During labor and delivery, the delivery room can seem awfully crowded. Of course, there are the required people in the delivery room: mom-to-be (obviously), a nurse or two, the midwife or doctor, and mom’s chosen support group (partner, friends, grandmas, sister, etc). Of course, the rooms can get even more crowded with techs, multiple nurses, and when the time comes, nurses for the baby. All of these people are essential and play very important roles. Yet, there is one more person who moms are inviting into the delivery room nowadays - a doula.
Doula, which is actually a Greek word meaning “woman’s servant”, is a sort of coach and labor aid for mom. Doulas are not medical professionals in that they cannot administer or prescribe medicine, nor can they perform medical procedures, but they offer mom something very valuable: comfort.
Many doulas are known for giving back massages and offering encouraging words to mom as their labor progresses. In fact, moms who use doulas are becoming more popular – as many as 6% of moms use doulas. Yet, as helpful as doulas are, sometimes the poor doulas get asked to do some pretty off-the-wall stuff. Here are the 18 weirdest requests doulas have ever received.
18 Medium Or Medium Rare?
Remember the steak scene from The Matrix? You know the scene, where the guy was willing to sacrifice everything for a real, juicy steak? Well, this mom understood how intense a craving for steak can be.
A laboring mom had a bit of situation when she was laboring at home and realized she needed a steak, but didn’t have any in her fridge.
She actually sent her doula to the grocery store to buy her a steak mid-labor.
The doula then was – no surprise – asked to cook the steak for mama-to-be. I know doulas are all for bringing comfort to mothers in labor, but this seems to toe the line just a bit? Most doulas do bring snacks, but a New York Strip is not quite in the same category as a granola bar or trail mix. I hope she at least tipped her doula for being a personal chef and showing off her waitressing skills.
17 Cut And Style
A doula may not be able to make incisions, nor are they normally asked to cut the cord, but this next doula was actually asked to cut something - mom’s hair.
I know doulas tend to think about hair; some doulas bring extra headbands, and some will braid mom’s hair to keep it out of the way during labor. These are all part of the little perks of having a doula; she remembers to pack things like headbands and extra hair ties. Cutting mom’s hair is not in the usual job description. One doula remembers: “Yep, the weirdest request was that she wanted me to cut her hair. Her hair was very long, and it was gorgeous, but it was sticking to the sweat on her face. Instead of braiding it back, she asked me to cut it off. I gave her a bob.”
16 Bring Out The Toy Box?!
Doulas bring a variety of tools and gadgets to the delivery room. For example, many doulas bring a tennis ball, which can be rolled onto mom’s back to apply counter pressure during contractions. Other tools include yoga balls, massage oil, or even an essential oil diffuser and essential oils. There are many things that can bring some relief to moms during labor.
One mom went so far as to ask her doula to retrieve mom’s stash of bedroom toys. Yep.
As weird as this request may be, there is some logic to this seemingly strange request. So long as the amniotic fluid has not yet ruptured, certain bedroom toys can bring relief to mama and distract her from the pains of labor. Pleasure > Pain… or at least that’s the theory anyway.
15 Massage For One?
Doulas are no strangers to massages; in fact, it is one of the best perks of hiring a doula in the first place. A massage can be a very helpful tool in helping relieve some of the pain associated with labor – especially back labor. Doulas often bring massage oils, back rollers, or even tennis balls to help soothe mom’s aches and pains.
What is a weird request, however, is for the doula to give the dad a massage: “I had a client once, and she was a trooper. She was doing great. Her partner was freaking out. He hated seeing her in pain and the thought of all the impending blood was really getting to him. Mom asked me to give him a massage to help calm his nerves. As odd of a request as that was it, it worked. He was much calmer after a massage with calming essential oils.”
14 Do You Want Fries With That?
Once labor starts, an expecting mama usually has a few phone calls to make. First, she’s got to call her partner to let him know that things are starting to happen. Other phone calls include the babysitter or grandma (if she’s got other kids that need to be watched), the midwife, the doula, and the birth photographer.
Most of these individuals usually drop everything and head over to the hospital, birth center, or home. One doula recalls a particularly odd request when her client called her to let her know that baby was coming: “She called to let me know that the baby was coming. She then proceeded to ask me to go through the drive-thru for her on the way over. I’ll never forget her order. Two cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake. Kinda makes me want fries just thinking about it.”
