Doula, enrolled nurse
I am so privileged to be able to fulfill my passion each time I am invited into the birth of a new baby. Being a Doula is the most satisfying job in the world. After 13 years of nursing, I am so glad to have taken the step towards a more supportive role instead of a medical one. I get so much satisfaction in knowing I am helping to empower and support a woman in this momentous time and to be able to help honour her wishes and reach for her desired birth is so uplifting.
Unfortunately, today many women have fear around the birthing process. Something so natural has been tarnished with medical interference and self-doubt. With the rise in depression and mental illness it is even more important to be supporting the emotional aspect of birth as much as the medical. A woman in fear is only going to keep her body tense, produce stress hormones, and interfere in her body’s natural process. Fear is a common side effect of labour, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are many unexpected events that can happen during labour which can bring up fear. The best way to fight fear is with knowledge and information. The more empowered you feel in your decisions, the more the fear subsides. Having a plan A, B and C is really important. It’s great to want a perfect, natural, drug free birth but for those that count on that scenario it can be a big knock to their self-confidence and the ability to continue if things change. I tell my clients that being adaptable is key. We will aim for plan A and everything to go smoothly, but let’s plan for if it doesn’t so that if the scenario shifts you still feel in control of your decisions.
I feel the same when it comes to birth education. I run my own independent classes which incorporates many different techniques and styles such as calm birth, hypnobirthing, and Lamaze. These techniques have benefits but what I have an issue with is only learning one technique. The reality is that labour is unpredictable and therefore what you think you will like in that moment may be completely different to the real thing. Example: A women goes to hypnobirthing classes and has decided that is what she will use through labour to help her stay drug free. The day comes, and labour begins but for some reason the woman can’t seem to focus or get herself in the right mindset for it to be effective. Now she feels anxious and fearful as that was the only technique she had counted on and now it isn’t working. She feels disempowered and overwhelmed; her partner may not know how to bring her back and support her change in emotional state and she is reaching for anything that will make her feel safe. She is now more likely to accept medical interventions/drugs because she is feeling that the pain is controlling her instead of her controlling the pain.
This is why I believe in filling your tool belt! The more tools and techniques you have in your belt, the more options and choices you have. To shift into another technique if one isn’t working does not throw your whole mindset off, instead you can transition from different styles depending on how effective they are in that moment.
Some of my favourites are guided hypnobirthing tracks, relaxation music, essential oils, massage, affirmations, stress balls, birthing ball (positions changes), breathing techniques.
Being informed and feeling like you can speak your mind and have your say is a must. To ensure you have that environment I highly recommend finding yourself a Doula. We are trained to support both you and your partner through the ebbs and flows of labour. To use techniques, positive language, encouragement to keep you on track when you may start to feel that fear creeping back in. To remind you that you are made to do this. Your body knows what to do. Trust the process and don’t force it (unless medically necessary). Watching a mother not even realise she is pushing just before baby crowns is the most beautiful sign of how our bodies know what do to.
My advice? Stay informed, do your research, make your plans and ensure you have enough positive, encouraging support in your corner.