Monday, April 23, 2012

39w0d: Doula vs. Pain


From discussion with others, pain is only part of the labor/delivery story. It doesn't have to be the whole story. After taking a childbirth class (where I cried multiple times, and felt completely overwhelmed), I realized I wanted to take more ownership of the whole birth process, to open myself to the experience of childbirth, instead of fearing it, anticipating pain and stress. 

Because of this we hired a doula to help us through the experience, so it's not just a medical procedure, but more. E, our doula, will help us create a peaceful, non-stressful environment that enables labor to progress as it should. Her job will be making sure that I'm in the right head-space and use the right coping mechanisms to make birth better for me, for Mr. Jem (but mostly for me).

We interviewed three women for this important and expensive (over $1,000) job. We chose the person with the most experience - she's attended over 100 births as a doula and is trained as a midwife - and who we clicked with the most. Plus, we liked her process - first meeting Mr. Jem and I had to fill out a questionnaire, answering questions about ourselves and each other so she could know us better, know our relationship, how we work together, our relationship with "pain" and stress and how we cope with them.

During the second meeting (on Friday), Mr. Jem wasn't there. I gave E a tour of our house (I plan to labor here as long as possible, especially how good I feel floating in our body-temp hot tub). We went over labor positions. I asked her to touch my back, massage me so I could be accustomed to her touch. She has strong nice hands. We also spend some time talking about the physiognomy of squatting during labor and delivery, what positions are better during the different phases of birth - for example, saving the full squat (on my feet or on the bed if I have an epidural) for pushing, as it opens the bottom of the pelvis. We discussed how relaxation, visualization and even vocalization can help with the labor. She said that when women get stuck, it's usually because they are afraid or stressed. She'll help me through this.

That said, I'm still open to being as medicated (epidural) or not as I feel appropriate in the moment and she (and Mr. Jem of course) support me in this.

So, in the battle of doula vs. pain, I'm betting on the doula (and me).

For those of you who have experienced labor and delivery, what's your take?



libra79 said...

Long live epidural :))

Oak said...

My thoughts about labor and delivery were that it was much like a marathon. You can train and train physically but if you're not in the right frame of mind to succeed then you likely won't. I think your doula will be key in that and it sounds like you're already in a great head space.

That said, every single labor is unique to the laboring woman, their tolerance for discomfort, the position of the baby and the length of the labor. So long as you are happy with yourself, aware of your desires and confident in your choices you will do AWESOME no matter what!

That said, my perspective as someone who opts for unmedicated as my personal choice, I do not regret it for a single moment, even with my complications. Wait, I regret the complications and the way the doctor handled it but I will totally try to go drug-free again if given the option - even though I asked for meds during transition! :)

Lulu said...

I'm so happy you found a good doula. You're going to be so comfortable with her when labor starts! I can't wait to hear your birth story : )

Heather said...

You are so close!

I went into my labor experience completely open. I didn't know what to expect--other than pain--so my plan was to go with the flow. I went into labor OB my own, but could have had an epidural before hard labor even started. I decided I wanted to experience labor before making the epidural decision. Once it started I knew it (the epidural) was what I needed. So basically I went into things with an open mind and I think it made things much easier emotionally.

Good luck to you and Mr. Jem!

Mrs. Gamgee said...

It sounds like you are well prepared for everything to come.

Your doula sounds great... And it's so important to have someone there who knows what you want for your experience, without being quite as emotionally invested as your DH.

I think you have a healthy understanding and set of expectations for yourself about the pain part of labour. As has already been stated, every woman and every labour is different. Medication is there, if you need it... the ultimate goal is healthy baby, healthy mom, right?

It may sound a bit crunchy, but have you ever utilized aroma therapy? It's something that I have found helpful in dealing with pain (I use it for headaches often)and stress. I used peppermint essential oils when I was in labour with Ginny. It seemed to help me with pain tolerance and remaining clear-headed (but who knows... maybe it was just the idea of it that helped). Something to ponder.

Emily Erin said...

I loved having a doula, and was grateful that through both of my pregnancies, while I relied on her to redirect and help me keep focused, the discomfort was not ever something that I could not handle on my own. Fortunately both my hospital birth and my homebirth went well and I was able to birth my children without intervention; a goal of mine. Either way, having a good birth team on your side is critical. So glad that you found someone who will work for you!

Ali said...

I remember being where you are now, and just wishing I could know how my labour/birth would go! It's amazing, but it's over so soon, relatively speaking. My labour was 10 hours from the start of hard labour to the time my son was born, and I was determined to do it drug-free, and did so. That being said, I was fortunate to have a steady progressive labour, and three extremely supportive people with me. (husband, mother, sister) It sounds like you are very prepared for this incredible experience, because you know yourself. Being open minded to an epidural is important, and no matter what happens, you are a success!

