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My Doula Visit Yesterday

My doula is studying to be a midwife. So, she has offered to do midwife-style appointments with me in the next four months leading up to the birth. This gives us more of an opportunity to get to know each other (normally when you hire a doula you only have one or two appointments closer to the due date, focused on preparing for the birth). It also gives her the opportunity to put her new training into practice, and gives me the added benefit of extra attention and care during my pregnancy.

I was glad to be meeting with her again because in the time since our first meeting, which was the interview wherein we decided to hire her, I'd begun to worry. (What, me? Worry?)

I've had so many people advising me to take the epidural, and have heard a few unpleasant stories about "doulas with agendas" (sounds like a holistic feminist biker gang) i.e.: Women reporting that they felt their doulas refused to honor their requests for pain medication; women who told me they felt shamed by their doulas for wanting medication.

When she arrived, I immediately remembered why we'd picked her. In her presence, I feel calm.

For an hour and a half, we chatted. I asked her about her position on drugs. She said that she is definitely in favor of natural childbirth, but that medication is my personal decision to make, not hers, and that it will be the circumstances of my particular birth that determine what happens. I get to ask for medication if and when I want it.

We'll make plans, and we'll have to be flexible depending on any number of factors. Or as she said, "You may be asking me for the drugs and I'll say yes, of course, just push the baby out first because I can already see his head; you may be in labor for three days... we just don't know."

We discussed my health history, and what pregnancy risks might be associated with it. One example: I once had a test that said I had hyperthyroidism. The condition either reversed itself, or the first test was incorrect, because a later test came back normal. However, because of this, we should keep in mind that my thyroid could be knocked out of whack again, which could cause symptoms that look like postpartum depression. So if we're thinking I might have PPD, we should get my thyroid checked and rule that out first.

And since my family is no stranger to depression, and neither am I, we will be on the lookout for those PPD symptoms, or rather, everyone else will. We'll be educating my husband and friends about the signs of PPD, because usually it's not the person who has it who is capable of spotting it.

We talked about nutrition. She generally approved of my diet, suggested I keep an eye on the refined carbs, cut my rather prodigious lemonade consumption down a bit by diluting it with water, substituting low-sugar electrolyte drinks, and/or making some iced herbal tea to have on hand. She told me to keep a food diary for three days and email it to her so that she could make additional specific suggestions if needed.

We talked about my exercise regime: the swimming, Pilates, and yoga. She approved of that too, and reminded me that towards the end I may not be able to keep it up at this pace, or may have to modify certain postures. After the baby comes, I'll need to lay off for a while, and gradually return to it.

No problem. What I hadn't anticipated was her suggestion that I consider planning to not leave the house for two weeks after the birth. I'll need time to heal, and the 36 stairs that I have to climb to and from my front door may be... contraindicated.

We talked about books to read to help prepare for the big day(s). I mentioned that I'm a little up-to-here with reading about my condition so she suggested I toss that suggestion, and gave me the names of some books for Scott to read instead, because I said he might be interested.

We talked about my relationship, how Scott and I are doing. She suggested we make a list of resources (family, friends, hired help) that I/we can tap after the baby comes. We talked about making sure we'll have time and support to enable us to heal, nurture ourselves, nurture the baby, breastfeed, sleep, have couple time, and have individual time.

And after all the talking, she took my blood pressure (normal). She took out a Doppler device and we listened to the baby's heartbeat. She tried to measure the top of my fundus but it was a little hard to locate beneath my fabulous Pilates abs.

Then, we scheduled next month's appointment, and ended our session with a hug.