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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Gross (Normal) Things in Pregnancy That No One Talks About (but should!)

When I became pregnant with my oldest, I was told about the swollen feet, the morning sickness, and the glowing skin (and, after 3 pregnancies - I am still waiting for said 'glowing skin'). However, there were many things that I was not prepared for. Things that I found utterly embarrassing. Did I really want to ask my friends if it was normal to pee myself, should I ask my OB if frequent farts were normal, and just exactly where was that smell coming from? Unfortunately, the Feds must have locked up and censored all of these 'dirty, nasty' things and silenced everyone with fear of being improper.

Well, 'eff being proper.

So, with the assistance of Twitter and friends and family - I wrote this as a way to provide preparation, hope, help, and advice through my List of Disgusting and Embarrassing Side Effects of Gestation.

Burping - like a drunk man
I will never forget how I scarred the pizza boy during my current pregnancy, when I opened the door and, without saying a word, proceeded to burp loudly in his face. Twice. I apologized, but the look he gave me was priceless. I haven't ordered Pizza Hut since.

Mind you, I burp with reason. With all of my children, I have had morning sickness and the easiest, quickest way to kick my nausea right in the groin is to drink root beer and burp until my stomach feels better. Unfortunately, there is something about pregnancy that makes your gas loud and smelly - no matter the route or the exit ramp. This sometimes makes me wonder if I should be waddling around with a beer gut, belly shirt, and trucker hat - but, for now, I would rather burp in the face of a delivery man than puke.

Solution - Accept your fate. If you're a burper - it's just gonna happen, preggo. Usually, it lightens up after the 1st trimester on it's own. You can also try Tums or other calcium supplements, which may help.

Real Life Stories:
"You should write about when you think you're going to burp and then you throw up in your mouth. Kind of like sharting, but instead of [pooping] when you fart, you puke when your burp :( I think it's almost worse than just regular puking because it's gone up my nose before. At least if I know I'm going to puke, I can adequately prepare for the unblessed event. 'Purking' is just unfair."

Constipation - like whoa
If pregnancy-induced insomnia is nature's way of preparing your body for sleepless nights with a newborn, than pregnancy-induced constipation is nature's way of preparing your body to push out a baby.

I'm glad I poop alone, because I fear people would call an ambulance and tell them, "she's having a baby! In the bathroom!" I scream, I grunt, and I say, "Come on, owww..." I change positions, I try to relax, and - towards the end - I definitely give up and say, "I can't do this anymore!" I don't have a choice though - and I persevere. After the final push, I feel relief and gratitude - proclaiming, "I did it! I DID IT!" I am so ready to have this baby. Thanks, constipation.

Solution: Water. Drink tons and tons of it. If you were a caffeine-aholic before becoming pregnant, don't quit cold turkey. Wean yourself, which would make it so you don't plug yourself up. You want to stay away from laxatives, but most over-the-counter stool softeners are safe (but, as always, consult your midwife or OB before starting any sort of medication)

Discharge - this requires no witty subtext
You know how nasty comics are always claiming that vaginas smell like fish? Well... heh. You may be surprised and, in my case, mortified, at what comes out of your vagina when pregnant. It's discharge, but it changes color (pink, brown, white, yellow...), consistency, and scent. Usually, on a daily basis. There's also a lot of it. A lot.

Solution: You know how you were so excited when you realized you wouldn't have a period for 9 months, and you thought that meant you would stay away from all sorts of menstruation products? Think again. I keep a supply of panty-liners, usually opting for the scented ones since the smell of discharge has made me gag. For more eco-friendly moms, you can try cloth pads - which tend to reduce the smell of discharge as well.

Flatulence - uncontrollable, obvious flatulence
You know those really, gross, loud farts that your husband blames on the dog you don't have? Or, in my case, on the baby? His farts have nothing on pregnancy farts. As women, we tend to have quiet, usually discreet, farts. However, when pregnant - this all changes.

