Last Wednesday, my newest nephew came into the world. This was the 4th time I was privileged to see the miracle of birth. There just is nothing like seeing a human being born; I think everyone should experience this at least once. I was honored that my sis-in-law asked that I be her doula. I had helped with her other 2 births and I’m so glad that I got to be apart of this one too.
I haven’t gone through doula training, but do have a massage license. I think that if you have a strong relationship with the parents, you don’t need to have any training for what I did to help my sis-in-law through the birth process. Being the mom’s doula or helper/advocate/coach/etc is such an important role that I wish every woman in labor could have one.
How I Helped During the Birth
- Never left her side. That’s probably the number one thing that I did to help. From the moment we got to the hospital until the baby was swaddled and sleeping, I did not leave her. This gave her a safe environment to know that help was always going to be there. From getting her juice to finding a barf bag, all of her needs would be fulfilled immediately.
- Talking her through contractions. When my sis was hooked up to the fetal monitors, I could see when the contractions were coming and, even more importantly, when they were tapering off. I kept her posted on this as well as reminded her to take deep breaths.
- Helping her get around. From helping her with the bathroom to walking around the hospital to taking baths to getting in and out of bed, acting as a supportive arm I was there to make sure she could get around in the most comfortable manner possible.
- Updating health care workers. Often my sis and I were by ourselves during her surges. I timed contractions and kept track of how much pain she was in. When we were checked on, I made sure to tell people exactly how she was doing and get her anything she needed.
- Letting the new father have space. This is the first baby for my new bro-in-law. While he was a great support for his wife, he also needed time to chill out from the intensity of the situation. Knowing that I was not going to leave his wife, gave him the freedom to have his own anxiety. Being a father is a lot to wrap your brain around, as is seeing your wife in a lot of pain.
- Staying positive. Words of encouragement are so helpful during times when my sis felt that she couldn’t do it because the pressure was so intense. Reminding her that this pain is what will ultimately give her her baby is a good way to make the pain more positive.
- Massage. I didn’t perform any massage that needed any kind of formal training. It was all common sense touch. I rubbed her legs and feet in between contractions to distract her mind. I pressed on her lower back when she was having contractions standing up or leaning over. I kept my hands on her to keep her steady when she was having contractions standing up. With eyes closed and lots of shallow breathing, I didn’t want her to fall down. I checked in with her often because her needs changed over the course of the labor.
- Took pictures. After all the fun was over, I grabbed my camera and documented my nephew being measured and weighed. I also caught great images of family holding him for the very first time. I made a picasa album of 181 pictures that captured the hightlights of the day and will help them remember how wonderful his birth was.
After 5 hours of very active labor (she had been having contractions for almost 2 months), she gave birth on the bathroom floor at the hospital. It was really one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen. I got to hold her steady (she was crushing my hand!) while she was on her knees and the midwives delivered on the floor. Mother and son are both very healthy and happy. When I left the hospital that evening after such a perfect day, I saw this beautiful rainbow.
Photo by Greg Griffin