Pregnancy and childbirth are magical, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Many women understand this. If they’re lucky, their midwives and doctors do, too.
Still, sometimes that’s not enough. Women in this day and age are looking for more out of their births. They want to reconnect to what it truly means to give birth to their babies. They want to be in tune with their womanhood and they know they might not be able to do it all on their own.
This isn’t to say women are weak. Nonsense! There's nothing weak about childbirth. Throughout history, women have been supported through their labors by other women. In centuries done by, it was standard for a laboring woman to have her female neighbors, friends and family members by her side as she brought new life into the world.
These were the women who would hold her hand through the contractions. These were the women who would aid her in getting from one position to the next to birth her baby with less pain and more productivity. These women were her sisters.
They knew she too would be there for them when it was their turn to birth their own babies.
Dating all the way back to ancient times, the Greeks would employ women as servants during the childbirth process to act as support persons. Over the years, the definition became a bit looser and these women were termed as doulas in the 1960s. Today, doulas are steadily growing in popularity.
In 2006, 3 percent of women were using doulas during birth; by 2012, that figure had doubled.
14 My Client Caught Her Own Baby
Janna shared her experience as a doula.
“My favorite birth moment with a client was watching her catch her own baby. There was something so primal and minimalistic about it. In fact, it is what drove me to decide that I wanted to do the same when I had my next baby."
"It was such a beautiful moment to see her face light up when her baby boy slipped out into her hands.”
This is such a triumphant and glorious event during any birth. Moms who are in control of their own birthing experience enough to squat and maintain core control during ejection can actually reach down and scoop their own baby up into their arms.
They can be the first set of hands to grace their newborn baby’s skin. If that isn’t cool enough, they get bragging rights, too. We all birth our own babies, but not many of us are catching them when they come out.
13 Forgot Pants In The Middle Of Winter
Dorothy's story of her most memorable birth is quite fitting for the season.
“It was snowing and very cold and I arrived at my client’s house. I realized things were moving quickly so we all agreed it was time to go. The contractions were coming so hard and fast that getting down the steps to get in the car took 20 minutes!"
"Once we were at the bottom of the stairs she got on her knees and yelled I gotta push! Her husband and I told her we can make it; hurry into the car!”
“I was waiting in my car anxiously and saw them pull in. Then, the mom gets out the car in the parking lot with a big fat coat on and had no pants on! We had forgotten to give her pants!"
"We quickly ushered her inside so her buns wouldn't freeze! She went right to the tub and had her baby a few moments later. We all laughed afterward about the escapade.”
12 The Mother Took Charge Of Her Birth
Raven fondly remembers this time:
“My most recent experience as a doula has been my best to date. I might say that after each one; I’m not sure. However, this mom and I seemed to pair really well together. Her husband is in the military and out of the country for a while."
"Even though it was sad for her that he couldn’t be there to witness the birth of their first baby, it was amazing for me to get to be her sole support network during childbirth.”
“When she hit transition, and couldn’t talk freely through the contractions anymore, I knew that she might start to tense up or even ask for pain relief. It was her goal to complete a natural birth, though. I reminded her ahead of time that she was approaching a tougher stage of labor and that right after it she would be holding her baby."
"At that point, she leaned forward and adamantly told her doctor it was time to push. I love that my encouragement is what helped her to take charge. That’s what I’m there for.”
11 Mom Pushes So She Can Meet Her Baby
This doula from Brainy Birth shared this as her favorite moment:
"As a doula, there are many moments that stand out. Each birth is a journey, with moments of joy and humor, as well as challenge. One of my favorite moments as a doula occurs during the second stage of labor — when mom is pushing so she can soon meet her baby."
"Sometimes, during this stage, mom feels like there is no way to push past the uncomfortableness, but the only way out is through.”
“As second stage progresses, mom begins to understand that she absolutely can do this. It’s like a light bulb goes off and mom taps into her inner reserve of strength. Often, there are just a few pushes until baby is born — and what a sweet success!"
"At the moment of birth, the tears I see are generally on the partner — tears of joy not only for the new life, but also in awe of the work that mom has done.”
10 The Trust Women Place In Me
Morgan told us about one of her special clients.
“I had a client once that knew before she was ever in labor that she wanted an epidural. She met me by accident really and asked if it was appropriate for someone to use a doula if they were planning a birth with the use of pain medication. My response, obviously, was of course it is! There is no birth that is exempt for the use of a doula!”
“I ended up attending her birth as both a doula and a birth photographer. She was worried that her birth wouldn’t carry the same meaning and that the pictures wouldn’t be as beautiful if they weren’t full of images of her in a birthing tub or on a birthing ball."
"The epidural would limit her to staying in bed and she didn’t want that to be all she thought about when she looked back on those photos. So, in the initial hours of labor before she would get the epidural, we took pictures of her leaning over the bed, some of her with her family, some on the birthing ball and so on."
"I also had her husband take some with us together. I wanted her to feel her birth was just as special and complete despite that she received an epidural, and I think she did.”
9 I Became Friends With My Client
Jillian of Shenandoah Births says that the birth that stood out to her the most was a woman who became her friend through the process.