They're LOUD. EXTREMELY loud. There is no "I-think-I-may-fart" sensations - this just come, out of nowhere. Without an invitation, without warning. They also smell, and, they smell badly.

Don't think these ones will go away once you're un-pregnant, either. These farts can follow you well past the post-partum period.

Solutions: Avoid greasy, spicy foods (if, your cravings will allow you). In my case, I was able to escape embarrassment because, after the first time my husband made fun of one of my louder "toots" - I burst into crazy, psycho, hormonal sobs. After that episode, he began to take the blame for me when I was having a gassy moment in public.

Real life stories:

"I wish someone would tell me 'by the way, you may fart ALL THE TIME."
" no one told me about the post partum uncontrollable farting either"
"I teach yoga and even 1yr post partum I have to be careful & hold things extra tight in certain poses. Otherwise..I've let out a few choice sounds in front of an entire yoga class. I don't react & just hope people couldn't tell who."
"I also farted my life away while in labour which was excruciatingly embarrassing. I had an epi so no pain to distract me. Also I was up in stirrups for ages. Poor midwives :-("
"I farted in my OBs face during an exam once. Luckily, he pretended like he didn't hear it"

Hemorrhoids - they really DO exist
I've never experienced these personally, so I'm leaving this one up to the personal stories:

Real Life Stories:
"I actually didn't have them until AFTER birth (from pushing, I'm assuming). It was very uncomfortable. Vaseline [helped] and I've heard that [Sitz Baths] can help"
I've never had them, and then last week out of NOWHERE, surprise!!! I was seriously so shocked and embarrassed and mad at my body, that I cried myself to sleep. I seriously thought they were a myth. And then one night, after a week of diarrhea, oh... my.... god. its terrible. thank goodness mine went away after like 3 days, but I was afraid to go to the bathroom, or sit down, or talk about it."

"[what helped was] suppositories & actually using "family cloth" instead of TP! So random but it's been SO much better since."

Leakage - my milk brings all the babies to the yard
I'm sure you've heard the story of the new mom walking around the grocery store and, upon hearing a stranger's baby cry, begins to leak profusely from her breasts. However, did you know that not only is this real, but it's extremely common. Milk will leak from your chest for a good month, at least. Sometimes, it will soak through your shirt. Your sheets. Your mattress.

I remember waking up after my milk came in with my oldest. My boobs were as hard as rocks and my bed was soaked. Soaked. It was sticky and gross and I thought I was dying. I love breastfeeding and I think breastmilk is liquid gold- but it's not something I want to bathe in. I also have leaked while out in public and only noticed when I realized people were staring at two giant wet spots on my chest.

Solution: don't forget to always stuff your bras. With breast pads, that is. They make all kinds, ranging from disposable to cloth. Another solution is to make sure you nurse when baby is hungry and, usually, within a month or two - your milk supply will regulate and your breasts will become dryer. I didn't stop leaking for good until my son was 8 months old. I became used to it though and, so do most women.

Real Life Stories:
"I leak milk like crazy. I use a "Milkies" milk collector when nursing (opposite side) to collect & save milk."

Orgasmic Stimulation - in the worst situations
When you've got a fetus in process, your body helps prepare your body by increasing your blood volume. And, it increases it everywhere. There's nothing like starting the engine of your car and being met with a - er, sensation.

Solution: Wear loose fitting clothing, don't sit down, and, avoid motorcycles. Or, give it some time. This problem usually only affects women for a short time.

Real Life Stories:
" Even just a tight pair of pants does it sometimes"

Pooping - and the fear of
Everyone knows about pooping on the delivery table, and, most women fear it. However, honestly, I wouldn't know if I had. Nurses and midwives tend to clean any defecation up pretty quickly and quietly. However, the real gross situation comes after the birth. When pooping becomes scary. When the nurses give you laxatives. When you think you may split open if you allow any sort of material to come out of you again.

Solution: Relax. And, pray. Also, take some stool softeners - but DON'T over do it. You can also eat a lot of 'P' fruits.

