Yesterday we heard about her first birth experience and how it led her to reading, researching and finding out more about natural childbirth. Please welcome Noble Savage again as we look at the concluding part of the journey that led to her decision to become a doula.
I knew as soon as I became pregnant with my second child that I wanted a doula at the birth and that I’d also like to become a doula myself. I asked a dear friend who was similarly self-informed and self-taught to be my second support person. She was fantastic, always checking in with me and asking how I was feeling throughout the pregnancy and how I was preparing myself physically and mentally. We talked through various scenarios and what things I might like her to do and what my wishes would be in those situations.
Knowing I had someone completely on my side, who knew what birth felt like and how important the overall experience was to me was of indescribable comfort and security. Knowing she would support and assure my husband as well if any complications were to arise was a big relief, to him as well as me.
During the birth itself, she made sure I had nutritious food to eat, plenty to drink and that I remained calm, rested, in control, active and upright. When I was in transition in the birth pool and began vocalising quite loudly, she encouraged me to moan and shout with as much gusto as I needed to, telling me to do whatever felt right. I sang and shouted my way through pushing and she was right there, putting cool cloths on my head and holding my hand, telling me to give it all I had.
She took the precious pictures of me holding my son moments after his birth, the most triumphant and joyful time of my life. Whenever I feel weak, unsure of myself or simply down in the dumps, I look at that picture and feel the strength and absolute inner peace of that moment come flooding back. Giving birth on my own terms, in my own home, and with such an incredible support system truly made all the difference.
A pleasant side effect of such a gentle, stress-free birth was that my milk came in quickly and abundantly and my son gained weight well. This time, there was no crying or dread or suppressed screams of pain, which was a blessed relief after my first experience. I physically recovered within days instead of weeks and didn’t experience any post-natal depression as I had before. Instead of confusion and sadness over what exactly had gone wrong, I felt only elation and fondness when I reflected on my son’s birth.
I strongly believe that my friend, my doula, played a big part in making all of that possible. She did that by giving me the tools and the support necessary to find my own way and to empower myself. If anything had gone wrong during the birth, necessitating a transfer to hospital or any major interventions, I believe I still would have been at peace with the final result because I was what every woman having a baby should be: informed, prepared, respected and supported.
I had an amazing doula, husband and midwife.This level of support happens altogether too rarely, through no fault of women’s own. The over-medicalisation of birth and the disengagement of women from control over their own experiences is leading to an alarming proliferation of caesarean births, traumatic births and even downright criminal births [article mine].
Birth as something that can be enjoyed, as a journey, has become the butt of jokes, a way of poking fun at a subset of people who believe that it can be a transcendental, beautiful experience instead of the screaming, gory, painful train wreck portrayed by the media and perpetuated by our culture.
And in a way, those who make these jokes are right to be so cynical: telling women they should give birth in a certain, idealistic way and then taking away all of the things necessary to make that possible is not only unjustifiable, it is cruel and inherently misogynist.
But when a woman who gives birth without the aid of machines, drugs or a surgeon’s knife is considered nothing short of a miracle, a ‘lucky’ one-off, we must know that something is wrong.
When we tell women they are crazy to think they can give birth without a surgeon on standby or a needle in their spine and then label them as ‘smug’ if they succeed or dismiss it as hippy claptrap, something is wrong.
As a feminist and as a mother, I want to help right these wrongs and restore women’s faith in birth, and themselves.
All babies, no matter how they got here, are precious. But so too are women. We matter. Our transition into motherhood matters. How we feel at the time of our children’s births, and in the period afterwards, matters.
If it didn’t, so many of us wouldn’t still be talking about it and remembering those feelings so vividly, even many years later. All of this — my own children’s births, other women’s experiences, the politics and the activism, the private and the personal — is what has led me to becoming a doula. Helping other women get the best start on their journey into motherhood… I can’t think of anything else I’d be more proud to do.
A great big “Thank you” Noble Savage, for sharing this fantastic journey with us. I wish you and those fortunate ladies you work with in the future the most beautiful experiences imaginable. Thank you so much for sharing your story here on Diary of a First Child.
Readers, below are more links for information on natural childbirth:
- Birth Story
- Homebirth from a man’s perspective
- Natural Childbirth in Layman’s Terms
- Natural Homebirth vs Natural Hospital Birth
- Preparing for a Natural Childbirth
- Herbs for use in Childbirth
Also, if you are interested in retaining a doula for your birth, you can find one on Doula UK