there meant the world to Shane and me. She helped me latch Tommy for the first real feed, and then she fed me bites of a sandwich while I nursed him for the first time. When I passed out on the toilet at 3AM because I totally had an OMG I JUST HAD A BABY ON THE STAIRS panic attack, I came to with my head resting on Louise's stomach and her arm around me. She stayed with us until 4:30 in the morning, after my parents, Luke, and all the nurses had left the room. She's part of our first quiet moments, when the world was still spinning. To have someone we knew there, so full of goodness and light and calming energy meant the world to both of us.
Now, I know you could be thinking, "But Erin, if I'm not an accidental freebirthing, dirty hippie like you, do I really need a doula?" Honestly, YES. Even if you're signing up for that epidural in the parking lot, I still feel like there's so much a doula can offer. If your husband is like mine and struggled with how he'd react to labor, a doula can help. My husband now tells everyone that we wouldn't do it without a doula. If you struggle with breastfeeding, you will have someone to help you. If you struggle postpartum, you will have someone to help. If you struggle during your pregnancy, you have your very own pregnancy expert on call. And when you go into labor and you're maybe a little scared, you have someone there to hold your hand.