The open-ended nature of working with folks that have a wide range of backgrounds with only pregnancy in-common often leads to curious adventure, and sometimes tight-chested moments. Gratitude is always the outcome.
When meeting with new clients, and during their prenatal visits I listen to them in a multitude of ways. I notice her gait, if it has changed and look upon her hands to see if her rings are tighter than the last I saw. Is her tone of voice laced with positivity or possibly fear? Am I greeted with a familiar smile or a brow showing new signs of stress? Is the couple moving together in unison, or is it choppy waters today? None of these observations stem from a place of judgement; they are inquiries of the heart set out to support in whatever way is needed.
But what happens when the actual dialogue is limited? It never occurred to me that I could be called to serve a family that for many reasons, is unable to share important details of their life and pregnancy with me, or with anyone. This truly clarified my position as their Doula; Help them get their baby out with the most compassion and support I can give, at every turn, no matter what. I had to shelf my areas of concern and focus on birth alone. Oh the internal struggles between Educator, and Doula can be a wrath.
Finding us all near the end of a birth plan that twisted & shifted at every step, I see the baby’s head. My mind is filled with images of birth variations knowing that this situation was different and required the action of a skilled birth team. Without words and only exchanged looks with the other care providers, I knew what had to be done. McRobert’s maneuver. I become keenly aware of the sound of the ticking clock above.
I calmed the Mother as I gently began laying her bed down flat: “Baby needs a little help coming out now, I’m right here. Pant gently with me…whoo…whooo…whooo”.
As I pressed her heel and leg straight back and explained what she may feel on her belly (suprapubic pressure) I planted my feet and prepared for her response to the discomfort that was coming. Nearly 2 minutes later baby was released along with much of the tension in the room. These are the births that hospital staff runs drills for. Internally, I thanked my Higher Power for providing me with the knowledge learned along this journey allowing me to assist swiftly with such expertise.
It’s not uncommonly assumed that Doulas only serve at fluffy-fancy births, or with the nuclear family type. Truly, it’s not those beautiful birth videos of perfect births when a Doula is the most useful. When a birth becomes challenged, it becomes imperative that I reduce fear and trauma. I continue my education every single day knowing that unfortunate circumstances often call upon the families I serve, and myself, with the most intensity. I may not know what country they are from, the status of their relationship, or the details of their past…but I do know this:
Having a Doula helped them get their baby out safely without fear, and with love.