Oh hi there!
So… this post is gonna be a little, um, birthy. Wait! Come back! Don’t leave! This is not about actual birth (whew!). I just wanted to tell you guys all about my amazing doulas.
A doula is a woman you hire to help you during birth. I was a bit skeptical of this need, but my Man is, ah, shall we say, a touch queasy around blood and needles and hospitals, so I thought having an extra hand on deck might be worth it during my labor.
Whooooo boy, was I right!
And even if my Man was the embracer of all things medical and birth-like, I still would have wanted that doula there. Here’s why I loved her and why I think if you are gonna have a baby, you should hire one of these rad ladies asap (btw, I’m not gettin’ paid to write this. I’m just tellin’ you like it is).
First off, I hired someone who I adored. She was a former journalist (ding! ding!), a photographer (yay!) and she loves yoga (hooray!). Plus? She’s just sortof a bad ass, and those are the kinds of ladies I like to have around in general, but especially during really life-evolving moments like child birth.
But the main reason I would advocate for hiring a doula is that the, um, nurses? And hospital staff? They kinda check in with you here and there throughout labor, but no one is there with you all the time. And there are many, many times during labor where you wonder, “Is this normal? Is it supposed to feel like this? Is this a thing? CAN I GET MORE CRANBERRY JUICE?” And this doula? She’s been to dozens and dozens and dozens of births and she can totally tell you what is normal and what is not. And she’ll get you more cranberry juice.
So how did she help? What did she do? Oh, let’s see.
She massaged my back during ALL SIXTY HOURS of my labor (maybe not consecutively, but she was there for the whole shebang). She brought me heating pads and ice packs for whatever my body needed at the moment. She brought me ice chips and snuck me food and told me when a nurse was telling me something that she had never ever heard before and that maybe I should push back.
She helped me anticipate what the doctors would want next and she helped me ask the right questions. She turned off the lights and had a dance party with me in the labor room when we were trying to GET THAT BABY TO MOVE DOWN AND OUT OF THIS HERE BODY. She took notes on the birth so I wouldn’t forget the details and she took photos — wonderful photos (which you can see above and below).
But the absolute most important thing she did for me was assure me that we had tried EVERYTHING before resorting to that c-section and that it was OK and I was not just giving up and this was what needed to happen. I really needed to hear that. I’m not a quitter and it was hard for me to surrender to surgery.
And then, she calmed down my husband as I was wheeled off to surgery and she stayed in the OR with us, and she told us what to expect and what was happening and overall just calmed us the fuck down.
Then! Then after the birth, she found the contact information for my favorite masseuse, reached out to her, and let us know she could come to the hospital to work on my back and neck the very next day. She sent us names for post-partum doulas (another magical creature who I’ll get to next) and she sent us all sorts of resources for the upcoming weeks should we need them (lactation consultants, c-section counselors etc etc). She was ah-mazing.
And let me be honest, I felt a little hoity-toity hiring her. But after that monster labor and delivery, I would say she is worth her weight in gold. My doula was Alisa Blackwood and she was awesome and I would suggest her over and over and over again. And while she was the perfect lady for moi, she might not be an exact fit for you. If you’re gonna hire one of these wizards, you should find the doula that is right for you! There are many different women out there who offer all these same services — I suggest interviewing a few and finding the right match.
(All the b/w photos above were taken by the amazing and wonderful Alisa)
Now, let’s talk about my post-partum doula (who is pictured above).
I had briefly considered this as a pure luxury before birth just because, meh, I can do my own laundry and make my own food and take care of the baby and the dogs etc etc etc because I am super woman and it will be just fine. (Ha! Hahahaha!)
But then, after the c-section, I was speaking with my doctor about how, you know, I wouldn’t be able to climb any stairs (laundry is two floors down from the bedroom), I wouldn’t be able to drive (and pick up the MANY, MANY prescriptions I had coming in) and I couldn’t lift anything larger than my baby (much less chase a Viszla around the house). And then there’s the whole food issue since the kitchen is downstairs as well (I opted to maintain my residency on the top floor where I had the nursery, bedroom and bathroom). So once we considered these factors along with the fact that I only had 3 days left with Jamie at home before I would be on my own, we opted to hire a post-partum doula for a few afternoons.
TOTALLY. WORTH. IT.
I will also note that if I lived in the same town as my family, I suspect they could have jumped in for a bunch of this help. But since I have zero family here, this was the perfect solution.
Here’s what this amazing lady did for me in those afternoons:
• Laundry. So much laundry.
• Dishes and kitchen cleanup.
• She took all the huge food dishes that friends had dropped off and broke them down into smaller tupperware containers so Jamie could take some to work and bringing me portions upstairs was way easier.
• She walked the dogs WITH Ezra so that I could nap.
• She talked to me about breastfeeding — checking in to make sure all was good (she’s also an expert at that).
• She pulled out all the slings/baby carriers we had been gifted and showed me how they all worked and we figured out which ones were best for each circumstance.
• She answered the door and signed for packages (which I would not have been able to do).
• She played tug-of-war with Magda (a huge help since I couldn’t do it).
• She watched Ezra so I could take a long, steamy shower.
• She picked up medications and other small errands.
• She did not judge me for still being in my pajamas with bed head at 2 pm when she showed up.
You can see, this was all a huge, huge help. My post-partum doula was Sarah Bach-Bergs and she was fantastic. But again! There are many fantastic ladies like this out there! Interview a few or research them and just keep them in mind. I promise, I know you think you can do this all on your own. It is so much better if you have help.
Also? If you have a knocked up friend? Maybe a gift certificate to a post-partum doula would be nice. Trust me. IT WOULD BE NICE.