Well the last 48 hours in the hood have been tough. I’ve come down with some crazy flipping head cold (thank you reduced immunity) and it has been slaying me. Such convenient timing, what with Christmas around the corner and the need to organise the house to leave for holiday on Tuesday. Perfect!
I woke with the sneezes about 3am Thursday morning and they pretty much did not let up all day. Of course we had mini school orientation for Monkey that day and our first 2 hour meeting with the doula so not much time for resting. *sigh* Thankfully the following day my neighbour had both her kids home and offered to take Monkey so I could sleep on the lounge and watch shows and try to get better after what was truly a horrible night of sickness. She is THE. BEST. PERSON. EVER. and I will be buying her flowers today. She even took the kids to the creek at 4pm in the afternoon and gave them dinner up there and so I didn’t get my monkey back until 7pm and he was bathed and in PJs. Seriously, she had my kid for 10 hours. Flowers hardly seem like enough. I told her she should plan a date with hubby for the new year and we will take the girls.
Anyway THE DOULA! Despite my sneezing attack and general feeling of awfulness I really enjoyed our initial meeting with her and feel she is going to be the perfect person to have along at the birth of our baby girl. Eric also really liked her and really enjoyed the session (after whining about how it was going to be 2 hours earlier in the morning).
Initially we just sat around and had a chat about what we were expecting from the birth and how we wanted it to be compared to the last time. She brought along a bunch of birthing books for us (one for Eric as a man’s read too, not sure if he will read it but I appreciated that she did that). One that she didn’t have with her is the one by Juju Sundin called Birth Skills which two people have raved about to me in recent months. One of my beautiful Aussie blogging friends actually posted her copy to me (mwah, you are the best Hugzilla – check out her blog, it rocks) and funnily enough the postman delivered it during my doula session. Nice little timing there by the universe.
I really loved how my doula seemed to be totally on board with helping us work out the type of birth we want and then helping us kick the goal rather than dictating to us the type of birth we should have and how we should do it.This made me very happy.
After the initial chitty chat she got us to do a few practical exercises. The ice one is by far my favourite. Let me tell you about it.
Basically Eric and I had a bowl of six ice cubes each. We then had to pick up three of them and hold them in our hand for 1 min. The point of the exercise was to experience how long 1 min felt doing something tricky (as that is how long a contraction lasts). I loved how Eric had to do this too as I really think it helps the guys gain some perspective about labour.
I didn’t find it too bad the first time around as I was distracted at laughing at Eric’s moaning and really, this was to become the point of the exercise overall – to notice what types of things can change the feeling of both the length of the minute and the intensity of the ice.
For the second round we held the ice and the doula was silent while we imagined ourselves somewhere in nature. I imagined myself running as I find it very rhythmic. The pace is something I can count and it is also something that I am familiar with doing when it hurts. I run on a path by the beach too so there is the sound of the ocean, birds, trees and life outside. It is really nice and one of my favourite things to do even though I’ve not had the chance to do it for most of the past year now. Anyway this visualisation option worked really well for me. It is one I have employed recently for the dentist (without realising it) where I also found it worked really well. Yay for imagination!
For the third round only I held the ice and Eric massaged my head and shoulders while the doula played some music. This wasn’t working as well until I chucked some running visualisation in at the end. It really does seem like visualisation will be the key for me during my labour.
I truly found this exercise so valuable. It was so easy but also so effective.
The other thing she did was bring in an actual prosthetic pelvis and a baby doll to show us how the baby moves through the pelvis as it births and why it is harder and more painful when it is posterior for example and we talked about why labouring on your back makes it harder for baby to make these movements etc. It was all super fascinating and so helpful to have a real life visual on how it all works. She also showed us how pressing the top of the hips can actually make your sit bone move back and open up the exit path for the baby. Incredible! The body is incredible!
Finally we did a drawing activity where she had us draw a landscape to represent what we think of birth. Mine was quite dry and arid looking with Eric and I in a boat on a windy river however we ended it with the baby under a lush pretty tree. I really enjoyed drawing that tree. Eric’s was very dark and stormy and involved us needing to jump from a jagged rock into the wild ocean. Neither of us are budding artists but it didn’t matter. She gave us pastels which are easy to draw with so the task was simple and we were both easily able to represent our feelings. I kept the pictures because I feel if we do this again closer to the birth after all our prep then we will see a real difference in our perception.
From here we basically get 3 more of these sessions together and from what I can tell they will only get more practical as we move along. I am so excited to do more of this birth prep. I felt so empowered and excited for my birth just after this two hour session. I am so glad we hired our doula as I really think she is the tool we need in our kit to help us have a completely different birth experience this time around.
I have also started to read the Birth Skills book that I mentioned and it seems great. I think I am going to find this very valuable as it is a very physical active way of working with the pain of childbirth and I can see myself doing more physical things than visualisation thing but given the ice test I’m not going to knock visualisation to the curb at all. I think both practices will have their place in my labour.
Other than all this and the dreaded icky bug flu thing we are doing well. I am feeling baby girl move almost daily now which is very reassuring given my next scan is still 3 weeks away.
Today is Saturday here and we are off to get our Santa photo this morning. Better late than never!
Sorry this has been a long one. I wanted to document the details of the doula for anyone who is googling and thinking about getting one. If you are in the Northern Rivers, NSW and have stumbled on this page then I am using Kirrah from Traditional Wisdom. I highly recommend you check her out.