Becoming What She Needs
A good doula is like a chameleon
She becomes what the moms needs at the time. Yesterday I attended a tough birth. Not because it was extra long or tedious or even full of interventions- it was a natural birth of average length with a delightful couple. It was difficult because I felt like I could not use any of my doula talents or tools. I spoke to the midwife, my friend, about it afterwards. She said, “You provided exactly what she needed.” This mom does not want to be touched in labor- that is right- no massage, no counterpressure, no stroking- no touch. And since she is very knowledgeable about the right way to breathe and vocalize, she wanted no guidance in these measures either. So I sat. I quietly supported her husband. I offered a few suggestions for his comfort.I offered words of encouragement along her journey. I took pictures. I cleaned up the bed when she was out of it. I offered music although in the end she did not like it. But birth is not about me. It is about her. It is about what she wants. The midwife in mid labor made a suggestion I had just recently made. The mom had declined it. The midwife said, “Sometimes they do not know what will help, what they need. So you just do it.” So we did and the mom took that suggestion for a while. Again later I leaned in and whispered some instructions to her to help her with pushing. I feared she would not like it but she accepted the suggestion and it worked well for her. But I drove home thinking about it- I was exactly what this mom needed. I did not get to play my usual role- but it is what she needed. Before I left she told me how happy she was with my service to her.
As doulas we learn early on the mantra, “It is not my birth.” But it is hard to hold back when you think you know things that may help a mom but she declines the help. But a good doula offers and then honors the mom in her desires. A good doula knows how to be what the mom needs her to be.