Real Life Stories:
"the... first bowel movement after labor pretty much feels like you're pushing out another baby... I only ate beans, whole grains, dulcolax, and fruit for days."
first poo! Terrifying but not as bad as you'd think."

"they gave me so many laxatives&stool softeners after I had [my daughter], I actually POOPED myself... I remember being terrified to take my first bowel movement though. TERRIFIED...I thought if I pooped, my stitches would burst open"

Vaginal Farting - or, 'queefing'
After you push what feels like a 7-8 pound bowling ball through your legs - you're going to realize that your vagina has changed. In more than one way. However, no one told me or even hinted that I would begin to be able to fart from there. Initially, it happened all the time. If I closed my legs too fast, air would escape from my canal and - queef. Eventually, that was a rare occasion. However, it still happens occasionally during sex and, because I act like an immature 13-year-old boy when I'm naked, I laugh every time. Which tends to throw my husband off because he's pre-occupied with things more important than the sounds coming from my vagina. I find a sense a humor really helps though.

Solution: Kegals, kegals, and - well, kegals. Before and after birth.

Real Life Stories:
"and tampons never fit properly ever again. [I know a girl who] birthed one in her sleep last week"
"Ah yes, the vag farts. [my husband] has been too kind (& smart) to say if things are different, but I know it must be, based on that..."

Urination - wetting the bed isn't just for kids, anymore
During the first trimester with my current pregnancy, I had a moment of fear when I felt liquid seep onto my underwear. I feared the worst and ran to the bathroom, assuming I would discover blood. I was so upset by the prospect of having a miscarriage - that I was almost scared to look down. When I did, I was confused and felt pretty damn goofy when I discovered I wasn't bleeding - I had just peed myself.

When your uterus is growing and moving right on in, evicting your organs to other parts of your body - it puts a ton of pressure on your bladder. It's not uncommon to pee yourself at night or to wet your panties when you sneeze.

Solution: Once again, panty-liners will help since, most of the time, the urination is kept to a minimum. Also, don't forget those kegals! They help strengthen that area, which helps give you more control over your urethra.

Vivid Sex Dreams - that make you feel like a dirty, dirty girl
Since you'll be waking up every.five.minutes to use the bathroom at some point in your pregnancy, you'll tend to remember your dreams very clearly and, because of hormones and that pesky blood volume - you may have some extremely pornographic dreams.

I felt like I was cheating on my husband. I have dreamt about having sex with the neighbor, my co-worker, my female friend, Eric -from True Blood, and Harry Potter. Most of the time, I didn't even find these people remotely attractive. However, I had a lot of sex when pregnant. Well, in my head. Once in awhile, I awoke in a sweat and apologized to my spouse - asking him to please forgive me. Poor man wasn't getting any action, yet my brain was getting a'plenty!

Solution: Once again, relax. Turn off any guilt and enjoy the moment. Who knows, maybe you'll wake up and write a romance novella and become the next Danielle Steel.

Real Life Stories:
"I have orgasms in my sleep during my first trimester. I wouldn't call that gross, though. ;)"
" I'm having definite sex dreams now! And, damn, are they VIVID"

* I hope this list helps anyone who feared that maybe their pooping issues were theirs, and, theirs alone.

If anyone has any solutions or any other 'gross' things to add - please, do!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I love getting to attend births - especially when they're my friends' births.

Guinevere was born after an induction that resulted in a 2-day-labor (and, her mom, Maysa, went without an epidural till the very end!) It was an exhausting birth just to watch! The photos were fun to take, though.

(Also, I want to note: I just took these photos, I left the editing to Maysa since she's also a photographer - and I'd want to edit the photos from my own birth)


(This was still on Day One - before things really picked up)














Guinevere Noreen

June 19th
5lbs 15oz
19 inches

Maysa's Birth Slideshow
Maysa's Birth Story

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

morning sickness - what's your advice?

If I had a quarter for every day I threw up with my first 2 pregnancies - I'd probably have somewhere around $80.00. And, maybe if I were eighty dollars richer - I would have felt better.

