From Doula Client to Doula Career: Jenny’s Story
By Jenny Blair
After the birth of my first daughter I felt sad and traumatized. I had a long and difficult labour that ended up in an emergency cesarean. The possibility of having a c section never really crossed my mind when preparing for the birth of my child. And when it did happen, it was so sudden and unexpected. I wasn’t prepared for everything I would feel after this experience, both physically and emotionally. I had taken birth classes and had a great midwife team, but still had a birth experience that for me, was less than desirable.
When my husband and I decided to grow our family, I was determined that I would have a beautiful and unmedicated vaginal birth. I asked my midwife about having a doula and if she thought it was a good idea, considering my past birth trauma. She agreed it would be helpful and directed me to the Birth Doula Program at Markham Stouffville Hospital. At this point, I still didn’t understand the impact a doula can have, but assumed it would help me have the unmedicated VBAC I wanted so badly.
I was matched with a doula and we had an instant connection. I was excited and eager to have this person at my birth. As I got closer to my due date and was faced with the reality of planning for a VBAC at a hospital, I started to get nervous about things that could happen and overwhelmed with information. My doula was such a calming presence and encouraged me to advocate for myself and ask questions.
My due date came and went and I finally went into labour the evening before 41 weeks. My doula came to our house and helped me labour at home before heading to the hospital. Once we got to the hospital my contractions started to become much more intense and I started to feel that things were very similar to my previous labour. After some time, I asked for an epidural, which at the time was exactly what I wanted and needed. I felt empowered because it was a decision that I had made and was happy to do so. Two hours later, I was fully dilated and was ready to meet my baby. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go to plan (as they don’t always do with birth) and she wasn’t born for another 7 hours. Here are a few things I have learned from this experience and why I’ve decided to become a doula:
- Continuous care matters. Doulas provide continuous encouragement and support (both emotionally and physically). Your Midwife or OB has a lot of medical things to tend to and can’t necessarily hold your hand. Your doula’s only focus is to assist you in coping with labour. My doula never left my side and between the support provided by her and my husband, I felt seen and loved. Even when labour became more complicated, my doula found ways to seamlessly shift the way she was supporting me. I’m convinced that without her there, I may have not been able to have a VBAC and hold my baby right away.
- Connection is key. Inviting someone to be at the birth of your child is huge. And to have them share such an intimate role requires a deep level of trust and connection. I think there is a doula for everyone and finding someone you connect with is so important. When I think of my doula being at my birth, I only feel positive emotions and am so thankful for her support.
- All births need support. I didn’t have the births that I had dreamed about with my children, but so many people experience the same thing. Birth is unpredictable and how our bodies and babies respond to labour will vary. And that’s okay. We all want and need different things, but I realized that everyone giving birth needs support. After having the experience of having a doula at the birth of my second child, I felt a calling to the world of birth work. I want other birthing people to feel like they can find support and advocate for themselves, regardless of the kind of birth they want or end up having. Birth leaves such a profound mark on the hearts and minds of parents and I want to do everything I can to make it a positive experience.
Jenny is an incredible doula serving the Durham region, Kawarthas, and Toronto area! You can find her on Instagram at @kindredrootsdoula . She is also a talented photographer, including birth photography! You can find her photos at: @livetolovestudio on Instagram and www.livetolovestudio.com on the web.
*Image courtesy Aleisha Boyd Photography (@aleishaboydphotography)