Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My first homebirth as a doula

Yesterday I was privileged to attend my first homebirth as a doula! I've been to so many births, and none outside of the hospital - until now. It was such a lovely experience for me and, I think, for the family - although, like any birth, a lot of hard work for the laboring woman! And she was a rockstar!! It ended with a perfect healthy happy baby (born in the caul - another first for me!) and an amazing healthy happy new mother - the best outcomes possible.

The family and woman-centered-ness I saw in the midwives' care was so exceptional. What the midwives needed to do, they did as quietly and unobtrusively as you could imagine. Most conversation between the birth team took place in hand signals or sub-whispers. Every question and transition was explained simply, quietly, and calmly. And being a healthy, progressing labor they didn't need to do much - so they didn't. There wasn't constant pressure to monitor progress (except by observing and listening), no restrictions on movement or food or with cords and wires, and there wasn't a constant battle to fight those things off either. It was just labor, unique to that particular person, but a familiar sight.

I can't express how different in tone and attitude it felt from a hospital birth. Having experienced it, I see why some doulas have a hard time going back to hospital births after attending home births. (The only hospital birth I've been to that has ever come close is this one, which had a fortuitous constellation of a fast labor, great nurse, two doulas, and one of my favorite midwives ever, at the most mother-friendly hospital I've ever seen. And even then - just not the same.) The respect, the privacy, the autonomy, the gentle guidance, the comfort and calm and normalcy, I have never seen replicated in any hospital (although I so deeply wish they were). It was a powerful experience.

In case you can't tell, I'm still riding the lovely wave of good feeling and harmony that comes with seeing a new life come into the world. Thank you to my friends for inviting me to be present. I was honored to be there. Your new family is great and I can't wait to see this baby grow up!

10 comments:

Sally said...

This is so awesome! Your excitement really comes through. Mazel tov to you and the new parents!

Enjoy Birth said...

Ahh yes, the magic of a home birth! I often wonder if every L&D Nurse and every OB had a chance to attend a good home birth if it would change the way they practice!

Glad you got to experience that!

PhoenixRising said...

Congratulations! Home births are fantastic, and it really is so hard to be back in the hospital. My third birth as a doula-in-training was a home birth, and it was such a beautiful experience. What made it even more amazing, at least for me, was that it was a fast labor and the midwife didn't make it in time for the baby to be born, so I was the one who caught (it was a water birth). The next birth I attended, just the following week, was supposed to be at the local freestanding birth center, but we had a terrible ice storm that night and the midwife couldn't make it to the center, so Mom had to go to the closest hospital instead. Luckily hers was a fast labor, too, so there was no time to be pressured into any type of intervention (other than "standard" heplock and EFM) but the OB was about the worst one I've had the misfortune to meet thus far.

Rebecca said...

Sally: Thank you! I'll pass it along! Check out my FB for a photo of the little guy.

Sheridan: Oh, I wish it could be!

Phoenix: How lucky you were, and what a trip to catch the baby at your third birth!! I was glad I didn't have to do any catching at this one :-)

Susan said...

Congratulations! Home births are fantastic, and it really is so hard to go back to the hospital afterward. I'm a doula-in-training and my third birth was a home birth. It was made even more amazing by the fact that it was a super-fast labor and the midwife didn't make it in time for delivery, so I was the one who caught (it was a water birth, as well). The next week I doula-ed at an unplanned hospital birth (mom was planning to go to the freestanding birth center here, but we had a terrible ice storm the night she went into labor and the midwife couldn't make it to the center, so she had to go to the local hospital since she didn't want an unassisted home birth). It was a poor situation in the first place since the parents didn't want to be at the hospital and the hospital wasn't expecting them, and the OB was about the least sympathetic person on the planet. Luckily it was a fast delivery so there wasn't time for intervention other than EFM and heplock, but it was still such a shock to the system after a quiet, uneventful home birth.

Susan said...

Apologies if I basically left the same comment twice - I was signed in with the wrong profile the first time (PhoenixRising). :)

Rebecca said...

No worries Susan! I just approve anything that's not spam...

bloodyshow said...

I'm so pleased that you got a chance to attend a homebirth. What a sweet experience! It's another type of animal entirely from hospital birth.

The Mom I Want To Be said...

Congratulations! Homebirths are amazing!! As a doula did you feel that your role was very different? I had both of my children at home; looking back I wish I had a doula. My midwives, are amazing but they are very hands off and quiet. I think a little more direct verbal support could have greatly shortened both of my labors.

Rebecca said...

@Mom I Want To Be: Hmm, what was different? What a great question!

It was interesting to experience the feeling of having to do zero "defense", to not even have to prepare myself for the possibility of running interference.

I also felt very confident that I could let the midwives take over the role of suggesting position changes, etc. once they arrived - that was a new feeling.

So I would say the main difference was in feeling that trust and confidence in the caregivers - that they were on exactly the same page as the family.

I'm sorry you didn't have a doula when you feel you could have benefited from it. I think a helpful role that I played was in being there before it was time for the midwives to arrive, encouraging rest, suggesting positions, helping get the tub set up, etc. I would encourage anyone to have a doula at a home birth!