Before I was a doula, I was the mother of a 3 month old. Before I was a mother, I was pregnant. And before that, who knows – it hardly seems to matter anymore. If I think really hard I can remember a time when I was just Ruth, a Customer Service Director managing a small team of people, hanging out with my husband, paying my mortgage, working through my anxieties, going to yoga classes once a week, and seeing my friends a few times a month.
I was, and am, a planner. When I found out birth could be something other than scary, when it made so much sense that it could be positive and beautiful, I decided I would choose to have that positive birth. I did my hypnobirthing classes with my husband, we read the scripts a couple of times a week. I went to hypnobirthing pregnancy yoga once a week from 18 weeks. After 8 weeks of throwing up 3-6 times a day, I felt the best I have ever felt in my life; body confident, important, purposeful, healthy. I planned a home water birth, with a 3 page birth plan and I had prepared by imagining what I wanted to happen to pave the way for the reality to follow…
I had done all of the preparation, I had watched loads of YouTube videos. My actual thoughts were a little like this: Why do I need a doula? Surely that is overkill and I could do without spending £800 on one day of my life? I can’t spend that much money on making myself feel better, I know Ian is nervous but other people do it don’t they?
Dear past Ruth,
You deserve a doula. The months you will spend after birth worrying about Ian and wondering how you did it all wrong are worth double and more what you would pay for a doula.
You deserve a doula. All those worries you have about making sure everything goes to plan, quizzing Ian on what he will do at each stage and not knowing quite how he will be there for you and also do the other things you want him to do – they go away when you hire the damn doula. Let Ian be your husband and a new dad, don’t make him be your doula too.
You deserve a doula. I know you’ve written it down and you’ve said it aloud, but it might be worth to start believing that things might not go the way you have imagined them. And that it will be OK if they don’t. How will it be OK? Well, for everything to be OK you must: have choices, understand what the options are when you are choosing them, and the time to make those decision, be heard, be believed, be cared for compassionately. All of those things can happen at home, hospital or in theatre when someone is dedicated to that.
This bit is sort of important, maybe you could write this down somewhere, the day you give birth to your son will not be 100% positive. How do I know that? Because it is just a day, like any other day. And the people with you are just people, with their own lives and priorities and tiredness and stress. But the magic bit is, if you know that, it can make it seem like a sunny day with a few clouds and not an overcast day with a weak sun trying to shine through.
You deserve a doula Ruth, you don’t need to do it all yourself. No one will judge you for asking for help. No one thinks you are weak. No one thinks you are silly. You are strong, you are loved and you are going to rock your birth. I would just love it if you didn’t have to recover from it.
Lots of love from Doula Ruth
PS how proud are you that I followed your dream?
Doulas are happy to serve women who know they want support, but there is such a strong hope inside me that I will also find the people that think they don’t deserve any support and the people that are sure of how they want their birth to go, but are not sure how they will cope if something dictates a different path.