This pregnancy, I have thrown up far less - but felt far, far worse. I am nauseous from the moment I wake up, until the moment I fall asleep. I consistently walk around with a bad taste in my mouth and what feels like a working dryer in my stomach.

Here's a list of things that I have tried:

protein before bed - this works for making it so I am not vomiting immediately upon waking. After that, my protein intake does little to keep me highly functional throughout the day
frequent, small meals - this is easier said than done, when every time I think about food I want to cry myself to sleep
sea bands - ha! I thought these would work because they cured my motion sickness while on a cruise I took earlier this year. Apparently, that's where their helpfulness ends
carbonation - this is my favorite. Root Beer makes me burp, which makes me feel better. Unfortunately, soda is also bad for pregnant women. A win/lose
peppermint - this only works while I'm currently ingesting it. I don't like tea and I feel silly walking around with peppermint in my mouth all day
preggo pops - the taste made me want to vomit when I wasn't pregnant
a hot bath - in the once a decade that an opportunity for me to take a hot bath occurs, it works beautifully. Once again, however, only for the duration that I am in the water
crackers - I ate an entire bag of crackers today and all I felt was incredibly hungry

I pray that one of these solutions works for you. I've found a combination of all of them does me
okay. With the assistance of Zofran injections, I have moved from "low-functioning" to "decently crabby."

I don't mean to complain, but I am pregnant - so it's partially a rite of passage. I also have accepted my fate as just being
one of those women who gets sick when she's gestating. I'm thankful that, with each pregnancy, it has gotten easier. I just don't like it being there at all. I don't know what person enjoys being nauseous, though. So...

For all the women, like me, who feel they have tried everything and nothing works - I ask of you, ladies, what tips and tricks do you have up your sleeves to combat that pesky "morning" sickness?

Friday, June 4, 2010

why I take medication, but deny interventions

**(disclaimer: I know natural birth isn't for everyone, this was specifically written from my POV of the experience. So no one go off and get offended now)**

I've had a lot of people express doubt when I proclaim, "I'm having a natural birth" because, well, they know me.

If I have a headache, I take an aspirin. When I suffered from migraines, I took Imitrex (and, on occasion, Demerol). I've popped Percocet for juvenile arthritis (thanks, pointe ballet) and Xanax to help me sleep. Now that I'm pregnant, I still take Celexa to combat bi-polar disorder and I recently filled a script for Zofran because I had hyperemesis with my previous babes and I'm not doing that again.

So, why on Earth would I avoid medication and pain relief during childbirth?

Because it's not a medical condition.

I don't need Pitocin or Cervadil because my baby and body know exactly when they're ready and at what speed my labor should progress.

I do need Zofran because natural methods don't work and my body needs to maintain the right nutrients in order to grow a healthy baby.

I don't need Penicillan because the risks of another thrush infection are far greater than my risks of passing GBS on to my child.

I do need Celexa, because the risks of my bi-polar disorder not being controlled are far more dangerous than the possibility of the drug passing through my placenta.

I don't need Stadol because all it does is make me loopy and forget what's happening.

I do need the occasional Tylenol because it helps me focus when my head isn't killing me.

The biggest "are you crazy?!?!?" question, of course, comes from people asking why I would choose to not get a needle dug into my spinal cord. Not only that, but I am going to be giving birth at a location where I won't even be able to get the epidural when I ask for it, because, of course I'll ask for it. You know, no woman in her right mind likes pain.

I'm no exception. Obviously, I can't stand pain.

I often hear the analogy "would you have a tooth pulled without pain meds?" (especially from my mother-in-law, who, ironically, was the oral surgeon's assistant when I was having my wisdom teeth taken out). So, she knows this answer. No, I would not go without pain medication to have my teeth pulled. I had twilight anesthesia and popped every pain medication they gave me after the fact. I had to return to work and I wasn't going to be talking to customers on the phone while wallowing in pain.

So, why is birth different?


