Prior to giving birth to my first baby, I had attended births as a birth doula for nearly a decade. Over the last 10 years I supported over 100 moms while welcoming their babies. Through attending the births of others, I learned a lot about birth -- the highs and lows; how to go about preparing oneself and one's partner; and to know that you can only prepare so much since there are always unknown factors.
One valuable lesson I learned about preparing for birth was to surround myself with a supportive care provider, someone who shared the same birthing philosophy as I did. Personally I have always known I'd want to have a homebirth. So I enlisted the services of Jenna Houston, CNM a midwife of over 30 years. I really resonated with her woman-centered approach, her skill level, and incredible trust in the birthing process.
In addition to Jenna I brought on two dear friends (Sarah and Melinda) to be my doulas. They are friends who I trust 100 percent and knew they would be the anchors I needed on the birthing day. Additionally Jenna brought on an ER nurse named Jenny to be her assistant on the day, as well as back up midwives, Connie, and Kathie.
Enlisting my team for support was the biggest gift I could have given myself during the labor and birth of my son Oliver. It felt as though all the support I've provided as a doula over the past years was shown back to me 100-fold.
To be able to relax and trust my team to support me during one of the most taxing events of my life was such an amazing feeling. When I look back and remember my birth I actually don't remember the intense pain, the long hours, or how unbelievably tired I was. I remember the feeling of being loved, supported and encouraged. Labor was really long, 31 hours from when contractions were five minutes apart. My birth team was with me through those two nights and full day of labor. My team kept me going. They made me keep moving, walking up and down the stairs to get contractions closer together, massaged me when labor took a rest, and kept me hydrated. They took breaks to sleep and take care of themselves, but I was always supported, 100 percent.
I remember my feelings of uncertainty in the labor process (yes even as a birth pro I couldn't believe the baby was actually going to come out). I felt there was no way this was going to work and my baby was never going to be born. I thought surely I'd be pregnant forever. But sure enough, bit by bit, it did work. I really needed the encouragement of my support team to keep the faith and keep going.
Now, more than ever, I know the true gift that labor support is. If you are thinking about hiring a doula or enlisting another professional or even a compassionate, reliable friend -- please do! Think about how you'd like to remember your birth in 20 or 25 years -- those feelings of love and support just don't fade.