Recently I was utilized as a backup doula. I never met the client. I only knew her name, her phone number, her address & the location of her birth.
While in early labor, we text messaged back and forth. I offered suggestions for comfort and kept checking in. Throughout the night, I could see that her labor was progressing. I called her. I wanted to hear her voice. Hear her breathe. Hear how she was coping with her contractions.
By morning she was ready for me to join them. I grabbed my ProDoula handbook for reference along with my coffee tumbler and headed out the door.
I was greeted by her husband and their adorable chocolate lab. With hushed voices, together we went upstairs.
My new client was resting on the floor near their bed, in the cool dark room. I quietly sat beside her and introduced myself. She felt a contraction coming on, so she leaned forward to get on all fours to relieve the pressure in her back. I instinctively massaged her back and applied counter pressure. After, I asked how far apart they've been occurring and asked my client what she wanted to do.
We headed to their birthing location. Upon arrival I asked her about her birthing wishes. She wanted an un-medicated birth. The safety of her baby was her number one reason. I referred to my handbook to provide them with accurate information.
We spent the next few hours getting to know one another. The three of us molded into a beautiful machine of trust, understanding and support.
A ritual began. It was silent. It was powerful. As soon as she felt a contraction, she just looked at me. Her eyes told me. I embraced her, she draped her arms over my shoulders and together we vocalized. For hours we did this. While toilet-sitting, while on the birth ball. While in the Queen's position, while standing. For hours the attunement between the three of us was magical.
The only thing that changed during active labor was the volume of the vocalizations.
There was a moment of panic. It was slight. She thought she could not continue, she wanted medication. After the contraction I reminded her of her birth plan, and how important it was to her to carry on without the use of medication. I suggested it was time for a position change and if anything, she can wait a bit longer to determine how she feels. She agreed. We quickly changed positions, danced our way through her ritual and she never asked for medication again. My client succeeded in having her un-medicated vaginal delivery. It was a glorious event to witness the strength and power of a woman's body.
Had her original plan been open to the use of medication to help cope with pain, I would have been the first to ring the nurse. Being a doula is having the capacity to serve my client and the next in a way that is best for them. Using my intuition, instinct and attunement with each client I support, proves that less can be more.
Perhaps multiple prenatal appointments are unnecessary. One appointment to learn and to trust what your client wants is all it takes. Apparently, it can be done without any!