Looking back on my second pregnancy, there were a lot of things I chose to do differently than with my first. But out of everything I changed, the best thing was the decision to get a doula. It's hard to put into words just how valuable my doula was to me and my birthing experience. Being a new mom is really hard, and when I think back to my first pregnancy, doing it without a doula made it even harder.
The first time around, I really didn't know what I was in for. I took a birthing class and religiously went to my doctor appointments, but on delivery day, I felt like I walked into the hospital totally unprepared. So when I got pregnant with my second child, I knew I wanted things to be different. That's when I found a doula. My doula embodied everything you'd want in the hospital room when you're bringing a new life into the world — she was kind, warm, supportive, and encouraging.
My mental health and happiness were her priority, and it felt so nice to have someone looking out for me.
Due to back injuries, I was unable to get an epidural during my first labor. I had no pain alternatives in place and screamed my head off for hours on end. For my second labor, I decided to practice self hypnosis, and my doula helped me with this. During the labor and birth, my doula was by my side reciting my hypnosis prompts. When my doctor began insisting on Pitocin to induce my labor, my doula was there to support my desire to hold off until absolutely necessary. She was my walking, talking, real-life birth plan. When my son was born, my doula helped me breastfeed him for the first time while also remembering to take out a camera and capture the beautiful memory for me. She did so many things, and I'm so grateful she was there.
Because my husband was by my side through both deliveries, he was also very grateful for our doula. It took some of the pressure off of him. All he had to worry about was staying by my side, massaging me, and supporting me however I needed it.
After the birth, my doula came to our home to check on me. While I saw my doctor and our pediatrician, this was a different type of check-up. She wanted to check on me as a mother, not a patient. She wanted to know how I was feeling, how I was hanging in there, and how I was adjusting to my new addition. My mental health and happiness were her priority, and it felt so nice to have someone looking out for me in that way when I was consumed with thinking of only my new baby. She reminded me that I matter, even in those first few hectic weeks after welcoming a child.
If you've been on the fence about hiring a doula, I highly recommend it. And if a doula doesn't fit well into your family budget, there are often doula students who need to take on clients for certification purposes. They get more experience, and you get more support, and when it comes to labor and delivery, take all of the support you can get!