I don't think God (or Nature or the High-Elf Priestess, or whatever you believe) intended for us to have our teeth pulled. He/She/It however did intend for women to give birth. Our bodies were designed perfectly to create, form, grow, and deliver an infant. The pain of childbirth is not without purpose - it was put there for a reason. Pain tells you how to move and where to apply pressure. Women with posterior babies feel relief when they rotate their hips, which helps turn the baby. Pain tells a woman when to push, and when she feels those sensations, she can help prevent herself from tearing.

It's also fair to say that, of course, there are dangers involved with getting pain relief when in labor. Doctors will often say, "There aren't many risks to an epidural" - and they're right, there aren't a lot of direct risks related to an epidural. However, they forget to tell you that epidurals increase the likelihood that you'll have Pitocin - which carries its own risks. You'll have an increased chance of a forcep or vacuum assisted delivery - which carry their own risks. You're at a greater chance of fetal distress and, of course, Cesarean delivery - which has a multitude of risks.

Considering I am pregnant and not sick, diseased, or dying - I feel that the pain of childbirth is very much so worth every second that I have the ability to move throughout labor, every second that I avoid induction, every second that I get further away from a scalpel, and every second that my newborn baby looks into my eyes - alert and awake.

Childbirth can not be compared to an illness, because it isn't one. It is not something that needs to be "fixed." It is something that needs to be felt. Especially by those who want it.

Ricki Lake says it best in her movie The Business of Being Born.

I love pain medication, I love numbing myself. I don't want to feel even a headache. I'm that person, too. But when it came to giving birth, it wasn't an illness, it wasn't something that needed to be numbed. It was something to be experienced.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

the midwife difference

With my first two children, I had OB-GYNs. My daughter's birth was fantastic, because, honestly, I didn't know any better. My son's birth was a different story. I took Bradley birthing classes and I knew I wanted to go natural. My birth experience was a terrible one and I felt completely manipulated by my doctor.

When I found out that we were expecting our third child, I knew I wanted something different. I wanted an uninterrupted, natural, safe birth. Initially, I debated having an unassisted delivery because I was so fearful of losing control during labor. I wanted to make sure that I called the shots and that I was included in every decision. After much thought and consideration, I decided to exhaust my options to see how I felt. My husband is military and we have insurance through Tricare - which basically pays for any sort of obstetrical care. I decided to visit with an OB-GYN first.

I met with Dr. Erickson, who delivered my best friend's son over four years ago. I had been with her while she has visited with him, and his bedside manner was amazing. When I called to make an appointment, the woman on the phone was very nice and friendly and scheduled me for an ultrasound. It felt a little silly, considering I knew I was not very far along at all - but I was excited at the prospect of seeing any sort of tiny fleck of a baby.

I arrived at my appointment with my 2 kids in tow. The waiting room was extremely crowded, and there was not a single thing for my children to do. I was prepared for this and (mommy confession) had brought my 4-year-old's Nintendo DS for this reason. I had put my 19-month-old in a bucket and, though it prevented possible catastrophe, I also felt like it was blocking the path (and it was a tiny, umbrella stroller). I filled out an entire packet, filled with questions about my medical history. I felt like I was setting myself up for failure, having to fill out that my husband's mother's cousin was born with down syndrome 40 years ago. (
Why did they need to know that?) After about 20 minutes or so, I was called back into the room to pee in a cup. Fitting into the restroom with my kids was a bit of a gymnastics event, but we were successful. I was then brought into the ultrasound room and told to undress from the bottom down so I could have a vaginal sonogram.

Let me tell you what, there's nothing like meeting a woman for the first time to have her put a lubed-up condom on a hard, plastic phallic shaped object into your vagina while your kid's watch.

she didn't even buy me dinner first.