“How can I pick just one favorite birth story? Each birth is so beautifully unique; it still takes my breath away. But since I am limited to one, there is a home birth that stands out to me. Monika, the mother, quickly became my friend and I was honored to be attending her birth."
"What was special about her birth was that it was an HBAC (home birth after Cesarean). Her first birth was a planned Cesarean because her baby was breech.”
“She never knew the sensation of a contraction until this birth. As labor progressed she had this quiet grace and beauty about her. There were moments of exposed vulnerability — and this is the most humbling thing to be to be present for— it is a moment where the laboring mother places her trust in you.”
“She trusts you to hold the space; to hold her physically; to be like a sister. It is a sacred moment. In these moments, there is commonly transference of strength, whereas the doula I pour out everything in me — emotionally, physically, spiritually — to share in that vulnerability."
"It is a special thing! Also, there is nothing quite like watching a daddy catch his baby girl, Amelia!”
8 I Love How Individual Birth Is
Beverley remembers a first-time mom she once had as a client walking and swaying and watching TV as labor progressed when things began to get more intense.
"The nurse checked and mom was 8cm dilated, but the baby was still high. The nurse made it clear that it would still be a while before mom was ready to push. About 10 minutes later, mom was groaning and bearing down. They called for the nurse and it would turn out the baby was in the birth canal."
"About three minutes later, the baby was born.”
This is an amazing example of just how unpredictable birth can be. This mother couldn’t have predicted it and neither could the staff at the hospital that sees births every day. The female body and baby work in tandem throughout pregnancy and birth.
Often, it's the start of labor that moms are trying to predict. Still, there’s no science to it. Women can be dilated for 5 cm for a month before anything happens. Others go into labor not dilated at all.
Just the same, a spontaneous birth cannot be scheduled. Doctors and nurses may grow to expect every birth to go the same way as the majority or how they were taught they will in college textbooks, but quite often it doesn’t happen that way.
Beverley recalled another birth where the nurse checked a mom and was sure it would be a while before pushing could begin. However, the mom’s water broke right after being checked and shortly after the mom was adamant the baby was coming. The nurse lifted the mom’s gown to check her and the head was crowning!
7 Doctors Tried To Scare My Client
Jordana of Earthly Mama Birth Services explains why she likes to help women who have infuriating medical practitioners.
“I always get irked with doctors who use the “big baby” scare tactics to scare moms into inductions of C-sections. One baby happened to be due right around Christmas. Suddenly, the mom was measuring ahead and they decided to do an ultrasound; they claimed that the baby was too big for vaginal delivery — at 36 weeks!"
"The mom declined a C-section and wanted to wait to go [into labor] naturally. At 39 weeks, she has another ultrasound and was told baby was already 10+ lbs. The mom then decided to start induction and got a round of Cervadil. After the first dose, there was no change."
" Three doctors came in when I wasn’t there and bombarded her telling her she needed to have a C-section. Luckily, my client and I had already discussed the possibility of this happening so she simply asked for more time to consider it and she called me to come back to the hospital.”
Mom decided to continue with induction only. Jordana helped her get the baby into a better position with rebozo and techniques from Spinning Babies.
Suddenly, the baby dropped and there was no more pressure on her pelvic bone, but rather on her tail bone. Another round of Cervadil left to mom being 2 cm dilated and 95% effaced. Pitocin was started slowly as mom climbed into the bath tub to prepare for labor.
Since she had been in labor for three days and was quite tired, she decided to get an epidural at 4cm to try and get some sleep. Around four hours later she was 7cm. Progression to 10cm happened quickly. The squatting bar was a savior for this mom whose baby still remained high.
After only 27 minutes of pushing, the baby was in her arms. “Not bad for a first-time mom with a big baby whose head was too big [to birth vaginally]. The baby weighed 8lbs 8oz.”
6 It Amazes Me How Much I'm Needed
Shelley told us about one of her first doula experiences.
“My favorite birth story being a doula stems from the first birth I attended as one. I don’t think I was completely prepared for just how needed I would feel. It really struck some kind of motherly chord in me."
"I knew in those hours spent with that mom that I was changing the way her labor would have gone without me there. I felt more important than I expected to feel I guess.”
Shelley sheds an important light on labor from a doula’s perspective. I mean, doulas might not seem like it, but they are in fact only human. They too have feelings and they chose to become doulas for a reason. They must be getting something out of it, right?
Well, here’s your answer. Sometimes the birth experience is just as much about them as it is about the mom who is laboring. It might sound like this is a little selfish to some, but when you think about it, this is the kind of doula you want.
You need a doula that wants to be there and exchange all those good feelings and sentiments with you. You want a doula that wants you to need her. What an awesome point of view.
5 Seeing The Empowerment It Gives My Clients
Leah shared: “One of my favorite moments was with a VBAC client of mine. She had a lot of uncertainty on whether she could give birth vaginally. Then when the birth was imminent, she reached down and caught her baby as he came out."
"Then the look her husband and her exchanged was just such a beautiful thing to witness. It's really awesome to see the added strength and sense of renowned belief women have after they have done something they didn't think was possible.”