13 Hello, Goodbye
Remember how earlier I mentioned that delivery rooms can be super crowded? Well, this next mom had enough of the crowd and the audience, and she just wanted to labor in peace. She wanted to labor alone. Without anyone else interfering or talking to her, without anyone distracting her. She wanted some peace and quiet.
It’s one thing to decline extended family in the delivery room, but this mom kicked everyone out – including the doula she hired to be there.
“I’ve seen a lot during my time as a doula, but the strangest thing was when the mom wanted everyone to leave. Even the dad. Even me! I mean, she still paid me, but I felt bad not being able to provide her comfort during her labor.” Hey, at least she got paid!
12 Rock-A-Bye Mommy In L&D
The labor playlist is a pretty big deal. Some moms bestow this job to dad – to get the playlist ready, the iPod charged, etc. In other cases, moms leave the music to the doulas, who often come prepared with tons of music to fit any mood. Doulas know that every mom needs her own unique playlist. Some moms need zen music while others need pump-you-up jams.
Music can be quite therapeutic during labor, but this doula was a bit surprised at her client’s musical request. It wasn’t enough for the doula to just hit play on a pre-made labor playlist. Nope, this mama-to-be requested her doula actually sing to her, specifically lullabies. Maybe she just wanted to sleep through labor? Don’t we all? Let’s hope the doula didn’t mind crooning out a few tunes in public!
11 The Big Shave
Not too terribly long ago, it was routine practice for laboring moms to arrive at the hospital and “be prepped” for delivery. “Prepping” for a delivery meant an enema and a dry shave – ouch! It was thought that these preparations were done to make life easier for the doctor, and that was partly true, especially in the 50’s.
Although most moms skip the enemas, the majority of moms do tidy up a bit down there because it’s easier for them to stay cleaner down there during the recovery period. See the difference?
This next doula was a bit surprised by her client’s request regarding these “preparations”.
“My client went into labor early, around 38 weeks. We were doing a homebirth, but when I got to her house, she asked me to shave her because she never had the chance before going into labor… anything to help a mom out, but this was by far the strangest request I ever had.”
10 Sweet Dreams
Another homebirth mama gave her doula a request to remember: to put her older son down for a nap. On one hand, I totally get this request. Mom is laboring away, the toddler needs a nap, and mom sure isn’t going to be tucking her son into bed and singing a lullaby. So what does she do? She asks for help from someone she hired to help out during the labor. It makes sense to mom, so I guess it's fine?
On the other hand, the doula is there to help mom through labor, to ease the pains (as much as she can), and to provide sisterly support to mom. The doula might think, “I’m not a babysitter.”
But at the end of the day, getting the son to sleep helps mom in the long run, so who’s to say how strange this request really is?
9 Cutting The Ties
The baby is finally born! Yay! They place her on mom’s chest and dad is prepped to cut the cord – the ceremonial symbol of mom and baby becoming two, rather than just one. It’s a tradition that many dads look forward to.
But what happens if dad isn’t asked to cut the umbilical cord? What happens if someone else is asked to cut the cord?
Do dads feel slighted? Well, a doula found out: “I assisted [the mom] through the labor, and she took it all gracefully. When the time came to cut the cord, she blurted out, ‘Not my husband! I want [the doula] to cut the cord.’ He graciously let me, and I’ll never forget it but I do feel bad about the husband missing out on that opportunity.”
8 Welcome To The Operating Theatre
In America, we usually call the room where surgeries are performed the “operating room”. In the UK, however, that room is referred to as the “operating theatre”. It sounds funny at first, but if you think about it, it makes sense. A lot of people are gathering around and watching something happen.
In the case of C-sections, moms usually get to add to the audience by choosing one support person to accompany her during the surgery. This person is usually the father of the baby; if not him, then a close runner-up is either a mother or at least a motherly role model.
This next mom changed up everything and requested her doula (not her mom, not her husband) to accompany her into the OR. Again, this might sound weird, but it does sort of make sense. You’re paying this person to comfort you, and what better time to need comfort then when you’re in the middle of a surgery?
7 Come On In, The Water’s Fine
Many women find comfort in warm water during labor. Some moms hang out in the shower and let the hot water run down their back and aching lower abdomen. Other moms hop into a warm tub and soak in the warmth. For this reason, many birthing centers offer birthing tubs as a form of pain management.
