"Do doulas attend and assist with epidural supported births?" That's a Yes! Welcome baby Arden!
We are so happy for first time parents Jade and Matt on the birth of their son Arden! Please join us in congratulations as we are gifted with this opportunity to read and relish in mom's birth story. We are so proud of you and honored to have been by your side! Some parents wonder if a doula is "necessary" during a medically supported birth. Read on to understand what doulas can do; in this case it was helping keep mom calm and comfortable, knowing how to help mom to reposition baby, and encouragement during pushing, among other things. Congratulations Jade and Matt! We are SO happy for you! Together, you did it!
"The day before my due date, I visited the doctor and knew I wanted her to strip my membranes so we could try to naturally induce labor. I was prepared for a conversation about scheduling an induction as well, especially as she was going to be on vacation for a few days the following week and I really wanted her to deliver me.
That afternoon, I was conflicted about what I wanted to do regarding induction. So I drank my red raspberry leaf tea, bounced on the birthing ball and broke out my pump for nipple stimulation all in hopes I could get my labor to start sooner rather than later. As a first-time mom, I had been told I would probably go late, and I was so anxious to meet our little guy! My husband Matt and I enjoyed a nice ribeye dinner and a quiet night together at home. Little did we know this was the last night just the two of us!
At around 2am, my water broke. I was in disbelief, it was actually happening! Contractions started soon after, and I texted Tara to let her know this was it. We planned for me to labor at home for as long as I could to stay calm and comfortable before entering the sterile hospital environment. My two dogs laid next to me and were so comforting to me and paid no mind as I deeply exhaled and moaned into their faces. Matt reminded me of the pain coping techniques we learned in our mindful birth class with Christine and helped me get through it. After a few hours, the contractions were getting extremely close together and more and more painful. I was starting to worry since I wasn't getting a break in between them and we had a 40 minute drive to the hospital in Naples.
At 7 am, we headed to the hospital. Laboring in traffic on I-75 was not fun but I'm so glad we made the decision to go when we did. Once at the hospital, I began throwing up and was struggling to keep going. I was 3 cm and went ahead and asked for the epidural. Tara arrived, and while we waited for the anesthesiologist she was integral in helping me labor. It seemed like she instinctively knew what to do and when to do it to keep me comfortable and motivated. Based on our birthing class recommendations, Matt set up the labor room with things from home like a digital picture frame, diffuser, favorite playlists and even affirmation cards on the wall where I could see them.
Once I got the epidural, I was surprised to find out that baby was OP or 'sunny side up.' The anesthesiologist said, 'you're going to have a more painful labor and there's only so much the medicine can do.' I was shocked and scared, as I hadn't had any back labor pain and I had heard so many stories of how painful delivering OP babies could be. Thankfully Tara was there to keep me calm and reassure that we could most likely get him to spin and it was going to be ok.
At this point, it was about noon and my active labor was moving fast so we started using the peanut ball to try and get baby to spin. I also started to notice I could still feel my right side, and still feel the contractions on the right. My nurse was great and quickly called back the anesthesiologist to give me a 'boost' and even out the epidural meds.
Matt, Tara and I all tried to relax, and I started to feel 'normal' and present again thanks to the meds. We did a 'throne' position to have gravity help baby move down and it seemed like that and the peanut ball were working.
We didn't have long to relax, because suddenly I was feeling contractions again and pressure like I had to go #2. Matt had left the room to get a quick bite and when he came back he was shocked to hear the nurse say I was dilated to 10 cm and it was time to push! I was so excited but again so surprised by how fast things were moving.
The pushing was really difficult for me as I couldn't match my breathing to my pushes. I didn't quite understand the nurse's instructions. Once the doctor arrived to join in, it felt like there was so many instructions coming from every direction. I started to get frustrated that I wasn't pushing the right way or enough. Tara was great in letting me know what was working and what to keep doing - and I started to make progress. The whole time Taylor Swift's new album was playing to keep my spirits high, and I knew baby was familiar with the music as he'd been listening to it in the womb for quite some time!
At 2:38 pm, after only about an hour of pushing, Arden James made his way into the world! He weighed 7lbs and 13 ounces and was 20 inches long and came out face down. Matt and I were shocked - this whole pregnancy we thought we were going to have a 'big' baby who would be 9+ pounds, based on Matt's birth size and what our growth ultrasound said. They placed him on my chest and I just felt so much relief and joy that he was finally here! I had dreamed of this moment of seeing him for the first time and holding him, seeing what he looked like (me!). Matt and I just looked at each other with such happiness and again disbelief that we actually had a baby! And that he came on his due date!
Initially I was unsure if I needed a doula knowing that I would plan on having a medicated birth, but I'm so glad we had Tara by our side in this process. She made both Matt and I feel so comfortable and prepared for everything that labor threw at us and was a huge part of my birthing 'team.' I'm so thankful for Christine, Tara and the Mindful Birthing community for everything in my pregnancy, birth and now motherhood!"
Story written by Jade, first time mom of baby Arden, born 10-10-19
Doula: Tara Hoverson