You Gotta Doula, What You Gotta Do

All my life I’ve been petrified of giving birth. As you may well know, my tolerance for pain is incredibly low. I’m the person who’s on really strong prescription pain killers for most of my period. I just can’t do it.Β I always joked with my friends that I would be sure to get an epidural at the beginning of the third trimester if I ever had to give birth.

I don’t know when that all changed though. Perhaps during one of my two week waits. Day dreaming about finally carrying a child and in those daydreams, I became obsessed with wanting to feel everything that comes with bringing a child into the world. I wanted to experience the morning sickness, the kicking, the bloating, the “glow”, the throwing up, the heartburn (oh the heartburn), the cravings and most importantly I wanted to feel a real contraction.

As soon as we got the BFP I’ve been able to check off these things on the list which has been magical in itself and now that giving birth is going to happen I’ve had to put in some serious thought about how I want it to go down.

In laying in bed at night thinking excitedly about how I might get to feel a contraction I was also starting to dread feeling a contraction. Dread to the point of not being able to sleep. It’s interesting wanting something so badly yet fearing it with every ounce of your being.

I asked my husband if he thought I could do a pain med free birth and he flat out said no. Not because he’s an asshole but because he’s lived with this drama queen for 7 years. It did sting to hear him say that but I get it. So I asked my mother if she thought I could do it since she did it 3 times. All she said was “Oooh, my child…” and pulled this face.


Again, my mother knows me so I understand. But I still want to try.

So, I asked two of my friends who gave birth with out pain medication if I could do the same and they both said yes. “Yes, you can. It’s going to suck but if you want it you can do it”. They did advise that a birth class would help. A proper birth class with support and proper techniques. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Luckily I’d been toying with the idea of getting a doula. It started when I was looking at birth photographers. The one I wanted also happened to be a doula. I stalked her profile for a few weeks and it looked like she taught a gentle birth seminar as well. I really got a good feeling about her. After a bit of umm-ing and ahh-ing about the price I sent her and email to set up a meeting. I told her I was interested in using her as a photographer but I also wanted info on her doula services and the class she taught.

We promptly set up a meeting and I know this is going to sound silly but once we sat down with her and she began talking, Lucky Bean started going crazy. I really took it as a sign that she was going to be the one to help me feel the contraction I’ve been daydreaming about for years.

She’s really lovely so we promptly hired her and we also signed up for her gentle birth seminar. She does these prenatal group nights (we have to do 5 before the baby comes) where her and her partner doulas (there are 3 of them altogether) talk about everything in the whole process to all of her clients.

So far we’ve been to part 1 of the seminar and one of the prenatal group nights. There are about 5 to 6 couples. All of them first time parents so it’s a nice group. Her practice is in Rhode Island so we’re the only Massachusetts couple. They’re all giving birth at the same hospital so we don’t have that in common but that’s neither here nor there.

The classes have been good and bad. Good, in that it’s a lot of information and support and she really makes me feel like I can do anything. Bad, because the simple fact that the techniques we’re learning to get through birth, meditation and hypnosis etc., are insane to me. The fact that you need to hypnosis to make it through the pain is frightening. Like how much is this going to hurt that I’m going to need to be on another level of consciousness to get through it? I look around the room at the calm faces and think how are these women not running out of here screaming. How is this not frightening to them? Why are we all doing this??

So I’m in two places right now. On the one hand, I cannot express the gratitude for this little life inside me. I’m so honoured that I’ll have the opportunity to bring him into the world safely with extremely strong support around me (N has completely forgotten that he doesn’t think I can do this and he is 100% on board with my desired birth experience. I love watching him be engaged). I am ready and excited to prove my mettle. I absolutely do not take for granted how lucky I am to be where I am given where I’ve come from so I owe it to everyone and myself to make the most of this. I know that things might happen and I can’t plan anything but the fact that I get to try is a gift that I don’t want to squander.

On the other hand…


29 thoughts on “You Gotta Doula, What You Gotta Do

  1. Ha ha ha. If your health permits, you can do it.

    I had a non medicated birth for my second one, now when I think about it, I was probably in unbearable pain only for 10 mins(although At that time it felt like it was an eternity, sorry not what you want to hear, I know).
    But my the recovery is so much easier, and it was so much easier to push.. I felt great pushing him out, it actually relieves the pain when you push the baby out…

    But hon, dont be disheartened or set yourself a goal about the way you want to have a birth! Ive seen people cry over not getting their ideal birth, to me, that sounds a bit dramatic, because hey, the baby is here! after all these years of tears, the baby is here, do you really care if you squat by the river or had an epidural stuck up your spine?

    • Yes!! I think not having your heart set on a specific birth helps! (Obvs I’ve only experienced birth once so I’m absolutely no guru, but I definitely felt it help to have a vague plan but be ok with whatever goes down as long as my baby was safe!!!)

