Sometimes I ponder if a birth I attend will be my last one. I don't know, I've always been on the verge of some ending or another. This summer God gave me another chance and so did a mother from Wisconsin. Well, actually, I asked her if I could be her doula! Can you believe it?
I've mentioned her before on this blog. She's the woman who felt in her heart that having a routine cesarean for a breech baby didn't make sense. She found a great doctor by the time I returned her call. (She was fast!) and I said, "with your birth plans, even with such a supportive doctor, in this culture, I really suggest having a doula... And if you don't have one in mind, I'd love to be your doula."
Kinda bold, huh? But she called me back after talking with her husband and they decided yes. I met them at their doctor's office and afterwards, decided that they'd call me in labor. Halfway through Karen Strange's Midwifery Management of Neonatal Resuscitation I got the call. I hope to pick up the second half of Karen's great class again. I've attended it before, too, its phenomenal... but then, it does support what we do.
So during this lovely birth in which I got to love and adore this really cool, self-assured first time mother, I asked the doctor, "Would you be comfortable not cutting the cord until either it stops pulsing or the baby transitions? And if baby needs faster care, could we milk the cord blood back into the baby before cutting the cord?" I was really hopeful since this first baby was coming bottom first rather than head first and sometimes breeches start a bit slowly. He didn't hesitate, but said, sure, we can try that.
Dr. George Morley would be so pleased.
Surprisingly, the cord snapped right after the baby came out. Just snapped! I'd never seen that but called out to the doctor, holding the baby, who had just turned to pick up the bulb syringe. You should have seen him spin around and grab that cord in mid air. There was no blood spilled it was so fast.
I really didn't have what would be noticed as an active role in the labor. Cooing and smiling doesn't seem to be doing much. Some call it holding the space.
The parents were calm and perhaps I reinforced their own confidence by being calm also.
If you don't know the role of the doula, you should look up some things at www.dona.org because I'm understating here.
I opened a treasure tonight. Its a card from this family with pictures of this fine boy! He's over 12 pounds at six-weeks old - he was 9.9 at birth - (!) The milk in Wisconsin is good, and not just from the cows!
He is so cute! Clear eyes and trusting gaze. His mom said, if you don't mind, "You were like an angel sent from God Himself."
Many a doula has heard this praise, so please don't think I'm special. Though, it did seem this connection was put together so easily and quickly as if Divine cords were drawn together.
It gets me thinking of how important the doula role is. A midwife isn't a doula, neither is the dad. A good nurse isn't a doula and neither is the grandmother. The unique thing about a doula is that she is a woman who is the mother's peer, but not her relative; she is knowledgeable about birth, but she is not responsible for decision making.
She may advocate for things, as I did when I asked for delayed cord cutting. And I did that out of range of hearing of the parents in case the doctor had a reason to say no, I wouldn't be worrying the parents about a possible diversion in perspectives. We all work so harmoniously to welcome this woman into motherhood.
The reality of it all is, I get to look good simply because the mother sees her own beauty and strength reflected in my eyes.
That is the role of a doula.