I wish I could say the ultrasound was more exciting than it actually was. Truth be told, it was pretty anti-climatic. I'm not very far along, so there was no baby. No heartbeat. Just a cute little yolk sac where a baby will form given more time. It made me more scared than anything else.
Should I be able to see a baby? What if there's no baby because I lost it, so it's not growing? what if, what if, what if. I felt they perpetuated unnecessary fear into my heart. Their response? They scheduled me for another ultrasound in 2 weeks. I couldn't say no. How could I? I want to make sure that my baby is okay and I can only make sure my baby is okay if I can see and hear a heartbeat. I'll be around 7 weeks when I go in again, so I should see something then. Right?!?!?!

After the ultrasound, I was punished and sent back to the waiting room again. I got to talking to a woman due in August, who was sweating up a storm because it was hotter than Hell. She was nice, but I was thankful when they called me back again because my son was sobbing hysterically because I told him "
no" and I felt like, you know, the worst-mom-ever.

The nurse was there first and weighed me. I'm a naturally small person, and the scaled showed me that I gained 2 pounds. She assumed, "
So - you haven't gained any weight yet?" I didn't know if that was an insult, but it felt like one. She took me back in the room and gave me a giant bag of stuff, including an Enfamil coupon (score!). She asked my LMP and I told her there's no way for me to estimate, but I knew my conception date. She didn't write it down. She told me to get naked (what is it with these people?) and that the doctor would be in to see me in a moment.

At least the gown was comfortable. My doctor and nurse came in and shook my hand. He asked my kids' names and their ages. Asked me about their birth. He then began his exam and when I mentioned I wanted a natural birth, he began the breast exam. As he felt for lumps, he said, "
so you like the natural stuff, huh?" No, "yeah, we're okay with that" just a simple acknowledgment that he heard what I said. He wouldn't even lie to me and tell me that he loved natural birth. He did say, "with the third, it will be easier." K. He asked me about breastfeeding, and I said I bottle-fed my first and breastfed my second. He said, "So you tried everything out. That's good. You know your options." I didn't tell him that I was still breastfeeding. It felt weird. He then begin the pelvic exam and I told him that I hated this part. He told me, "yeah, you're not suppose to like it!" He was quick, and when he did my cervical exam - it didn't hurt. After he was done, he spoke with my children. All in all, he was pretty nice for an OB.

I called the midwives from Beyond Conception Midwifery as soon as I got home. I had been a doula at a birth that they attended, and I loved their attitude throughout the entire event. When I spoke with Nedra, one of the midwives, on the phone - I felt like I was talking to an old friend. Which, in a way, I was - because she remembered me from the birth we were both at! She asked me to come in the next day and she insisted I bring my children with.

The kids and I found their office and I couldn't believe how
beautiful it was. It was surrounded by waterfalls. No, seriously. Waterfalls. When I walked in, I immediately saw a ton of wooden toys for the kids to play with. Mary, the other midwife, greeted me right away and gave me a photo album to look at while I waited. It was full of pictures from the 80s - and it was really neat to see that she's been in practice for so long. After waiting about 5 minutes, Nedra called me back into another room - where they had even more toys to keep my kids entertained.

Nedra inquired about my due date. She asked if I knew when I conceived and I said yes, and she said, "Right now, we'll use that. We trust moms when they say they know." She initially asked if I didn't know because I was still breastfeeding? First and foremost, I love the fact that someone assumed I was nursing my 19-month-old. I explained my situation more, but also mentioned, "Yeah, I'm still nursing." Her response? "Awesome!"

She asked me if I had any questions - and I told her I didn't have questions, but that I had requests. She listened with sympathy and concern when I told her the perils of my past birth experiences. She even watched my son when my daughter interrupted me mid-conversation and asked to use the potty. When we returned and I said, "
My mother wants to catch the baby" Nedra said, "Right on. Is that what you want?" I explained how my biggest concern was not that my birth went as planned from point A to point B - but that I had a say in what happened. That I was treated like a person, not a patient. Mary came in at this point and told me, "this is your birth experience. We're simply there if you need a guiding hand. We don't pull or push." I couldn't believe how intently they listened to me. As Nedra and I discussed other concerns that I had, Mary showed Hayden how to listen to her brother's heartbeat with a stethoscope. They did not do a single exam. I told them I had just come from the OB's office and they said, "I'm sure you've been poked and prodded enough." They knew that I had 2 kids with me, so they sent me home with paperwork that I could bring back at my next visit. Mary, Nedra, and their assistant - Amy, all hugged me goodbye. Mary blew up 2 balloons for the kids when we left, and even told Hayden that "pink is an excellent color for boys!" when she insisted Vincent get a rosy-colored one.