      A doula will help you have the birth you want, be it epidural, C-section, whatever….they are awesome! having my doula with me AND Chris relieved my anxiety big time. I probably would have killed Chris if she hadn’t been there. She showed him how to help, when to help, when not to help!!! It was also for good marital bliss 😝

      Oooh and I’ll say about contractions, they hurt of course, but in a way that I’ve never experienced pain before so I dont think you can ever prepare for a pain that’s difficult to describe. but I just think about how many women do it everyday it can’t be that bad otherwise no one would ever get pregnant again! look at all the pain you’ve been through to get your lucky bean and the marathon after marathon you’ve fought to get here, these contractions are just a temporary blip, a sprint to the finish. I know you’ll give it your all so don’t be afraid of that unknown ☺️

      Glad you’ve found a doula you love!!! Have you considered a postpartum doula too? Totally recommend one if you can get one ☺️

      • Thanks for sharing this. Did you doula meet you at the hospital or was she home with you for a bit and also, how long did you labour at home for before going to the hospital? Our recommended a postpartum doula as well but my mom and dad will be here to help us get some extra rest.

  2. I am all for you pursuing this dream. Why not? It could be just what you envision. But– be careful with being so extremely invested in a ‘birth plan’ your body and nature is in charge. I have a super high tolerance to pain ‘I don’t even feel a hysteroscopy and need zero pain meds after a lap surgery’ and I ultimately needed a c section to bring my child safely to this world. If you head into the birthing process with a one track mind I personally think you are cutting yourself and the process short. Not to say you won’t end up with your plan being executed but just realize and accept things as they come. It can really set you up poorly if you don’t. That being said- I had two ‘nightmare’ type births and they were both so beautiful and easy in my mind because they brought me my miracles safely. All.that.matters.

    • I definitely have an open mind :). My invested birth plan was epidural asap. This non medicated plan is me being not invested in my plan A. I guess it has become my new plan A so you’re right I shouldn’t obsess about it too much. But I really will be happy with any way he gets here at the end of the day. I might be sad if I don’t feel at least one contraction but I’ll be fine when I see his squishy face. I hope you’re doing well mama! Xxx

  3. I thought I was going to be one of those crazy screaming woman, thrashing around, spewing vile comments. I cousin have been more wrong. I was quiet, restrained and some what calm. I only had gas and air at the very end of labour, not by choice, it all happened a bit quick. I guess you don’t know your body until you are in that situation. I would recommend breathing techniques and relaxation to deal with birth, my breath was the only thing keeping me calm. If you lose your mind, it’s going to hurt a hell of a lot more. Keep calm and focused, don’t panic at the pain….easy to say. As long as baby and mumma are healthy, you won’t care how you get it out 😊 so excited (jealous as I’m mega broody) for you! Xx

  4. I planned a natural birth, ended up with a scheduled caesarean. Story on my blog.

    However, a friend of mine who is a self confessed pain wimp who takes pain relief the moment a headache even threatens to appear, has had two natural births pain relief free. She says that the labour pain is a bit different for her because it has a purpose. She also credits prenatal yoga for giving her breathing and positioning tips to make it easier.

    In the end, give it a go, do the prep that makes sense to you and see how you go! If you feel a few contractions and decide to get an epi, no big deal πŸ™‚

    I loved my section birth experience, but each woman is different. Some women have loved or loathed their birth experiences with all different types of birth. What matters is that you feel empowered to make decisions, and I think your doula and husband will support you perfectly πŸ™‚

  5. Haha just thought I’d also share something funny about contractions, because you know, vagina talk isn’t scary to us IF-ers….everyone told me you will know when to push, you will just know. Well now I know what it feels like to push but even now afterwards I couldn’t tell you the transition and that feeling the urge to push. They kept saying to me do you feel like you need to poo? I said yes I’ve been feeling like that for ages and kept telling you I need to go to the toilet! They thought I meant to pee πŸ™„ ok so moral of my story is pushing feels a bit like pooping a giant poop motion but it pops out of your vagina.

    • Hahahaha! This is true! I was typing my comment and I only saw the bottom 2 lines of yours above where I was typing, and it made me laugh!!! Oh, the things we go through πŸ˜€