The policies vary but some centers let mothers even deliver their babies while still in the birth tub. This is why you’ve seen birth photos of dads sitting behind mom in the tub as she pushes. This next doula will never think of birth tubs in the same way: “She wanted me to get in the birth tub with her. Her husband was willing to go in, but she wanted me in there so I could keep massaging her lower back. I had to politely decline. Too weird for me.”
6 I’m Not Talking To You
Remember in grade school when you would give someone the silent treatment, but then really need to tell them something? So you had to concoct a way to get the message to them without actually breaking your silent treatment. There were usually messengers involved and the messages went something like “Jeremy isn’t talking to you, but he wants to tell you that he’s not going to soccer today.”
This doula experienced a similar version: “My client was mad at her doctor. She wanted zen vibes in the delivery room, and the doctor was definitely not zen enough for her. She would only talk to the doctor through messages from me. It was really stressful and really childish. The doctor was just doing his job. He did not need that kind of attitude.”
5 Who Turned Off The Lights?
Nobody really likes fluorescent lights, do they? I don’t think so. They are used frequently, however, because they’re bright, and so you can see stuff really well (which is optimal in a hospital setting), and the light bulbs don’t burn out so quickly (also optimal in a hospital setting). Florescent lights, despite their usefulness, just aren’t all that calming.
For this reason, some moms ask for some of the lights to be turned off during labor so that the mood can at least be a little bit more tranquil.
Most nurses will allow this, although some “emergency” lights stay on. This doula remembers, “She didn’t just want the lights dimmed. She wanted ALL of the lights off. The nurses turned off some of the lights, but I had to cover others with blankets. We were literally sitting in the dark in the birthing center. It seemed silly to me. I thought all that darkness would make her hyper-vigilant of each labor pain.”
4 The Ol’ Crock Pot
Who doesn’t love a good crock pot recipe? The best crockpot recipes are what I like to call “dump” recipes: you dump a little of this, a little of that, and little more of that, and 6-8 hours later you’ve got an amazing meal with barely any prep. It’s a win-win. Crock pots are magical.
Crockpot magic probably isn’t on the list of doula’s services, however. But that didn’t stop one mom from asking her doula to leave the bedroom, head down to the kitchen,
and whip up a meal in the crockpot so that that they’d all have a hot meal after the delivery.
Obviously, this is a great idea, but shouldn’t someone else besides the doula have been tasked with crock pot assembling? Probably. Next time, ask grandma or dad.
3 Makin’ A Stash
I remember sitting in one of my last childbirth classes, where the instructor touched on starting the basics of breastfeeding and how important lactation consultants are during the first few days after delivery. I remember seeing a diagram of how small babies’ tummies are after birth and how even a little colostrum fills up their bellies perfectly. The point being: babies eat very frequently, but their tummies are really little at first. Which makes this next request even odder.
“Mom was about 3-4cm dilated and she asked me to go make a bottle of formula. I reminded her that it could still be hours before the baby was born. She said she understood, but she wanted me to make a whole stash of bottles. Like enough for the whole week. Giant 8oz bottles. I then had to explain that a newborn would never go through an 8oz bottle… nor should you ever prepare a week’s worth at one time. She wasn’t too pleased with me.”
2 Instacart Or Doula-Cart?
Pop over to Pinterest, and you’ll find thousands (literally) of posts teaching moms how to make multiple freezer meals in one weekend so that their freezers will be well stocked once the baby arrives. Planning ahead like that really makes life much easier after the baby is born, but life happens and we can’t all get 30 freezer meals prepped and frozen before D-Day, and that’s okay.
However, it’s not really okay to ask your doula to pick up your meal planning slack.
One doula was asked to do the family’s errands and grocery shopping for the entire week. Running errands and grocery shopping during the week after a baby is born isn’t part of a doula’s services. You can pay people to do your errands and shopping, but just ask someone other than your doula!
1 Gotta Get Those Feet Lookin’ Good
Many women find that keeping their feet in good shape is part of their feel-good grooming routine. After all, we want to look nice in flip-flops, but we also want to like the look of our feet! And we definitely don’t want to scratch our own legs with rough heels! Pedicures become even more important and luxurious during pregnancies when we can barely even see our feet!
A pedicure should be planned before labor, however, not during labor! “Yep, the strangest thing. She asked me to paint her toenails during contractions. Yes, during contractions. Maybe she thought it would distract her? I don’t know. We managed to get all 10 toenails painted, but we definitely did it during the break between contractions. She learned it’s impossible for someone to paint your nails if you scrunch up your feet during a contraction.”