One year ago, on July 2, 2015, I attended my first birth. I had never been in the room of another birthing women, aside from myself. It was one of the most miraculous moments of my life! And the exciting thing is, I have relived that moment 16 times over this past year.
In June of 2015 I trained to become a birth doula. Over the course of four days, I connected with women from all sorts of backgrounds and, together, we created a beautiful bond through a like-minded desire… that women feel supported during their births. I found my sweet spot! I have longed to find something that I felt so fit for, and I finally found it! Becoming a doula has been one of the most enjoyable journeys.
I was blessed to have a wonderful mentor, Anna Kemp, who was slowly transitioning out of her doula role and into a new adventure, and because of this, she was passing potential clients to me. With her word and stamp of approval, these wonderful families trusted me to be part of one of the most intimate moments of their life – the birth of their baby.
There are some things I learned this year…
Birth takes my breath away!
I am always mystified, amazed, blown away by the awesomeness of childbirth. Watching a woman labor, watching her find that safe place, a place where security and vulnerability collide, watching her find out how strong she truly is, watching her husband fall deeper in love with her. All of it is so breathtakingly beautiful!
I have resigned, that I will always cry happy tears at a birth.
I am a crier… always have been. Commercials make me cry. Saying goodbye makes me cry. Watching my kids grow up makes me cry. Seeing a baby born, seeing a woman become a mother, a man become a father, that makes me cry. And watching a man cry, that REALLY brings on sentimental tears!
On call life is hard, but I wouldn’t trade it!
I am a light sleeper in general, so when I have the exciting anticipation of a birth drawing near I loose all sorts of sleep. I have learned how to manage it better, by heading to bed earlier and having all my gear in place. Being ready helps me sleep more peacefully.
You have to have a safe place to share your joys or sorrows.
When I walk away from a birth, most times I walk away feeling high as a kite. I am overwhelmed by the joy that was filling the birth space. I am excited for the beautiful experience the couple just had. I have also walked away from births exhausted; having to process things that didn’t go the way everyone hoped it would. I attended a birth that had so many similarities to one of my own births and I walked away realizing that I never processed the traumas I experienced in birth.
Obviously, client confidentiality is of utmost importance, but by having a safe place for me to share, I become a better doula. I am able to give more of myself to the mother who has fears as her birth approaches, or who is exhausted by her 24 hour labor, or to the mother who is crying because her baby is crying as they both wait for the sweet relief of breastmilk to flood in, or to the mom who is preparing to return to work after her maternity leave ends and her emotions are consuming her.
First time moms CAN give birth naturally!
I did not have a natural birth with my first child – even though I intended to. I have to be honest, I got an epidural. After my experience, I resigned to thinking that first-time moms didn't know what they were in for, that the pain was too much, there was no way they could have a natural childbirth. Then I had a doula at my fourth birth and I realized how valuable that support was... so I began the journey to becoming a doula. I was still a little skeptical that a first-time mom could birth naturally, but then they proved me wrong, and I am so glad they did! You can read more about how 90.9% of these amazing first-time moms gave birth naturally by clicking here!
I can’t learn enough!
I have become obsessed with learning more. I want to attend every workshop, every class, read every book, listen to every podcast, watch every video – I LOVE any and all things pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and baby related. I want to be able to give families the very best of me, so I am continually trying to educate myself.
There is so much more I could say, but then this blog would turn into an autobiography! So I will save it for another day.
Are you a first-time mom?
Do you hope to give birth naturally?
I bet whenever you tell people you hope to have a natural birth you get something along the lines of…
“Oh, you just wait…” or
“Don’t speak too soon…” or what about
“There’s no way! You’ll be begging for that epidural…”
I am here to tell you that first-time moms CAN give birth naturally. You can have an AMAZING birth experience. You can make it through without being overcome by pain!
Now just a warning: you are about to see a lot of numbers... (I like numbers and statistics. I’m not saying I am good with them, I just like them!)
I have been a doula for exactly 1 year and in that year I have served 16 moms. Of those 16 moms, 13 were giving birth for the first time.
Out of those 13 moms, 2 had scheduled cesareans due to breech babies.
Out of the 11 moms who could give birth vaginally, guess how many of them gave birth naturally?
10 out of 11 first-time moms gave birth naturally!
90.9% birthed naturally!
(And really, I should include the one mom who is the 11th person because she labored naturally and pushed for 5 hours before getting an epidural, then pushed for another 2 hours before baby arrived! She deserves some credit, don’t you think!)
I expected to see the veteran moms give birth naturally, but I didn’t expect to see so many first time moms have such awesome natural births. (I know that sounds horrible and I absolutely hate admitting that me, a doula, didn’t think first-time moms could handle it. This opinion of mine was based a lot on my own birth experiences, though. I plan to share my birth stories soon!)
After I attended the birth of a first-time mom I thought "WOW, she must have really prepared." Then the next first-time mom had a natural birth, then the third, then the fourth, and I began to see that if a woman has a supportive birth team, and her heart is determined, she CAN have an AMAZING natural birth.
Some of these first-time moms gave birth at home, some at birth centers, although most at hospitals. They had varying backgrounds of childbirth education, ranging from nothing at all to extensive classes, reading, and medical training. All of these moms were very different from each other, but they had a few things in common, do you want to know what they were?
1. They trusted the process of natural birth.
2. They had a supportive spouse.
3. They ALL had a doula!
Is this your first baby?
Are you a little nervous about natural birth?
Can I tell you a secret?
YOU are stronger than you know!
Your body is more powerful than you can imagine!
And you CAN have an AMAZING natural birth!
***Disclaimer: Please realize that this blog is based on my personal birth statistics, not on national standards. I also realize that while we may have the best intentions, that labor comes in many variations, so experiencing a natural birth is not always in our control. I also realize that there are women who prefer medicated births, this blog is to encourage those who desire a natural birth, not to discourage the mother who desires pain medication.
I am a birth doula, childbirth educator, wife to an amazing man, and mother to four beautiful girls. I love serving families as they bring new life into the world!
Serving Virginia's Shenandoah Valley & West Virginia's Panhandle
Winchester // Stephenson // Stephens City // Strasburg // Berryville // Purceville // Leesburg // Inwood // Gerrardstown // Shepherdstown // Martinsburg // Charlestown // Middletown // Front Royal
Host of Birth Boot Camp Doula Trainings
Host of Birth Boot Camp Childbirth Educators Trainings