I cannot tell you how much I try to push having a doula. To anyone who asks about birth, the first thing I relay is how much a doula helped me… in my case, doulas. Yep. 2!
I first heard about birth doulas from co-creator of RI New Moms Connection, Kristen Kardos. She herself is a postpartum doula. I decided to attend a Doulas of Rhode Island event (DoRI) to see if it was for me- Dave joined me for the informational session and really opened both our eyes. While I was enamored with having a doula, he liked the idea of placenta encapsulation. Gathering cards and speaking with lots of people, we left with a few interviews to discuss our pending arrival on the books!
There are lots of considerations with what your doula has up her sleeve- I really loved that my team offers everything from photography to massage and encapsulation. Some doulas offer these services or others, and all are accommodating and want to make your experience exactly what you desire (and if you think a c-section mama doesn’t need a doula, trust me, it’s a common misconception). I never say I “hired” a doula, because that is so impersonal. For me, I found friendships in each of the women who came into my home. We laughed, we were serious, we shared, and we listened. In the end, I chose two friends, a team, that welcomed Addie, and I cannot wait for them to help me usher Millie into the world, too.
I wanted to share my favorite ladies in Rhode Island, and encourage those of you out there who are worried about birth to just talk to a few doulas in your area. A doula will come have some tea, a chat, and together you can see if having a doula is right for you- an option I think is invaluable to most women.
Kim is one of my birth doulas. She works with a partner, Erica, together known as Blessed Beginnings, bringing in new life… she’s also a masseuse, does encapsulation for doula clients, and is super high functioning on very little sleep. I first met Kim (and Erica) at a DoRI event in Providence, and fell in love with her infectious smile, warm hug, and genuine love for all things birth. I can remember calling her at 10pm to tell her I thought my water broke, and her immediately giving me the power over what I felt was the best move. In my panic, I wanted to call the doctor- but had called her first… my best action. We discussed how my contractions were, how I felt, how Dave felt and together decided I would stay home, take a walk, have a shower, and eat something light.
Best. Ideas. Ever.
I ended up over 12 hours at home, laboring through the night in my own bed snuggled next to Dave and the dog, and loved it. So peaceful- AND allowed me to get rest. Kim checked in early the next morning- although I knew I could have called her at any time because she was ready. When I spoke to her, she was already heading close to my house and offered to come over, but I knew I was OK with Dave. Her being there gave me strength, and when I was ready to go to the hospital, she gave me lots of tips on the travel there, reminded me to grab my toothbrush, and met us there to be sure triage wasn’t a nightmare…. while I was so comfortable with Kim, I almost forgot to call my doctor to give them a heads up!
Throughout labor Kim was there not just for me, but for Dave, too. Food, drink, a few winks of shut-eye… it’s hard to say, but dads needs some love during labor, too (and it’s not coming from the mamas!). Kim also helped Dave help me- where he could hold or press on my back to relieve some of the discomfort, making sure that I was staying hydrated, and giving him all the towels and sheets he needed when I inevitably threw up.
Most importantly, Kim and Erica read what I needed before I knew, and reminded me that I could do this- no matter how I wanted to proceed. I remained in control because of that reminder. In the end my team got me moved from the smallest to largest labor and delivery room, which gave me access to a private shower, ball, and space for my crew to be (Mom, Dave, Kim, Erica… plus doctors, nurses, etc.).
But… enough about me! I asked Kim a few questions, and she gave me some pretty stellar answers.
Me: What does “doula” mean to you?
Kim: Someone who serves a woman and her family throughout pregnancy/labor/beyond.
Me: What’s your specialty and why did you enter that niche?
Kim: I don’t really feel like I have a specialty, but when I first started, I was totally freaked out about VBACs and really let quite a few mamas down in their time of need because of my fears and feelings of inadequacy regarding it all. One family in particular sit deeply in my memory as a complete failure on my behalf. Once I sat with it and realized that it was fear based, I hunted down evidence based research, I talked to VBAC mama’s and realized that birth is full of fear of both the known and the unknown and I couldn’t bring that into the room with me anymore. It wasn’t my right or privilege to have fear because mama and her family have enough for everyone and that is their right and privilege. My job is to help them voice their concerns and fears and hear them. Once the fear has a name, it’s much easier to confront. Needless to say, I have a large number of VBAC clients and they have a very special space in my heart whether it was “successful” or not because they face their fears head on.
Me: How many births have you attended?
Kim: Somewhere around 70.
Me: Favorite/most anticipated moment about birth… besides the baby!
Kim: Vomit, hormonal shaking and the birth song. I also love the time right after baby is placed on mama’s chest, docs are repairing and cleaning up so they are out of the family’s faces, and the family is close and touching and talking and laughing and whispering and and and perfection. I usually take pictures of this time or sit back and soak it all in usually with tears streaming down my face or a straight up shit eating grin. I’m totally crying and smiling ear to ear just writing this. During this time, I get to witness the hopes, dreams and love that this little one will be surrounded with. His/her welcoming party! Life on earth isn’t easy but when those first few moments are drenched in love and joy and laughter and deep deep soul sentiment it brings such a sense of all being right in the world if even only for a fleeting moment.
Me: Hardest part of your work?
Kim: Hard stuff… Mamas feeling like failures instead of victorious warrior princesses. Care providers that set aside the care part of their work and see this blessed sacred privilege as a job/career/burden/paycheck.
Me: A few words that you feel describe motherhood?
Kim: The most difficult. life changing season of insecurity and humility drenched in adoration, humor and love. All extremes of emotions and feelings, positive and negative, being experienced in the short span of the remainder of life. Ahhhh… motherhood!
Me: What areas do you serve in RI/MA/CT?
Kim: RI mostly but willing to travel out of state in special circumstances.
Me: Your hope for the future of your profession?
Kim: That every woman/family that desires a doula has one: prenatally, during birthing, and postpartumly.
Kim’s love comes out, even in the hardest times. This is my favorite photo from our birth…