The first time I talked to Shannon, she told me she wanted a doula this time around, because while her first birth didn’t contain details that may seem traumatic, the speed of it and the fear involved did make it traumatic.
Often times when people hear stories of fast labors, they say something like “I wish mine went like that! You’re so lucky!” But in reality, for most first time birthing people (and even seasoned folks) a really fast labor can feel scary. It also makes you vulnerable to the medical community because you’re often being asked lots of questions while in labor land and agreeing to things that in retrospect, may have not been something you wanted.
Laboring people often don’t understand what’s being asked of them at the time and nodding yes is all they can do. There’s also pressure on partners to then make decisions. If they operate from a place of fear and also begin to nod in agreement, resentment can rear its ugly head, sometimes even minutes after birth and relationships may suffer for it.
This time around our goal was to have a calm, supported and empowered experience, setting up Shannon and her family for a better postpartum.
At the sign of first contractions we agreed to pack up and meet at the hospital. With Shannon’s history it was important for us to give her time to settle in at her birthing location. It was around 4:30am and a cervical check would put her at 4cm.
Shannon was contracting every 6-8 minutes, breathing through them beautifully and the triage nurse wanted to send her home. Shannon and I both looked at each other and knew that wasn’t going to be the path we took.
After a chat with a midwife, we waited for a room and Shannon was admitted around 6am. There was only one goal: to keep everything as calm as possible and with lots of verbal reassurance, Shannon was extremely peaceful and in control.
At 6:30am another nurse mentioned heading home because things didn’t seem “active yet”. When they weren’t in the space, Shannon was contracting every 2 minutes, she was moaning and needing to cope. As soon as they entered, contractions would space out and Shannon would somehow be able to talk through them.
This is a topic I often discuss with people. We are mammals and if our minds feel we aren’t safe, it will control our bodies and slow things down, until safety comes back into play.
For Shannon, that safety was in her husband, her aunt and myself. We were watching her labor progress.
At 7:45am I wrote in my notes “transition”.
Shannon’s aunt began to feel nervous that a doctor or midwife wasn’t in the space and asked a nurse if we should have her checked. Shortly after that Shannon felt some pressure in her bottom, but after a poor interaction with a doctor, I guided Shannon through breathing rather than pushing, so we could have someone she felt safe with catch her baby.
A midwife arrived around 8:15am and at 8:24am Shannon began to involuntarily push and fetal ejection reflex took over.
At 8:31, on the 3rd push, the amniotic sac ruptured and a head began to crown. At 8:33am Shannon’s little baby came earth side and was placed on her chest. In the next minute or so she would announce that she birthed a boy and the entire room was in tears.
This time Shannon was mentally present for the birth of her baby. She hadn’t been harmed. We kept her birth space safe and her birth plan at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It was truly an empowered experience that she was able to have control over.
At our postpartum visit, Shannon said “Ya know how people say birth is beautiful? I used to eye roll at that, but with you helping me, I did have a beautiful birth and I’m so thankful for a different experience. I feel really great about it.”
And that’s all this doula could ever want for her clients. 🥰
(FUN FACT: In 2023, I have served 8 nurses who work at Bay State Hospital and chose to birth there. I’ve served 4 other nurses this year who work at other hospitals and went somewhere else to have their babies. 🙃)