Leah touches on something here that is just so important. Women often get pregnant and start wondering what childbirth is going to be like. Many question their ability to do it. No, it doesn’t matter that millions of women have done it before them throughout history.
This time it’s going to be them, and that’s scary for a first-time mom much of the time.
Typically, the doula already knows you’re capable of birthing naturally. All women are. We were biologically created for this purpose. But seeing a woman come to realize it herself is so awe-inspiring and moving. It’s the kind of sentimental moment that keeps doulas in the business.
These are the moments that make their careers what they are.
Paula says that for her, being a doula was exactly what she wanted to do.
“I knew I wanted to be a doula for sure early on in my career moving toward it. I was a labor and delivery nurse and actually gave up that well-paying job to be a doula instead. It’s a trade off because I get to be at home with my own kids the rest of the time."
"I knew from my time spent in labor and delivery that that was where I wanted to be, but not necessarily as a nurse.”
“During one of my earliest experiences as a doula, I was feeling the stress of having lost the reliable and hefty paycheck that came with my former career. I was still unsure inside if I was going to be able to pull it off being just a doula. Read that again. Just a doula."
"It was my third or fourth birth and in the midst of it, my client looked at me with fear in her eyes and asked me how to make the pain stop. I calmly told her, it’s not your job to make the pain stop. It’s your job to birth this baby, and as soon as you give into the contractions that your body is giving you to remind you of that, the pain will subside.”
“I remember wondering during that moment if what I was saying to her would help. What if it didn’t? What if I manage to fail this momma? I’m grateful that it worked, and even more so that afterward she told me my words are what got her through."
"I knew then that my words would also get me through. I knew I was meant to be a doula. It might not pay me what nursing did monetarily, but I am reaping far bigger rewards in other ways.”
4 Watching Birth Never Loses It's Excitement
Karen explained why she loves her profession.
“I have been a doula for more than 15 years now and can confidently say it never gets old. It truly doesn’t. It is very hard to pick a favorite birth moment from over the years. In some ways, the births I attend with my clients are just as special as those I’ve been through with my own children."
"The surges of power I see in a mother’s eyes just before she pushes her baby out of the birth canal are too amazing every time to say one was my favorite.”
“The confidence these women have to birth their babies as they squeeze you hand and stare you in the eyes knowing they can’t bear to speak but are grateful you’re with them… how could you possibly pick a favorite? I can’t. However, I can say my favorite moment being a doula overall is the end."
"It’s when I get to see the baby be born and a family grow right before my eyes. That never loses its power.”
3 Being Able To Advocate For My Clients
Although Briana is relatively new to the profession, she said her most memorable moment was with a client whose baby was in a transverse position.
“I’ve only been a doula for a year now so I only have a few births to go off of. Still, I definitely have my favorite moments. During the first birth I attended, it became apparent that the baby wasn’t in the best position to be birthed vaginally."
"The mom was going to need a C-section and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt very defeated internally in that moment because I felt like I had let her down.”
“What I learned after that day was that sometimes there won’t be anything I can do to help change the circumstances, but I can still improve the outcome. That’s what I think I did for that mom that day. I stayed with her throughout the process. Her baby was born quickly and healthy."
"She says she plans to hire me again for their next baby, so I must have done something right. While it sounds like one of the worst parts of my job, that day was my favorite because it helped me to grow so much as a doula and challenged me to go beyond where most doulas have to go into the world of surgery and scary birth plans gone wrong."
"I will still able to uphold my client’s wants and needs even in the midst of so much stress and that made me proud of us both.”
2 Having Teachable Moments In The Hospital
Crystal’s favorite birth moment is short and sweet. She shared: “Teaching the nursing staff how to use the squat bar and having them tell me how easy the mom made it look.”
This is the kind of stuff moms-to-be need to hear more often. Hey, we love nurses and all that they do. They can be lifesavers when it comes to a birth experience. That being said, they can also taint the experience and cause the mom and dad to have a terrible time bringing their child into the world.
Sometimes this clash of personalities comes along when a nurse is uncomfortable with the nature of a birth. More often than not, the doctors and staff at hospitals are not accustomed to natural birth. It’s one of those don’t hate the player, hate the game things.
Doctors and nurses are taught about natural birth in school, but sometimes it feels like they're very much interested in intervening instead. They often don’t feel useful if they’re not. It’s nice to know there are nurses out there that wouldn’t mind being schooled by a doula, and vice versa.
1 I Love Watching The Father-To-Be During Birth
Althea told us how she loves watching couples during the birth process.
“How do you pick just one? Goodness if I had to I would say my favorite birth moment is the same moment that occurs during many births. It is when Dad meets the baby. I’m that type of woman."
"I am the same woman who recognizes how important the wedding dress and bouquet is, but I always want to check out the groom when his bride-to-be is walking down the aisle just to read his facial expressions.”
“I’m the same way as a doula during birth. I love the moments with the new fathers. Those minutes when they cut the cord or hold their baby for the first time. Those moments when they are now a Dad and they weren’t a few minutes ago are priceless."
"That might not be the typical doula response because it’s not exactly client-centered, but I’m there for both mom and dad.”
Sources: The Daily Beast