  6. So my whole pregnancy I was very adamant about wanting a non-medicated birth. (Well, I knew I’d be induced, but I wanted to avoid an epidural.) People kept telling me I was nuts, to just get the drugs, but I wanted to do it without. When the time got closer, of course I was really nervous, but I also feel that I have a fairly high pain threshold, so I felt like I would be okay. And honestly, if it wasn’t an induction, I may have been okay without drugs. But the Pitocin made me have not waves of contractions, but straight contractions with no break in between. I couldn’t breathe, and I got very weak and shaky, and was exhausted after about an hour of straight contractions. That’s when I decided I needed to be able to relax so that I would have energy left to push that baby out, and told them I needed the Epidural. I felt like a huge failure, but my nurse and hubby were amazing and assured me that getting the Epidural didn’t make me a failure. And looking back, I got the Epidural around 11:30am or noon, and she wasn’t born until 9:30 pm…I never would have made it through the constant pain that long and then been able to push her out. She was sideways and forehead first, and it took everything in me to get her out because my OB said otherwise I had to have a c-section. If it wasn’t for the Epidural allowing me to sleep and rest through the day, I would have had to have surgery. To me, it was worth it.
    My point is…just go into it open minded. Try it without, see how you do. You’ll be able to feel the contractions and see how you handle them, and you can go from there. If you decide in the midst of things that you want the drugs, then get them. Then you’ll have been able to feel the contractions, and also get some relief for a while. (And BTW…even with the Epidural, I felt every bit of that baby be born! So I didn’t “miss” anything!) Hope that helps!!

  7. Yeah the idea of childbirth pain is scary to me too! I have one friend though who told me she loved the whole experience and found it “zen”. I guess she’s a bit of a hippie. But I try to think of positive stories like hers to remind me that it’s possible. I’ve heard there are some good books about birth that help too so that when you have a weird pain you know it’s normal and don’t freak out!

  8. I literally LOLed at that picture, ha!

    I’m newly and tentatively pregnant (9 weeks), but we’ve been trying for four years, so of course I’ve had time to think about this kind of stuff. I would prefer a natural childbirth, too. After all, giving birth is not an illness. It’s a natural process, and the pain serves a purpose. I’ve also heard there tend to be fewer interventions and complications if you can manage it au naturel. (Which is not AT ALL to say other methods are bad or wrong — sometimes you really have to do what you have to do, and having a healthy baby is by far the number one goal!)

    I have a friend who gave birth at home in Argentina, and she said that when she was in the midst of giving birth, she was in an altered state in a way, more in touch with her deeper core nature. That thought really appeals to me. I suspect that a lot of the pain and fear we feel is because we *expect* it to be so awful after a lifetime of movies and TV making it look like a horrible ordeal (and hearing mothers swapping war stories). If we can go into it with a mindset of, “This is a natural process, and yeah, pain will be a part of it,” instead of, “Oh my God oh my God this is going to SUUUUCK!” it’ll hopefully go better.

    But what the hell do I know? Haha. Let’s talk again after I’ve been through it…

  9. Ok trying again – I think that if you want to have a natural, medication free childbirth that you can! I was terrified too, and I think my husband also doubted I could do it although he supported me 100% and cheered me on, and yes it was painful for me but I powered though somehow and did it. I believe you can too! My labor and delivery was ~11 hours, and I’d say the pain was “bad” only an hour and a half or so. And it’s not a “bad” pain, but it’s unlike any other pain, even now I couldn’t describe it in any great detail and the memory is very opaque so even though it’s hard in the moment, once it passes it’s like a long ago dream.
    I took only one childbirth class at the hospital, I didn’t learn anything about hypnosis or meditation and spent time bouncing on the peanut ball while my husband gave me a massage, so you definitely can do it without those techniques if you wish. I agree with other commenters about not being too invested in a plan, because sometimes nature has other ideas and in the moment you might feel differently about certain things. So be flexible (literally and figuratively, haha!) and open minded, and don’t beat yourself up if the plan changes midway through. Easier said than done, I know.
    I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and I think it really helped prepare me.
    And, yes to Dani’s comment about the pooping sensation – I remember shouting out at one point “I feel like I need to take a shit!” and the husband has not let me forget it πŸ˜‰

    • Oh thank you so much for writing this! I’m reading Ina May right now actually. It really is helping. Right now I’m torn between two hospitals. I hope I make the right choice lol. But thanks again for this, it really helps.

      • You’re welcome. I am sure you will make the right choice for you and your family! Also, I did write a birth story at the end of November that was a lot more detailed than my comment if you want to know what my whole experience was like. It is different for everyone but I have no regrets and am completely happy with how everything went!

  10. I think every woman can do this (other than in extenuating medical circumstances) and absolutely you can too! Your doula sounds amazing and will help you stick with your goals!

    If things don’t go the way you hope, and you feel unhappy with the outcome, just know that thats ok too. You can be happy that you and baby are safe and still not be satisfied with your birth experience. Any feelings you have a valid. ❀

    That being said, I wish you all the best birth juju ☺

  11. I was scared shitless when I was admitted to the hospital, and the women screaming at the top of their lungs didn’t help the situation. I never got a chance to deliver, poor kid was sorry for his momma and had to be taken…whew, that sure saved my vagina a lot of pain…! My kiddo is almost a teenager now… πŸ™‚ all the best to you on your journey to mommyhood…

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