Sooz said...

Yay! I'm glad that you found a good doula. I was actually thinking of getting one, but by the time I actually got around to deciding, it was a bit too late. I hope everything goes well during the delivery!! I'll be anxiously waiting for any updates.

babyinterrupted said...

I also went in with a let's-just-see-what-happens mindset, and that worked well for me. I'd known a number of women who had really specific plans for how they would give birth - namely, that they didn't want medications - and when things changed, they were disappointed afterward. I just didn't want to be disappointed, so I didn't set up any expectations. I ended up with an epidural at about 6 cm and it was great: I was able to labor well after that, pushed without any problems, rested up while the labor was progressing, and I'd do exactly the same thing again. My only advice is this: whatever happens, don't judge yourself. Do what's best in the moment.

S said...

I had a planned, urgent c-section at 34 weeks, so I have no experiences to offer, but wanted to wish you the best of luck. And I will echo what some others have said: the end result is the same, no matter what path you take to get there, so don't beat yourself up if things don't go as you'd hoped. (Lord knows I didn't plan a c-section late on a Thursday night at 34 weeks gestation, but my boys are here and healthy, and that's the important part.)

Poppet said...

My money is on the meds...

Remember that you can't plan it all out. Mother nature simply takes over. Maybe your birth will be somewhat easy, maybe it won't be. My 1st birth I had an allergic reaction and was unexpectedly induced (pitosin/induction generally goes hand in hand with an epidural). But it's the main even that is the worst - and that lasted a long time.

The second time I got to the hospital "too late" for drugs. (The baby came a week after my due date, and I half waited around most of the day til it "really was time", so this was an ironic turn of events). I would have given my right arm for drugs at the very end.

Just go with it. I promise you: IT WILL HURT. But while you look forward to/dream about/fear the actual birth, in the big picture of your life as a parent it is really just a matter of hours.

Some day your child will be sick or ill or in pain (as all children are from time to time) and you forget all the pain you ever had wishing you could take on theirs.

Best of luck for you all. Don't over think.... and bathe early. Remember we have a mutual friend who delivered her own baby in the minivan......

mekate said...

I was so in the moment in every moment during the labor, it was impossible to be anywhere else. It sucked when I had to change position, and when I had to get checked/rechecked, and it would have been so cool to labor at home for longer with a coach/doula. Whatever is best for YOU is what is best for you-- and that can change if it needs to at any moment. Trust yourself and trust your amazing body. I am so excited for you!

Kristen {} said...

I think it's so great you hired a doula. I thought about it but opted not to as my husband and mom I felt could both do a great job helping me.
I was open to an epidural but also wanted to try and do things naturally as long as possible. Turned out because of preeclampsia I got an epidural put in before really feeling any pain (they needed to put it in early because they were thinking C section and weren't sure they could do an epidural if they waited.) I ended up doing a vaginal delivery with the epidural, and it was pretty much a pain free experience. And magical. If I give birth again, I'm pretty sure I'll do the epidural.
Good luck to you...can't wait to hear all about your experience! :)

JNS said...

I wish I had hired a doula. She would have helped the docs see that my epidural was not working (it was going in my bloodstream, not mine spine) much sooner.

Once I got the right epidural I was able to relax, felt no pain, and had a very peaceful and joyous birth process. Do not feel ANY hesitation about getting an epidural. It made things much, much easier for me. Wishing you all the best!

JNS said...

P.S. I was petrified to give birth and it really wasn't that bad. Like I tell people, as long I have a working epidural I'd rather give birth than go to the dentist.

Jodi said...

I'm a childbirth educator & doula in Wisconsin. I stumbled upon your post & am curious, why did you cry during your class? Was it the good kinda cry like when watching a birth? Or a not so good, "this has freaked me the hell out"? I work really hard to empower women/couples in preparing for their births, to know that things don't always go as planned but they have coping practices to draw upon - even when dealing with unexpected surprises. I'm just curious as to how to do this even more. Thanks for your reply.
Blessings on your impending birth!

nikki said...

Doula!! I asked our best mate to be at our birth, as she is a calm, but strong soul. Turned out she exceeded all expectations and beyond, she was our doula. I trained every day for at least 6 weeks leading up to birth. Hypno scripts on my phone, guided relaxation...etc. we also had meetings with our friend for the purpose of laying out roles etc.
My husband and friend, Cath, aka team Nikki, were incredible. I laboured as long as I could at home. I had a bath, rested for a bit in bed, went for a walk, the works. Whilst there was pain, it was a good pain and.all the relaxation work paid off as during the breaks between contractions, I was able to completely relax myself, readying and welcoming the next surge.
18hours and Tyber, our son was born.

I know I 'trained', but having my doula there helped beyond words could describe.

Good luck, be empowered, trust yourself and surrender,


mekate said...

Thinking of you!