I got home and opened up their packet, excited to fill it out. The paperwork was
... different. It went over medical history, of course. They want to make sure that I am a good candidate for home delivery. However, it also asked me how I felt. How my husband felt. What about my family? They asked me what I wanted of them, as midwives? Just filling out the paperwork made me feel like I was in control. What really stood out to me is when Nedra asked me, "Is that what YOU want?" She asked my permission to let my mother catch the baby. She asked my permission.

I want them at my birth. I
need them at my birth. My husband is going to be deployed around my due date, and I know that any extra support is a good thing.

And I am so happy that I found it with these women.

Rest easy, little baby bump. You're in good hands

*** my lovely friend and soon-to-be doula client, Sarah, posted a lovely comparison of OBs and Midwives over at her blog. You can read the post HERE

and my doula client (who had a beautiful homebirth attended by Mary and Nedra) wrote about her first meeting with them at her blog, found HERE ***

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Birth Faith Guest Post

My friend (and the first woman whom I ever officially doula-ed for) has a fantastic blog over at Birth Faith. I asked her to write a guest spot for me about her first birth and the wonderful woman who made all the difference.

When I gave birth for the first time, I didn’t know what a do
ula was, but I later realized that the care and support of a “doula” is what actually carried me through that unknown territory of my first birth.

Her name was Eve. She was the labor and delivery nurse assigned to me when I entered the hospital for my oldest daughter’s birth. She was gentle, unassuming, and kind. When I told her that I was hoping to “go natura
l,” she mentioned that she could offer positions to try and techniques to cope with the pain of labor. She said she had given birth without drugs before, and knowing she was supportive and experienced gave me courage.

As labor progressed, Eve showed my husband how to provide counter-pressure to ease the discomfort of contractions. She pulled out the rarely-used, water-proof telemetry monitor so my husband could spray my back with hot water in the shower. When I got out of the shower, she brought in a birt
h ball and helped me to sit and rock on it. Later, she coached me to keep my vocalizing low, deep, and relaxed instead of high-pitched and tense. When I doubted myself and contemplated drugs as I struggled through the hardest contractions, she said, “Why don’t we check you first—you might be almost fully dilated.” Sure enough, I was only a couple of centimeters from the end. She told me that, in her experience, it felt good once you could push (and she was right). She rubbed my feet and sat by my side through those last intense contractions, encouraging me with her reassuring words. Although her shift ended before the pushing started, she chose to stay with me until after the birth. Ultimately, I did it! Giving birth for the first time without complications or drugs was one of the most empowering experiences of my life.

At the time I didn’t realize it was rare to find such a supportive, encouraging labor and delivery nurse. But, after my daughter was born, all I could do was mumble over and over to Eve, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I knew (and still know) that if it hadn’t been for Eve’s patience and support I absolutely would not have had such a wonderful, satisfying birth. Eve was a hospital nurse, not necessarily a trained “doula,” but she filled the doula role in my case. Based on my personal experience, I can attest that every laboring woman ought to have a doula’s aid.

Few women are lucky enough to have a supportive a
nd attentive labor and delivery nurse like Eve. Birth has been given a bad rap over the years largely because women haven’t had the support they need to navigate labor’s journey with confidence, and society has, for the most part, lost faith in women’s bodies and the beautifully orchestrated process of birth. Birth can be a beautiful, satisfying, empowering experience—it has been for me every time. It could be that way for all women, and doulas are taking huge strides toward making that happen.

Feel free to check out the Birth Faith blog. It's full of oodles of information for pregnant women and mothers.