Wednesday, 9 February 2011

My first homebirth as a doula

Yesterday I was privileged to attend my first homebirth as a doula! I've been to so many births, and none outside of the hospital - until now. It was such a lovely experience for me and, I think, for the family - although, like any birth, a lot of hard work for the laboring woman! And she was a rockstar!! It ended with a perfect healthy happy baby (born in the caul - another first for me!) and an amazing healthy happy new mother - the best outcomes possible.

The family and woman-centered-ness I saw in the midwives' care was so exceptional. What the midwives needed to do, they did as quietly and unobtrusively as you could imagine. Most conversation between the birth team took place in hand signals or sub-whispers. Every question and transition was explained simply, quietly, and calmly. And being a healthy, progressing labor they didn't need to do much - so they didn't. There wasn't constant pressure to monitor progress (except by observing and listening), no restrictions on movement or food or with cords and wires, and there wasn't a constant battle to fight those things off either. It was just labor, unique to that particular person, but a familiar sight.

I can't express how different in tone and attitude it felt from a hospital birth. Having experienced it, I see why some doulas have a hard time going back to hospital births after attending home births. (The only hospital birth I've been to that has ever come close is this one, which had a fortuitous constellation of a fast labor, great nurse, two doulas, and one of my favorite midwives ever, at the most mother-friendly hospital I've ever seen. And even then - just not the same.) The respect, the privacy, the autonomy, the gentle guidance, the comfort and calm and normalcy, I have never seen replicated in any hospital (although I so deeply wish they were). It was a powerful experience.

In case you can't tell, I'm still riding the lovely wave of good feeling and harmony that comes with seeing a new life come into the world. Thank you to my friends for inviting me to be present. I was honored to be there. Your new family is great and I can't wait to see this baby grow up!