Monday, March 20, 2006

To doula or not to doula...

That is the question.

Ten weeks of bedrest and the pregnancy shows I mentioned in a previous post have made me aware of at least one thing: I am completely unprepared to give birth.

Yes, yes, I've read plenty of books. Please, the only things apparently NOT incompetent about my body are my eyes and I'm taking full advantage. I know what my options are (or what they would be if I weren't experiencing "The Incredible Complicated Pregnancy"). I have read what all the "experts" say about medicated vs. "natural" birth and decided that I am big gigantic wimp who wants all the drugs they can pump through the IV. And chances are, because of my fabulous blood pressure (I'm very revved up) and the likelihood that they're going to induce me (unless the old IC decides to bust on open early), chances are excellent that I won't be one of those unfortunate saps who hear the dreaded, "Sorry, your window of opportunity has closed" when it comes to the old epidural.

So that decision is relatively easy...EVERYTHING else is a mystery. And, as I mentioned in my post about the childbirth TV shows, traditional birthing classes are pretty much out of the question for me, as I would run the risk of making it a very "hands-on" experience for the mommies-to-be who had the unfortunate luck to sign up for the same class as me and my shoddy cervix.

Enter the doula. For those who don't know, a doula is a woman who has no medical training per se, but has attended many births and undergone training as a certified birth instructor and coach. A doula comes to your home several times prior to your delivery to educate you on several aspects of the birthing experience (the stages of labor, breathing techniques and the like) and then is there with you for the entirety of your delivery to offer support and advice. They even give massages during labor! Many often come to the home some time after birth to check on how you and baby are doing in terms of breastfeeding, post-partum depression, sleeping, etc. They're kind of like your own personal pregnancy nanny and glutton for punishment.

This sounds phenomenal. I want one. Now. I need a massage. Really.

But do I really NEED one? It sounds like a great luxury. An amazing perk. And not just for me. What a great break for husband, if labor is long and if I get "difficult"; I'm far less likely to curse at a doula than I am at my husband (something about that just isn't right, but it's true). There's something very calming about the idea of having someone who has attended loads of births right there next to you while your husband and mother freak out because you've turned into some kind of unrecognizeable, red, sweating, swearing alien.

Not that I don't think husband and my mother will provide lots of comfort and support; I"m sure they will. But there are so many unknowns that make the presence of a 3rd, more highly trained person so welcome. What if husband hyperventilates, who's going to coach me with the breathing? What if mom steps out for a bite to eat, and husband faints under the pressure? Then that leaves me huffing and puffing on my own. What if I am ungodly mean to them both during a contraction and they decide they don't need the abuse because I'm not paying them to attend this birth? Mind you, I have intention of being mean, but I've never been in labor. I'm a pretty cranky PMS-er; I have no idea what labor holds for me in the way of personal conduct and behavior. seems I have answered my own question. For the sake of family harmony and mid-labor massages, I think the best option is "to doula"....

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