First meeting with the doula – 16 weeks 3 days

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.

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33 thoughts on “First meeting with the doula – 16 weeks 3 days

  1. Awesome neighbour!!! Your doula sounds pretty amazing too – great activities! I’m very excited for you!!!! I was sick 3 times during this pregnancy, and this last one STILL hasn’t gone away, now 2 weeks later. Ugh. Get well soon!!

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    • Oh you poor thing that you are still struggling. How is baby girl going with it? I remember I got something like this with Saxon too and I was drinking lemsip as that was all I was allowed to have. This too shall pass and I feel better today than I did yesterday. At least I slept last night!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had been taking expectorant to loosen mucous, but it’s not advised beyond 7 days so I stopped… I’ve now cut dairy & sugar because it’s supposed to help both dd & me to produce less mucous. Sleep is a huge help for me too. I’ve not been getting enough at night, so definitely a nap at some point in the day is helping me. I just wish my damn sinuses would clear up and take my nasty sinus headaches with them! One day at a time… Dd2 is congested but thankfully so far it doesn’t sound too much in the chest, mostly in the sinuses & eyes getting crusty. I feel awful for putting her and am VERY thankful it’s not worse than it is for her. Keeping the boob juice flowing!

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  2. Your doula sounds great! I do not think doulas are that involved in the US, at least my last one wasn’t. I like the sounds of that ice exercise. I’m glad you are feeling the baby on the regular now. That must be so reassuring! I didn’t feel Lettie until 23 weeks! Hopefully this one won’t make me wait that long.

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    • Yeah it was way later with my first pregnancy too. The doula involvement, at least with this one, depends on what package you choose and we chose the biggest one she had as I wanted lots of birth prep. It’s so good!

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  3. This woman sounds amazing!! I’m still not 100% sure what exactly a doula does, I need to look into it a bit. But every time I talk to my one friend, she talks about being my doula whenever the time comes. I hope that things continue to go well with yours! And also so happy to hear that things are going well with you. I want to see a bump pic!! 😀

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    • I think doulas just help guide you during birth. Birth is painful and hard and I didn’t prepare well enough for it last time. A doula is kinda like a birthing personal trainer. If I had one there she could have suggested different positions and activities that might have helped me handle the pain and my birth may very well have been a lot flipping quicker than it was. Doulas aren’t medically trained so can’t do anything clinical like a midwife can. Hope that helps and yes will work on a bump pic. I have been slack at photos this pregnancy. My bad! X

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      • Yeah we were talking about actually giving birth, and she was talking about things she wish she had known and things they refused at the hospital and why, and how she would be able to help us come up with a plan and then be our voice when the time came. And how she would help me mentally…because lord knows that B isn’t always calm and level-headed in the face of an emergency, or something like birth lol! I’ll need someone to help calm me, not stress over me and the situation lol. (No offense to B, it’s just not his forte!)

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        • Yeah the guys get a bit shellshocked on their own I think. My friend who had a doula said she was great at helping to direct her husband as in “do this for her now…do that for her now” kind of thing.

          Be careful about her being your “voice” though. My contract with my doula specifically states “I do not speak to the staff instead of you regarding matters where decisions are made. I will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, and I will help you identify key questions that may help you with decisions, but you or your partner should speak to the clinical staff”.

          I was surprised to read this but now I’ve thought about it I am glad that it is there. The decision and direction has to come from you and your partner. The doula should not be your voice to the professionals because you can get stuck in a situation where she is enforcing her preferences over yours. Her job is to guide you and help you stay on your birth plan but if you say “My birth plan stinks, I don’t want to do it this way anymore” then her job is to stick with you and help you with that decision. I am sure this doula is just using the expression in the wrong way but WHEN you do become pregnant (because you will) I would suggest a more detailed discussion with her on that point. xxx

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          • Oh of course we will talk more in detail about everything! We’ve just talked casually about it a couple times, but whenever the time comes for it to be the real thing we will get everything laid out and in writing. I have enough to figure out right now with this upcoming cycle and insurance than to be planning that far ahead! I just know that she will be there for me when it’s time. 🙂

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  4. Your neighbour is amazing :-). Fantastic about the doula and I love that she got Eric to hold the ice for one minute – so great to involve him and try to convey what labour is like and what we have to deal with. I love the idea of a running visualisation. I spent a lot of my contractions seeing geese flying away in a V formation. No idea where it came from but for some reason it really helped. The mind is so very powerful. Actually – I’m gonna dig out the mp3 I listened to and send it to you – I found it literally SAVED me at the worst of the pain (I almost screamed at midwife and husband when one of my headphones dropped out before a contraction when I was moving from floor to bed). Rest up and get better asap my lovely xxxxx

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  5. OMG she sounds like a kick-ass doula. I love that ice exercise, and I love how she got Eric involved as well. I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you in Birth Skills. Funnily enough I ended up using something I never would have before reading it – I got very into my vocalisation towards the end (LOL) and Juju was the one who gave me permission to do that in a sense. I would have felt more self-conscious otherwise, and may have tried to suppress it.

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    • I am soooooo open to vocalisation this time! I have noticed Juju mention it already and I feel it is part of the reason I didn’t do so well last time. I internalised it all and fought my contractions. Can’t do that shit if you want it to end quickly!

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  6. Wow. The doula and the neighbor sound amazing. Stars! Running definitely helped me with child birthing. I didn’t think to try visualization, other than to tell myself, like when I ran, you just keep putting one foot after the other, breathe, keep moving, breathe… I’m so happy for you even if I’m sorry you got sick, and I hope you can recover quickly and enjoy the holiday, showering Monkey with individual adoration. Be safe. Be well. Eat well. Micronutrients for you and baby. 🙂 Terri

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  7. this Doula sounds amazing. I love the ice technique. It’s interesting that visualisation won it in the end even with Eric massaging you!!!!
    And another amazing lady being your neighbour.
    Hope you are recovering well from being ill – it is the worst time of year to be ill 😦

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    • Yes I know, I was so disappointed to not have the massage win. lol It did feel amazing and I did enjoy it but it wasn’t as good at distracting me. My flu is passing quite nicely which is good although I am worried the boy is developing it and we are flying on Tuesday. Fingers crossed I am wrong! Merry Christmas!

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  8. That’s so cool! I’ve just started the process of thinking about a doula (I’m a little late to the party!) but something about it us appealing so your post was perfect!

    It’ll be interesting to see how your perception of things change the further sling you get – hopefully it’ll be a lot more lush! Your neighbour is a goddess!

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  9. Your session sounds awesome! It ALMOST makes me want to have another one. I won’t, mind you, but I really love how different the foul experience is to traditional hospital setting / OB/GYN thing. So happy for you!! xoxo

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  10. I had a doula during both my labours and it was the best the decision I have ever made about anything in my life. I am certain that I would have ended up with a c-section with my second had it not been for her. She literally talked me through every contraction for close to 30 hours. I truly believe that a doula is a woman’s best asset in labour.

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