Thursday, 21 October 2010

Doula story

It has taken me a while to have the emotional energy to sit down and write this... it's all good, it was just tiring and so I have needed a couple of weeks to be able to process everything.

My sister in law and I have been best friends since 1999.. I was such a part of the family that I married her brother!

Anyway, SIL asked me to be there to support her during the birth of her baby and of course I was more than happy to oblige!

After waiting and waiting for labour to start spontaneously, an induction was booked in for the Monday. She really wanted to avoid induction as she had experienced the drip with her last birth and it was not a nice experience. She had needed an epidural to cope with the intense contractions and didn't want to repeat this experience.

There were a few signs that labour was not far away- she had a bloody show, had a amniotic "leak" (as opposed to a gush of fluids) and had been experiencing contractions on and off for the previous couple of weeks. So we were all feeling positive that the drip would not be needed- but we also couldn't be sure.

Time ticked on and before we knew it, it was Monday morning- induction day!

I was asked to stay home until labour had started properly so that I would be fresh and might bring some renewed energy to a potentially tired mama and papa. We were looking after their little boy (Master 4) and it was lovely to spend the morning with him and to help him process what was happening. John recorded a video of our day and it really does show what a wonderful time we had together doing some normal things (like taking Molly to kinder) and some special things (like making a birthday cake for Master 4's new sister)...

I received a call at about 2pm to say that I would be needed at 3pm as the midwife was going to artificially rupture SIL's membranes and things were expected to kick up a notch from there. So we picked Molly up from kinder and I grabbed my "doula bag" before heading to The Royal Women's Hospital.

When I arrived SIL was working through a contraction and I was very pleased to see our friend (and student midwife) smiling- it was a kind of knowing smile that set my mind at ease about whether the drip would be necessary. SIL had been officially "in labour" since 1pm and the midwife was in the room preparing to rupture her membranes. At this point I must admit that I was wondering why they needed to do the ARM- it seemed to my untrained eye that labour was progressing nicely.. hospital protocol probably. SIL was fine with it though and was ready for the next, more intense phase to happen.

There was SO much fluid! I was out of the room when the midwife did the ARM however they reported later that the bed was soaked through and the sheets needed to be changed. The waters were clear so there was no meconium passed by the baby-  common sign that the baby has been in distress at some point (apparently it is quite uncommon for them to be perfect with a 42 week baby). As soon as the membranes were ruptured, the sensations definitely did intensify and it wasn't long before SIL was needing to vocalise through them. She asked for me, her hubby and the support midwife to keep on chatting through her contractions as she was enjoying the distraction of listening to us. She did not want us to talk to her, but also did not want silence.

At one point SIL apologised that we were not needed rubbing her back and tending to her. This seemed like a very funny and ridiculous thing for a labouring woman to be thinking about however I think she had in her mind a kind of picture of what it was going to be like, how intense, what we would all be doing etc. She was happy to stand in the one spot and knowing we were there was enough. In fact, that's how it remained for the next three hours... Us sitting chatting, her standing in the one spot and swaying and vocalising and the midwife coming in to monitor the baby every now and then.

At some point, about 6pm I think, the feeling in the room changed and without SIL needing to say anything I got up and began rubbing her back and using cold facewashers on her neck and her hubby held her hand. SIL was leaning over one side of the bed and her hubby was leaning over the other side with his head very close to hers speaking gentle words of encouragement into her ear. It was beautiful to watch. I stood right at her side and she pressed her body into mine with each contraction.

Then came the words that many a midwife would hear during most births "I can't do it!!".. "I can't do this for another eight hours"... I smiled at the midwives as we all knew that this meant that we were all very close to meeting baby. Very shortly after that, SIL began to let out a grunty, pushy noise at the end of each contraction and reported that she wanted to wee or poo or something and she seemed distressed and confused about what to do next. In the space of about a minute, she went from this confused state to one of purpose and determination. Her body wanted this baby out and she went with what her body was telling her instead of resisting the feeling. She pushed for about 15 minutes and needed her hubby and me to support her on each side as her legs were very tired after all the standing. Baby's head appeared quickly however it became obvious to the midwife that the shoulders were not going to come out while SIL was in that position so they asked her to get on hands and knees with her bottom high in the air. The shoulders required a little coaxing from the midwife and then out she came!

It took a minute or so to get her breathing and there were a few anxious bodies in the room at that point. I had a great vie from where I was of the table where the midwife was working  to get her breathing and I could reassure SIL that her baby was pink and just needed a little help getting her airways clear. Very quickly, baby let out a cry and was brought to have skin to skin with mama while she birthed the placenta. This part made me a little squirmy as a student midwife seemed to be very rough pulling it out- one reason why I don't feel comfortable about a managed third stage (SIL had some retained placenta and heavy bleeding the next day, for the record).

I was privileged enough to be the one to hold the fresh baby while SIL was helped onto the bed. I breathed that birth smell deep into my nostrils in an attempt to etch it into my memory. I love that smell. So womanly, so real..

Baby spent time on mama's naked chest and within about ten minutes had found her way to the breast and attached herself. I captured this whole process in photos- truly amazing. That new little being knowing just what to do.

Baby was nearly 10lbs... and my petite SIL pushed her out of her vagina.. She needed no forceps, no caesarian....Babies are meant to come out of their mama's body.

All is well with the new family,

SIL is pretty much fully recovered only two weeks later and baby is feeding like a champ!

Welcome to our crazy clan baby!


green ink said...

Yay, doula story!

Sounds like it was an amazing experience, one that will remain with you always as that little girl grows up. SIL was lucky to have you there! :) xx

Shawn said...


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