When we got pregnant with our first child, I never expected to hire a doula. Early in my pregnancy, I began to read articles and listen to podcasts about pregnancy and birth. Through the research, I began to learn that with standard hospital deliveries, there are often unnecessary interventions used that can actually put the baby in unnecessary distress. From this research, I knew my goal was a vaginal delivery without unnecessary interventions.
I spoke with my OBGYN about this goal, and while she verbally supported it, there was no collaboration or confidence. I wanted to feel supported during my pregnancy, and as a result, I switched gynecologists twice and my husband and I visited the birth center in hopes of finding a supportive environment that strongly supported my goals.
After we visited the birth center, I had the feeling that I wanted the support of a hospital birth, but wanted to strive for an unmedicated delivery. My husband and I felt ill equipped for this goal working alone. I previously thought the idea of a doula sounded too hippy and weird for my husband to consider. I had described a doula as a coach and a mother to my husband in previous conversations. After our visit to the birth center and my decision for a hospital birth, he said, “Well, why don’t we hire a doula?” That was all I needed to begin interviewing doulas.
We interviewed a young group of doulas first. They were very nice, but we both wanted someone who seemed seasoned, confident, and motherly. After many emails to a variety of doulas, I came across René. I immediately felt a connection to her, even just through her website. I scheduled a meeting with her and within minutes, I felt I had found the mother, expert, and seasoned professional I was seeking.
Through our first conversation, René encouraged me to consider again switching providers to ensure the kind of birth I desired. This was such a pivotal decision. She helped me to match my goals with a provider. With the transition to a new provider and hiring René as a doula, we felt we had the team we needed to have a positive birth experience.
René did not fall short of my expectations. We took the Natural Birth Series and Comfort Measures classes that René offers prior to the birth. This helped us to feel prepared. These lessons definitely helped to normalize my early labor experiences; this allowed us to labor at home for an extended period. They also helped to train my husband so he knew exactly how to help.
René was available for telephone and text consults the day I began having regular contractions. She stayed in contact with me, making me feel supported and confident. She met us at the hospital at 1:30 in the morning. My labor, at the hospital, lasted nearly 24 hours. René never wavered in her commitment to me. Toward the end, I made the decision to get an epidural. René helped me to make the decision slowly, not impulsively, to ensure I would have no regrets.
I think that’s one of the best things about René. You feel more in control. I knew the hospital staff could not “bully” me or rush me into decisions. I felt sure I could say no or delay decisions with the help of René. We felt empowered.
Once I made the decision to get the epidural, René wholeheartedly supported me. She did not make me feel ashamed although this choice strayed from my initial plan. This choice WAS the right choice for me, and I felt respected by her. She really went to bat for me when my first epidural did not produce results. She encouraged my family to advocate for me, and it was obvious she genuinely cared about my experience.
Basically, my husband and I felt safe, normal, prepared and confident BECAUSE of René. She was everything I hoped for: a mother, a coach, and an expert. She respected ALL of my choices and helped me to craft my perfect birth experience, even though it was not the one I planned for. She brought obvious confidence and assertiveness at a time when I felt so vulnerable. She REALLY cared about me. My husband loved having René there because we discovered that laboring is a three person job!
Without René, we would have spent a large amount of time alone. The midwife and nursing staff do not stay with you for much of the labor. Having a professional with you at ALL times changes your confidence and your sense that all is well.
René came to visit us after the birth. She spent a long time just talking to us, processing the experience, and providing resources, information, and motherly support. She is amazing. She is the best, plain and simple. Hands down, my husband and I BOTH feel she was the best money we have ever spent. If we ever have another child, we will most certainly contact René again and PRAY she is available. I think I will panic if she isn’t. René is worth every penny.